It is expected that in just over two weeks, Apple will unveil the new generation of iPhones. Likely to be called iPhone 13 series, the new smartphones from Apple are set to bring a host of new features in tow. Rumours are rife about what all to expect from the 2021 iPhones and a notable Apple analyst has added one more to the list. According to Ming-Chi Kuo, the iPhone 13 models could feature the LEO or low-earth-orbit satellite communication mode.
What is low-earth-orbit satellite communication?
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.
How will it work in iPhone 13?
LEO satellite communication mode in iPhone 13 could work as Kuo says they will come with Qualcomm’s customised 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.
Kuo said that for providing LEO connectivity to users network operators will have to work with Globalstar, a US-based satellite communications company. In other words, a telecom operator could use Globalstar’s satellite service on iPhone 13 to give users the ability to use this feature.
The analyst further said that Apple is optimistic about satellite communications technology. The Cupertino-based tech giant had set up a team for research and development of technologies related to LEO a while back.
Will iPhone be the first to use this tech?
So far, no other brand has used this technology. In fact, reports have suggested that many other brands have been working on it but will have to wait till 2022 as Qualcomm’s X65 baseband chip will launch only then. Apple could very well become the first brand to use this as it is rumoured to use a customised Qualcomm chip.