The iPhone 14 series has brought a new feature called Emergency SOS via satellite. Although this feature is reserved for emergencies, it has the potential to save lives. It allows users to connect with first responders even in areas where Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity is unavailable. Several reports have already highlighted cases where satellite connectivity played a crucial role in helping individuals in distress, such as iPhone 14 owners stranded in the wild or those trying to escape wildfires.
Apple is offering two years of free access to Emergency SOS via satellite with the purchase of an iPhone 14 or iPhone 15. And now, they have announced that they will provide an additional free year of support for satellite communications. This extension will apply to iPhone 14 users who have activated their devices before November 15th, 12:00 AM PT.
Emergency SOS via satellite is currently available in 16 countries and regions. Apple stated that the technology has made a significant impact and has contributed to saving many lives. To demonstrate the effectiveness of this feature, Apple released a video during the iPhone event in September titled “Another Birthday,” showcasing instances where the Apple Watch and iPhone with Emergency SOS via satellite saved lives.
To access Emergency SOS via satellite, users need an iPhone 14 or iPhone 15 running iOS 16.1 or later. The feature is available in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, and the US. Travelers from various regions can also utilize this feature, with some restrictions.
Additionally, with the iOS 17 update, US iPhone users can connect to AAA through the new Roadside Assistance service if they experience car trouble without Wi-Fi or cellular connections.
Users are encouraged to try the Emergency SOS via satellite demo available in the settings app to familiarize themselves with the feature. However, it’s still unclear what costs iPhone users will incur once the free period ends.
On the other hand, it remains uncertain whether Android device vendors will replicate a similar emergency satellite connectivity feature for their devices following Qualcomm’s termination of its contract with Iridium, the satellite company that was supposed to provide comparable services.