Could your next iPhone be a 'satellite iPhone'?

Satellite phones are not as awesome as the movies make them out to be.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Contributing Writer

Imagine pulling a new iPhone 13 out of your pocket and having blanket cellular coverage no matter where you are on the globe.

No dead spots.

That's what owning a satellite phone offers. And a weird rumor is circulating that the next iPhone could connect to a constellation of satellites orbiting the earth, freeing you from the tyranny -- and sometimes awfulness -- of terrestrial cellular providers.

But all that is unlikely, and to top it all off, the reality of satellite phones differs a great deal from the non-stop action portrayed in the movies.

So, will your next iPhone be a satellite phone?

Almost certainly not.

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If you're curious about the source of this rumor, here your go.

Satellite phones are niche, and the service they provide is niche, expensive, and nothing like what we've grown to expect from cellular providers.

It's slow, very limited, mostly for voice and text, and expensive.

A modern satellite phone service is like terrestrial cellular services but over a decade ago.

I've used satellite phones and satellite hotspots, and they are great for areas where you have no other choice, but if you go to it with expectations based on 4G or 5G (or even 3G for that matter), you're in for a world of disappointment.

Another thing that people think that satellite phones will free you from the grips of Big Cellular.

That's true, but the downside is that you're in the grips of Big Satellite, and there's a lot less competition in that space (pardon the pun).

It makes a bit more sense that the iPhone could connect to Globalstar's ground-based LTE, but even this feel so very niche that unless Globalstar has handed Apple a huge pile of cash -- or Apple is planning to buy Globalstar -- then even this makes little sense. The number of iPhone users who'd want this and be willing to pay for it are small.

Apple didn't put 5G into the iPhone until most of the competition had made the leap, so it's preposterous to think that Apple is going to bake satellite capability into the new iPhone.

I mean, just look at the sort of antenna the Apple engineers would need to convince the Apple designers to put on the outside:

Globalstar satellite phone

Globalstar satellite phone

So, satellite iPhone, no way. An iPhone that connects to Globalstar's terrestrial LTE network, probably not.

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