Skip to main content

Upcoming iPhone 13 could feature LEO satellite communications

The iPhone 13 rumor mill has been turning steadily during the last year, revealing various tidbits about the new device that’s expected to drop in the next few weeks.

One of the more remarkable iPhone 13 reports landed over the weekend. Coming from reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, it claims the iPhone 13 will come with LEO (low-Earth orbit) satellite technology that will keep the phone connected even when there’s no 4G or 5G coverage. Such a feature would come in handy for those living in places with lousy cellular service, as well as travelers heading into remote areas. It could also prove its worth during disasters if carriers’ services are knocked out.

In note to investors seen by 9to5Mac, Kuo suggested that the next version of Apple’s smartphone will incorporate a customized version of the Qualcomm X60 baseband modem chip to power the satellite communications.

While SpaceX’s Starlink is currently the best-known user of LEO satellites for its internet-from-space service, Kuo suggests that the provider “most likely” to partner with Apple is Globalstar, a Louisiana-based satellite communications company that’s been in business since 1991.

There’s little additional information from Kuo regarding the specificities of the design that Apple would use to make the satellite technology work.

It’s not the first time that we’ve heard about Apple considering satellite technology for the iPhone, with Bloomberg reporting on the possibility in 2019. But it’s the first time it’s been mentioned in connection with the iPhone 13.

With this latest rumor being a bolt from the blue, there’s no way to say for sure if the iPhone 13 will launch with the feature. But Kuo has called it right in the past, so he could be on to something here.

The iPhone 13 expected to be unveiled at an Apple event in September, so we only have a few weeks to wait before the big reveal.

Digital Trends has an in-depth article detailing everything we could see in the latest iteration of Apple’s big-selling handset.

Editors' Recommendations

The one thing the iPhone 14, Galaxy S23, and Pixel 7 all get wrong
Apple iPhone SE (2020) being plugged in to charge.

At Mobile World Congress (MWC) this year, new smartphones broke cover as one would expect. I won't bore you with all the details; Digital Trends' Joe Maring and Jacob Roach wrote an excellent roundup of all the best MWC 2023 announcements already.

One key quality-of-life-improving feature we picked up on as a theme was charging speed. Apple, Samsung, and Google, the mainstream phone brands by coverage (even if not all by sales), stick to a fast-charging average speed of just over an hour — even with the latest iPhone 14, Galaxy S23, and Pixel 7. By comparison, a phone from Xiaomi, Oppo, or OnePlus can get you moving in 30 minutes or even less. It's time to demand more from our phones.
Fast charging exists — just not for you

Read more
I created the perfect iPhone home screen — and you can too
iPhone 14 Pro with custom home screen icons and widgets

With iOS 14, Apple began to open the floodgates for software customization on the iPhone. For the first time, you could add widgets to the home screen and even change app icons to custom ones without the need for a jailbreak. And iOS 16 gave us some more customization options in the form of the lock screen, although the interface for that is su-par, to say the least.

While I see a lot of people still use a stock grid layout on their home screen, I took some time when iOS 14 first came out to customize my iOS experience. I enjoy that it’s not just a boring grid of stock icons — having custom icons and widgets really mix things up a bit and gives me a more informative home screen.

Read more
Will my phone automatically change for daylight saving time?
The iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island showing the timer and music playing.

Like it or not, it's that time of year again — time for daylight saving time. On Sunday, March 12, at 2:00 a.m. (local time), the majority of people in the United States will be "springing forward" and setting their clocks ahead by an hour. Along with losing an hour of sleep, it also poses an important question: will your phone automatically change for daylight saving time?

It's a question that applies regardless of which phone you have. Whether you're rocking an iPhone 14 Pro, a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, or any other smartphone, it's important to know whether or not you need to change it for the new time.

Read more