Iridium satellite constellation

Owners of new Android phones will have a much easier time getting out of emergencies later this year.

At CES 2023, Qualcomm announced Snapdragon Satellite. It’s a new initiative by the mobile chip maker to bring satellite messaging to “next-generation premium Android smartphones,” per the press release. Qualcomm is partnering with Iridium, a company with a communications satellite array already in low orbit, on this project.

So, what does all of that actually mean? Basically, if you buy a new Android phone later this year (like a OnePlus 11 or Samsung Galaxy S23) that has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip inside of it, you’ll be able to send two-way text messages using satellites. If you’re out of cell coverage and need to communicate where you are to someone, this would theoretically come in handy.

Qualcomm’s presentation indicated that you’ll have to aim your phone at the sky while doing so, but unlike Apple’s Emergency SOS feature launched last year, it’s not limited entirely to emergencies and lets you do more than just contact 911. The company also said that this would offer global “pole-to-pole” coverage, so hopefully there aren’t a great deal of areas where this feature won’t work.

It’s no substitute for 5G, but for Android users, it’ll do in a pinch.