Android smartphones of 2023 may make a mockery of Apple and its satellite feature

Qualcomm announces the Snapdragon Satellite solution, created in partnership with Iridium, which allows you to send and receive SMS via satellite anywhere on the planet. On paper, the iPhone 14 solution looks less successful.

Source: Qualcomm

Qualcomm is the supplier of 90-95% of the top-end smartphone models in the European market. So when they add the technology to their chips, it could potentially affect many devices and users in our area.

During CES 2023, the San Diego firm announced the launch of the latest feature for buyers of the iPhone 14 and 14 Pro so far: satellite communication. This is theoretically compatible with all smartphones equipped with Qualcomm’s new high-end chip, Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which will be found in all flagships in 2023.

What’s particularly interesting about this announcement is that if Android is well and truly lagging behind its rival, the technology on offer looks superior to its rival from Cupertino for once. We explain why.

Why is Qualcomm’s solution technically superior on paper?

As presented by Qualcomm and its vice president Francesco Grilli, the technology installed in the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 seems to be superior to the iPhone 14. Be warned though, we haven’t tested the functionality ourselves, it’s just a statement here. on paper.

To create a satellite communication system, Qualcomm engineers did not launch their own satellites, as you might imagine. They teamed up with Iridium, an already well-established company in the industry. This partnership will allow them to connect a network of 66 satellites. Theoretically, this “constellation” can cover the whole earth at any time. There are even spare satellites in case some fail.

For its part, GlobalStar, Apple’s preferred partner, integrates fewer satellites, but in a higher orbit. As a result, they must always be connected to ground stations to transmit data. This has a very specific consequence, and it clearly favors Qualcomm. If you’re in the middle of the Pacific Ocean or Antarctica, areas that don’t have a ground relay for the satellites used by Apple, in theory the iPhone 14 shouldn’t be able to call for help, unlike a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2-powered smartphone. .

The second notable advantage of this solution: Iridium satellites move. If you are stuck at the bottom of a creek, there is no guarantee that the satellite is above you. But if these are moving, maybe you can hope that one of them will pass. By the way, a special interface will theoretically allow you to “target” a satellite with an augmented reality view.

Once connected, sending a text should only take 3-10 seconds, compared to almost a minute on an iPhone. Moreover, this is another notable advantage of Snapdragon Satellite: it is possible to send and receive SMS, not only for relaxation, but also to relatives.

There are still many unknowns

It is not yet clear how all this will translate into the market. Indeed, Qualcomm is struggling to offer the technologies to smartphone makers, popular OEMs, who decide whether to integrate them into their devices. A rumor has already suggested that Samsung will try to implement this solution in the Galaxy S23.

It also means that the experience can vary from one manufacturer to another that chooses to integrate satellite communications into their phone. Each will have to offer, for example, its own interface, but also a price for a possible subscription. Recall that Apple planned not to pay for this service during the first two years of its use. But there is no guarantee that this is the case among Android manufacturers.


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