What’s the next big thing for mobile communication? According to what we have seen at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelonait seems like the “next big thing” for the market smartphone may be the satellite connections. After the support from the latter iPhone arrived last fall, Qualcomm announced at the beginning they have a new solution that we will see on different smartphones Android. And there are also devices like Bullitt’s, which brings satellite connectivity to even older smartphones.
Satellite smartphones: a new era of telecommunications?
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Among the many fascinating novelties of the Mobile World Congress (here we tell you our favorites of the 2023 edition), Qualcomm has brought a novelty that is perhaps less noticeable, but which has the potential to change the smartphone industry: satellite connectivity.
Qualcomm is one of the most used chip manufacturers in the smartphone world and brought a solution to Barcelona that it announced earlier this year: Snapdragon Satellitewhich will bring two-way satellite communication to smartphones thanks to the modem X75. This news comes after Apple presented Emergency SOS on the iPhone 14, to contact the security services via satellite.
Already at CES 2023 Qualcomm had said that several brands would adopt this new system and confirmed it in Barcelona. Companies like Honor, Motorola, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi, but also Carl Pei’s new startup Nothinghave decided to focus on this new type of communication.
Messages in orbit
For the moment, the satellite connection has too high latencies to be able to handle many of the telecommunications we are now used to – we will not be able to make streaming calls with satellite smartphones. However, FrWe could send two-way messages. This means that if we use these devices in a place without coverage (perhaps in the mountains or in the open sea), we will be able to send an SMS to the satellite which will send it to the recipient. Who will be able to answer us via his normal terrestrial connection.
Apple Emergency SOS
If once satellite phones were large devices with important antennas, today the turning point is to insert Qualcomm chips in top-of-the-range smartphones no different from the “classic” ones. The iPhone 14 (which appears to use a X65 chip coupled with some proprietary solutions from Apple) it is no wider or heavier than the previous generation. And the next top of the range that will use the Qualcomm’s new X75 chip in the Android world they will be just as thin and powerful.
For the moment, it seems that only premium-range smartphones will send messages into orbit: Qualcomme has made it clear that the modem will be associated with the serie Snapdragon 8, the most performing one that we find on high-end smartphones. But as is often the case in the tech world, technology will soon drop in price and come to other products as well.
Hardware (not just Qualcomm) and services
If the X75 modem will be the basis for communicating via satellite, the connection will not be free – except for the initial launch phases. Apple has already let it be known that its Emergency SOS will be free for the first two years onlyi. And i Android manufacturers will use similar solutions.
Someone already does, like the Bullitt company, which launched its satellite messaging service at CES (we told you about it here). After the trial period, it offers on its own smartphone Cat S75 a subscription from 4.90 euros per month to send messages via satelliteso you’re safe while at high altitudes, offshore or in the desert (or even just overseas where there’s less coverage).
Motorola Defy Satellite Link
The company has also launched a device called Motorola Defy Satellite Link, which uses a Mediatek chip instead of Qualcomm, and does something really cool. It uses Bluetooth to switch satellite connectivity to yours smartphone Android o iOSeven if not equipped with satellite modems.
This solution, which will arrive in Italy in April at price of 179 euros, will make every smartphone a satellite device. This means that not only is the era of satellite smartphones about to arrive, but that you may have already bought the smartphone with which you will send your first message via satellite – even without knowing it.