Last year, when Apple announced the iPhone 14 family of devices, one of their key features was the capability for satellite-based emergency communications. It looks like it won’t be long before Android phones, at least those made by certain brands, will also come with something similar. Chip maker Qualcomm has announced that it is working with a few Android phone makers “to develop smartphones with satellite communication capabilities” using Snapdragon Satellite.
First announced back in CES 2023, Qualcomm claims that Snapdragon Satellite “is the world’s first satellite-based tow-way capable messaging solution for smartphones”. This is done in partnership with satellite service provider Iridium and its constellation of low-Earth orbiting (LEO) satellites. The company says that this allows for global coverage of the service, provided that you get a clear view of the open sky for this to work.
According to the announcement, Snapdragon Satellite will be available “across all upcoming 5G Modem-RF systems” as well as the smartphone chipsets from the flagship tier 8 series, all the way down to the 4 series. That being said, Qualcomm has also specifically named HONOR, Motorola, Nothing, OPPO, Vivo and Xiaomi as companies that it has worked with to make this happen.
Naturally, the announcement does not mention any upcoming device specifically that sports the feature. But if nothing else, this indicates that flagship devices from these brands using the aforementioned range of 8 to 4 series chipsets will come will this satellite communication capability. Also, Qualcomm says that Snapdragon Satellite is “set to expand to other device categories in compute, automotive and IoT segments”.
Overall, Qualcomm is taking this mobile phone satellite communications feature differently compared to Apple. If you need a quick refresher, the fruit company is working with Globestar for its emergency satellite communications feature. It is also rolling out very gradually, naturally starting with the US and Canada, rolling out to other markets gradually.
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