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.

Buyer's Guide: Vision Pro (Buy Now)

Top Rated Comments

ph001bi Avatar
33 months ago
Amazing if true.
Score: 54 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HeavenDynamic Avatar
33 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
33 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
33 months ago
Ok NOW thats amazing.
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mannyvel Avatar
33 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
33 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)

Popular Stories

General Apps Messages

Apple Announces 'Groundbreaking' New Security Protocol for iMessage

Wednesday February 21, 2024 6:00 am PST by
Apple today announced a new post-quantum cryptographic protocol for iMessage called PQ3. Apple says this "groundbreaking" and "state-of-the-art" protocol provides "extensive defenses against even highly sophisticated quantum attacks." Apple believes the PQ3 protocol's protections "surpass those in all other widely deployed messaging apps," according to its blog post:Today we are announcing...
iOS 17

iOS 17.4 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Monday February 19, 2024 6:52 am PST by
Apple last month confirmed that iOS 17.4 will be released in March, and the update includes several new features and changes for the iPhone. Key new features in iOS 17.4 include major App Store changes in the EU and Apple Podcasts transcripts. The update also adds new emoji and includes preparations for the launch of next-generation CarPlay later this year. More details about the new...
samsung galaxy ring

'Apple Ring' Allegedly in Development to Rival Samsung Galaxy Ring

Tuesday February 20, 2024 2:27 am PST by
Apple is speeding up development of a smart ring that can be worn on the finger to track users' health biometrics, claims a new report coming out of Korea. Teaser image of Samsung Galaxy Ring shown at Galaxy Unpacked in January Apple has toyed with the idea of a ring wearable for several years, as indicated by several patents, but with Samsung preparing to bring its own product to market, the ...
volvo s60 drivers apple maps

iOS 17.4 Beta Adds CarPlay Option to Show Upcoming Maneuvers in Instrument Cluster

Tuesday February 20, 2024 10:47 am PST by
The fourth beta of iOS 17.4 that Apple released today adds a new CarPlay feature, according to the notes that Apple provided to developers. In supported CarPlay vehicles, there's now an Apple Maps option to show information about upcoming maneuvers in the instrument cluster. CarPlay users will be able to swap the display type between the main and instrument cluster by tapping on the map...
m3 macbook pro 14 16

Apple Now Selling Refurbished M3 Pro and M3 Max MacBook Pro Models

Monday February 19, 2024 5:04 pm PST by
Apple today began offering refurbished versions of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with M3 Pro and M3 Max chip options, offering the machines at a discount for the first time since their October 2023 release. The release of M3 Pro and M3 Max models on Apple's refurbished store comes almost two weeks after the entry-level 14-inch M3 MacBook Pro first appeared on the store....
iPad Pro OLED Feature 2

Apple's Upcoming OLED iPad Pro Models Rumored to Be Much Thinner

Tuesday February 20, 2024 1:39 pm PST by
Apple is planning to update the iPad Air and iPad Pro lineups as soon as March, and the new iPad Pro models will be significantly thinner according to dimensions shared by 9to5Mac. Citing sources with knowledge of Apple's plans, the site claims that the larger version will be more than 1mm thinner. The current 12.9-inch iPad Pro measures in at 6.4mm thick, but the new model is said to be 5mm ...
apple wallet drivers license feature

Apple Said iPhone Driver's Licenses Will Expand to These 8 U.S. States

Monday February 12, 2024 7:51 am PST by
In 2021, Apple introduced a feature that lets residents of participating U.S. states add their driver's license or ID to the Wallet app on the iPhone and Apple Watch, providing a convenient and contactless way to display proof of identity or age. Unfortunately, states have been slow to adopt the feature since it was first announced in September 2021, with IDs in the Wallet app only available ...