Credits: Wikimedia commons

Remember Apple’s Emergency SOS via satellite, which has proven itself to be capable of saving human lives? Now, Qualcomm is throwing its hat in the ring by bringing a similar feature to Android smartphones – Snapdragon Satellite.

Qualcomm lifted the veil off the feature at CES 2023, describing it as the “first satellite-based two-way capable messaging solution for premium smartphones” in the world. In its bid to bring satellite messaging to the next-generation premium Android smartphones, the California-headquartered chipmaker has joined forces with communications firm Iridium and tech company Garmin.

Much like Apple’s Emergency SOS on the iPhone 14 lineup, Snapdragon Satellite allows users to communicate via the Iridium satellite network and let users send and receive messages, especially in places where regular cell service coverage is sketchy. Snapdragon Satellite, according to Qualcomm, will leverage the 5G Modem-RF Systems on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 – the company’s new flagship SoC – along with Iridium’s satellite constellation and L-band spectrum to deliver emergency messaging. Snapdragon Satellite is planned to support 5G Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTN) as well.

If you are wondering where Garmin comes into this, here is your answer. The tech company brings its Response feature atop the Iridium network for emergency messages, especially in remote locations. According to Garmin VP Brad Trenkle, Garmin Response “supports thousands of SOS incidents each year and has likely saved many lives in the process.” When you send an SOS (satellite messages are limited to about 160 characters) with Snapdragon Satellite (leveraging Garmin Response), response coordinators will take note of the sender’s coordinates in order to determine the “appropriate agency to coordinate the rescue.”

“We are looking forward to collaborating with Qualcomm Technologies and Iridium to help people connect to emergency services no matter where life takes them,” he added. Snapdragon Satellite will also be equipped with Qualcomm’s X70 Modem system. Its uses span beyond emergencies – you can utilize Snapdragon Satellite for “recreation in remote, rural, and offshore locations” as well, so you can stay in touch with your friends and family even when you go hiking, for example.

If you wish to get your hands on this juicy feature, then you will have to wait. The official statement by Qualcomm informed that emergency messaging on Snapdragon will be available on next-gen smartphones, which will be launched in a handful of regions starting in the second half of the year. Qualcomm is already opening access to the feature to OEMs, and according to the company, Snapdragon Satellite enables it to enable satellite communication capabilities and service offerings across multiple device categories. These devices span beyond smartphones to include laptops, tablets, vehicles, and IoT.

“Robust and reliable connectivity is at the heart of premium experiences. Snapdragon Satellite showcases our history of leadership in enabling global satellite communications and our ability to bring superior innovations to mobile devices at scale,” said Durga Malladi, senior VP, and general manager, of cellular modems and infrastructure, at Qualcomm Technologies.