iPhone 13 may support satellite connectivity, says Apple analyst

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Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has some new thoughts on Apple’s iPhone 13 that he wants to share.

In a new investor note, the TF International Securities analyst, who has a long history of denouncing Apple updates before they are made public, predicted that the next iPhone would include a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications mode. ) (via 9to5Mac). Simply send your calls or texts into space and wait for them to be returned to a recipient on the ground.

The functionality would allow users to use the basic functionalities of the iPhone 13 even when they are out of range of the cell tower. Apple’s use of a custom Qualcomm X60, a baseband modem chip that handles satellite communications, would enable projected LEO mode, according to Kuo.

In a hypothetical LEO mode, it is not clear what call and/or data functionalities would be supported. It’s also unclear whether using the feature would incur an additional charge, comparable to how using a cellular device in roaming mode typically incurs a higher cost.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard that Apple may be looking to the stars for help transmitting cellular signals around the world. Bloomberg reported in late 2019 that such a transfer could take place over the next five years starting in 2019.

Back then, the details were even more hazy. According to Bloomberg, Apple was not sure at the time how it would use the satellites or who would own the satellites. Although the news that Apple CEO Tim Cook was personally interested in making things happen with satellites made the project’s possibilities seem more concrete at the time, the company was not sold on the initiative as a whole.

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The addition of a LEO mode to the iPhone 13 would come at a time when Apple’s tech rivals are increasingly looking to the skies for inspiration. SpaceX is the most advanced, with a beta program in place since late 2020 for its Starlink program. As of the end of June 2021, there were at least 1,500 Starlink satellites in orbit, a significant number, but well short of the 10,000 or more that will be required to maintain a stable network as more customers sign up.

Amazon also has a plan to directly enter the satellite communications market, dubbed Project Kuiper, which was initially unveiled in 2019. That one, on the other hand, isn’t that far along. In April, Amazon announced a collaboration with the United Launch Alliance that will launch the first of its satellites into orbit using Atlas V rockets over the course of nine flights. However, no one has left the planet yet.

None of this has anything to do with Apple’s ambitions, although consumer technology is frequently influenced by trends. Apple’s anticipated move to add device support for satellite communications aligns with a broader movement in the industry that has so far been spearheaded by other major competitors.

Apple is likely to unveil the iPhone 13, which is also expected to feature a high refresh rate and an always-on display, along with other new product announcements and reveals in September, as usual at this stage. There’s no word on when that will happen, but if history is any indication, it will be within the next few weeks.

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