The reported iPhone 13 satellite communication upgrade explained

More details have broken cover about the slated satellite communication features that could be coming to the iPhone 13

iPhone next to satellite in space
(Image credit: NASA / Unsplash)

As T3 reported last week, the iPhone 13 could be about to get some new satellite communication features.

The initial report quoted famous Apple insider Ming-Chi Kuo, stating that Kuo "expects the upcoming iPhone 13 models to feature a low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellite communication mode".

However, more details weren't forthcoming, leading to confusion as to the extent of this functionality.

Now, though, more information has broken cover about these satellite communication features, indicating more clearly as to what Apple users can expect from the tech, and where it is going to be usable.

That's because according to Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman, these features are going to be very much geared around emergency communication, and that the functionality will only be available in certain markets.

“The emergency features will only work in areas without any cellular coverage and only in select markets," noted Gurman. "Apple envisions eventually deploying its own array of satellites to beam data to devices, but that plan is likely years away from taking off.

“Some have asked me if these new features mean that the iPhone can be used as a satellite phone and have the ability to make calls anywhere in the world without cellular coverage. The answer is a big no. That’s not happening now, next year, or anytime in the near future.”

So, it really does look like this functionality, if it does indeed come to the iPhone 13 as suggested by Kuo, is very much going to be an emergency SOS-style system – a kind of last resort play to get in touch with the emergency services or a family member if you have no network connection.

And, what's more, the functionality will only be available in certain territories, too.

As to why Apple users won’t be able to use their iPhone 13 as a satellite phone, making calls and sending messages by satellite consistently, that is down to, one, the technology not being ready yet and, two, that even if it were then it “could cause a revolt from the phone carriers that Apple relies on.”

After all, if you can suddenly make calls via satellite then you no longer need Verizon, Vodafone or AT&T. And the networks would not be happy.

Our take therefore at T3 is that, while this is certainly an interesting development in the mobile phone space and one we do hope debuts soon, it looks like something most iPhone users aren't going to need to concern themselves over when deciding if they're going to upgrade to iPhone 13.

Robert Jones

Rob has been writing about computing, gaming, mobile, home entertainment technology, toys (specifically Lego and board games), smart home and more for over 15 years. As the editor of PC Gamer, and former Deputy Editor for, you can find Rob's work in magazines, bookazines and online, as well as on podcasts and videos, too. Outside of his work Rob is passionate about motorbikes, skiing/snowboarding and team sports, with football and cricket his two favourites.