AT&T customers with the iPhone 12 and later could eventually make, take calls via satellite

AT&T customers with the iPhone 12 and later could eventually make, take calls via satellite
You might recall that in September 2022, Huawei beat out Apple by one day to become the first phone manufacturer to announce a smartphone that could send text messages to emergency services in areas where there no cellular signals exist. Apple's Emergency SOS via Satellite, which debuted on the iPhone 14 line, has already saved lives. The feature allows users to send a text message that is used by rescue and emergency services to dispatch help to an iPhone user's location even if that location has no cellular service.

Huawei raised the bar last August when it added the ability to make satellite calls to the Mate 60 series. Soon, we could see such a feature available for the iPhone 12 and later. Earlier on Wednesday we told you that AT&T had signed a deal with AST SpaceMobile to launch five satellites this summer. The current Emergency SOS via Satellite uses a radio chip that is found only on the iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 (and soon, the iPhone 16) lines. This chip is linked to a certain frequency which is why the feature is not backward compatible with older iPhone models.

The AT&T-AST SpaceMobile tech works with any smartphone that supports 5G which means that the first iPhone to support 5G, the iPhone 12 series, can be compatible with this service. Other carriers also are working on competing services such as T-Mobile which is working with Elon Musk's SpaceX and its wholly-owned Starlink subsidiary. In January, SpaceX announced that it validated that the system works thanks to a test that sent and received new text messages from unmodified smartphones on the ground to the satellites in the sky. Eventually, the partnership hopes to add voice and data services.

Apple gave iPhone 14 buyers 36 free months of Emergency SOS via Satellite thanks to an extra year the tech giant tacked on (iPhone 15 users will have free service for 24 months). You know that with all of the companies involved in offering satellite services on your phone, including the phone manufacturers, the satellite companies, and the carriers, "free" is a four-letter word as far as they are concerned.

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