Daily Authority: iPhone-satellite confusion 📡

☔ Good morning! Who else watched Formula 1 for four hours yesterday… without seeing a single lap in anger? Sad times.

iPhones plus LEO?

starlink satellite

Reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has a fresh report out that suggests the iPhone 13 could use a modified Qualcomm X60 modem to support satellite connectivity to make calls and send messages.

According to Kuo, as reported by MacRumors:

  • The iPhone 13 will feature low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communication connectivity — not may or possibly, but will.
  • Given Kuo’s status, that’s a big bit of news, given the device is a month or two away at most.
  • That said, it would be a surprise to get this close to an iPhone launch and have bidirectional satellite communication emerge this late.
  • The benefits are significant: Apple being able to offer satellite messaging and calls for free would benefit a bunch of rural folks, travelers, sailors…
  • GPS uses satellites already, of course, but it’s a one-way link, not communication.
  • And while Kuo is about as respected as they come, there are questions. How will this affect battery draw? Antenna design? Would Apple risk being first to this?

What it could be:

  • First let’s establish a few things: LEO satellite broadband service providers include the likes of SpaceX’s Starlink, Iridium, and Globalstar. The report details the “most likely” provider is Globalstar, which Qualcomm has been working with to support the “b53/n53 band in future X65 baseband chips.”
  • Globalstar has been aiming to utilize a 11.5MHz portion of the 2.4GHz spectrum band for some time.
  • But it is limited to terrestrial use only!
  • The Qualcomm X65 supports those bands, but X60 doesn’t, meaning modifications to that modem, further mudding the waters.
  • So … where that leaves us is unclear. A huge risky new addition that would crush battery life, on an unclear patch of bandwidth?
  • It would seem to be leaning pretty heavily towards not-bidirectional-satellite, to put it mildly.
  • Instead, Apple might be adding another radio band for 4G/5G connections in the US at least, which may be helpful for better service.
  • If it wasn’t Kuo reporting this, it’d probably be dismissed?

Roundup

♨The Pixel 5a apparently runs too hot. Google is investigating (Android Authority).

🔜Samsung Galaxy S21 FE could launch as early as next week (Android Authority).

🕚Windows 11 beta impressions: Stirred, not shaken (Android Authority).

⌚Apple Watch Series 7 will reportedly have flat sides and bigger screens (The Verge).

👃 There’s a little bit of a whiff of something gone bad in consumer SSDs: Crucial, Western Digital, and now Samsung, have been caught swapping components. It’s not easy to understand but what you’re being sold and what you get isn’t necessarily the same (Ars Technica).

😬 The first hardware revision of the PS5 looks like a step backwards: 300g (0.6 pounds) of weight savings to the heatsink seems to be saving Sony money, not improving the console which now may run hotter (The Verge).

💸 How to save money on your digital subscriptions: Deals, start-stop, alternatives, and family sharing (Wired).

💵 Amazon’s getting into buy-now pay-later: Some in the US will see Affirm’s checkout option ahead of a wider rollout, on purchases of $50 or more, which can be split into smaller, monthly installments (NY Times, gift link).

🎮 Some stubborn but clever person put Google Maps on the NES. Also, NES and SNES designer retires from Nintendo after nearly 40 years (Engadget).

📌 Speaking of Maps: Watch people make live edits to OpenStreetMap (Github).

🔭 NASA’s Hubble successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, finally ready to ship (CNET).

🌫 Can artificially altered clouds save the Great Barrier Reef? (Nature).

🍃Massive floating wind farm design has 117 turbines, but not how you might expect (Dezeen).

🤔What is expensive for no reason at all?” (r/askreddit).

Monday Meme

A classic:

bore dom

Which reminded me of that classic Paul G tweet which was followed up by a podcast from Jason Feifer:

boredom

  • Is boredom good? Jason Feifer delves in (listen or read the transcript) to the topic, exploring how boredom is a new word, yet has been an issue of class, the focus of studies, and how we’ve always wanted to avoid boredom — before smartphones, it was newspapers and TV, books, magazines, radio, and before then, writing letters, and so on back through the ages. Boredom is discomfort.
  • So, avoiding boredom isn’t a big deal, however you do that. Phone, podcast, music, et cetera.
  • But as the podcast episode explores, it may still be helpful to “grow our capacity to become mentally engaged when the external stimulation falls away” as John Eastwood tells Feifer, who works at the Boredom Lab at York University.

Cheers,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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