iPhone 13 could place calls without 4G/5G cellular connectivity
A fresh leak about the upcoming iPhone 13 line-up has surfaced. According to an investor note seen by AppleInsider, the phone will sport hardware that can support low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications. This would enable iPhone 13 users to place calls and send texts, even in the absence of 4G or 5G cellular connectivity. Here's more from the rumor mill.
Reputed Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claims that the custom Qualcomm X60 baseband chip, expected to be used in the iPhone 13, could enable the phone to connect directly to a satellite. Interestingly, the connection to a network of LEO satellites is exactly what lets SpaceX's Starlink service to enable high-speed low-latency direct-to-home broadband for consumers in the remotest regions.
According to Kuo, the speculation is based on Qualcomm's work with Globalstar. This could make the latter, a satellite communication service provider, a likely partner for such efforts. The partnership makes logical sense since both Globalstar and Apple work with Qualcomm. If this rumor is true, it would make the iPhone 13 the first mainstream smartphone with the capability to connect to LEO satellites.
Kuo claims that other manufacturers will be able to unlock this capability with a forthcoming 5G X65 baseband modem that sports Globalstar's Band n53 technology. In fact, Kuo pointed out that Apple could incorporate satellite communication technology into other products including mixed reality headsets, electric cars, and IoT-enabled accessories as well, probably a few years down the line.
Meanwhile, the list of services that iPhone 13 users would be able to access using the satellite link hasn't been disclosed. Additionally, there are no indicators of Apple's intentions to or not to charge separately for satellite connectivity. Kuo's remarks sum it up well. At best, this is Apple trying out an "innovative user experience that can be integrated with new products."