With SpaceX & T-Mobile preparing to offer limited Satellite smartphone service next year, Apple's event invite image of a star constellation just got interesting
In 2011 Apple acquired a series of patents from failed Nortel with one of them dating back to 2006 regarding satellite service that could be used in future smartphones. That particular patent resurfaced in early 2013 as an Apple patent. Then in 2019 we reported on a rumor that Apple had a secret team working on low orbit satellite services and related wireless technology, striving to find new ways to beam data such as internet connectivity directly to its devices.
Then in August 2021, we reported on Ming-Chi Kou's view that Apple could be ready to introduce low-orbit satellite communications as early as iPhone 13 or later.
Ming-chi Kuo stated at the time that "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."
Then in April of this year Mark Gurman talked up the chance that Apple could be preparing to offer satellite communications on a future iPhone. Gurman was under the impression from his sources that Apple wouldn't be offering satellite call service. Gurman stated: "To be clear: The iPhone won’t be getting the ability to make calls over satellite networks. Instead, the feature is designed to report emergencies or send short texts to emergency contacts when out of cellular service range."
In February, Globalstar had said that it had reached an agreement to buy 17 new satellites to help power “continuous satellite services” for a “potential”—and unnamed—customer that had paid it hundreds of millions of dollars.
Could that customer have been Apple? Well, Apple provided a graphic for their September 7 Event that shows a star constellation with the Apple logo with the tag line "Far out." Satellite connectivity, for emergencies or not, could this be one of the killer new features for the iPhone 14 Pro Max?
During an event held yesterday, SpaceX founder Elon Musk and T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert said that their companies are working to “end mobile dead zones,” and will launch a new mobile service enabled by Starlink second-generation satellites and T-Mobile bandwidth.
Musk said the service will work with Starlink’s second generation satellites, which have very large antennae and will be able to transmit directly to a cell or mobile phone.
The service won’t require mobile users to get a new phone. Musk said in or after a natural disaster, even if all the cell towers are taken out, the planned service should work.
The CNBC report further noted that Musk specified, "This won’t have the kind of bandwidth a Starlink terminal will have, but this will enable texting, it will enable images…" which is exactly what Mark Gurman alluded to earlier this year.
Will Apple be offering a similar service ahead of SpaceX and T-Mobile? While only time will tell, it sure sounds promising from Apple's graphic image clue.