Satellite emergency communication feature like iPhone 14 will appear on Android models using the latest Snapdragon chip.
Satellite communication like on iPhone 14 may soon appear on Android models using Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip. Photo: Apple.
One of the new features of the iPhone 14 series is Emergency SOS, or emergency communications by satellite when out of range of a cellular network. This feature is likely to appear on top Android phones later this year, as recently at CES 2023, Qualcomm launched Snapdragon Satellite, an emergency data and messaging service via satellite.
Advantage over Apple
Apple uses Globalstar’s 24 satellite network, which will soon add 17 satellites, for its Emergency SOS service. And Qualcomm uses a beam of 66 satellites from orbital communications company Iridium. One advantage of Qualcomm is that Iridium has wider satellite coverage than Globalstar.
However, the Iridium satellites were launched 25 years ago and use a near 2G signal system, so users will not be able to make voice calls. Iridium says it is confident it can provide text messaging services.
Like Apple’s Emergency SOS, when the mobile signal is lost, Snapdragon Satellite users only need to point their phones to the sky for the easiest connection to the satellite, then send a message. Qualcomm also shows a guide to aiming the phone in the application interface to make the feature easier to use.
The mobile chip maker said that if you can’t connect right away, users can try again in 8 to 12 minutes, to wait for satellites orbiting the planet at about Mach 20 to pass their location.
The Snapdragon Satellite feature is expected to release in the second half of 2023, running on Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip and Snapdragon X70 modem. Only devices with both hardware will be able to run Snapdragon Satellite, possibly the most high-end Android models to launch this year.
Not sure if it’s useful for users
While Apple is proactive about both Emergency SOS service and devices sold and commits to 2 years of free service, Qualcomm can’t specify the price, because it charges or even offers Snapdragon Satellite service on Smartphone or not depends on the phone manufacturer.
In addition, mobile carriers have their own plans to provide satellite communications, and it is not clear which side satellite communication feature will reach users.
Experts warn that satellite communication by phone cannot replace specialized equipment. Photo: Andy Zahn.
T-Mobile is working with SpaceX to use the Starlink satellites, and Verizon is working with Amazon, although Amazon has yet to launch any of the 3,236 satellites it plans to put into Earth orbit. AT&T has signed an agreement with AST SpaceMobile to help customers connect via satellite in case of need.
When Apple launched Emergency SOS, experts warned about the instability of the feature, especially in densely wooded places, caves or canyons. “Smartphone users need to understand that this feature doesn’t always work,” said Bruce Jones, an expert at two-way emergency communications company Midland Radio.
In addition, traditional satellite communication equipment often transmits both coordinates and direction of movement of the victim, making it easier for rescuers to locate. Experts note that satellite communication by smartphones is not a “killer card” and cannot replace specialized emergency communication devices.
@ Zing News