Apple Analyst Ming-Chi Kou Postulates that the iPhone 13 may introduce low-orbit satellite communications
Apple filed for a patent back in 2013 that was granted in 2015 relating to satellite communications and navigation. The patent's summary noted: "The electronic device currently being tested may be referred to as a device under test (DUT). The DUT may contain wireless communications circuitry such as a cellular telephone transceiver, a local area network transceiver, and a satellite navigation system receiver."
Today, according to Tianfeng International’s official public account, Guo Mingchi and other analysts predict that the hardware specifications of Apple’s iPhone 13 may support low-Earth-Orbit satellite communications (LEO) .
If Apple turns on the relevant software functions, when the iPhone 13 user is not within the 4G or 5G coverage, the mobile phone can also use satellite communications to access the Internet and make calls.
Guo Mingchi also said: "Our analysis team understands that Apple is optimistic about the advantages of satellite communications in the future . Apple has established a specific team for researching and developing related technologies for some time." In 2019 Patently Apple posted a report on this titled "Apple Appears to be Accelerating their Special Project in the area of Satellite based Wireless Services."
In addition, Guo Mingchi also said: "In terms of technology and service coverage, we think that the low-orbit satellite service provider most likely to cooperate with Apple is Globalstar. In addition to Globalstar, Starlink , the current leader in low-orbit satellite networking services, is in charge of China China Satellite Communications, a satellite communications service provider in the market, is also worthy of attention."
The latest survey by the Tianfeng International Research Team pointed out that iPhone 13 may use a customized Qualcomm X60 baseband chip that supports satellite communications.
If other smart phone brands also want to provide models that support satellite communications, they will need to wait until 2022 before they can use the X65 baseband chip.
While this feature would be great to have as a backup, at present, the report sounds speculative.
On a personal note, my car died deep in the Canadian Rockies a few years back where there wasn't cellular connectivity. It took 6 hours to get help and all the while I was in the dark as to whether the tow truck was actually on the way. A passing car promised to call a tow truck for us when he was in cellular range. As nightfall was approaching, it was a tense situation to say the least being that we were in the middle of grizzly bear country. Having access to satellite connectivity on my iPhone would have been a great service to have as a backup, even if the charge would have been stiff.
Here's to hoping that Apple is in fact closer to introducing this feature, though it's likely to be an add-on service available to workers, researchers, explorers in remote areas of the planet.