TF International's reliable Apple
analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says that the upcoming Apple iPhone 13
series, just weeks away from being unveiled, will add a new connectivity option. In a note to clients read by AppleInsider
, Kuo wrote that the iPhone 13 models will contain the Qualcomm X60 baseband chip that will allow the iPhone 13 line
to support low-earth-orbit satellite communications.
The analyst reaches this conclusion because of Qualcomm's work with Globalstar. In his note, Kuo wrote, "There are many potential scenarios for Apple's business model cooperation with Globalstar. 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."
Top analyst says Apple iPhone 13 line will support satellite connectivity
Kuo feels that Apple has more plans to use satellite connectivity with the iPhone and points to "innovative user experiences that can be integrated with new products." He also mentions that Apple's rumored mixed-reality headset and the rumored Apple Car could both take advantage of satellite communications in conjunction with very fast mmW 5G signals.
Apple will customize Qualcomm's X60 chip for the feature although it is not known exactly what changes it will make. Other smartphone manufacturers wishing to add this feature will have to wait until 2022 at which time Qualcomm's X65 baseband chip will be available. While the iPhone 13 line won't be the first smartphones to support satellite connectivity, it would be the first mainstream handset line to do so.
If this rumor is true, and we know that Kuo has a high accuracy rate, the iPhone 13 models would bring a different look to satellite phones. Many are big and chunky with an antenna that needs to be extended. However, there is an Android powered satellite handset called the Thuraya X5-Touch. It allows users to choose between using a GSM cellular network or satellite signals. The device, priced in the neighborhood of $1,150, features a 5.2-inch FHD+ display.