According to a new note to investors by Apple crystal ball holder, Ming-Chi Kuo, the next iPhone may support low earth orbit satellites, to allow for communications without a cellular signal.
Kuo’s research note was detailed by MacRumors, saying the analyst expects iPhone 13 to have a custom Qualcomm X60 baseband chip that can support satellite signals. Other smartphone companies are waiting until 2022 to adopt Qualcomm’s X65, which supports satellite communications.
Low earth orbit satellites right now include the likes of Starlink, from Elon Musk’s SpaceX, but according to Kuo, the likely candidate to work with Apple right now is Globalstar, with the latter said to be working with Qualcomm to support the n53 band in next-gen X65 baseband modems.
According to the analyst, he believes network operators could work with Globalstar to provide service for iPhone 13 users. Kuo explains Apple is “optimistic” on satellite communications, and created a team to work on technologies “some time” in the past.
Apple may leverage satellite communications for future devices, including a headset, electric vehicle and other internet-of-things accessories, explained the analyst.
Satellite phones are popular for those venturing into rural areas without cellphone coverage. Back in February, SpaceX filed with the FCC to pursue a phone service, on top of its satellite internet offering.
Many rural Canadians have broken free from incumbent internet providers and signed up for Starlink for internet in rural areas. To be able to get phone coverage through LEO satellites would completely eliminate paying big telecom for communications.