Apple and Globalstar Rumored to Announce Satellite Connectivity Feature for iPhone 14 at September 7 Event

Apple may announce its long-rumored satellite connectivity feature for the iPhone 14 next month, according to Tim Farrar, a satellite communications consultant at California-based research firm Telecom, Media and Finance Associates.

Apple Event Far Out Feature
In a series of tweets, Farrar said T-Mobile's and SpaceX's satellite connectivity announcement yesterday was likely intended to pre-empt Apple's announcement of its own satellite connectivity feature for the iPhone in partnership with Globalstar. Apple is holding a media event at Steve Jobs Theater on September 7, and the event's "Far Out" tagline and starry sky artwork have fueled speculation about a satellite connectivity announcement.

In February, Globalstar announced that it acquired 17 new satellites to provide "continuous satellite services" to a "potential customer," which might be Apple.

Farrar said Apple's service will be offered free of charge for two-way text messaging only at launch and will use existing satellite spectrum, with no rule changes from the FCC required. By comparison, T-Mobile and SpaceX plan to leverage T-Mobile's mid-band 5G spectrum and support SMS text messages, MMS, and select messaging apps, but Farrar believes this more ambitious approach will face regulatory hurdles around the world.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman first reported that Apple was working on satellite connectivity for iPhones in December 2019. Earlier this year, Gurman said Apple was still working on the feature and said it could be ready for the iPhone 14 later this year. Gurman claimed the feature would be intended for use in emergency situations, allowing iPhone users to report emergencies to authorities and send short text messages to emergency contacts, and he added that the functionality could also be available on a new Apple Watch.

iPhones would need a special modem chip to connect to satellites, according to Gurman, suggesting the feature might be compatible with the iPhone 14 and newer only. By comparison, T-Mobile said the "vast majority of smartphones" already on its network would be able to connect to SpaceX's satellites with their existing cellular chips.

Additional details about Apple's rumored satellite connectivity feature, such as whether the feature will be limited to the U.S. or available globally, remain unknown. Apple's media event begins on September 7 at 10 a.m. Pacific Time and MacRumors will have comprehensive coverage of everything announced, so be sure to follow along then.

Related Roundup: iPhone 14
Related Forum: iPhone

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Top Rated Comments

Rainshadow Avatar
24 months ago

What mainstream problem does this solve? It seems like a minuscule edge case.
Who are you? This will be the largest advancement in cellular technology since the iPhone itself.

If this is even remotely used in the way the rumors are saying it will save lives, provide peace of mind, and be infinitely more useful than any additional pixel count on a camera.

Maybe you live in flatland, USA in the center of metropolis, but half of America doesn’t. Lack of reception is hugely frustrating. Being able to send a text will be a great first step.

Canceling InReach services that use satellites to text with your phone for 12+ bucks a month will be a welcome benefit as well.
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Realityck Avatar
24 months ago

What problem does this solve?
If you are in a SOS situation in dead zone you could contact 911 in an emergency using satellite. Terrestrial cellular coverage isn’t available everywhere in North America for given carriers.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cmChimera Avatar
24 months ago

What mainstream problem does this solve? It seems like a minuscule edge case.
Having no cellular service. There are actually millions of people subscribed to AT&T, so it's not an edge case.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zorinlynx Avatar
24 months ago

What mainstream problem does this solve? It seems like a minuscule edge case.
Sure, it's not something people will use often, but when it's necessary it can be life saving.

There's vast stretches of highway in sparsely populated areas of the US that have no cellular service. Being able to send messages if you're stranded out there can save your life.

In places like Florida and the Gulf coast, hurricanes can knock out cellular infrastructure and leave people unable to communicate. Being able to send emergency messages, or even "I survived the storm" to family members is a wonderful capability.

It's like a fire extinguisher. It'll sit there for five years collecting dust but when something flares up in your kitchen you'll be glad you have it. It also doesn't cost much extra to implement in today's chipsets.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Corsig Avatar
24 months ago
Everyone who had far out meaning astrophotography on their bingo card are pissed.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Roller Avatar
24 months ago

EXACTLY! The vast majority of Apple’s user base live in metropolitan areas. While what kind of broadband and how fast it is certainly varies based upon where you are located, certainly access to a high speed connection is ubiquitous. The only time his really makes sense is in rural areas, particularly in remote places, where you have zero broadband access. I don’t see apple chasing this set of users. It’s not their MO and for what, to say you can send a text message via a satellite. Yeah, I totally see apple investing billions for that alone…
People may live in cities with good connectivity but drive through places with none, as I do from time to time. If you're injured after your car has gone off the road somewhere with no signal, you'll appreciate this feature.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)