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Samsung all but confirms satellite communication for the Galaxy S24 series

If this pans out, Samsung phones will finally be able to match the iPhone when it comes to non-terrestrial communication.
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Published onOctober 26, 2023

Samsung Logo IFA 2022
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • A Samsung executive appears to have confirmed that Samsung Galaxy S24 satellite communication will be possible.
  • If true, this would bring Samsung’s Galaxy series to parity with the iPhone when it comes to non-terrestrial communication.
  • It is unclear if all models in the Galaxy S24 series will support this feature.

In 2022, Apple rolled Emergency SOS to the iPhone. This feature allows certain iPhones with the necessary hardware to connect to non-terrestrial networks (NTN). In other words, iPhones can communicate with satellite networks for emergency needs. This would be especially useful if a hiker were injured in a remote location where traditional communication wouldn’t be feasible.

So far, no Samsung phones have a similar feature. That could change in 2024, though, as a Samsung executive just strongly hinted that a comparable feature could come to the Samsung Galaxy S24 series (via Sisa Journal-E, through a machine translation).

During the keynote presentation at the 2023 Semiconductor Expo (SEDEX), John Yong-In Park — head of Samsung Electronics SLSI Business Division — said that Samsung will enable satellite communication on smartphones in 2024. Considering the flagship status of the Galaxy S series, it’s basically a given that the Samsung Galaxy S24 family would support satellite connectivity.

Interestingly, it was rumored that Samsung would roll out a smartphone satellite feature in 2023. With Snapdragon Satellite supported in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, there wasn’t anything stopping Samsung from supporting satellite connections in the Galaxy S23 family. However, Samsung’s top dog, TM Roh, said the company decided to pass on this for various reasons, including a lack of proper infrastructure.

Due to hardware limitations of the Galaxy S23 series, those phones cannot use Snapdragon Satellite. Even a software update couldn’t switch it on. As such, the Galaxy S24 series would likely be the only Samsung phone with this ability, at least at first.

Will all Samsung Galaxy S24 models have satellite support?

Since the launch of the Galaxy S23 series, Samsung has confirmed that the Exynos 5300 modem also supports NTN communications. Interestingly, despite multiple smartphones shipping with this modem — including the Pixel 7 and Pixel 8 series — no phones actually take advantage of the capability.

Previous rumors point to Samsung launching both Exynos- and Snapdragon-powered versions of the Galaxy S24 family. This begs the question: will all Galaxy S24 phones support this feature?

If the rumors turn out to be true and the Galaxy S24 and Galaxy S24 Plus come with the Exynos 2400 chipset while the Galaxy S24 Ultra comes with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, it’s anyone’s guess as to which of them would support NTN communication. While the Exynos 5300 modem would almost certainly land in the less expensive Galaxy S24 models and Snapdragon Satellite sees support within the Galaxy S24 Ultra, these are two entirely different protocols. Samsung would need to support both simultaneously for all Galaxy S24 models to work with satellites.

Obviously, the Galaxy S24 Ultra would be the best candidate for satellite connectivity support. But this phone — assuming there is no Exynos-powered model — would use Snapdragon Satellite for this purpose.

Regardless, John Yong-In Park’s statements make it clear at least some of the Galaxy S24 phones will support NTN communications. We’ll likely hear a lot more about this throughout the rest of 2023.