Apple’s life-saving satellite feature could arrive in your iPhone 14's next update

Emergency SOS via Satellite being used on iPhone
(Image credit: Apple)

One of the biggest announcements to emerge from Apple’s iPhone 14 launch event concerned the company’s potentially groundbreaking Emergency SOS via Satellite feature – but until now, we’d heard precious little about when it might actually arrive. 

In a new support post (H/T MacRumors), Apple says Emergency SOS via Satellite "will be available with an iOS 16 software update coming in November 2022." iOS 16.1 rolled out at the end of October, and iOS 16.2 is expected to launch in December, so it follows that the life-saving feature could arrive with iOS 16.1.1 in the coming weeks. 

iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 betas are already out in the wild, and we know that Apple is preparing to roll out a fix for a persistent Wi-Fi bug that’s been pestering ‌iPhone‌ 14 customers since the launch of iOS 16.1. For our money, then, Emergency SOS via Satellite will arrive on the iPhone 14 alongside this imminent software patch. 

To jog your memory, Apple says the new feature will help you contact emergency services under “exceptional circumstances” when no other means of reaching these services are available. If you’re outside the range of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage, your iPhone will connect you to the help you need – or try to, at least – via satellite.

The feature is coming to all four iPhone 14 models – including the iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max – though only in the US and Canada to begin with. It’s expected to roll out in other countries towards the end of 2023.

Emergency SOS via Satellite on iPhone screen

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple says Emergency SOS via Satellite will be free to all iPhone 14 users for the first two years following its launch, which suggests the feature could demand a subscription fee or per-use payment by the end of 2024. 

Messages sent through Emergency SOS via Satellite could reach their destination in just 15 seconds, Apple claims, but only when “a direct view of the sky and the horizon” is present. 

Messages processed "under trees with light or medium foliage” might take over a minute to send – but hey, if you’re out in the wilderness with a broken leg, one-message-a-minute is better than no messages at all, right? 

Hopefully, we’ll be able to test Emergency SOS via Satellite on iPhone 14 for ourselves – safely, of course – when the feature goes live later this month. In the meantime, check out our report on the ‘incredible’ repairability of the iPhone 14 Pro, and our roundup of the best iPhone 14 Black Friday deals live right now. 

Axel Metz
Senior Staff Writer

Axel is a London-based Senior Staff Writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest movies as part of the site's daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion. 

Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.