FP StaffAug 30, 2022 12:16:03 IST
Earlier in May, we reported that Apple may be working on a feature for upcoming iPhones that would allow the devices to connect directly to satellite and basically act like a satellite phone. Turns out, Apple will be adding this feature to the iPhone 14 series.
A satellite phone basically works by connecting to overhead satellites instead of a mobile tower. As a result, they can be used even in the remotest of places. This is particularly useful for adventurers and rescue operation workers.
Apple apparently has finished testing the hardware that would enable 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, both the tech companies don’t want people to just use the satellite connectivity feature only and not take a mobile connection.
The iPhone 13 also had some 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 rumours that have turned out to be true, 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.
Rumours 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 very good chance that the feature 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 own satellite-related announcement. SpaceX and T-Mobile plan to launch a beta of the service in 2023, and it likely will not require an iPhone 14.
There is a very 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.