iPhone 13 always has range thanks to satellites
Although the iPhone has only just received 5G support, Apple already seems to be working on the next step: an iPhone that can call and text via satellites.
No connection? Never again!
According to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the iPhone 13 will have a so-called ‘LEO communication mode’. LEO is a common term from space travel and stands for ‘low earth orbit’, or a low orbit (350-1400 km) around the earth. Numerous communication satellites are in such orbit.
Every iPhone currently receives signals from satellites in the form of GPS. This is a passive system: the iPhone itself does not send signals to the satellite. This would also not be possible without a large antenna, due to the insane height of these satellites (20,000 km).
With LEO communication satellites, communication between the iPhone and the satellite would be possible. This technique has been used for a long time for satellite telephones, which are often used at sea and in other locations where cell towers are not accessible. With the addition of this technology, the iPhone 13 would also be able to call and text anywhere in the world.
iPhone 13 via satellites: it may cost a bit
Satellite communications on the iPhone 13 probably won’t be a free feature. The most popular satellite phone network, Iridium, currently costs $70 to $140 a month to use. And because Apple does not have its own satellites, the iPhone will have to use such an existing network.
The high monthly costs are not surprising: communication satellites are extremely expensive to build and launch. They also offer such a limited bandwidth that there is scarcity, which does not help the price.
Apple may opt for more limited functionality to cut costs. For example, by only allowing text messages, or only passing on SOS notifications. Garmin has also applied this principle to the Garmin inReach, which you can use from € 15 per month.
Probably no internet via satellite
If the iPhone 13 really starts supporting LEO communication, internet via satellites probably won’t be an option. The Internet requires much more bandwidth than calling and texting, and currently only SpaceX’s Starlink network offers this. However, to use this you need a special dish. An antenna in an iPhone would therefore be insufficient.
The iPhone 13 is likely to be announced sometime in the next two weeks at Apple’s September event.