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Some of the most significant updates on iPhone 14 are unobtrusive tools and services that, ideally, you’ll hopefully never need. Emergency SOS via satellitethat Apple announced in September is one such feature, and I had a chance to try it out.

Beyond the clouds and sky, hundreds of miles above Earth, flying at 16,000 mph are communications satellites. They are too loud to be seen by the human eye, but can be vital in getting you help when you (or a loved one) are stranded, injured, and out of cell service range. iPhone 14 can connect to these satellites to communicate with emergency dispatchers even when you can’t make a phone call. You can also share your location with loved ones via satellite without sending a message.

like Car accident detection, Emergency SOS via satellite is something you hope you never have to use. But if you’re wondering how it works, I had a chance to test it out at Apple Park. If you want to test the service yourself, Apple has added a built-in demo mode that lets you connect to the satellite without calling 911.

How to use Emergency SOS via satellite on iPhone 14

The first thing you need to know about Emergency SOS via satellite is that you don’t need to know anything. The service is designed to run on its own, and the interface will guide you step-by-step through the process.

The second thing you need to know is that using Emergency SOS is the equivalent of calling 911. In fact, that’s how you actually use it. Dial 911, and if your phone can’t connect, an option to send a message to emergency services via satellite appears. Tap to start Emergency message via satellite the button. (You can also go to Messages to send a 911 or SOS text, then tap Emergency services.)


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I tested Emergency SOS via satellite on the iPhone 14


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When I tried the feature, there was a satellite icon in the top right corner of the phone, where my cell signal normally is.

Next, tap Report an Emergency. Because a back-and-forth conversation isn’t possible over a satellite connection like a regular phone, Apple worked with emergency dispatchers to create a form that collects the necessary information needed to respond. Those details are compressed into a message one-third the size of regular text so it can be sent to a low-Earth orbit satellite.

With faucets, you answer emergency questions based on your situation. The types of emergencies you can choose from are:

  • Car or vehicle problem
  • Illness or injury
  • A crime
  • Lost or trapped?
  • Fire

Depending on your emergency, you will receive different follow-up instructions and questions. You can also notify your emergency contacts.

iPhone 14 showing a text conversation with emergency dispatchers

Kevin Heinz/CNET

Next, the on-screen instructions will help you connect to the satellite. The interface is simple and guides you through finding a satellite and staying connected. As the satellite moved, I was prompted to move left or right to maintain contact. And despite a cloudy, rainy day, the connection worked within 20-30 seconds. But it can take a minute or more to connect, especially if there is light foliage.

Once connected, your iPhone starts a text conversation with emergency responders and shares answers to the emergency questionnaire, your location (including altitude), important information such as your medical ID and emergency contact information (if set up g) and the rest. battery life for your iPhone.

You may be asked questions through additional messages, such as where you are or if you have any medication.

A window at the top of the screen shows your connection to the satellite and the status of your messages. Emergency dispatchers receive your messages and respond via text. If your local emergency services don’t support text messaging, Apple has set up relay centers with operators that work as intermediaries between you and emergency services.

Which iPhone models support Emergency SOS via satellite?

The service will be available from:

  • iPhone 14:
  • iPhone 14 Plus
  • iPhone 14 Pro
  • iPhone 14 Pro Max
A man holding an iPhone 14 Pro outdoors on a remote mountainside

Emergency SOS might be one of the most important features to hit any phone this year.

Kevin Heinz/CNET

Can I try Emergency SOS via satellite?

Yes, sort of. Apple has created a demo mode that allows your iPhone to connect to a satellite without calling or contacting 911. The experience is pretty much the same as what I did, except you don’t contact the emergency services.

To start the demo, go outside and open it Settings. Then tap Emergency SOS and scroll down to try the demo.

Emergency SOS disables your cellular connection via satellite and provides a preview of the emergency questionnaire. But again, it doesn’t really relate to emergency services.

iPhone 14 showing demo mode option

Apple has created a demo mode that allows you to actually connect to the satellite.

Kevin Heinz/CNET

Next, the demo will walk you through finding a satellite. It’s a good way to familiarize yourself with the feature if you ever need it. (Plus, connecting your iPhone to satellite is just awesome).

How can I share my location via satellite?

Another way to use your iPhone’s satellite connection is to share your location to let friends and family know where you are without sending them a text.

In the Find My app, tap me tab. When you expand the tab, you’ll see a new section called My location via satellite. Tap Submit my location. You will be prompted to find and connect to a satellite. During my time trying Emergency SOS via satellite at Apple Park, this particular step took minutes to send my location.

iPhone 14 showing the Share Location option in the Find My app

A good way to share your location outside of cell signal range is with the Find My app satellite.

Kevin Heinz/CNET

Where can I use Emergency SOS via satellite?

It is currently available in the US (including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands) and Canada. The service will expand to France, Germany, Ireland and the UK next month. But you don’t need to live in these places to take advantage of this opportunity. Emergency SOS is also available to people visiting the US and Canada if they bought their iPhone 14 in China, Hong Kong or Macau.

Can I use Emergency SOS via satellite indoors?

No. You must be outside and have a direct line of sight between your iPhone and the satellite. The service does not work indoors, and tall buildings, mountains, dense foliage, and other objects may block the satellite connection. The Emergency SOS interface guides you to help you locate and connect to the satellite.

How much does an emergency SOS via satellite cost?

The service is free for two years. Beyond that, Apple hasn’t shared how much it will cost or if there will ever be a charge to access the feature.

Does the iPhone 14 have satellite connectivity?

Yes! All iPhone 14 models support Emergency SOS via satellite.

A Globalstar employee works a ladder on the ground base

A Globalstar employee works at a ground station that receives messages from satellites to share with emergency dispatchers.

Apple:

What satellites are used for Emergency SOS via satellite?

Apple partnered with Globalstar, a satellite telecommunications company headquartered in Covington, Louisiana, with a US-wide presence. The feature uses Globalstar’s network of low-orbit satellites.

Apple has invested $450 million to provide critical upgrades to Globalstar’s satellite network and ground stations. Globalstar has more than 300 employees supporting the new service.

Can an iPhone be used as a satellite phone?

Yes and no. The iPhone 14 series can connect to satellites to send a text message to emergency services when a call fails. You can also share your location via satellite in the Find My app. However, you can’t use any iPhone to make calls like a dedicated satellite phone.

Can the iPhone 13 be used as a satellite phone?

No, only the iPhone 14 series supports emergency satellite connectivity.

Which iPhone is a satellite phone?

Neither is technically a satellite phone, but the iPhone 14 series supports contacting emergency services via satellite via text message as a last resort.

Moreover, here’s yours complete guide for iPhone 14 and: Everything you need to know about iOS 16.

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