iPhone 13 will support satellite communications, says Ming-Chi Kuo

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited August 29
Noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says that the "iPhone 13" will have the ability to use satellite communications, thanks to a customized baseband chip.




In a note to investors, seen by AppleInsider Ming-Chi Kuo says that the Qualcomm X60 baseband chip that Apple is predicted to be using in the "iPhone 13" will support low-earth orbit satellite communications. He bases this on Qualcomm's work with Globalstar, making the latter the most likely partner for the effort.

"There are many potential scenarios for Apple's business model cooperation with Globalstar," writes Kuo. "The simplest scenario is that if the user's operator has already teamed with Globalstar, the user can directly use Globalstar's satellite communication service on the iPhone 13 through the operator's service."

If the report is accurate, it won't be the first smartphone to support satellite communications, but it will be the first mainstream model to do so. Kuo says that other vendors that want satellite communications functions will have to wait a year until some point in 2022, and will have to use the forthcoming X65 baseband chip.

It's not presently clear what Apple will have done to the X60 to support the satellite communications. Also unclear is what Apple will need to implement for an antenna array that is required for the technology -- and differs from LTE or 5G antennae. Most satellite phones resemble the classic Nokia feature-phone design, with a visible antenna, and in some cases, some other external equipment to catch and relay the satellite signal.

Kuo also believes that this is just Apple's first foray into the technology. The inclusion in the "iPhone 13" is said to "innovative user experiences that can be integrated with new products." Specifically, Kuo notes that an Apple head-mounted display or Apple Car would be enhanced by the integration of satellite technology in conjunction with millimeter-wave 5G wireless networking.

Apple is anticipated to introduce the "iPhone 13" range in the fall, as part of its annual refresh of the product line. Beyond Sunday's satellite communications report rumors have also claimed various camera changes, including an increase in sensor resolution, bigger lenses, and the addition of autofocus on the Pro models.

There has also been some debate over whether Apple will stick to the existing 3-cameras and 2-cameras on the Pro and Standard models respectively, or will move to a 4-camera setup. Meanwhile, LiDAR is said to be staying only on the Pro models for another year.

Also according to Kuo, the "iPhone 13 Pro" models will add a new ultra-wide camera lens with autofocus, a feature that will apparently spread to the non-Pro models released in 2022.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,725member
    An external antenna is not problem . They can just plug it into the headphone jack...oh right.
    LOL
    darkvaderbeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 2 of 38
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,725member
    All kidding aside though, this would be huge. StarLink is going live soon, if it's not already. Others are not far behind. 
    repressthis
  • Reply 3 of 38
    JFC_PAJFC_PA Posts: 627member
    DAalseth said:
    An external antenna is not problem . They can just plug it into the headphone jack...oh right.
    LOL
    The Lightning port has better data capability and is still right there if needed. My Garmin 66i doesn’t have a headphone jack. 
    edited August 29 repressthis
  • Reply 4 of 38
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,034member
    DAalseth said:
    An external antenna is not problem . They can just plug it into the headphone jack...oh right.
    LOL
    JFC_PA said:
    DAalseth said:
    An external antenna is not problem . They can just plug it into the headphone jack...oh right.
    LOL
    The Lightning port has better data capability and is still right there if needed. My Garmin 66i doesn’t have a headphone jack. 
    You can’t plug an antenna into a headphone jack without messing up both functions. They’re completely different.
  • Reply 5 of 38
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,725member
    I thought it was a pretty obvious joke actually...
    darkvaderMplsPOctoMonkeykingofsomewherehot
  • Reply 6 of 38
    DAalseth said:
    I thought it was a pretty obvious joke actually...
    HOW DARE YOU! the audacity 
    DAalseth
  • Reply 7 of 38
    robabarobaba Posts: 162member
    Maybe for future iPhones, I’d be shocked to see it appear before a more robust satellite system or 2 is in place.
  • Reply 8 of 38
    On a related iPhone note Best Buy was offering $300 off the 12 Mini and they all sold out before I knew about it. :(
  • Reply 9 of 38
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,196member
    robaba said:
    Maybe for future iPhones, I’d be shocked to see it appear before a more robust satellite system or 2 is in place.
    Presumably voice communications and low-bandwidth data, like texting, could be made available with existing satellites. Access to those things in areas outside of current cell tower coverage would be valuable. The ability to transmit gps coordinates from a device you already have in your pocket when lost in wilderness locations could be life saving. 
    bonobobapplguy
  • Reply 10 of 38
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,109member
    It would be awesome. Especially people that live or work a lot in rural and remote areas.
    Even though I love my iPhone 12 mini, I would upgrade for this.
    edited August 29
  • Reply 11 of 38
    muppetrymuppetry Posts: 3,331member
    AppleZulu said:
    robaba said:
    Maybe for future iPhones, I’d be shocked to see it appear before a more robust satellite system or 2 is in place.
    Presumably voice communications and low-bandwidth data, like texting, could be made available with existing satellites. Access to those things in areas outside of current cell tower coverage would be valuable. The ability to transmit gps coordinates from a device you already have in your pocket when lost in wilderness locations could be life saving. 
    It might be practical with 2-way text capabilities similar to the Garmin InReach units, which use the Iridium constellation. Or it could use Globalstar, as suggested by Kuo. But it would be really interesting if Apple had made a deal to use the much larger and lower Starlink constellation.
  • Reply 12 of 38
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,109member
    I would point out that existing sat phones using iridium have not been updated since oh, about 2002. Basically a dumb phone.  They remind me of my old Nokia brick. And aren’t that reliable.  We have a system that is a sat base station that links to your ordinary smartphone (five at once), but you need to be near the car for that to work.
    Anything that makes using a smart phone via satellite, that is  more up to date is pretty good in my book.

