The upcoming iPhone 13 is rumored to feature LEO (Low Earth orbit) communication. This will allow users to make calls and communicate even when they are out of cellular coverage. The iPhones are reportedly ready to allow communication where 4G or 5G is not available at all. The iPhone 13 models may feature a customized chip to support this. Apple is rumored to be working with Globalstar, which is a multinational corporation that operates a low LEO satellite constellation for low-speed data communication and satellite phone.
First reported by MacRumors from Ming-Chi Kuo’s note to the investors, we can expect a customized Qualcomm X60 baseband chipset to support LEO communication. Qualcomm is reportedly working with Globalstar to offer LEO communication over the n53 band on mobile devices using its X65 chip. However, the iPhone 13 family appears to get a similar experience through the X60 modem.
Kuo mentions that users should not worry about any additional fees or costs, but network operators like Jio or Airtel will have to work with Globalstar to enable LEO services on their network.
Making LEO the only way to communicate is taking it a bit far. Networks and people are hearing about this tech for the first time in mainstream smartphones. This is why the next generation iPhones should also feature millimeter wave (mmWave) and sub-6GHz 5G connectivity.
Kuo also says that introducing LEO into iPhones is a part of the pie. Apple is expected to incorporate this technology into its AR/VR headsets, EV, and other products, once it is reliable enough.
Apple has been eyeing this technology for a while as we saw a while ago when they reportedly made a secret team to work on satellites. LEO may not make it to regular calls and messages for now but perhaps be exclusive to iMessage and FaceTime. Its global availability is also unclear because telecom operators need to work with the company to make this possible for their consumers.