Back in September, Apple introduced Emergency SOS via Satellite communicatoins with the iPhone 14. Like the company's crash detection, it’s not what you’d call an everyday feature, but one you’ll be very happy to have should you ever need it, allowing you to send SOS messages in an emergency in areas without a cellular signal.
Now it looks like Samsung will be getting in on the act with the upcoming Galaxy S23. According to Korean site ET News (opens in new tab), Samsung will be teaming up with Iridium Communications and its 66 low-orbit satellites to provide similar last-resort contact in an emergency.
As with the iPhone 14, using satellite communications won’t be like connecting via your regular network. Just as Apple only allows emergency SOS text messages and location sharing via the Find My app, Samsung’s implementation will reportedly be limited to SMS and low-resolution image sharing. The latter, presumably, to help pinpoint your exact location by sharing images of what identifiable sights you can see nearby.
Why such a limited implementation? Well, it’s a tradeoff between design and functionality. To include voice and high-speed satellite data, Samsung would need to make room for a much larger antenna, which would change the whole design of the phone. For a feature that only a small minority of people will ever need, that seems unnecessary — especially when an emergency SMS message could accomplish the same goal.
The iPhone 14’s Emergency SOS via Satellite functionality began rolling out to American and Canadian users earlier this month, and so far there are yet to be any reports of lives saved using it. It’s early days, though, and other passive health and safety features such as the Apple Watch’s irregular heart detection and the iPhone 14’s crash detection have already proved literal lifesavers (opens in new tab) (even if the latter is currently struggling with rollercoasters).
While these aren’t the kind of features you’d necessarily consider when shopping for a new phone, you’ll be glad they’re there if you ever need them. It may not be the most eye-catching feature Samsung introduces with the Galaxy S23 family, but it could ultimately be the most essential if you ever find yourself lost in the wilderness.