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CES 2023 | Qualcomm Snapdragon Satellite debuts to bring new kinds of two-way messaging to premium Android smartphones

Qualcomm unveils Snapdragon Satellite. (Source: Qualcomm)
Qualcomm unveils Snapdragon Satellite. (Source: Qualcomm)
Qualcomm has announced that satellite-based connectivity is coming to Android smartphones, starting with those powered by its latest flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset. The OEM has partnered with Iridium to deliver the first-gen system, and intends for it to be available worldwide and, eventually, to devices besides smartphones.

Qualcomm has ambitions to lead in terms of chipsets and other similar hardware for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and mobile data - now, it has announced it is ready to add satellite connectivity to that list. The OEM has now confirmed that it has secured an agreement with Iridium in a move that might get the ongoing wave of new premium smartphones onto that company's constellation of satellites soon.

The silicon heavyweight has revealed that the new partnership is intended to confer a new way of messaging on new Android devices. It has been unveiled for use in "recreation" as well as in case of emergency, and to have "pole-to-pole" coverage.

Therefore, devices worldwide - even in settings such as those of a marine or extremely isolated nature - might have access to it via Iridium’s "weather-resilient L-band spectrum for uplink and downlink". Then again, Qualcomm intends to extend its coverage with 5G Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTN), as the necessary infrastructure becomes available.

Nevertheless, it might still have some of the limits of Apple's competing solution, access to an unobstructed view of the sky included. In addition, the new system, based on Qualcomm's 5G Modem-RF systems, is only to be available to devices powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SoC at first, and is apparently dependent on approval and uptake by individual OEMs.

Therefore, it might not be activated on a new Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra or OnePlus 11 by default. Nevertheless, Qualcomm is confident that Snapdragon Satellite adoption will progress and evolve to the point that it will be available on a range of device types, from laptops or vehicles to IoT devices, in the future.

In the meantime, the service will kick off with the activation of the emergency response service, to be provided by Garmin to compatible 8 Gen 2 devices, "in select regions starting in the second half of 2023".

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Qualcomm Press Release

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> Expert Reviews and News on Laptops, Smartphones and Tech Innovations > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2023 01 > Qualcomm Snapdragon Satellite debuts to bring new kinds of two-way messaging to premium Android smartphones
Deirdre O'Donnell, 2023-01- 5 (Update: 2023-04-12)