How to use iPhone 14’s Emergency SOS to contact 911 with a satellite
Some of the most significant upgrades in iPhone 14 are standout tools and services that, ideally, you’ll hopefully never need. Emergency SOS via satellitethat Apple announced in September but just launched on Tuesday is one such feature — and I had the chance to try it out.
Beyond the clouds and sky, hundreds of miles above Earth, flying by at 16,000 miles per hour are communications satellites. They are too tall to be seen by the human eye, but can be crucial in getting you help when you (or a loved one) are stranded, injured and out of mobile range. iPhone 14 can connect to these satellites to contact an emergency center even when you can’t make a phone call. You can also share your location with loved ones via a satellite without sending a message.
Like Registration of car accidents, Emergency SOS via Satellite is something you hope you never have to use. But if you’re wondering how it works, I had the chance to test it at Apple Park. If you want to try the service for yourself, Apple added a built-in demo mode that lets you connect to a satellite without calling 911.
How to use Emergency SOS via satellite on iPhone 14
The first thing you need to know about Emergency SOS via Satellite is that you don’t need to know anything. The service is designed to work on its own and the interface will guide you through the process step by step.
The other thing you should know is that using Emergency SOS is similar to calling 911. In fact, that’s actually how you use it. Call 911, and if your phone can’t connect, an option to text emergency services via satellite will appear. Press to get started Emergency text via satellite button. (You can also go to Messages to 911 or SOS and then tap Emergency services.)
When I tried the feature, there was a satellite icon in the top right corner of the phone, where my cellular signal normally is.
Then tap on Report emergency. Since a back-and-forth conversation isn’t possible over a satellite connection like a regular phone, Apple worked with emergency dispatchers to create a form that gathers the essential information they need to respond. These details are compressed into a message one-third the size of plain text so that it can be sent to a satellite in low Earth orbit.
Using taps, you answer the emergency questions based on your situation. The types of emergencies you can choose from are:
- Car or vehicle problem
- Illness or injury
- Lost or captured
Depending on your emergency, you will receive different follow-up prompts and questions. You can also notify your emergency contacts.
Next, the on-screen instructions will help you connect to a satellite. The interface is simple and guides you through finding a satellite and staying connected. As the satellite moved, I was prompted to shift left or right to maintain the connection. And despite a cloudy, rainy day, the connection worked within 20 to 30 seconds. But it can take a minute or more to connect, especially if there is light foliage.
Once connected, your iPhone starts a text conversation with emergency responders and shares the responses to the emergency questionnaire, your location (including altitude), critical information such as your medical ID and emergency contact information (if you’ve set them up), and the remaining battery life of your iPhone.
You may be asked questions through additional messages, such as where you are or if you have any medication.
At the top of the screen, a window shows your connection to the satellite and the status of your messages. Emergency dispatches receive your messages and respond via SMS. If your local emergency services don’t support text messaging, Apple has set up relay centers with operators who act as intermediaries between you and emergency dispatch.
Which iPhone models support Emergency SOS via satellite?
The service will be available now at:
- iPhone 14
- iPhone 14 Plus
- iPhone 14 Pro
- iPhone 14 Pro Max
Can I try Emergency SOS via satellite?
Yes, such a one. Apple created a demo mode that lets your iPhone connect to a satellite without calling or contacting 911. The experience is almost identical to what I did, except you don’t contact emergency services.
To start the demo, go outside and open Settings. Then tap on Emergency SOS and scroll to the bottom to try the demo.
The Emergency SOS via Satellite demo turns off your mobile connection and gives you a preview of the emergency questionnaire. But again, it’s not actually contacting emergency services.
Next, the demo guides you through finding a satellite. It’s a good way to familiarize yourself with the feature should you ever need it. (Plus, connecting your iPhone to a satellite is just cool.)
How do I share my location using a satellite?
Another way to use satellite connectivity on your iPhone is to share your location to let friends and family know where you are without sending them messages.
In the Find My app, tap Me the tab. When you expand the tab, you will see a new section called My location via satellite. Press on Send my location. You will be prompted to find and connect to a satellite. During the time I spent trying Emergency SOS via satellite at Apple Park, this particular step took minutes to transmit my location.
Where can I use Emergency SOS via satellite?
It is currently available in the United States (including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands) and Canada. The service will expand to France, Germany, Ireland and the UK next month. But you don’t have to live in these places to use this feature. SOS emergency service is also available to people visiting the US and Canada, unless they purchased their iPhone 14 in China, Hong Kong or Macao.
Can I use Emergency SOS via satellite indoors?
No. You must be outside and have a direct line of sight between your iPhone and the satellite. The service does not work indoors and tall buildings, mountains, dense foliage and other objects can block satellite connection. The Emergency SOS interface guides you to help you find and connect to a satellite.
How much does Emergency SOS via Satellite cost?
The service is free for two years. Beyond that, Apple hasn’t shared how much it will cost or if there will actually ever be a fee to access the feature.
Does iPhone 14 have satellite connection?
Yes. All iPhone 14 models support Emergency SOS via satellite.
Which satellites are used for Emergency SOS via satellite?
Apple partnered with satellite telecommunications company Globalstar, which is headquartered in Covington, Louisiana, with facilities throughout the United States. The feature uses Globalstar’s network of low-orbit satellites.
Apple invested $450 million to deliver critical enhancements to Globalstar’s satellite network and ground stations. At Globalstar, more than 300 employees support the new service.
Can an iPhone be used as a satellite phone?
Yes and no. The iPhone 14 series can connect to satellites to send a text message to emergency services when a call cannot be made. You can also share your location via satellite in the Find My app. However, you cannot use any iPhone to make calls as a dedicated satellite phone.
Can the iPhone 13 be used as a satellite phone?
No, only the iPhone 14 series supports emergency satellite connectivity.
Which iPhone is a satellite phone?
None are technically satellite phones, but the iPhone 14 series supports contacting emergency services via satellites via text message as a last resort.
For more, here’s yours complete guide to iPhone 14 and everything to know about iOS 16.