Kuo: iPhone 13 to Feature LEO Satellite Communications to Make Calls and Texts Without Cellular Coverage

The iPhone 13 will feature low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communication connectivity to allow users to make calls and send messages in areas without 4G or 5G coverage, according to the reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2
In a note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Kuo explained that the ‌iPhone 13‌ lineup will feature hardware that is able to connect to LEO satellites. If enabled with the relevant software features, this could allow ‌iPhone 13‌ users to make calls and send messages without the need for a 4G or 5G cellular connection.

The ‌iPhone 13‌ reportedly features a customized Qualcomm X60 baseband chip that supports satellite communications. Other smartphone brands are apparently currently waiting until 2022 to adopt the X65 baseband chip necessary to implement satellite communications functions.

SpaceX's Starlink is a purveyor of LEO internet connectivity that some readers may already be familiar with, but the LEO satellite communication service provider that is "most likely to cooperate with Apple in terms of technology and service coverage" is said to be Globalstar. Qualcomm has purportedly been working with Globalstar to support the n53 band in future X65 baseband chips.

Kuo explained that the "simplest scenario" for providing LEO connectivity to users is if individual network operators work with Globalstar. This means that customers of a partner network operator could use Globalstar's satellite communication service on the ‌iPhone 13‌ directly through their network operator with no additional contracts or payments required.

Kuo added that LEO satellite communications is a technology comparable to mmWave 5G in terms of its impact on the network industry and that Apple may leverage both technologies. Kuo says that Apple is "optimistic" about the trend of satellite communications and set up a specific team for research and development of technologies related to it "some time" ago.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reported on the existence of this team in 2019, explaining that Apple was looking into new ways to beam data like internet connectivity directly to iPhones and other devices. Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly made the project a company priority, with the main aim to beam data directly to a user's iPhone without reliance on wireless carriers and network coverage.

In 2017, Apple hired two Google executives with satellite expertise, who are believed to have been leading the team dedicated to satellites and related wireless technologies.

The company is believed to have plans to bring LEO satellite communications to more devices in the future to "provide innovative experiences." These may include Apple's mixed reality head-mounted display device, electric vehicle, and other IoT accessories, according to Kuo.

Related Roundups: Apple Vision Pro, iPhone 13
Buyer's Guide: Vision Pro (Buy Now)

Popular Stories

iPhone 16 Pro Sizes Feature

iPhone 16 Series Is Just Two Months Away: Everything We Know

Monday July 15, 2024 4:44 am PDT by
Apple typically releases its new iPhone series around mid-September, which means we are about two months out from the launch of the iPhone 16. Like the iPhone 15 series, this year's lineup is expected to stick with four models – iPhone 16, iPhone 16 Plus, iPhone 16 Pro, and iPhone 16 Pro Max – although there are plenty of design differences and new features to take into account. To bring ...
macbook pro january

Best Buy's Black Friday in July Sale Takes Up to $700 Off M3 MacBook Pro for Members

Monday July 15, 2024 11:05 am PDT by
Best Buy's "Black Friday in July" sale is in full swing today, and in addition to a few iPad Air discounts we shared earlier, there are also some steep markdowns on the M3 MacBook Pro. You will need a My Best Buy Plus or Total membership in order to get some of these deals. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Best Buy. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small...
ipaos 18 image playground

Apple Releases First iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 Public Betas

Monday July 15, 2024 1:16 pm PDT by
Apple today provided the first betas of iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 to public beta testers, bringing the new software to the general public for the first time since the Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Apple has seeded three developer betas so far, and the first public beta includes the same content that's in the third developer beta. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. ...
maxresdefault

Apple's AirPods Pro 2 vs. Samsung's Galaxy Buds3 Pro

Saturday July 13, 2024 8:00 am PDT by
Samsung this week introduced its latest earbuds, the Galaxy Buds3 Pro, which look quite a bit like Apple's AirPods Pro 2. Given the similarities, we thought we'd compare Samsung's new earbuds to the AirPods Pro. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design wise, you could potentially mistake Samsung's Galaxy Buds3 Pro for the AirPods Pro. The Buds3 Pro have the same...
Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID Single Camera Hole

10 Reasons to Wait for Next Year's iPhone 17

Monday July 8, 2024 5:00 am PDT by
Apple's iPhone development roadmap runs several years into the future and the company is continually working with suppliers on several successive iPhone models simultaneously, which is why we sometimes get rumored feature leaks so far ahead of launch. The iPhone 17 series is no different – already we have some idea of what to expect from Apple's 2025 smartphone lineup. If you plan to skip...
Generic iOS 18 Feature Real Mock

Apple Seeds Revised Third Betas of iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 to Developers

Monday July 15, 2024 10:09 am PDT by
Apple today seeded updated third betas iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 to developers for testing purposes, with the software coming a week after Apple initially released the third betas. Registered developers are able to opt into the betas by opening up the Settings app, going to the Software Update section, tapping on the "Beta Updates" option, and toggling on the ‌iOS 18/iPadOS 18‌ Developer Beta ...

Top Rated Comments

ph001bi Avatar
38 months ago
Amazing if true.
Score: 54 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HeavenDynamic Avatar
38 months ago
This is the kind of feature that would be US-only for at least 10 years.
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GubbyMan Avatar
38 months ago
Globalstar satellite phones have huge antennas sticking out like they are from the late nineties. Can they really just use the iPhone antennas to connect to these satellites? This rumor from Kuo is specific enough that I wouldn't doubt it though.
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kung gu Avatar
38 months ago
Ok NOW thats amazing.
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mannyvel Avatar
38 months ago
There's no way that Apple would stick this niche tech into every iPhone.

This sounds like one of those bogus pieces of information that's designed to find the leaker.
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SVTmaniac Avatar
38 months ago
All you have to do is plug this 8ft antenna into the lightning port and you're set!
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)