Where are the satellites, Samsung?

Samsung – I was nearly positive we’d see the functionality on Samsung’s then-upcoming S23 phones when Qualcomm revealed its Snapdragon Satellite technology that will help Android phone makers compete with Apple’s Emergency SOS via satellite.

Why wouldn’t we, really? Samsung is releasing the first major Android flagship of 2023 with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor; undoubtedly, it will include this potentially life-saving functionality, as analysts have been predicting for months. Qualcomm said the feature would be available this year for phones using its Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor.

Then Samsung’s Unpacked event passed without any mention of satellite messaging, and CNET published an interview with TM Roh, president and head of Samsung’s mobile experience business, in which he discussed the technology. He said that when the infrastructure and technology are ready, “we would also actively consider adopting this feature for the Samsung Galaxy, for our mobile division.”

What universe—sorry—am I in? While iPhone customers are already using it, Samsung, which has a reputation for packing its phones with features as quickly as possible, is saying “we’ll wait till the tech is ready.” (Well, not really; Qualcomm’s technology will use the Iridium satellite.

Roh stated that he doesn’t think being able to send messages via satellites is the pinnacle of ranking amongst the options used to ensure peace of mind for users. This strikes me as a very strange perspective. Of course, there are certainly limits to satellite connectivity; it gets considerably murkier when you’re surrounded by trees, which is, of course, the place a whole lot of outdoor recreation takes place.

If you were in a serious medical emergency, it wouldn’t be hard to point your device at a satellite even if you’re standing under an open sky. But there are also life-threatening situations where these restrictions would not apply, and where this technology would be helpful to save someone’s life. Having access to this gear is, thus, a considerable responsibility.

Leave a comment