Apple launches Emergency SOS via satellite in the US and Canada

In addition, Apple has confirmed that Emergency SOS via satellite will be available in December in France, Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Closeup of a Globalstar ground station for satellite communications
The feature uses a satellite services spectrum operated by Globalstar | Image: Apple
  • What’s happening? On November 15, 2022, Apple’s Emergency SOS via satellite feature launched on the iPhone 14 family in the United States and Canada.
  • Why care? Because this feature could potentially save your life should you ever find yourself in a dire situation with no network coverage.
  • What to do? Read our tutorial to learn how to use Emergency SOS via satellite.

Emergency SOS via satellite launches in US and Canada

The feature takes advantage of the satellite constellation and mobile satellite services spectrum operated by Globalstar. An iPhone 14 first makes a satellite request that gets picked up by one of Globalstar’s 24 satellites in low-earth orbit.

The satellite then sends the message down to custom ground stations located at key points all over the world, which take it from there. In case the closest emergency services location is unable to receive text messages, your message is then routed to one of the relay centers with Apple-trained emergency specialists.

The service, Apple explains, lets emergency services call centers connect to even more users in emergency situations. It requires no additional software or protocols to enable communications. Aside from texting emergency services, this feature also supports updating your location via satellite in the Find My app.

Coming soon to France, Germany, Ireland and the UK

Composition showing an iPhone 14 with Emergency SOS via satellite in the foreground, with a space shot of Earth along with an orbiting satellite in the background
It works on all iPhone 14 models | Composition: Christian Zibreg/iDB | Earth image: Apple

According to an announcement in the Apple Newsroom, Emergency SOS via satellite will arrive in Germany, France, Ireland and the United Kingdom in December.

In the US and Canada, this feature is free for the first two years from the iPhone activation. After that, you’ll need to subscribe to continue using Emergency SOS via satellite. Apple will reveal pricing information at a later stage.

How to use Emergency SOS via satellite

iPhone 14 closeup showing the green Emergency Text via Satellite button on the calling screen

There’s no special app or button for invoking Emergency SOS via satellite. Instead, you’ll see a prompt on your iPhone whenever you try to make an emergency call in an area without any Wi-Fi connectivity or cellular coverage. Touch the green button labeled “Emergency Text via Satellite” on the calling screen to start using the feature. Read: How to set up and use Emergency SOS on Apple Watch

  1. Press and hold the power button and one of the volume buttons until the Emergency SOS slider appears, then drag it to call a local emergency service.
  2. The regular call should fail and you should see a No Connection message at the top. Now touch the button labeled Emergency Text via Satellite. Alternatively, you can text 911 or SOS in the Messages app, then choose Emergency Services.
  3. Now touch the Report Emergency option.
  4. Answer a few questions to describe your situation as accurately as possible.
  5. Follow onscreen tips to connect your iPhone to a satellite.
  6. After you’re connected, continue following these prompts to maintain connection so the message can go through.

Emergency SOS  via satellite is supported on the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Max, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max models with iOS 16.1 and later. It’s unsupported on the iPhone 14 units sold in mainland China mainland, Hong Kong and Macao.

Apple has provided a built-in demo so that people can test satellite connectivity on their iPhones by connecting to a real satellite in range without actually calling emergency services. Read: How to set up your emergency contacts on iPhone