iPhone 13 series could come with low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communication connectivity, thus enabling it to make calls without a cellular network. Allow users to make calls and send messages without requiring cellular coverage, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reportedly predicted in a note to investors. The next-generation iPhone lineup is said to have hardware ready to support communication via LEO satellites in areas where standard 4G or 5G coverage isn’t available.
What does low Earth Orbit mean?
- A low Earth orbit (LEO) is, as the name suggests, an orbit that is relatively close to Earth’s surface. LEO satellites orbit between 2,000 and 200 kilometers above the earth. LEO satellites are commonly used for communications.
- LEO satellites rely on satellites that are in a lower orbit and are known to beam internet from them. One of the best-known users of these satellites is Starlink. Elon Musk‘s satellite internet service.
What is a satellite phone?
The concept of satellite phones is not new. In fact, the first satellite phone was launched by Motorola in 1989. A satellite phone, or satphone as it is commonly called, works by connecting to a telecommunication satellite in space. What makes a satellite phone different from current smartphones is that they are capable of receiving and making calls anywhere in the world, even in the remotest parts to be it the Himalayas or an uninhabited island in the Pacific.
How it will work in iPhone 13?
- LEO satellite communication mode in iPhone 13 could work as Kuo says they will come with Qualcomm’s customized X60 baseband chip. This would allow iPhone 13 users to make phone calls and send messages even when they don’t have any 4G or 5G cellular coverage. But even if Apple uses a custom modern form Qualcomm, the company has had to tie up with satellite internet service providers like- Inmarsat, Iridium, Thuraya, or Globalstar.
- Kuo said that for providing LEO connectivity to users network operators will have to work with Globalstar’s satellite constellation, a US-based satellite communications company. but the coverage is only limited to North and South America, Europe and North Asia, Russia and Australia. As of now, this technology isn’t available in India. It is possible that in the future it might work in India.
We currently expect Apple to announce the iPhone 13 lineup in September. The phones will largely resemble the existing iPhone 12 lineup in screen size and form factor. Expected new features include upgrades to the camera systems, a high-refresh-rate display for the Pro models, and a smaller display notch. Instead, Apple would want to use the low earth orbit (LEO) Satellite communication mode to improve maps, better connectivity within its devices.