Gear

The New iPhone 14 Has Satellite Connectivity – Great for Adventures and Its Free!

Written by Charlie

The new iPhone 14 has satellite connectivity – but, what does that mean? Check out all the details on how it will work and more.

After rumors spanning the last 14 months or so, the new iPhone 14 reveal yesterday showed that the iPhones will finally have satellite connectivity. So, what is it and how does it work? Let’s take a look.

The New iPhone 14 Has Satellite Connectivity

Satellite phones have long been bulky devices with equally stubby and bulky antennas. I mean, these satellites are over 800 miles above us in the sky and cell phones cannot hold a signal if you go just a few miles too far from a cell tower.

A phone that currently uses the same satellite network the new iPhone 14 will

That meant bulky devices and high costs – two things that were not great for the occasional adventurer. You know, the person that likes to go off the grid a bit, whether it is hiking, boating, fishing, hunting, running – you name it.

T-Mobile and SpaceX have signed an agreement to bring satellite connectivity to T-Mobile phones in the next couple of years, using existing hardware. This will mean that SpaceX will use communication protocols and frequencies for these satellites that simulate ground based networks for T-Mobile phones.

But, Apple is doing something a little different and, for a while, they are doing it for free.

The iPhone 14 and Its Satellite Connectivity

First off, all four of the iPhone 14 models will have this satellite connectivity. But, this satellite connectivity does not mean that you can talk. Instead, it will be used for emergency situations where you need to send a SMS SOS when you are outside of cellular networks. This will be relayed to emergency services via the satellites.

If local emergency services do not have texting abilities, Apple is setting up manned relay stations that will take the SMS and then call it in to emergency services.

The satellite connectivity for iPhone 14 phones will only work, at this time, in the US and Canada at launch. This means it is still not ready for global use. This could be due to the fact that these satellites are in geosynchronous orbit so coverage is not outside of the US/Canada region or it could also be because of the various laws that have to be navigated and communication protocols to fulfill for these governments. Once you are talking satellite devices that can transmit, it is a whole new regulatory and legislative ballgame in the telephone world.

To help in such an emergency, Apple will give you a serious of questions that it will then condense for the emergency SOS SMS. This means that this compression they use will make it travel much quicker in smaller packets – which also means it is cheaper for Apple.

But, if your iPhone 14 cannot see the sky and the satellites, that is a problem. Remember, typical satellite devices require stubby antennas to access the satellites, even for things like text messages. Apple says that you will need to have a clear view of the sky as well as giving you an app that helps you to point your phone in the right direction to send the message.

In some pretty cool news, the Find My network will also use the satellite connectivity. This means that anyone that you allow to follow you through Find My will still be able to see your location at all times, even if you are out of cellular range, thanks to the satellite connection. The data for this is so small that this is likely quite insignificant for Apple in the cost scheme of things but huge to offer to their customer base. This means that you and your family can take comfort in the fact that your family can always see where you are, even if you are off the grid.

Apple is teaming up with satellite company Globalstar for this satellite integration. Globalstar is allocating a huge portion of their network and resources to Apple which means that Apple is definitely paying quite a bit to offer this. Again, it is free for iPhone 14 buyers but only for the first 2 years. We will see what happens after that. I would guess we would see something like an Apple subscription for around $4.99 per month for those that want to use it or maybe more for those that will want to regularly send SMS messages (which is very likely to be supported in 2 years).

Bottom Line

It is actually quite amazing – Apple has gone after Garmin in two different products. One is the Apple Watch Ultra which is definitely a statement product that they are coming for Garmin markets in the adventure space. The other is the Garmin inReach Mini, a satellite device for sending text messages, emergency messages, and things like weather. That device costs $399 plus a monthly fee. Now, for most people, the iPhone 14 will do the job – with no monthly fee and just the cost of obtaining the phone itself.

I am a die-hard Garmin fan but even I have to applaud Apple taking these steps in these market spaces. Hopefully, none of us will ever need the SOS satellite connectivity but I know that I will certainly be making use of the Find My feature off-grid!

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About the author

Charlie

Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

4 Comments

  • The huge negative is that Apple is getting rid of the SIM tray. Some countries that I visit don’t yet easily have the e-SIM card so this is going to be a pain for when I travel and eSIM’s aren’t available.

    • I’m definitely with you on that one. I am definitely considering buying it overseas (I am in Greece right now) just for that reason. The downside is they cost more. But, I’m really not ready to give up my SIM card tray.

  • I am impressed you used a screenshot of Inyo Mountains Wilderness (where I work). Patrolling that area last week (with zero cell service all day) made me wish for satellite connectivity. BOOM

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