Android smartphones to get satellite connectivity via Qualcomm-Iridium partnership

US chip designer Qualcomm and global satellite communications company Iridium have signed a deal to bring satellite-based connectivity to the next generation of premium Android smartphones.

At CES 2023, Qualcomm announced Snapdragon Satellite technology. It is the world’s first satellite-based two-way messaging solution for smartphones.

Snapdragon Satellite is connected via Iridium’s satellite network, ensuring mobile messaging connectivity despite geographic or carrier-based restrictions.

This means that even in areas without coverage, mobile devices can connect to passing satellites and send and receive messages.

Beginning with an urgent message, the new feature is available on Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 mobile platform and is expected to launch in select regions in the second half of this year.

In the future, this functionality will be extended not only to smartphones, but also to other devices such as laptops, tablets, vehicles and IoT.

“Enabling global satellite communications”

Qualcomm senior vice president and general manager Durga Malladi said:

“Snapdragon Satellite demonstrates our history of leadership in enabling global satellite communications and our ability to bring great innovation to mobile devices at scale.

“Launching on premium smartphones later this year, this new addition to the Snapdragon platform will enable us to offer satellite communications capabilities and services across multiple device categories.”

Who else has this feature?

Iridium was the first satellite phone service with its first satellite in orbit in 1997.

Iridium CEO Matt Desch said: Snapdragon Satellite.

“Millions of people rely on our connectivity every day, and we look forward to connecting millions more via smartphones equipped with Snapdragon Satellite.”

British smartphone maker Bullitt was the first to launch a satellite service for smartphones, surpassing Apple.

Apple then launched satellite features for the iPhone 14 in September 2022.

iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models can use Emergency SOS via satellite to send texts to emergency services when you’re out of cellular or Wi-Fi range.

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