Last year saw rumors of Samsung satellite comms connectivity in the Galaxy S23, following the launch of Emergency SOS via Satellite in the iPhone 14 lineup. That didn’t happen, but the company has now announced its own modem chip that includes the feature.

The company apparently plans to try to leapfrog Apple, however, by beating the company to photo and video sharing via satellite …

Apple’s Emergency SOS via satellite

The iPhone 14’s Emergency SOS via Satellite feature was one of the headline announcements made during the launch event, and the reason for the Far Out name and space visuals. It went live in the US and Canada in November, rolling out to four more countries a month later.

The service operates via Globalstar satellites specifically designed to provide services to smartphones. It allows access to 911 services when you are in isolated areas without cellular coverage.

The service will eventually be subscription-based, but Apple says it will be free for all iPhone 14 owners in compatible countries for the first two years. We don’t yet know what the subscription will cost at the end of the free period.

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The service is currently text-only, with the iPhone prompting the user for all the information needed by rescuers, and then sending it in a compressed format.

It has already been credited with more than one rescue, and described as a game-changer by search and rescue teams.

Last year’s Samsung satellite comms rumor

Shortly after Apple’s Emergency SOS via Satellite went live, there was a rumor that a similar feature would be offered by the then-upcoming Galaxy S23.

That didn’t happen, and Samsung’s president gave a vague answer to a question about it.

When there is the right timing, infrastructure and the technology [is] ready, then of course for Samsung Galaxy, for our mobile division, we would also actively consider adopting this feature as well.

The earlier rumor had suggested that Samsung wanted to try to leapfrog Apple by extending satellite comms beyond text, to include photo and video transmission too.

Samsung satellite comms announcement

Samsung has now announced the development of a new modem chip with satellite comms capabilities.

Samsung Electronics […] today announced that it has secured standardized 5G non-terrestrial networks (NTN) modem technology for direct communication between smartphones and satellites, especially in remote areas. Samsung plans to integrate this technology into the company’s Exynos modem solutions, accelerating the commercialization of 5G satellite communications and paving the way for the 6G-driven Internet of Everything (IoE) era.

Samsung has given no indication which phones will be given the new chips, or when that will happen.

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Photo and video transmission; beyond emergency use

The press release says that the company’s “future” modems will support photo and video transmission as well as text, but again gives no time frame for this.

Based on this technology, Samsung’s future Exynos modems will support two-way text messaging as well as high-definition image and video sharing.

Apple already has a patent for expanding its service to photos, video, and more – so it’s unclear which company will get there first.

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