Android phone makers and Qualcomm are collaborating to enable satellite text messaging

Several Android phone makers are partnering with Qualcomm to enable satellite text messagingImage: The launch of the Xiaomi 13 series with Snapdragon 8 Gen 2Source: Qualcomm Twitter

Finally, at MWC 2023, Qualcomm unveiled the names of all the smartphone manufacturers launching new Android phones powered by its Snapdragon satellite platform. Phone makers include Motorola, Nothing, Honor, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi, and their latest smartphones will enable two-way messaging via satellite connection. and premium categories.

In January, US chipmaker Qualcomm and global satellite communications company Iridium collaborated to bring satellite-based connectivity to premium Android smartphones. Cellular-to-satellite connectivity is made available to devices powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 mobile platform, powered by the Snapdragon 5G modem.

This week at the Mobile World Conference (MWC) 2023, Qualcomm finally announced the names of all the smartphone makers launching new Android phones powered by its Snapdragon satellite platform. Brands include Lenovo-owned Motorola, Nothing, Honor, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi – all of which will enable two-way messaging via satellite connection on their next-gen smartphones.

Qualcomm also said it is extending Snapdragon Satellite availability to its upcoming line of processors, from the Snapdragon 8 series to the Snapdragon 4 series. Put simply, satellite connectivity will soon be available on mid-range, high-end, and premium Android phones.

“By integrating Snapdragon Satellite into next-generation devices, a mature and commercially available global LEO constellation will enable our partners to offer satellite messaging capabilities that enable subscribers around the world to communicate with emergency service providers in the outdoors, family and friends ‘ Qualcomm wrote in a press release.

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Qualcomm Snapdragon Satellite

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Satellite is powered by Snapdragon 5G modem RF systems and supported by the fully functional Iridium satellite constellation. Snapdragon Satellite will allow OEMs and other service providers to offer truly global coverage. The smartphone solution uses Iridium’s weatherproof L-band spectrum for uplink and downlink.

When Qualcomm first announced the feature earlier this year, the company said emergency messaging on Snapdragon Satellite would be available in select regions starting in the second half of 2023. However, at MWC 2023, Qualcomm didn’t address the schedule and site availability.

Beyond smartphones, Qualcomm said the Snapdragon Satellite could expand to other devices, including laptops, tablets, vehicles, and IoT. “As the Snapdragon Satellite ecosystem grows, OEMs and app developers can differentiate themselves and offer uniquely branded services that take advantage of satellite connectivity. Snapdragon Satellite is planned to support 5G non-terrestrial (NTN) networks as NTN satellite infrastructure and constellations become available,” the company wrote in the January statement.

While Qualcomm is only now announcing partners for Snapdragon Satellite, Motorola and the Bullitt Group have launched their first Android smartphone with integrated two-way satellite messaging. The Motorola Defy 2 features MediaTek’s satellite connectivity technology and Bullitt’s satellite messaging service. Motorola also has a compact satellite link device that offers satellite connectivity to any Android or iOS device.

Even Apple has released the iPhone 14 with an emergency SOS satellite messaging service through Globalstar’s satellite network. This service, called Emergency SOS via Satellite, will be offered to Apple iPhone users free of charge for two years. Apple has invested $450 million to make this service possible. Before Apple, Motorola and Qualcomm, Chinese smartphone giant Huawei was the one to launch the world’s first smartphone with satellite communication capabilities.

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The Mate 50 series includes Huawei’s satellite communication, which allows users to send emergency text messages to a receiver with a satellite orbiting the earth. However, this technology does not require a mobile network and helps users to communicate as an SOS via satellite. The Huawei Mate 50 series uses the Chinese Beidou satellite to relay messages to the recipient.

Dashveenjit Kaur | @DashveenjitK

Dashveen writes for Tech Wire Asia and TechHQ, providing research-based commentary on the exciting world of technology in business. Previously, she covered Malaysia’s fast-paced political arena and stock market.