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 Car, Apple Glasses, iPhone 13
Buyer's Guide: iPhone 13 (Buy Now)

Top Rated Comments

ph001bi Avatar
3 weeks ago
Amazing if true.
Score: 54 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HeavenDynamic Avatar
3 weeks ago
This is the kind of feature that would be US-only for at least 10 years.
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GubbyMan Avatar
3 weeks 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
3 weeks ago
Ok NOW thats amazing.
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mannyvel Avatar
3 weeks 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
3 weeks ago
All you have to do is plug this 8ft antenna into the lightning port and you're set!
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iPhone in Space

Unexpected iPhone 13 Rumor Hints at Satellite Feature That Android Can’t Match

Wednesday September 1, 2021 2:19 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 lineup will offer a revolutionary new feature that Android competitors have yet to be able to match, according to a late-stage report from the reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Kuo explained that the iPhone 13 contains a customized Qualcomm X60 baseband chip that supports low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications. If enabled with the ...
iPhone 13 Dummy Thumbnail 2

iPhone 13 Satellite Support Rumor Disputed, Likely for Additional 5G Spectrum

Monday August 30, 2021 12:51 pm PDT by
Over the weekend, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo sent out a research note suggesting that the iPhone 13 was "likely" to support low earth orbit satellite communication, a feature that would allow iPhone users to make calls and send messages when cellular and WiFi connections are unavailable. In this note, Kuo said that Apple would use a "customized" Qualcomm X60 baseband chip that supports...
iPhone in Space

Bloomberg: Apple Working on Emergency Satellite Features for iPhones, 2021 Launch Unlikely

Monday August 30, 2021 3:16 pm PDT by
Apple is working on satellite capabilities for the iPhone that will allow users to send texts in emergency situations, reports Bloomberg. The feature would also allow iPhone users to report crashes and other emergencies in areas where there is no cellular coverage. There are at least two emergency features that will rely on satellite networks, and while satellite technology has been in the...
twitter communities

Twitter Launches Invite-Only Communities to Compete With Facebook Groups

Wednesday September 8, 2021 10:40 am PDT by
Twitter today announced the launch of a new "Communities" feature that's meant to take on Facebook's popular Groups by providing a space where people can share discussions on a specific topic. An invite-only feature at the current time, Communities are created by Twitter users and are self-moderated. Community creators who are invited by Twitter to participate can invite an unlimited number...
iphone 13 pro display shot

mmWave 5G on iPhone 13 Remains Limited to U.S. Models

Tuesday September 14, 2021 6:01 pm PDT by
While it was rumored by multiple sources that iPhone 13 models would support mmWave 5G in additional countries, it turns out that mmWave remains limited to iPhone 13 models sold in the U.S., as was the case with iPhone 12 models. Apple's cellular compatibility page confirms that only U.S. models of the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro support mmWave 5G bands. In addition, on Apple's product pages ...
bt logo

BT to Expand 5G to Entire UK by 2028 Using Drones, Satellites, and Portable Cells, Will End 3G Service by 2023

Wednesday July 14, 2021 7:10 am PDT by
The British network carrier BT has today announced that EE will offer 5G connectivity anywhere in the UK by 2028 as the company set out its plans for the future. 3G services offered by EE, BT Mobile, and Plusnet will be phased out by 2023, by which time the company will have built a new 5G core network. 3G usage has been in steady decline in recent years, now representing less than two...
ipad mini 6 roundup header

Cellular iPad Mini Doesn’t Feature mmWave 5G Support, Unlike iPad Pro

Thursday September 16, 2021 1:12 am PDT by
Apple this week debuted the sixth-generation iPad mini, cellular models of which can connect to 5G for the first time. However, it's worth noting that cellular connectivity on the new iPad mini does not extend to support for faster mmWave 5G. Apple doesn't maintain a cellular compatibility page for iPad models like it does for its iPhones, so the lack of mmWave 5G support on the iPad mini...
pcmag fastest mobile networks 2021 test

T-Mobile Wins Title of Fastest U.S. Carrier in 2021 5G Test

Tuesday August 24, 2021 9:56 am PDT by
With its mid-band 5G network that's widely available, T-Mobile has earned the title of fastest U.S. mobile network in 2021, according to testing conducted by PCMag. Each year, PCMag sends drivers to traverse thousands of miles of the United States. This year, drivers traveled over 10,000 miles and surveyed network speeds in 30 major metro areas and six rural regions to find the fastest...
ATT new 2016 logo featured

AT&T Planning Expansion of 5G mmWave to Additional U.S. Airports By the End of 2021

Thursday July 15, 2021 12:58 am PDT by
AT&T is planning to bring its 5G mmWave technology to additional airports in the United States by the end of 2021, offering customers access to its "AT&T 5G+" service with faster speeds and lower latency. In a press release, AT&T says that by the end of 2021, it will have expanded its 5G mmWave technology, which requires more advanced infrastructure compared to typical sub-6GHz 5G, to an...
Apple Watch Body Temperature Finished

Kuo: Apple Watch Series 8 Will Take Your Temperature, Future AirPods to Help Manage Your Health

Friday September 10, 2021 6:56 am PDT by
In a research note focused on how the Apple Watch Series 7 will still be released in September despite a minor two-week delay in mass production, reputable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also briefly commented on the Apple Watch Series 8 and AirPods. Kuo said he is optimistic about demand for the Apple Watch in 2022 given that next year's Apple Watch Series 8 will offer new health management...