Qualcomm will build satellite service into Android phones this year

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Qualcomm has announced Snapdragon Satellite, which will connect select Snapdragon-powered premium smartphones to the Iridium satellite network for emergency texting in the second half of 2023.

What this means is that Android smartphones will be able to duplicate and expand upon Emergency SOS, Apple’s satellite service that allows iPhone 14 models to text back and forth with emergency services.

at Snapdragon Satellite can provide same “emergency” texting as Emergency SOS offers, which will be extremely handy for hikers or simply those who are driving or living in rural areas. CNET editor James Kim died in 2006 when he tried to hike 10 miles through snowy Oregon mountains after he and his family were unable to call for help because of poor cell service. (Qualcomm notes that you’ll need a “clear view of the sky” to enable the feature.) However, Qualcomm says that Snapdragon Satellite can go further.

Correction: “Snapdragon Satellite can support two-way messaging for emergency use, SMS texting, and other messaging applications,” a Qualcomm representative said in an emailed statement to PCWorld. “We think it’s an important nuance which differentiates our product from the competition so wanted to make sure you were aware.

Qualcomm said at CES that the new capability would be tied to next-gen smartphones in “select regions,” which use the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Mobile Platform. It will eventually expand to other platforms, including laptops and IoT devices, Qualcomm said. Snapdragon Satellite is planned to support 5G Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTN), as NTN satellite infrastructure and constellations become available, for branded services that will vary by carrier and device maker.

Updated at 10:27 AM PT on Jan. 6, 2023 with additional comment from Qualcomm.