- The iPhone 13 could reportedly allow users to directly connect to satellite internet providers like Elon Musk’s Starlink or Bharti Airtel’s OneWeb.
- Apple is said to add satellite connectivity support to the iPhone 13 series thanks to a customised baseband chipset.
- Apple had reportedly started hiring hardware, software and aerospace engineers back in 2019.
The iPhone 13 launch is just a few weeks away, and some new interesting features are being leaked ahead of Apple’s rumoured September 14 launch event. The latest in iPhone 13 leaks is support for satellite connectivity, which would allow users to make calls and send messages even without cellular coverage.
According to noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the iPhone 13 could have the ability to connect to a communications satellite, courtesy of a customised baseband chipset. Kuo says that this customised chipset is likely to be the Qualcomm X60 modem.
In simpler terms, the iPhone 13 could support low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites, so when the phone is out of cellular coverage, it could connect to a LEO satellite to allow you make calls.
A Bloomberg report from 2019 claimed that Apple is hiring software, hardware and aerospace engineers to explore new connectivity options for the iPhone. However, this is the first time we’re hearing about the possibility of an upcoming iPhone featuring satellite connectivity.
It’s not clear how exactly or what all features would be supported by the iPhone 13 with satellite internet, or if Apple plans to restrict connectivity only to its own apps. Kuo notes that LEO support could also be expanded to the rumoured Apple AR headset, Apple Car and other internet of things (IoT) products.
The iPhone 13 could potentially connect to Starlink, the low-latency satellite internet service launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Indian telecom giant Bharti Airtel’s OneWeb is also rolling out its own LEO satellites, and others like Amazon, Airbus, Telesat are also working on their own satellite internet solutions.
Starlink is the most widely available satellite internet solution out there, and if iPhone 13 does include support for satellite connectivity, it could lead to a new wave of satellite internet solutions.
It remains to be seen if Apple will tie up with Starlink, or if Starlink even has the infrastructure in place to support millions of new iPhones connecting to its satellites right away.