iPhone 13 satellite features to be limited to certain countries, parts shortage threatens supply

iPhone 13 satellite features to be limited to certain countries, parts shortage threatens supply
(Image credit: Let's Go Digital / Jermaine Smit (youtube.com/conceptcreator))

More details have emerged about the iPhone 13's satellite features. Respected Apple analyst Mark Gurman has shared them in his Power On newsletter (via 9to5Mac), while news emerges of a possible parts shortage causing supply issues.

The satellite features connects the phone via satellites instead of the usual phone masts, allowing them to connect without mobile reception. According to Gurman, the feature will only work in certain markets, and only in areas where mobile reception is nonexistent. He says the eventual plan is for Apple to launch its own satellites into orbit to offer global connectivity, but that's a long way from becoming reality.

It was initially thought that this would allow the iPhone 13 to make calls anywhere in the world, but Gurman has poured water on that rumour. That's because it would require hardware that's not ready yet, it would be expensive, and it would cause uproar from the mobile networks who carry Apple's handsets, as it would essentially allow Apple to bypass them altogether.

Instead, the feature would let the phone either send short emergency SMS and/or distress signals. They would be for use exclusively in an emergency in remote areas.

Meanwhile, we could be facing a potential iPhone 13 shortage. According to The Wall Street Journal, two parts manufacturers are facing production issues that could in turn impact the handset's production.

Murata Manufacturing and Taiyo Yuden Co are both Far East firms that manufacture multi-layer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs). MLCCs are tiny pieces of ceramic that control the flow of electricity inside a device. A typical smartphone contains over 1,000 MLCCs.

Covid has impacted both firms, severely restricting production. Taiyo Yuden has had to operate at only 40 per cent capacity, while Murata has had to shut down temporarily.

Apple warned in July that iPhone 13 supply could be an issue, but this news brings home the reality of the situation.

We're expecting Apple to announce the iPhone 13 family next week, though no event has yet been announced. The phones should have 120Hz screens and upgraded cameras, but feature the same screen sizes and designs as the iPhone 12 range.


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Joe Svetlik

Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.