Apple confirms Emergency SOS via satellite is launching later this month

Emergency SOS via satellite on iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro will officially become available to use beginning later in November 2022, Apple has confirmed.

Composition showing a splash screen for Emergency SOS via satellite on iPhone, with a shot of planet Earth in the background
Emergency SOS via satellite is coming soon | Image: Christian Zibreg/iDB
  • What’s happening? Apple has confirmed that its new Emergency SOS via satellite feature will be launching on the new iPhone 14 family later this month.
  • What to do? Review how Emergency SOS via satellite works on this Apple page.
  • Why care? You should care because your life could be in peril if you get lost in the wilderness or the North Pole without a cellular or Wi-Fi signal.

Emergency SOS via satellite hitting iPhone in November

Apple announced Emergency SOS via satellite alongside the iPhone 14 family in September 2022. The feature wasn’t ready for the iPhone 14 launch, with Apple telling us we’d need to wait a bit longer as it puts all the pieces in place.

On November 10, 2022, the Apple Newsroom pushed out a new press release confirming that Emergency SOS via satellite is launching later in November. The company didn’t provide an exact launch date for the feature. We’ll be making sure to let you know as soon as Emergency SOS via satellite officially launches.

In partnership with Globstar

Closeup of a Globalstar ground station for satellite communications
Ground stations relay texts to emergency services | Image: Apple

Initially available in the United States and Canada, this feature uses the satellite constellation and mobile satellite services spectrum operated by Globalstar.

Texts are routed to emergency service providers. If the provider doesn’t accept texts, the message is instead routed to emergency relay centers filled with Apple‑trained specialists who call for help on your behalf.

Apple has poured $450 million from its Advanced Manufacturing Fund into infrastructure development, including expanding and enhancing Globalstar ground stations in Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Nevada, Puerto Rico and Texas.

“Apple’s investment has already led to enhancements at Globalstar ground stations through the deployment of new high-power antennas produced specifically for Apple at Cobham Satcom’s manufacturing plant in Concord, California,” reads the press release. Read: How to view release notes for AirPods firmware updates

How Emergency SOS via satellite works

A technician installing equipment inside Globalstar's ground station for satellite communications
Groundstar uses Apple-designed satellite antennas | Image: Apple

Emergency SOS via satellite service utilizes the spectrum in L and S bands, specially designated for mobile satellite services by ITU Radio Regulations.

Here’s Apple’s description of how this works:

When an iPhone user makes an Emergency SOS via satellite request, the message is received by one of Globalstar’s 24 satellites in low-earth orbit traveling at speeds of approximately 16,000 mph. The satellite then sends the message down to custom ground stations located at key points all over the world.

More on these custom ground stations:

Once received by a ground station, the message is routed to emergency services that can dispatch help, or a relay center with Apple-trained emergency specialists if the closest emergency services location is not able to receive text messages.

Cobham Satcom provides custom high-power antennas, installed in all Globalstar ground stations around the world.

To connect iPhone with the satellite network, users communicate over the mobile satellite services spectrum, which Globalstar has operated in the US for the past 20 years. With upgraded ground stations, and soon an updated satellite constellation, Apple and Globalstar will ensure the spectrum continues to enable emergency services.

As its name suggests, Emergency SOS via satellite is restricted to texting emergency services and sharing your location via satellite using the Find My app. Phone calls and satellite data are not possible with this feature.

How much does Emergency SOS via satellite cost?

Aerial view of Globalstar's ground stations for satellite communications
Globstar’s new ground stations in Nevada | Image: Apple

Emergency SOS via satellite is free for two years with the activation of any iPhone 14 model. After your first two years on Apple have expired, you will need to pay up to continue using this feature. Emergency SOS via satellite will be a subscription but pricing is yet to be revealed.

Will iOS 16.2 debut Emergency SOS via satellite?

Emergency SOS via satellite should arrive as part of the iOS 16.2 software update for iPhone. Apple just released the minor iOS 16.1.1 update and the company is currently testing iOS 16.2 with developers. For those wondering, iOS 16.2 should launch in late November or early December. Read: How to use Emergency SOS via satellite