iPhone: how to send an emergency SOS via satellite

Starting this Tuesday, December 13, it is possible to send an emergency SOS via satellite with an iPhone in France and some countries. A first for a smartphone and here’s how to do it.

Lost in the middle of nature, injured while hiking on a mountain top, witness to a crime… Emergencies can be many and if France has good network coverage, white areas still exist in some areas. At the end of the year, Apple introduced a long-awaited feature: a system that allows you to contact emergency services via satellite via messaging. A first in a consumer smartphone. This Tuesday, December 13, the apple brand is rolling out the service in France and some European countries after launching it in the US and Canada last month.

Still, to access this emergency SOS via satellite, you need to follow a few steps that CNEWS was able to access in the preview.

Which iPhone models are compatible?

Please note that the new service is only available using iPhone 14 i.e. iPhone 14, 14 Plus, 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max models. Other iPhones do not have a dedicated antenna to connect to the satellite. Also, you need to make sure you have iOS 16.1 or later update to unlock this feature.

How to get there

It is important to know that any emergency call will be made primarily through traditional telephone networks (2G, 3G, 4G and 5G) but also Wi-Fi, so the satellite emergency SOS service is only activated. ‘In the absence of general network coverage. In short, if you find yourself in the white zone.

When you contact 112, the emergency number known by all operators, the interface of the iPhone 14 may testify to the lack of network coverage. A green icon with a small red SOS sticker at the bottom right of your screen will then be available. Just tap on it to launch the interface.

What procedures should be followed?

Be careful, however, to only initiate such communications in the event of a proven emergency. If you want to use it, Apple has still thought of everything, because the procedure can be tested for the sake of testing, and you don’t have to discover it in a real emergency.

To do this, go to the Settings icon, then the “emergency call” tab, and finally, go to the interface “Emergency SOS via Satellite” and click the “Try Demo” button. Then the phone will act as if it is really offline by calling 112.


After SOS messaging is activated, the interface switches to a questionnaire that will allow you to pre-write a message for the emergency services. “What’s the rush?” Asks iPhone: car trouble; discomfort or injury; crime; lost or locked; fire are suggested scenarios. “Who needs help?” : You ; someone else; a few people. After that some information is required depending on the situation. For example, where it is located during the injury, whether we are breathing well, etc.

Next comes sending a message to the emergency room. After that, we will have to orient ourselves to find a satellite continuing its orbital course in space. Again, the interface will help us by guiding us like a compass, with a small radar that turns green when a connection is established. In this case, an urgent message is sent, which may take between 15 seconds and one minute to send. A pre-recorded message is sent containing the basic information of a short initial request as well as the geographic location (latitude and longitude). Rescuers may also send a message asking you to describe where you are to help them find you.

A second emergency contact was also notified

Note that Apple encourages users to add relatives to emergency contacts on their iPhone. This person, who may be someone close to you, will also be notified in real time as a backup for this exchange.

Does it work in the building?

Attention, Apple notes that this satellite communication must meet several conditions to pass well. You shouldn’t be in a building in the middle of a dense forest. So you need to find a clear place. When we were able to test this service in the preview, we were in a meadow near a forest, but the connection was perfect with cloudy skies.

Can I call with 15, 17 and 18?

First of all, 112 should be used for all calls. As for the classic emergency numbers like 15, 17 or 18, Apple explains that they are also available from the iOS 16.2 update that you can already do. However, 112 remains a reference, as this number is intended to send emergency calls to the relevant services (fire, ambulance, police, etc.).

Is the service free?

The new SOS emergency satellite service is free and unlimited for 2 years from the date of service activation in your country (from December 13 in France) or on iPhone 14, for example, if you buy it later. Apple has not yet specified how much it will cost after this free period.

In which country does he work?

For now, the new Apple service does not work all over the planet, and if you plan to travel in Peru, it is better to prefer other systems. However, Apple has launched the service in France, Germany, Ireland, the UK, the US and Canada.

Will other brands offer this type of service?

If Apple is the first smartphone manufacturer to integrate this type of service, other brands have taken part in this service, but have not yet introduced it in France. We already know that the Chinese Huawei has integrated such an option in the Mate 50, but for now it is only for China. Finally, Samsung could launch this service in its next models from 2023, according to several specialized media betting on the upcoming Galaxy S23, which should be unveiled in the 1st quarter.

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