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iPhone 13 satellite communication could be limited to 'select markets'

iPhone 13 satellite communication could be limited
(Image credit: Pigtou/xleaks7/Shutterstock)

The iPhone 13's alleged satellite connectivity, the latest and strangest thing we've heard about the next Apple phone, has caught us all by surprise. Unfortunately, the newest information seems to suggest this system won't be as universal as we hoped.

According to Mark Gurman in his latest Power On Bloomberg newsletter the iPhone 13's satellite comms system will have some acute limitations. It will be available "only in select markets" and "in areas without any cellular coverage." You'll also need to be outside and could have to wait for up to a minute for a connection.

Gurman adds that you'll be able to tell which messages were sent using a satellite signal in the Messages app. Instead of blue iPhone message bubbles or green bubbles from other phones, these will appear in gray.

Apple still has long-term plans for its own satellite network too, by the sounds of Gurman's newsletter. However, the existing rumors say Apple will partner with Globalstar for this alleged satellite system.

So far, it's looking like Apple's satellite comms system is going to be for emergency messaging services. But with it only being available in certain markets, it's not going to be a universal option for urgent calls. It certainly doesn't sound like Apple wants to make the iPhone a challenger for the satellite phone market either, which targets users who regularly find themselves off-grid.

We are likely to see the iPhone 13 launch in a a couple of weeks going by previous iPhone launch periods. Aside from this satellite comms rumor, we may also see the new phone gain a 120Hz display (on some models), reworked cameras, larger batteries and a smaller front camera notch. Expect to see the iPhone 13 alongside other products like the Apple Watch 7 at the next  major Apple event expected this month.  

Richard Priday

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, gaming, audio and whatever else people need advice on. He's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.