There are still several months to go before we see the iPhone 14, but leaks from well-placed sources mean that Apple's secrets don't stay secret for too long.
Case in point being a new report, which focuses on improvements to the Apple Watch Series 8 and beyond including new health features, also just happens to also double down on something we've previously reported on: that satellite communications are coming to a future iPhone and, excitedly, they could debut in this year's iPhone 14.
According to Bloomberg (opens in new tab), whose sources are usually very reliable, Apple plans to release an iPhone with satellite connectivity as early as this year – so it could be in the iPhone 14 in a few months time, while equally it could be a future iPhone. We've heard this satellite communications upgrade a few times now, though, which hints to us that the tech is close.
What also points to a iPhone with satellite comms is that the report also mentions that Apple "is also working to eventually bring satellite connectivity to the Apple Watch". Here at T3 we really can't see satellite communications launch on one mobile Apple device but not the other, and out of the two products we'd fully expect to it debut in iPhone first.
Here's what iPhone 14 getting satellite communications might mean.
Why Apple is adding satellite communications to the iPhone
As we reported late last year, Apple has been working on satellite connectivity for iPhones for some time. Originally rumoured for the iPhone 13, the feature would enable iPhones to communicate via low earth orbit (LEO) satellites. Apple is even considering putting its own satellites into low orbit, although that part of the plan is still some way off.
Satellite communications, in this case at least, are designed for emergencies: if you're in trouble and you can't get a phone signal, satellite connectivity can alert responders to get you out of a mess. According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, "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.” Instead, it's more like an emergency SOS. If you need satellite calling for hiking and other activities that take you far from a strong signal, look for a dedicated satellite device such as the Garmin InReach Mini 2.
Apple isn't just working on this for the iPhone. It's working on it for the Apple Watch too. It's something we've seen in high-end watches such as Breitling's Emergency, which introduced an emergency locator beacon, and it ties in well with Apple's marketing of the Apple Watch as a way to get you out of sticky situations. It's the kind of feature you hope you never need – but if you do, you'll be glad it's there.