iPhone 13, satellite phone? Apple's springboard into the space business

This could be a defensive move against Elon Musk's SpaceX as Apple plans a head-to-head against Tesla.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Contributing Writer

The next iPhone is going to be a satellite phone, and you're going to be able to make and receive calls and texts anywhere on the planet.

Yeah, right. One of those crazy iPhone rumors that's easy to dismiss.

But's it's a rumor that's getting traction, and one that a number of my industry contacts told me not to be so quick to dismiss (to be fair, at the time, quite a few also said I was right to dismiss it outright).

So, will your next iPhone be a satellite phone?

First off, let's backtrack a few steps and ask ourselves if this is really going to be satellite communication.

An iPhone with satellite capability has been rumored for a long time, but this rumor started to get serious legs when TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo -- who has a pretty good track record -- reported that the iPhone 13 would use a custom Qualcomm X60 modem chip which could handle 4G/5G and satellite communications over Globalstar's n53 spectrum/Band 53.

This sounds great, except for the bit where the n53 spectrum is actually a terrestrial 5G band.

Iridium GO! satellite Wi-Fi hotspot

Kuo also speculated how Apple could bake satellite communications into Apple Car and Apple AR smartglasses.

OK, sure.

The fact that Kuo reported that the iPhone would use Globalstar's n53 spectrum, which is a terrestrial band, sort of poured cold water on the rumor.

However, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has picked up this idea and run with it, detailing a feature called Emergency Message via Satellite thatwould let users send emergency messages to the emergency services and close contacts where there was no cell coverage. He also briefly mentions a tool that could be used to report serious incidents along the lines of plane crashes and sinking ships using satellite networks.

This sounds like more of a beacon service, along the lines of that the Garmin inReach.

This feels like a more realistic use of satellite communication, as opposed to the more James Bond vision of it.

Satellite is high-latency/low-bandwidth, ideal for short messages and brief communications, but not much good for streaming 4K cat videos when you're out in the wilderness.

Globalstar GSP-1700 satellite phone and Globalstar 9600 data hotspot

But does the iPhone need this?

Well, in a market where there isn't that much differentiation, it's another thing to put on the box.

It also makes sense in the broader picture.

If Apple is working on a car, then it's planning to enter a space dominated by Elon Musk and Tesla. That could be a hard market to crack.

While satellite integration might be nice for the iPhone, but could be vital for any future high-tech electric car, even if it is only to compete against Musk.

But won't every Android manufacturer start adding Globalstar capability to their phones if Apple does?

Not if Apple buys Globalstar they won't.

Thoughts? Do you think that the iPhone needs a satellite service feature?

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