6 Android Smartphone Makers Eye Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Satellite to Keep Devices Connected off the Grid

6 Android Smartphone Makers Eye Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Satellite to Keep Devices Connected off the Grid

After attending the EvoNexus & Viasat Satellite Direct to Device SIG this past February, San Diego Union Tribune writer, Mike Freeman, was able to catch up with Qualcomm executive, Francesco Grilli. Grilli was a part of the panel of satellite experts that were called in for the EvoNexus Satellite SIG because of his work with the SnapDragon satellite network. According to Grilli and a statement from Qualcomm, their direct-to-device satellite link for emergency and non-emergency text messages is getting traction.

“The EvoNexus Special Interest Groups (SIGs) quickly became the foundation of the organization dating back to 1999,” says Rory Moore, Co-Founder and CEO of EvoNexus. “These events were briefly put on hold due to COVID and now have returned. We anticipate a plethora of SIG events in the coming year, covering the most important tech sectors in San Diego.”

See the brief video below and read Mike Freeman’s article below!


SAN DIEGO, CA / San Diego Union Tribune / February 27, 2023 / Six Android smartphone makers have begun working to bring Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Satellite connectivity solution to their devices, which will allow users to send two-way text messages via space when they’re outside of cellular coverage range.

The San Diego wireless technology company announced late Sunday that Honor, Motorola, Nothing, OPPO, vivo, and Xiaomi are developing smartphones that can connect to satellites for emergency and short non-emergency messages. The news came at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona.

The device makers didn’t say when they might launch phones with satellite connectivity, but Qualcomm expects the first handsets to be available in the second half of this year.

“By incorporating Snapdragon Satellite into next-generation devices, our partners will be able to offer low-earth-orbit (LEO) 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,” said Francesco Grilli, Vice President of Product Management, Qualcomm Technologies, in a statement.

In addition, Qualcomm announced its next-generation 5G connectivity platform for cars, which also supports satellite links, though details of just how that would work in a vehicle were not available.

Last fall, Apple opened the door for smartphone-to-satellite links with its one-way emergency SOS text feature on iPhone 14. It allows users to contact emergency services in partnership with Globalstar, a low-earth orbit satellite provider. The emergency SOS is free for the first two years. Pricing after that hasn’t been announced.

Qualcomm responded with Snapdragon Satellite, which was first revealed in January. It allows two-way text messages for emergencies, as well as non-emergency short text messages. The company’s space partner is Iridium, which operates 66 low-earth orbit satellites for global coverage.

Qualcomm hasn’t said what satellite connectivity will cost consumers, but Grilli told the Wall Street Journal last month that emergency communications would be very low cost or no cost. Read the Wall Street Journal article here.

Connecting smartphones to satellites is not without hurdles. For Apple’s and Qualcomm’s solutions, users must manually point their phones toward the orbiting LEO satellites in the sky. Linking to space also requires more battery power than connecting to a cell tower on earth. And it’s unclear whether enough smartphone users would pay extra to remain connected on hikes or other trips outside of cellular range.

Even so, there is high interest in the market, which is huge with 6.9 billion smartphones users worldwide. Companies exploring the satellite-to-device business include T-Mobile in partnership with Space X’s Starlink constellation, as well as AT&T and others working with AST SpaceMobile, said Ric Prentiss, a telecommunications analyst with financial firm Raymond James.

At Mobile World Congress, Qualcomm also touted its latest Snapdragon Auto 5G connectivity platform for cars, which supports satellite links. “Connectivity continues to play a pivotal role in the automotive industry’s digital transformation as it lays the foundation for next-generation, software-defined vehicles,” according to Qualcomm. “By connecting to 5G, Wi-Fi, and with cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) and satellite, vehicles can reach new limits on the safety, personalization, entertainment and productivity features they provide to end users.”

SOURCE: Mike Freeman, San Diego Union Tribune

About Qualcomm
Qualcomm enables a world where everyone and everything can be intelligently connected. As the world’s leading wireless tech innovator, they push the boundaries of what’s possible — enabling next-generation experiences and driving the digital transformation of industries everywhere. Learn more at qualcomm.com.

About EvoNexus
EvoNexus is California’s leading nonprofit technology startup incubator located in San Diego. EvoNexus has successfully incubated over 260 startups with a survival rate of over 85%. Since the incubator’s formation in 2010, EvoNexus companies have secured over $1.6B in venture funding, $10B in pre-exit valuation, and had 48 acquisitions valued at over $2.1B. EvoNexus is supported by corporate partners, including some of the largest multinational corporations in the world. Learn more at evonexus.org.