With Snapdragon Satellite, Qualcomm allows Android smartphones to communicate via satellite

With Snapdragon Satellite, Qualcomm allows Android smartphones to communicate via satellite

Qualcomm unveils its Qualcomm Satellite: text messages via satellite, urgent or not, for Android smartphones.

Last year, Apple introduced Emergency SOS which allows the iPhone 14 to connect to a satellite to send an emergency message. Today, Qualcomm unveils its own satellite communication feature for smartphones android. baptized Snapdragon Satelliteit allows devices with an X70 modem to connect to a satellite to send messages when no cellular signal is available.

Qualcomm unveils its Qualcomm Satellite

The feature, which is expected to be available on smartphones in the second half of 2023, is the result of a partnership with satellite phone maker Iridium. Android devices with an X70 modem and the SoC Qualcomm will be able to connect to the Iridium satellite network to send SMS.

As with the majority of Qualcomm’s technologies, the final implementation will depend on the smartphone manufacturer. They have great flexibility on this point. If we do not yet know precisely when all this will be available, Qualcomm gave a demonstration to our colleagues from Engadget at CES 2023.

As with Apple Emergency SOS, you must be outdoors with clear skies to use satellite communication. Once activated, a message appears to make you point the device correctly to establish the connection. It takes a few seconds to initialize the process once the phone is in position.

When the phone is connected to a satellite, the demo devices were able to send text messages to a pre-established contact list. Qualcomm explains that this feature will remain in place to ensure that spam does not clog the satellite network. However, the company said manufacturers would have some leeway to make the process more like a traditional messaging app.

However, there are some limitations compared to these conventional apps. Satellite messages remain limited to 140 bytes, or about 160 characters, which makes it an old-school SMS, or almost. It is therefore impossible to send photos or videos via satellite.

Text messages via satellite, urgent or not, for Android smartphones

Unlike Apple’s Emergency SOS, Qualcomm wants to make Snapdragon Satellite a messaging solution not just for emergencies. So the Android version of the feature might be a little more useful, keeping in touch with loved ones in hard-to-reach areas. That being said, these communications will obviously have an additional cost. Qualcomm did not go into pricing details.

Snapdragon Satellite also only allows text messages, not calls. For truly dangerous situations, the company has partnered with Garmin, which offers an emergency communication device via satellite called inReach. This means that emergency messages will be routed by the same team that handles SOS calls from inReach devices. It’s a slightly different approach than Apple, which sometimes forwards calls to first aid on behalf of the person sending the emergency message.

Details are unfortunately rare as to the arrival date of the smartphones which will be entitled to Snapdragon Satellite, nor to their number. For now, Samsung says it expects to see the first models from “several” manufacturers in the second half of 2023. That also doesn’t mean the feature will be available on all Android smartphones with an X70 modem. and Qualcomm SoCs. Indeed, smartphones equipped with an X70 modem launched before the second half of the year do not have the necessary components to enable Snapdragon Satellite connectivity.

We should know more in the coming months. To be continued !