Since the iPhone 14 launched in late 2022 with Emergency SOS satellite texting, Apple has trumpeted the feature’s successful use in saving people from dire situations outside cell signal range. While initially offered for two years of free service, Apple announced that current iPhone 14 owners will get another year of Emergency SOS without charge.
Emergency SOS taps into GlobalStar’s network of satellites to enable iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 owners in 16 countries to reach emergency services in remote areas not reached by mobile networks. While Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T have all announced plans to use satellite networks to expand connectivity, none have moved beyond technical demonstrations. A Qualcomm endeavor to link Snapdragon-powered phones to Iridium’s satellite network also recently shuttered.
This leaves Apple as the first and still only major phone provider to offer widespread coverage of satellite emergency texting, and the company has not been shy about touting when Emergency SOS has helped people in life-threatening situations. Providing another year of the satellite service to iPhone 14 owners will likely lead to more incidents of people rescued using Emergency SOS.
But it doesn’t clear up Apple’s long-term plans for Emergency SOS. When the iPhone 14 launched, Apple noted that phone owners would get two free years of the service, though the company didn’t explain how the service would be used afterward (say, for a one-time or monthly fee). Adding another free year of service is certainly welcome, but still doesn’t clarify how the service will evolve.
It’s worth noting that anyone who buys an iPhone 14 after today won’t get the extra year, according to Apple’s official post — only those who activated their phone in a country that supports Emergency SOS prior to Nov. 15, 2023, when the extension was announced. Since the trial period begins when a device is first activated, that means someone who bought and booted up an iPhone 14 up to Nov. 14 will get three years of Emergency SOS.
Owners of the iPhone 15, which just launched in September, will also not get the extra year of Emergency SOS.