Apple iPhone 13 and Apple Car may have access to low Earth orbit satellites for tower-free communication
The TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has been offering up some new information about Apple and its products in an investor note, as reported by 9To5Mac. According to the industry insider, the iPhone 13 has the pre-requisite hardware to theoretically be able to connect to LEO satellites, which would be very useful for future users who have gone off the beaten track and need to contact someone without worrying about signal range. Apparently, the potential for the Apple iPhone 13 to offer this arguably life-saving service to users is made possible by a custom version of the Snapdragon X60 5G Modem-RF System from Qualcomm.
Obviously it’s down to Apple to supply the exact details of how this LEO mode would work on the iPhone 13, presuming the required hardware and software is present. Interestingly, it seems it won’t be just smartphones that will be able to take advantage of this particular radio functionality, with the Apple Car, Apple AR headset, and other IoT items also likely to feature similar satellite communications technology. In fact, it’s not hard to see why something like an LEO mode would be an incredible utility in an Apple Car, especially for those who might want to take the result of Project Titan (expected somewhere around 2025-28) off road.
As 9To5Mac points out, this is not a particularly new direction for Apple to take, as Bloomberg reported back in 2017 how the iPhone maker had been recruiting satellite engineers for a related hardware project. In 2019, an article by Mark Gurman for Bloomberg revealed that Apple was still secretly hard at work with satellite communications technology with a goal of “deploying their results within five years”. So even if the iPhone 13 doesn’t get an LEO mode after all, it seems likely something similar will be implemented in the not too distant future, thus keeping users connected even when there is no 4G or 5G tower coverage in the vicinity.