Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Satellite feature, which was initially planned to launch in the second half of 2023, has faced a setback as the partnership behind the technology has been terminated due to lack of adoption. As a result, smartphone users will have to wait longer to experience satellite connectivity on Android devices.
The focus for Qualcomm has now shifted to developing a standards-based solution for satellite-to-phone connectivity. This decision allows Iridium, the satellite communications company involved in the partnership, to explore new collaborations with smartphone OEMs and other chipmakers and OS developers.
Apple made headlines with the introduction of smartphone satellite connectivity through the iPhone 14. This feature enables users in supported regions to connect to low-orbit satellites and send emergency SOS messages, even without cellular signal. Android flagship devices, naturally, wanted to catch up and hence Snapdragon Satellite was introduced.
According to CNBC, Qualcomm and Iridium had successfully developed and demonstrated satellite messaging and emergency services on Snapdragon smartphones. However, smartphone manufacturers did not include the technology in their devices, resulting in Qualcomm’s decision to terminate the agreement.
Snapdragon Satellite was planned to be supported on Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 phones with additional antenna hardware. It aimed to provide pole-to-pole coverage, initially in North America and Europe, and offer two-way messaging capabilities. With the termination of the partnership, the previously anticipated launch in the second half of 2023 is now unlikely.
The silver lining in this situation is that satellite communication technology is still expected to arrive on the Android platform. Qualcomm stated that smartphone makers have expressed a preference for standards-based solutions. Therefore, Qualcomm will continue collaborating with Iridium to develop standards-based solutions while discontinuing the efforts on the proprietary solution.
While Android users may have to wait until 2024 to enjoy satellite connectivity features, there is still hope that the technology will be available on popular Android flagship devices in the near future.