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A report from the BBC says that later this year, high-end Android phones with satellite connectivity will be available thanks to a new deal between the chip company Qualcomm and the satellite phone company Iridium. It means that mobile phones can talk to passing satellites to send and receive messages in places where there is no cell service. With the new partnership, the same service will be available to millions of smartphone users who don’t have to use a specific brand. However, it will be up to the manufacturer to turn it on.
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Qualcomm processors are used in many Android phones. In September 2022, Apple announced that the iPhone 14 has a satellite function that can only be used to send and receive text messages in an emergency.
In 1997, the first Iridium satellite was sent into space. This made Iridium the first company to offer a satellite phone service. In 2019, it finished updating the 75 spacecraft that make up its network. The satellites, which are all over the planet and orbit at a low height of 485 miles (780 km), can talk to each other and share information.
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Qualcomm said that the new feature, which is called Snapdragon Satellite, would only be in its most expensive chips at first. So, it is not likely to be found in cheap phones. Even though there may be a fee for this, the outlet says it will eventually be available on tablets, laptops, and maybe even cars, making it useful for more than just emergency communication.
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BBC says that many people see satellite connectivity as the next step for mobile phones because it solves the problem of “not-spots,” or places where there is no coverage. Most of these are found in rural or remote areas.