iPhone 14 users are getting an extra year of satellite features for free — but not iPhone 15 owners

Share location via satellite iPhone 14
(Image credit: Future)

iPhone 14 users are getting a rare freebie from Apple as the company's just announced that its year-old iPhones will be getting another 12 months of free Emergency SOS via satellite usage, per an Apple newsroom post.

You've hopefully never had to make use of this feature on your iPhone, since it's intended for emergencies. If activated, Emergency SOS via satellite allows you to send messages to the emergency services while you're outside of normal cell reception range, or send your location to your contacts.

Apple originally promised two years of Emergency SOS coverage as part of the cost of the iPhone 14 when it launched. With the extra 12 months taken into account, the iPhone 14 series' free coverage will now start expiring from September 2025 onwards, depending on when you bought and activated the phone.

Unfortunately, iPhone 15 users aren't getting any extra time, despite receiving the same two-year offer at launch. You still only get 24 months of emergency satellite connectivity for free with Apple's latest models, meaning coverage will run out from September 2025 onwards, like the iPhone 14 series.

iPhone 15 users can perhaps comfort themselves with the fact that they get an extra feature as part of their satellite package. For the 2023 iPhones, Apple added Roadside Assistance via satellite, giving American users the option to call for car repairs from AAA on top of the other abilities.

Why is Apple being so generous?

We don't yet know what Apple plans to charge for use of Emergency SOS via satellite, only that it does plan to ask for money from iPhone users to take advantage of the feature. It's possible that Apple's waiting to activate it in more countries before asking for subscription fees, as currently only 16 countries have access to these satellite functions. Alternatively, the crew over at Cupertino could just taking its time to work out its fee structure, and which of its other services could be bundled together.

This move has coincidentally come within days of Snapdragon Satellite (a rival smartphone satellite service behind many of the chips that power the best Android phones), announcing that it's shutting down this December. This was seemingly due, in large part, to a lack of uptake from Android phone makers, meaning Apple now has an effective monopoly on smartphone satellite connectivity until someone else makes an attempt at it.

While rumors for the upcoming iPhone 16 series have yet to confirm or deny any changes to Emergency SOS via satellite, it feels likely to us that it will get a year or two of free coverage too, if not gain additional functionality.

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Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.