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Apple Insiders Reveal Emergency Satellite Comms Coming To iPhone 13 Range – Forbes

iPhone 13 leaks have already told us about Apple’s most exciting upgrades (and biggest disappointments), but new information has now exposed one more upgrade ahead of release – and it’s a big surprise. 
Renders of Apple’s iPhone 13 range based on multiple leaks
The news comes in two parts from two of the most influential Apple insiders. Acclaimed Apple analyst Ming Chi-Kuo has revealed the iPhone 13 range will have a low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellite communication mode. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has confirmed this, but added important caveats. 
Kuo’s revelation comes from his discovery that Apple will use a customized version of the Qualcomm X60 modem, which has already been confirmed for the iPhone 13 range thanks to court documents signed by the two companies. Kuo says it is this customization that will enable the X60 modem to communicate directly with satellites for signal when they are in areas without cell tower coverage. 
Kuo explains that LEO satellite communication is going to be a big focus for Apple with its plans to ultimately integrate it with an upcoming Apple AR headset, the Apple Car and smart home accessories. 
Gurman has subsequently confirmed this information but states there are two key limitations to it. First, it would only be available for sending emergency messages via the Messages app. These messages will appear as gray bubbles and there will be functionality for reporting major incidents, such as plane crashes and sinking ships. Second, Gurman says the functionality is unlikely to be ready at launch with a 2022 launch more likely. 
Qualcomm’s next-gen X60 5G modem is coming to the iPhone 13 range
Despite these limitations, this is still exciting news. The Apple Watch has received a lot of praise for lifesaving interventions it has made on behalf of its owners, and the iPhone 13 looks set to follow in its footsteps. It’s a valuable feature, a major differentiator and a frequent source of positive media coverage. 
For this to emerge so close to launch is also a major surprise. We have known about Apple’s biggest iPhone 13 upgrades for some time: supersized new cameras, larger batteries, faster charging, next-gen WiFi and a smaller notch. For iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max buyers, there will also be global 5G mmwave support, 120Hz ProMotion displays and (potentially) twice the storage
That said, emergency satellite communication is going to take people’s breath away and likely signal a mass (and welcome) shift from rivals to adopt the same technology. With the iPhone 13 release date near, for many users this may also justify the range’s last minute price rises
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