    I would not be surprised if the first few iterations only enhance carplay, stuff like navigation. It would need a big antenna for voice. Also be prepared to pay on top for a second service.

    agree with muppetry, would be more interesting with starlink.
    edited August 29
  • Reply 13 of 38
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,543member
    If true than iPhone 13 is f* awesome iPhone. Count me in brother Apple !!!
    williamlondon
  • Reply 14 of 38
    Amazing technology and a big step but is it really “huge” as many commentators claim?

    Personally, in the UK at least, I find the 4G network to be very good and pretty much available everywhere. I can’t see it would offer any manor benefit to me but let me know if you can see really use cases for the average user.  

    Of course, for sailors, mountaineers and remote explorers this is absolutely huge and will no doubt save many lives. Don’t get me wrong - the technology is awesome, I just wonder if many users will appreciate or even notice it. 
  • Reply 15 of 38
    robabarobaba Posts: 162member
    uktechie said:
    Amazing technology and a big step but is it really “huge” as many commentators claim?

    Personally, in the UK at least, I find the 4G network to be very good and pretty much available everywhere. I can’t see it would offer any manor benefit to me but let me know if you can see really use cases for the average user.  

    Of course, for sailors, mountaineers and remote explorers this is absolutely huge and will no doubt save many lives. Don’t get me wrong - the technology is awesome, I just wonder if many users will appreciate or even notice it. 
    I can drive 45 minutes out of my city limits and not get cel coverage due to the dense rock hills in the area.  This would definitely find use in the US.  Of course it would mean when hiking in every Wilderness area I would now be serenaded with the dulcet tones of YouTube bloggers that someone else just can’t live without.
    rundhvidMplsPjahblade
  • Reply 16 of 38
    DAalseth said:
    I thought it was a pretty obvious joke actually...
    It was funny and obvious….. to most people
    MplsPrepressthis
  • Reply 17 of 38
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,109member
    uktechie said:
    Amazing technology and a big step but is it really “huge” as many commentators claim?

    Personally, in the UK at least, I find the 4G network to be very good and pretty much available everywhere. I can’t see it would offer any manor benefit to me but let me know if you can see really use cases for the average user.  

    Of course, for sailors, mountaineers and remote explorers this is absolutely huge and will no doubt save many lives. Don’t get me wrong - the technology is awesome, I just wonder if many users will appreciate or even notice it. 
    I suspect these aren’t the phones you are looking for.
  • Reply 18 of 38
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,109member
    I always love this stage of the Apple Product Cycle. We are in the first four steps:

    1. An obscure component manufacturer somewhere in the Pacific Rim announces a major order for some bleeding-edge piece of technology that could conceivably become part of an expensive, digital-lifestyle-enhancing nerd toy.
    2. Some hardware geek, the sort who actually reads press releases from obscure Pacific Rim component manufacturers, posts a link to the press release in a Mac Internet forum.
    3. The Mac rumor sites spring into action. Liberally quoting “reliable” sources inside Cupertino, irrelevant “experts,” and each other, they quickly transform baseless speculation into widely accepted fact.
    4. Eager Mac-heads fan the flames by flooding the Mac discussion forums with more groundless conjecture. Threads pop up around feature wish lists, favorite colors, and likely retail price points. In a matter of days, a third-hand, unsubstantiated rumor blossoms into a hand-held device that can do everything except find a girlfriend for a fat, smelly nerd.

    MplsP
  • Reply 19 of 38
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,109member
    robaba said:
    uktechie said:
    Amazing technology and a big step but is it really “huge” as many commentators claim?

    Personally, in the UK at least, I find the 4G network to be very good and pretty much available everywhere. I can’t see it would offer any manor benefit to me but let me know if you can see really use cases for the average user.  

    Of course, for sailors, mountaineers and remote explorers this is absolutely huge and will no doubt save many lives. Don’t get me wrong - the technology is awesome, I just wonder if many users will appreciate or even notice it. 
    I can drive 45 minutes out of my city limits and not get cel coverage due to the dense rock hills in the area.  This would definitely find use in the US.  Of course it would mean when hiking in every Wilderness area I would now be serenaded with the dulcet tones of YouTube bloggers that someone else just can’t live without.
    I hate to break this to you, but sat phones don’t really work very well in amongst rock hills, in a valley, amongst trees, in a building or even in the rain. You would need to on the tops of your rock hills to get LOS service.

    That said, the handset tech is so old Apple could look like a totally badass disruptive paradigm shifter just by releasing an up to date smartphone with sat capability. Just add an external case with a big fat aerial.
    edited August 29
  • Reply 20 of 38
    robabarobaba Posts: 162member
    entropys said:
    robaba said:
    uktechie said:
    Amazing technology and a big step but is it really “huge” as many commentators claim?

    Personally, in the UK at least, I find the 4G network to be very good and pretty much available everywhere. I can’t see it would offer any manor benefit to me but let me know if you can see really use cases for the average user.  

    Of course, for sailors, mountaineers and remote explorers this is absolutely huge and will no doubt save many lives. Don’t get me wrong - the technology is awesome, I just wonder if many users will appreciate or even notice it. 
    I can drive 45 minutes out of my city limits and not get cel coverage due to the dense rock hills in the area.  This would definitely find use in the US.  Of course it would mean when hiking in every Wilderness area I would now be serenaded with the dulcet tones of YouTube bloggers that someone else just can’t live without.
    I hate to break this to you, but sat phones don’t really work very well in amongst rock hills, in a valley, amongst trees, in a building or even in the rain. You would need to on the tops of your rock hills to get LOS service.

    That said, the handset tech is so old Apple could look like a totally badass disruptive paradigm shifter just by releasing an up to date smartphone with sat capability. Just add an external case with a big fat aerial.
    Learn something every day. =)
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