Qualcomm Terminates Iridium Smartphone Partnership

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Qualcomm Snapdragon Satellite

Apple introduced Emergency SOS in 2022. It is a feature that lets the iPhone 14 send emergency texts by connecting to satellites. In January, Qualcomm unveiled its satellite message features designed for Android phones. The feature is called Snapdragon Satellite. If the device is equipped with its X70 modems, it can connect to satellites to send messages. It is useful when no cellular signal. 

This feature is the result of Qualcomm’s partnership with Iridium, a longtime satellite phone maker. It was supposed to be available on devices starting in the second half of 2023.

Unfortunately, the partnership did not work out. It was supposed to be a rival of Apple’s emergency SOS feature. 

What’s the Reason? 

“The companies successfully developed and demonstrated the technology; however, notwithstanding this technical success, smartphone manufacturers have not included the technology in their devices. Due to this, on November 3, 2023, Qualcomm notified Iridium that it has elected to terminate the agreements, effective December 3, 2023.” — Iridium

It turned out that smartphone makers want a more open approach that will not make Qualcomm the middleman. Manufacturers were dissuaded because of the overall cost of satellite texting. 

Apple, on the other hand, is footing the bill for its emergency SOS. For now, at least.  

Since the partnership has come to an end, Iridium can work directly with smartphone makers and other chipmakers. 

When the iPhone 15 was released, Apple added crash detection integration. It is an expansion of its emergency SOS feature. 

Emergency SOS Feature 

Apple isn’t the only mobile device with this kind of feature. Many Android devices also offer it. Emergency SOS provides a simple way to contact emergency services, like fire department or medical assistance. You can make a call without having to unlock your phone or navigate through the dialer. 

The activation process often involves pressing a combination of physical buttons or performing a specific gesture. This can be done discreetly to avoid alerting potential threats in emergency situations. 

When you activate it, your phone may automatically share your location with emergency services, helping them locate you more easily especially if you are in an unfamiliar or remote area. 

Most Emergency SOS features include a countdown timer before the emergency call is placed. It allows you to cancel the call if it was activated accidentally. This feature prevents unnecessary emergency calls. 

On iPhones, this feature provides access to your medical ID, which can contain critical health information, medications, etc. The first responders can access this information to provide you with appropriate care. 

The good thing about this feature is that it is not just for situations like accidents or injuries. Rather, you can use it for silent emergencies or if you cannot speak, like during a home invasion or when someone is in danger but cannot make noise. 

The features are typically available on a wide range of mobile devices, making them accessible to many users. Meanwhile, Starlink will roll out its satellite SMS service next year. The company is planning to offer its voice and data functions directly to mobile devices. In that case, it does not necessitate a Starlink terminal nearby.

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Author: Jane Danes

Jane has a lifelong passion for writing. As a blogger, she loves writing breaking technology news and top headlines about gadgets, content marketing and online entrepreneurship and all things about social media. She also has a slight addiction to pizza and coffee.

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