Apple would secretly work on the integration of a new technology: satellite telecommunication. Instead of using terrestrial antennas, the new iPhone could communicate directly with the sky via a constellation of satellites in low earth orbit.
The iPhone 13 should be announced in September and marketed in the wake, the information and indiscretions about it do not stop to break for a few weeks. It’s hard to see more clearly, but we should know soon enough. In the meantime, a new information has just arrived. According to Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst specialized in Apple issues, the iPhone 13 would offer a LEO satellite connection.
What is a Leo Connection ?
LEO stands for low earth orbit, which is translated into French as l’orbite terrestre basse or OTB. This is an area of the Earth’s orbit that extends up to 2,000 kilometers above the Earth’s atmosphere.
It is in this zone that the vast majority of artificial satellites are located, for telecommunications and imaging (weather, surveillance, intelligence, etc.). One can theoretically connect to a satellite anywhere on the surface of the Earth, this is what Elon Musk is setting up with Starlink.
The advantage of this low orbit is that it does not require the power that is used by geostationary satellite systems (35,000 kilometers above the Earth’s surface). Lightweight communication systems have been available since the late 1980s, but they require adapted and compatible equipment. According to Ming-Chi Kuo, the iPhone 13 would be compatible with these systems. The proposed speeds are low, equivalent to 3G, they allow mainly to make calls and send messages, but also to browse the web.
More concretely, the iPhone could support the frequency bands emitted by these satellites to exchange data. The new iPhone range would have a Qualcomm X60 chip customized to support communication via LEO satellites.
Today, the speculations around the new means of communication on the iPhone are not clear. Apple could offer this service for free but limit it to its services (FaceTime and iMessage). We also do not know if this service will be available in all countries, it is necessary that the territory is covered and it depends on operators (Iridium, Inmarsat, etc.)