Qualcomm and its partner Iridium have decided to terminate their deal to bring satellite connectivity to Android phones. The announcement comes as a surprise, considering that satellite connectivity has become a standard feature in Apple’s recent iPhone lineups. However, the Android side of things has seen little development in this area.
Earlier this year, Qualcomm unveiled Snapdragon Satellite, a technology in collaboration with Iridium that would have allowed Android smartphones to establish limited connectivity via satellites to send emergency messages. Unfortunately, there has been little progress since the initial announcement, leading to the dissolution of the partnership between Qualcomm and Iridium, effective December 3, 2023.
According to a press release from Iridium, the decision to end the partnership was made because Android phones have not yet adopted the necessary technology to connect to satellites. Qualcomm had previously announced that Oppo, Nothing, and Motorola would adopt Snapdragon Satellite technology, but no devices incorporating the technology were released. The company had also expressed its intention to make the technology available across all tiers of Snapdragon chips.
Rival chipmaker MediaTek had previously announced satellite connectivity for Android phones and other devices, adding competition to the market.
With the end of Qualcomm and Iridium’s partnership, the future of satellite connectivity in Android phones remains uncertain. Qualcomm stated that Android manufacturers have shown a preference for “standards-based solutions” rather than Qualcomm’s proprietary solution. The company intends to discontinue its efforts with Snapdragon Satellite in its current form and collaborate with Iridium on developing standards-based solutions.
Overall, while satellite connectivity has become a key feature for iPhones, it seems that Android phones have yet to fully embrace this technology due to various factors, such as the preference for standardized solutions and the lack of integration in device manufacturing.