How To Use the iPhone 14’s Emergency SOS To Contact 911 With a Satellite

How To Use the iPhone 14’s Emergency SOS To Contact 911 With a Satellite

Some of the most important upgrades in the iPhone 14 are unobtrusive tools and services that, ideally, you’ll hopefully never need. Emergency SOS via satellitethat Apple announced in September but just rolled out on Tuesday is one such feature — and I had a chance to try it out.

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Beyond the clouds and sky, hundreds of miles above the Earth flying by at 16,000 miles per hour, are communications satellites. They are too high to be seen by the human eye, but can be essential in getting you help when you (or someone you love) are stranded, injured, and out of cell service range. The iPhone 14 can connect to these satellites to contact an emergency dispatcher, even when you can’t make a phone call. You can also share your location with loved ones via a satellite without sending a message.

As Car accident detection, Emergency SOS via satellite is something you hope you never have to use. But if you’re wondering how it works, I had the chance to test it at Apple Park. If you want to try the service for yourself, Apple has added a built-in demo mode that lets you connect to a satellite without calling 911.

How to use emergency SOS via satellite on the iPhone 14

The first thing you need to know about Emergency SOS via satellite is that you don’t need to know anything. The service is designed to work on its own, and the interface will guide you step by step through the process.

The second thing you need to know is that using Emergency SOS is equivalent to calling 911. In fact, that’s actually how you use it. Call 911, and if your phone can’t connect, an option to text emergency services via satellite appears. To start, tap the Emergency text via satellite button. (You can also go to Messages to text 911 or SOS, then tap Emergency services.)

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Check this out:

I tried emergency SOS via satellite on the iPhone 14


When I tried the feature, there was a satellite icon in the top right corner of the phone, where my cell signal normally is.

Next, tap Report emergency. Since a round-trip conversation isn’t possible over a satellite connection like a regular phone, Apple worked with emergency dispatchers to create a form that collects the essential information they need to respond. Those details are compressed into a message a third the size of plain text so it can be sent to a satellite in low Earth orbit.

By using taps, you answer the emergency questions based on your situation. The types of emergencies you can choose from are:

  • Car or vehicle issue
  • Illness or injury
  • Crime
  • Lost or trapped
  • Fire

Depending on your emergency, you will be given different follow-up directions and questions. You can also notify your emergency contacts.

An iPhone 14 showing a text conversation with emergency dispatchers

Kevin Heinz/CNET

Next, on-screen prompts will help you connect to a satellite. The interface is simple and guides you through finding a satellite and staying connected. As the satellite moved, I was asked to move left or right to maintain the connection. And despite a cloudy, rainy day, the connection worked within 20 to 30 seconds. But it can take a minute or more to connect, especially if there is light foliage.

Once connected, your iPhone starts a text conversation with emergency personnel and shares the emergency questionnaire answers, your location (including altitude), critical information such as your medical ID and emergency contact information (if you’ve set them up), and the remaining battery life for your iPhone.

You may be asked questions through additional messages, such as where you are and whether you are on medication.

At the top of the screen, a window shows your connection to the satellite and the status of your messages. Emergency dispatchers receive your messages and respond via text. If your local emergency services don’t support text messaging, Apple has set up relay centers with operators who act as an intermediary between you and emergency dispatch.

Which iPhone models support emergency SOS via satellite?

The service will now be available on:

  • iPhone 14
  • iPhone 14 Plus
  • iPhone 14 Pro
  • iPhone 14 Pro Max
A man holding an iPhone 14 Pro outdoors on a remote hill

Emergency SOS may be one of the most important features to come out on any phone this year.

Kevin Heinz/CNET

Can I try Emergency SOS via satellite?

Yeah, sort of. Apple has created a demo mode that lets you connect your iPhone to a satellite without calling or contacting 911. The experience is almost identical to what I did, except you don’t contact emergency services.

To start the demo, go outside and open Institutions. Then tap Emergency SOS and scroll down to try the demo.

The Emergency SOS via Satellite demo turns off your cellular connection and gives you a preview of the emergency questionnaire. But again, this is not actually contacting emergency services.

An iPhone 14 showing the demo mode option

Apple has made a demo mode that lets you actually connect to a satellite.

Kevin Heinz/CNET

Next, the demo guides you through finding a satellite. This is a good way to familiarize yourself with the feature should you ever need it. (Plus, connecting your iPhone to a satellite is just cool.)

How do I share my location with a satellite?

Another way to use satellite connectivity on your iPhone is to share your location to let friends and family know where you are without sending them a message.

In the Find My app, tap the I tab. When you expand the tab, you will see a new section called My location via satellite. Type Send me location. You will be prompted to find and connect to a satellite. In the time I spent trying Emergency SOS via satellite at Apple Park, this particular step took minutes to send my location.

An iPhone 14 showing the Share Location option in the Find Me app

A neat way to share your location when you’re out of range of a cell signal is with a satellite in the Find Me app.

Kevin Heinz/CNET

Where can I use Emergency SOS via satellite?

Currently, it is available in the US (including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands) and Canada. The service will expand to France, Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom next month. But you don’t have to live in these places to use this feature. Emergency SOS service is also available to people visiting the US and Canada, unless they purchased their iPhone 14 in China, Hong Kong or Macao.

Can I use Emergency SOS via satellite indoors?

No. You must be outside and have a direct line of sight between your iPhone and the satellite. The service does not work indoors, and tall buildings, mountains, dense foliage and other objects can block satellite connection. The Emergency SOS interface guides you to help you find and connect to a satellite.

How much does Emergency SOS via satellite cost?

The service is free for two years. Additionally, Apple has not shared how much it will cost or if there will ever be a charge to access the feature.

Does the iPhone 14 have satellite connectivity?

Yes. All iPhone 14 models support emergency SOS via satellite.

A Globalstar employee on a ladder working on a ground base unit

A Globalstar employee works on a ground station that receives messages from satellites to share with emergency dispatchers.


Which satellites are used for Emergency SOS via satellite?

Apple partnered with satellite telecommunications company Globalstar, headquartered in Covington, Louisiana, with facilities across the US. The feature uses Globalstar’s network of low-orbit satellites.

Apple has made a $450 million investment to provide critical improvements to Globalstar’s satellite network and ground stations. At Globalstar, more than 300 employees support the new service.

Can an iPhone be used as a satellite phone?

Yes and no. The iPhone 14 series can connect to satellites to send a text message to emergency services when a call cannot be made. You can also share your location via satellite in the Find Me app. However, you can’t use any iPhone to make calls like a dedicated satellite phone.

Can the iPhone 13 be used as a satellite phone?

No, only the iPhone 14 series supports emergency satellite connectivity.

Which iPhone is a satellite phone?

Neither are technically satellite phones, but the iPhone 14 series does support contacting emergency services via satellites via text messages as a last resort.

For more, here’s yours complete guide to the iPhone 14 and everything to know about iOS 16.

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