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Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Satellite is coming to phones from Motorola, Oppo, Xiaomi, and more


Image: Qualcomm

Qualcomm has announced support for its Snapdragon Satellite two-way messaging solution from smartphone manufacturers Honor, Motorola, Nothing, Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi at Mobile World Congress (MWC). 

Initially available on devices based on the flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, Qualcomm says that Snapdragon Satellite, which was announced at CES 2023, will be available across “all upcoming 5G Modem-RF systems and Snapdragon Mobile Platform tiers (from 8- to 4-tier)” going forward. This support will allow satellite connectivity to expand beyond smartphones to other device categories, including compute, automotive, and IoT sectors, the company says. 

Also: Android smartphones with two-way satellite connectivity

There’s no indication, yet, of the specific devices that Qualcomm’s newly announced satellite smartphone partners will launch.

Snapdragon Satellite offers two-way messaging for emergency use and SMS texting when a cellular or Wi-Fi connection is not available. It uses the Iridium constellation of LEO (low-Earth orbit) satellites, which provides pole-to-pole coverage and uses L-band spectrum. 

Also: What is a rugged phone and which are the best?

“Our long-standing relationships with Honor, Motorola, Nothing, OPPO, Vivo and Xiaomi are rooted in innovations and delivering exceptional connectivity experiences to consumers,” said Francesco Grilli, vice president of product management at Qualcomm, in a statement. “By incorporating Snapdragon Satellite into next-generation devices, our partners will be able to offer satellite messaging capabilities thanks to a mature and commercially available global LEO constellation, which can allow subscribers around the world to communicate outdoors with emergency service providers, as well as family and friends.” 

Satellite connectivity on smartphones is expanding quickly: Apple’s Emergency SOS and location-tracking service, which uses the Globalstar LEO constellation, is now available on iPhone 14 models in the US, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland and the UK; and Bullitt Group has stolen a march on Qualcomm in the Android space with its launch of Bullitt Satellite Connect (BSC) and the rugged Cat S75 handset, along with the Motorola Defy Satellite Link, a Bluetooth device that adds satellite comms to any recent iPhone or Android handset. BSC uses geostationary (GEO) satellites from Inmarsat and EchoStar.


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