American tech giant Apple is ready to host its annual event to reveal its upcoming products, most interestingly, the next iPhone. This year it is expected to launch iPhone 14, which is rumoured to have satellite connectivity. The event will be on-air today at 1 PM EDT (Eastern Daylight Time) to finally put all rumours to rest. The internet has been buzzing about satellite connections in the new generation of Apple phones since 2019. The previous model, iPhone 13, launched in 2021, was expected to have this feature as it came with fully developed satellite hardware. However, the company did not implement the connectivity due to the lack of a business model. Apple analysts speculated that it’s hard to predict when Apple will launch its satellite phone, but they were sure about its eventuality.
How will Satellite Phone Work?
Despite the hardware support for satellite connection, it remains to be seen if Apple can settle a business model with operators for its functionality. Upon implementation in the iPhone 14 or other models, the satellite connectivity can help Apple users for making emergency calls and texts. Additionally, they can report emergencies to their local authorities, especially in areas without cellular service. It will come in handy in the events of accidents, natural disasters, conflicts, or plane crashes. It will be like a 911 emergency service where users must provide personal information such as name, location, or other ID. It is also predicted that this feature will be available on Apple Watches in the future too.
To make it possible, iPhone requires a special modem chip to connect to an overhead satellite, allowing it to act as a satellite phone. Likely, this feature would only work with the new iPhone 14 or later versions. Moreover, there’s a high chance that it won’t be available in all countries and might be restricted to the US (some parts) only in the beginning. It is also likely that this service would be limited to a crisis and will not be an alternative to conventional cellular calls and texts. Some analysts said they wouldn’t be surprised if Apple initially confined the satellite connectivity to its own applications like iMessage and Facetime.
Speculators have suggested that Apple might be working with the American satellite company Globalstar for the new iPhone 14. In February 2022, Globalstar announced that it had entered a Procurement Contract with Macdonald, Dettwiler and Associates Corporation (MDA) to acquire 17 satellites for a potential buyer. Many analysts believe that this “potential buyer” is Apple, which is looking to add satellite capabilities to iPhone 14.
In case the upcoming flagship is not a satellite phone, Apple users can still have an enhanced version of the older iPhone 13 with a new A15 Bionic Chip, a bigger battery, new camera sensors, and a slightly faster 90Hz refresh rate. The Plus version would only be a larger version of that with a 6.7-inch screen and additional battery capacity. The iPhone 14 Pro will feature an A16 Bionic Chip, a new 48MP rear camera, an ultrawide camera sensor, faster 30W charging, and an expected 120Hz display.
Apple is Not the First One
Just a day before the loud and glorified Apple Event, the company’s biggest rival, Huawei, quietly introduced satellite connectivity in its Mate50 series. The newly launched pair Mate50 and Mate50 Pro allow users to send short messages and use the navigation over the satellite. Even though being the first smartphone manufacturer to do, Huawei will be restricted to China using the country’s BeiDou network.
In the US, T-Mobile and Space X announced a partnership in August 2022 to bring an end to mobile dead zones. This deal would reportedly allow T-mobile subscribers to connect to SpaceX’s satellites using thier existing cellular chips. However, Space X founder Elon Musk has recently revealed that right now, phones on his platform would take up to 30 minutes to connect with an overhead satellite, which is not ideal for a crisis situation.
On the other hand, British rugged smartphone manufacturer Bullitt is also coming with its own satellite phone. Bullitt’s subscription-based service is reportedly set to launch in February 2023 with initial support for texts only. However, the company has claimed that due to its deals with 2 unnamed global satellite networks, smartphones will be connected to a satellite within a few seconds.