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Apple iPhone 14 now able to be a partial satphone in Australia and New Zealand


Apple have made a revolutionary announcement, and I don’t say that lightly. For the first time, a normal, GSM, terrestrial mobile phone like the ones we live on every day, can communicate via satellites.

Now I need to stress right now that this does NOT MAKE THE iPHONE A SATPHONE in the same way as a satphone from the likes of Iridium. First, the service isn’t available in every country, yet, and second, it’s emergency services text only, not general text or messaging. From Apple’s press release:

Apple’s groundbreaking safety service Emergency SOS via satellite is available starting today for customers in Australia and New Zealand. Available on all iPhone 14 models, the innovative technology enables users to message with emergency services while outside of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage. Additionally, if users want to reassure friends and family of their whereabouts while traveling in an area with no cellular or Wi-Fi coverage, they can now open the Find My app and share their location via satellite. 

So, it’s two things:

  1. Emergency SOS messaging (not talking)
  2. Sharing location to friends and family (not messaging or talking)

Who are the emergency services you can talk to?

This game-changing service connects users to relay centres staffed with Apple-trained emergency specialists who are ready to contact Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) — or emergency services call centres — on the userʼs behalf to get them the help they need. 

And as of 15th May 2023, where does it work?

Australia and New Zealand join Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, the U.K., and the U.S., where Emergency SOS via satellite and Find My via satellite are currently available.

Apple say the service is free for two years starting at the time of activation of a new iPhone 14 model.

This announcement will mean that iPhone 14 users have less need to carry a satphone or satellite messenger such as a Zoleos or InReach. It does not mean that such devices are now redundant; every remote area communication system has pros and cons. We can expect Android to follow suit, and sooner or later, all phones to communicate via satellites when normal cellphone towers are out of range, but we’re not there yet.

If you’re an overlander, remote area traveller, 4x4er or someone who’s just curious, find out more in the video below:

Starlink is another satellite system, but is definitely not an emergency comms system either. It is fully explained below:

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