One of the upcoming iPhone 14’s new capabilities is satellite connectivity, a feature that may just save your life. Apple showed off the new phone earlier this week during its live streamed “Far Out” event, and explained how the new feature can help you communicate with emergency contacts in various life-threatening scenarios—even when you don’t have a signal.
For example, if you’re out hiking in a remote location and are injured or get lost, your iPhone 14’s Emergency SOS feature lets you call or text first responders or send alerts to contacts in your phone, even if you don’t have mobile or wifi connections.
Making satellite calls on iPhone 14 is simple: just hold your phone like normal (it won’t work if it’s in your pocket or backpack) and try calling an emergency contact. If your phone can connect to a satellite, the call will go through. If not, your phone will help guide you to a nearby location with better access. The best locations are higher elevation areas with minimal overhead foliage and no nearby hills and mountains.
If the call still won’t connect, you can next try texting emergency services over satellite. Tap “Emergency Text via Satellite” when prompted after attempting a call, or go to your messages and text either 911 or SOS. Then select “Emergency Services” and tap “Report Emergency.”
Since satellite communication is slower and has lower bandwidth availability compared to normal mobile data or wifi, the iPhone 14 Emergency SOS also includes a guided questionnaire so you can send emergency services information about your status without wasting time or the need for messaging back and forth. Apple has also created a new compression algorithm to make satellite messages smaller so they send quicker over satellite connections.
Along with the guided messaging, you can also share your location data over satellite with contacts, both by selecting the option via the Report Emergency questionnaire, and through the Find My app. The Emergency SOS feature will also automatically alert emergency services for you when your iPhone 14’s built-in Crash Detection is tripped. (This feature is similar to Android’s automatic crash detection and emergency alerts.)
The iPhone 14’s Emergency SOS feature launches in U.S. and Canada in November. Apple says the feature will be free for two years, but there’s no word yet on what it’ll cost after that. The feature will be compatible on all iPhone 14 devices, including the 14, 14 Plus, 14 Pro, and 14 Pro Max.