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Snapdragon Satellite for Android is Qualcomm's answer to Apple's Emergency SOS

The tech supports two-way satellite-based messaging for premium Android phones.

Published onJanuary 5, 2023

Qualcomm logo
Kris Carlon / Android Authority
  • Qualcomm has announced the Snapdragon Satellite feature.
  • This is a satellite-based service for emergencies and two-way communication.

Qualcomm has taken to the CES 2023 show floor to announce Snapdragon Satellite — a satellite-based messaging solution for premium Android smartphones.

Unlike Apple’s Emergency SOS, which only lets users send emergency messages, Android phones that support Snapdragon Satellite will be able to achieve two-way messaging communication. That means you’ll be able to both send and receive messages using satellite connectivity. For the same, Qualcomm has partnered with Iridium to take advantage of its 66 low-orbit satellites spread across the globe. The goal is to create two-way satellite communication not just for emergency use but also for recreation in remote, rural, and offshore locations.

Snapdragon Satellite

So how will Android phones take advantage of Snapdragon Satellite? The solution is based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 mobile platform and its integrated X70 modem. Phones must have both, not just the modem, to enable satellite communication.

However, that doesn’t mean all Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 phones will support Snapdragon Satellite. According to Qualcomm, phones must be built to specifically support the service. It won’t be available as an over-the-air software upgrade to older Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 phones.

Devices supporting Snapdragon Satellite will launch in the second half of 2023.

The solution for smartphones utilizes Iridium’s weather-resilient L-band spectrum for uplink and downlink. You will need an open sky view to establish a satellite connection, which means the tech won’t work indoors or in highly obstructed areas. Once the phone is connected to the satellite, it should take a few seconds to send/receive messages, per Qualcomm.

Qualcomm may eventually roll out voice and video support, but that would require additional satellite power.

Smartphones equipped with Snapdragon Satellite will launch in the second half of 2023. However, satellite connectivity will only be offered to capable devices in North America and Europe. The company told Android Authority that pricing for the service will vary by device manufacturer. Qualcomm is also planning to eventually expand support to other devices, including laptops, tablets, vehicles, and IoT devices.

“As the Snapdragon Satellite ecosystem grows, OEMs and app developers can differentiate and offer unique branded services taking advantage of satellite connectivity,” Qualcomm said in a press release.

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