CES 2023: Qualcomm unveils the Snapdragon satellite; Two-way satellite messaging for Android phones is coming soon

Qualcomm, the American semiconductor maker behind the Snapdragon chipsets on the mobile platform, announced a two-way satellite messaging feature for smartphones at the Consumer Electronics Show 2023 (CES 2023). The company’s Snapdragon Satellite solution will allow users to send and receive emergency messages, SMS and texts on other messaging apps on Android smartphones worldwide. The feature will first come to devices based on the company’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 mobile platform. A similar feature is available on Apple’s latest iPhones, which allows users to send emergency SOS messages over a satellite connection.

The company has partnered with satellite telecommunications company Iridium to provide the service to users around the world. Snapdragon Satellite will be powered by Snapdragon 5G modem-RF systems and will use Iridium’s constellation of Earth-orbiting satellites, allowing manufacturers to offer the service worldwide, according to Qualcomm.

It should be noted that Apple’s Emergency SOS via Satellite feature is currently only available in the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany and Ireland.

Qualcomm’s satellite messaging service is expected to launch in select regions in the second half of 2023. The company also plans to expand functionality beyond smartphones to laptops, tablets, vehicles and IoT devices. It is intended for makers and app developers to develop proprietary features and apps based on the capabilities of Snapdragon Satellite.

Garmin, which makes popular GPS-based activity tracking smartwatches, has already announced plans to work with Qualcomm to bring the feature to its devices. Garmin watches have their own SOS feature, Garmin Response, which activates when a user presses the SOS button, connecting them to the Garming Response team for rescue or assistance.

The Snapdragon Satellite feature promises to deliver “pole-to-pole” coverage for two-way satellite messaging in remote, rural and offshore areas. In addition to emergency use, the service could also be used for recreational purposes. There is currently no word from the company on whether smartphones in India will offer support for Snapdragon Satellite, when it arrives later this year.

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