Qualcomm has announced that it will provide satellite communications services for smartphones powered by Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processors in 2023.
Qualcomm today announced a two-way satellite-based communication system that will debut on premium smartphones arriving in the second half of 2023. The Snapdragon Satellite will provide a new global connectivity technology for phones using Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processors. The service will use Snapdragon 5G Modem-RF systems that will be supported by the Iridium Communications satellite network.
While the technology will center around smartphones initially, Qualcomm states that the Snapdragon Satellite could also be adopted on other popular devices such as laptops, tablets, vehicles, and more. Qualcomm plans to “support non-terrestrial 5G networks (NTN) as NTN’s satellite and constellation infrastructure becomes available.” Not only will Iridium Communications be a partner, but so will Garmin, which provides emergency response services via Snapdragon Satellite.
Apple was the first to adopt emergency services via satellite on a smartphone, debuting with its iPhone 14 series smartphones. In the same year, T-Mobile announced its partnership with SpaceX, pledging to provide satellite coverage where it could not Traditional cellular services accessed. While Apple launched its service in the United States and other parts of the worldT-Mobile won’t be available until late 2023, and until then, it’ll be in beta. So despite its aggressive moves in 2022, there’s a chance Qualcomm could beat T-Mobile.
Although it’s still early days for satellite service, that doesn’t mean companies aren’t planning on it. Last year, Google’s senior vice president of Android, Hiroshi Lockheimer, said that Google was designing the next version of Android for satellites. Additionally, we heard early rumors that Samsung’s Galaxy S23 series could offer satellite communications support with support from Iridium Communications. It is not clear at this point if it will have its own service or if it will be based on Snapdragon Satellite. Fortunately, we won’t have to wait long to find out.