Earlier in May, we reported that Apple might be working on a feature for upcoming iPhones that would allow the devices to connect directly to satellite and act like a satellite phone. It turns out that Apple will be adding this feature to the iPhone 14 series.
A satellite phone works by connecting to overhead satellites instead of a mobile tower. As a result, they can be used even in the remotest places. This is particularly useful for adventurers and rescue operation workers.
Apple has finished testing the hardware enabling the iPhone 14 series to have this functionality. Apple has the hardware support for satellite connectivity, but whether the iPhone 14 will support satellite communications depends on whether Apple and service providers and operators can settle on a business model. After all, the tech companies don’t want people to use the satellite connectivity feature only and not take a mobile connection.
The iPhone 13 also had satellite hardware, but connectivity was never implemented because a suitable business model could not be negotiated.
Mark Gurman, who’s an expert on all things Apple and has often revealed rumors that have turned out to be accurate, has said that iPhone users will be able to use satellite connectivity to report emergencies to authorities in areas with no cellular service and send short messages to contacts in the event of an emergency when it gets implemented eventually.
Rumors have suggested that Apple is working with Globalstar and, indeed, the operator that Apple is most likely to partner with. Satellite communications consultant Tim Ferrar said on Friday that he expects Apple and Globalstar to launch a satellite communications feature for the iPhone 14. Also, there is a good chance that the quality will be enabled just for the iPhone 14 Pro and the iPhone 14 Pro Max.
American service provider T-Mobile and SpaceX last week announced a plan to provide smartphone connectivity anywhere in the United States using a “satellite-to-cellular” service, and the timing of the announcement may have been planned to preempt Apple’s satellite-related announcement. SpaceX and T-Mobile plan to launch a service beta in 2023, which will likely not require an iPhone 14.
There is a good chance that whether one uses either Tesla or Apple’s “satellite-to-cellular,” users won’t be able to make regular calls, and neither will they be able to use the internet. Instead, the users will most likely be limited to SMS.