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The iPhone 13’s satellite phone features won’t be available to everyone

According to report, these emergency call feature will only be available in certain markets.

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Image: KnowTechie

Last week, Ming-Chi Kuo, a well-known Apple analyst, told us that the iPhone 13 will have some nifty LEO satellite communications for those times without any cellular service. Now a new report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman has more details, and it seems that the service won’t be as wide-reaching as we hoped.

In his weekly Power On newsletter, Gurman says that only certain markets will have access to the satellite communications feature, as Apple doesn’t have its own satellites in orbit (yet). If you’re in a covered market though, the satellite feature will only be used for emergency communications. He says Apple is thinking about launching its own satellites, but that plan is “likely years away from taking off.”

The satellite communications won’t turn the iPhone 13 into a fully-fledged satellite phone, and Gurman doesn’t see that happening in a future iPhone either. That’s because it would need expensive hardware that he says isn’t ready yet, and would also cause pushback from the US mobile carriers.

What it will do is provide either short emergency texts or SOS distress signals for things like plane crashes or sinking ships in remote areas not covered by cellular networks. This will be integrated into the Messages app, with any emergency messages appearing as gray bubbles. That functionality could also send messages to close friends or family.

With the iPhone 13 launch mere weeks away, we won’t have long to wait to find out. What’s not known at this point is if Apple will feature the emergency satellite communications feature at the launch, or if it will be a future update.

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