iPhone 14 Series Features Satellite Connectivity; How Will It Work


Apple has introduced the Emergency SOS feature with the iPhone 14 and the iPhone 14 Pro models. This will let users send distress messages and share their location by connecting directly to satellites. This feature will be rolled out in November and is currently limited to the US and Canada. It remains to be seen if this feature will be rolled out to other markets. Wondering how satellite connectivity will work on the iPhone 14 series? Let's elaborate on it for your understanding.

iPhone 14 Series Features Satellite Connectivity; How Will It Work

iPhone 14 Satellite Connectivity Explained

At the 'Far Out' event, Apple explained how the Emergency SOS feature will work when the iPhone 14 users are outdoors and under the sky. As per the company, under ideal conditions, a message should be sent in under 15 seconds. While there is light foliage, it could take a few minutes. Users will be promoted to point their phones towards the nearest satellite.

Notably, the Emergency SOS feature will be a paid service and users will get a two-year subscription for free. The technical information regarding this feature is scarce for now and we will get to know more details in the coming weeks.

Satellite connectivity will be exclusive to the iPhone 14 series as it features custom hardware and software solutions. There are special antennas implemented in the iPhone 14 design that is different from the GSM module used for 5G connectivity.

iPhone 14 Series Features Satellite Connectivity; How Will It Work

Apple Used Globalstar Satellites

The satellite provider for Apple is Globalstar. Though there was no mention of the same at the Far Out event, Globalstar confirmed that it will allocate 85% of its existing and future network capacity for Apple.

For the unaware, GlobalStar is operating a constellation of 48 satellites in LEO. These satellites are placed in eight orbital planes comprising six satellites each at 52 degrees. Eventually, these satellites can provide services on Earth from 70-degree North latitude to 70-degree South latitude. This makes it evident that the iPhone 14 satellite connectivity will not work in the polar regions.


Satellite Connectivity Race With Elon Musk's Starlink

Apple is not the first to announce direct-to-phone satellite connectivity. Last month, Elon Musk's SpaceX and T-Mobile announced that Starlink will soon provide direct-to-phone connectivity for T-Mobile clients.

The difference is that Apple and Starlink are that the latter will not restrict their services to iPhones, hence providing connectivity to any existing phone without any special hardware. But, it will have a vendor-lock as it is exclusive to T-Mobile for now.

Another difference is that GlobalStar has much fewer satellites than Starlink. As the number of satellites in the view of the user will is less, there will be limited bandwidth.

That said, it looks like we are in a satellite connectivity race and we can expect to see some progress in hardware, and with more and more satellites launching from time to time.

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