iPhone 13 will have satellite calling — Report

Apple’s upcoming 2021 iPhone will be able to make calls and send messages using satellite connectivity in remote places without cellular reception.

This is according to reputed Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, whose most recent investor note was picked up by 9to5Mac.

Kuo expects the upcoming iPhone 13 models to pack support for connecting to low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellites, powered by a customised version of the Qualcomm X60 baseband modem chip.

He also expects satellite connectivity will be available in the much-hyped Apple car, Apple’s AR headset, and other IoT devices.

At this point, it’s not clear whether the connectivity will only work with Apple’s own services — like iMessage and FaceTime — or with third-party apps, nor whether this will be a free service or require paying a satellite network provider.

Bloomberg previously reported that Apple was looking into adding data transferring satellite technology on iPhones in 2019.

Satellite phones have been around since 1998 but are generally reserved for use in emergency operations in remote areas or where the existing cellular infrastructure has been overloaded or damaged due to a natural disaster.

In South Africa, consumers can buy satellite messengers (without calling capability) like the Garmin Inreach Mini, which retails for R6,999 and runs on the Iridium network.

Due to being much more expensive than cellular connectivity, they are not suited for general, everyday use.

However, according to Market Watch, LEO satellite networks are expected to grow substantially over the next few years, from a market value of $3.1 billion in 2020 to $11.3 billion in 2026.

Several companies plan to deploy many of these satellites over the next few years. The most notable is SpaceX, which already has thousands of Starlink satellites in orbit that are currently beaming Internet connectivity to around 100,000 users.

Apple could use the hype and technological developments from recent years around these services to help sell its flagship devices.

Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 13 around mid-September.

Other upgrades reported to be coming to the new iPhone include a faster chip and an improved camera system.

The design is expected to remain largely the same as the iPhone 12, with only a minor rearrangement of the camera modules on the standard iPhone models.

Starlink satellite before deployment to orbit

Now read: Apple to repair iPhone 12 devices with audio problems

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iPhone 13 will have satellite calling — Report