The next iPhone will include technology that will allow users to text or call without cellular coverage. According to one very reliable analyst, the 5G baseband chip inside the iPhone 13 can text or call using low earth orbit (LEO) satellites.
Anticipating the Next iPhone and Its New Features
In a recent note to investors, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo explained that the iPhone 13 lineup will feature the customized Qualcomm X60 baseband chip. Kuo has an excellent track record of predicting what features and capabilities Apple has in the pipeline.
With this hardware, the iPhone 13 can text or call without cell coverage. Instead of relying solely on your cell connection, your iPhone will be able to communicate directly with LEO satellites to call or text.
If this feature is turned on, it will mean much better coverage for your iPhone. Other smartphone brands are apparently waiting until 2022 to adopt the X65 baseband chip. Apple, somewhat surprisingly, appears poised to beat them all to the punch with the tech.
Ming does not seem to think that it will be used for Internet, only for calling and texting. Even so, those are arguably the most important features of your phone, especially when you were traveling or exploring the outdoors.
Update: Investors are so confident in Ming’s accuracy that shares of satellite provider Globalstar rose more than 40 percent in early trading on August 30, 2021.
How Will the iPhone 13 Text or Call Using LEO Satellites?
Some readers may already be familiar with SpaceX’s StarLink service. SpaceX is a purveyor of low-earth-orbit internet service. According to Kuo, the satellite provider that is “most likely to cooperate with Apple in terms of technology and service coverage” would be Globalstar. The “simplest scenario” would be for the carriers work with Globalstar for the connectivity. That would mean the cell phone carriers contracting directly with Globalstar, so the consumer doesn’t have to do so separately.
In years past, Apple has been building a team of engineers with expertise in satellite communications. Two former Google executives came on board to lead this team in 2017. Two years later, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman broke the news about this secret team.
Now, it seems we have some idea of how it might first enter the Apple ecosystem. Rumors say Cupertino is planning to bring LEO satellite connectivity to two more devices in the future. These could include Apple’s augmented reality headset, an electric vehicle, and more.