This iPhone patent could fix a super-fast train problem you didn't know you had

Iphone 12 5g
(Image credit: Apple)

Future iPhones could be better than ever at connecting to cellular networks while on bullet trains thanks to a patent application made by Apple.

The patent, made public by the US Patent & Trademark Office, is titled "Technologies in Wireless Communications in Consideration of High-Speed Vehicle." And it could make all the difference in parts of the world where high-speed rail (HSR) is available.

Right now that means places like China, parts of Europe, and Japan generally, but more countries are starting to jump on board with some trains capable of speeds of around 220mph. But iPhones traveling at that kind of speed can struggle to connect to cell towers for voice and data. And that's what Apple's working to fix.

Faster than fast

The issue, as Patently Apple reports, is that connection issues occur when two parts of the network are traveling at different speeds. In this instance, that's when a phone on a bullet train can't maintain a connection with a static cell tower.  The same issue could also include trains that have Wi-Fi on board but need to connect to a cellular tower to provide internet access — they're just moving too fast.

Apple wants to fix that and while the patent is highly technical, even for an Apple patent, it's one that could make network connectivity on super-fast trains more of a reliable experience. That's all we really need to know.

The issue, we gather, is that a Doppler shift can occur when the two parts of the cellular network are moving at sufficiently different speeds and, it seems, Apple is working to counteract that phenomenon.

Whether such technology would be limited to the very best iPhones or not remains to be seen, but that might be enough to warrant a purchase for some if they spend any amount of time on such high-speed trains. Having said that, at those speeds, how much time could you possibly need to spend on one to get to your destination? But while this might not be an issue for all of us, it could well become a problem you didn't even know that you have once high-speed rail networks expand into new countries and territories.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.