iPhone 14 tipped for satellite connectivity — what it means for you

a photo of the iPhone 13 Pro
(Image credit: Future)

The iPhone 14 could add a new emergency messaging feature that could keep you connected, even when cellular networks are out of reach. Instead, Apple is looking at ways to let future iPhones connect to satellite networks in order to text emergency services when you're in trouble in remote areas.

If this rumored feature sounds familiar, it's because reports of satellite connectivity for iPhones first surfaced last summer, just before the iPhone 13 launch. Those reports also outlined a setup where the iPhone would be able to connect to satellite networks in an emergency.

That obviously didn't happen with the iPhone 13, which debuted last September. But the satellite communication rumor has never faded away, with reports surfacing as recently as March which claimed that Apple would introduce the feature with this fall's iPhones.

The latest to revive talk of a satellite connectivity feature for the iPhone 14 is Bloomberg's Mark Gurman (opens in new tab), who references the capability in a report that's otherwise focused on the Apple Watch and the probability of a new health sensor coming to the Apple Watch 8. At the end of that report, Gurman goes into other future Apple Watch features, which include the reported ability to send emergency test messages over satellite networks.

"The company is also working to eventually bring satellite connectivity to the Apple Watch, setting the stage for emergency texting and SOS response features," Gurman writes. "It’s planning to release those capabilities on iPhone as early as this year."

If accurate, that would mean the iPhone 14 would arrive with the ability to connect to satellite networks when cellular and Wi-Fi weren't available. It's unclear if this feature would be included with all new Apple phones or whether it would be limited to the iPhone 14 Pro models, which seem to be in line to get the most significant changes this fall.

As detailed in previous reports, the satellite connectivity wouldn't be for activities like browsing the web or streaming video. Rather, this is being reported as an emergency communication feature for people who get stuck in remote or rural areas without a dependable connection for their phone.

Apple clearly sees connectivity as a differentiating factor for mobile devices. Recent TV ads have touted the Apple Watch's ability to contact emergency services for people who've fallen or suffered injuries. Adding the ability to message emergency services over satellite to both the iPhone and Apple Watch would be an extension of that capability.

We're in for a bit of a wait before we find out just what features the iPhone 14 models bring to the table. Apple isn't expected to unveil its new phones until September at the earliest. In the meantime, check out our iPhone 14 hub and iPhone 14 Pro hub for all the latest leaks and rumors. 

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.