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The New iPhone 14 Has Emergency SOS via Satellite

Sep 9, 2022 at 8:30
by Ed Spratt  

The latest iPhone launch wouldn't normally be Pinkbike-worthy news, but the latest model comes with a new feature that could help while you are on a ride.

Launched this week, the Apple iPhone 14 features 'Emergency SOS' satellite-communication. The tool has apparently taken Apple years to create and allows people to reach emergency services when there would be no other form of communication.

'Emergency SOS' works by locating satellites on the Globalstar network that are within range before helping you to point your phone in its direction; you are then able to communicate and receive help. When you are connected to the satellite service the iPhone will send location, medical and battery data to an emergency dispatcher who can then communicate with you.

Since the announcement comparisons have been made with Garmin's inReach, a service that uses a range of devices to send and receive messages, navigate routes, track and share your journeys and send an emergency SOS signal. Apple's version of satellite communication isn't quite as extensive as Garmin's option, as you can only send messages to emergency services and not other devices.

Interestingly, while Garmin's inReach costs between $15 to $65 a month, the 'Emergency SOS' feature for iPhone will be free for the first two years. Apple has yet to announce what the price will be after those two years.

It is really interesting to see a major phone manufacturer introduce satellite communication into a mainstream phone, and while it does mean buying a pretty expensive device it could help emergency services if more people can reach them even in remote places should things go wrong.

Author Info:
edspratt avatar

Member since Mar 16, 2017
3,237 articles

139 Comments
  • 73 3
 This is great. Sometimes I'm pretty far out there with no cell reception. I carry an iReach but would be great to have it on my phone and not have to pay the monthly fee and carry another device.
  • 6 0
 i had the same thought, but i like being able to send out my camp location, if i had a mechanical, etc.
  • 8 0
 @savagelake: You're probably right. iReach still has other items like live tracking and communicating with non emergency.
  • 18 52
flag Compositepro (Sep 9, 2022 at 9:50) (Below Threshold)
 when an Apple product makes it onto the comments sefction of Pinkbike its time to call it a day
  • 14 7
 Sorry to burst your bubble but the iPhone SOS is a monthly subscription. It is supposedly free for the first 2 years and then afterwards you have to pay. I do suppose, the majority of people change to new phones more often than that.
  • 54 0
 ….and wait for assistance while wearing your brand new Assos Steinbeisser Jacket
  • 5 0
 @Sethsg: Where I'm really excited is that we're already seeing other companies trying to push into the phone-to-satellite market. T-Mobile in the U.S. beat Apple to the punch by announcing a partnership with SpaceX. It sounds like this option will be available to most phones on T-Mobile, not just iPhones. I'm hopeful this competition will drive down prices and increase coverage. That would only be a positive for those of us who regularly venture outside of regular cell reception!
  • 1 3
 @enurjetik: SpaceX's internet concept is pretty cool, though wouldn't it be very slow?
  • 10 0
 I think the iPhone sos feature will be nice for a lot of people, but yeah it doesn’t fully replace the Inreach. In my experience the Inreach works all the time, even inside a camelback. The crash detection, autosos feature could be useful too, which the iPhone won’t be able to replicate.

Also Inreach uses iridium and not global star like the iPhone. Iridium has actual global coverage, and I’ve used my Inreach tracking outside of globalstar coverage. My friend has a spot (also uses globalstar) and her experience was much worse than mine.
  • 7 0
 @litany: indeed.

It bears repeating that this is better described a cheap Spot tracker without the tracking. Not an Inreach.
  • 3 0
 @litany: agree with your comment generally. But I do want to point out that almost every modern smartphone has the hardware necessary to detect a crash. It’s just a matter of someone (Strava) developing the features that utilize those data streams.

My garmin watch detects crashes. Lots of false positives (case a step up and stop quickly), but I’m ok with that.
  • 1 0
 @pmhobson: youtu.be/ZqqraWbJWjA

iPhone 14 has crash detection, but maybe it’s just for vehicles?
  • 13 23
flag Compositepro (Sep 9, 2022 at 12:38) (Below Threshold)
 f*ck me there’s a legion of apple fanwankers lol
  • 1 0
 @wobblegoblin: yeah my guess is that it's just for automobiles. But who knows?
  • 1 0
 @Sethsg: its actually very fast
  • 2 0
 @litany: @litany: Apple Watches have fall/crash detection, though I'm not sure how well it'd work for something like MTB where it'd be getting jostled constantly.

My understanding is that that iPhone requires a bunch of satellite location shenanigans before it works, where InReach just requires a button press. If badly injured, the former would be rather tricky. Still, I'm looking forward to some real-world test reports.
  • 7 13
flag Compositepro (Sep 9, 2022 at 16:12) (Below Threshold)
 There’s a legion of fan muppet wanker wankers lol
  • 4 1
 @Drew-O: I wear my Apple Watch when I ride and have never had it mistake rough riding for a fall. What’s more, I’ve had a couple crashes when the SOS monitor was triggered - I was OK and able to silence the alert. Actually quite comforting to know the emergency dial out will function if I do get into real trouble when riding solo.
  • 3 1
 @Sethsg: Why would someone need a new phone so frequently? The design and functionality isn't changing much in that short period of time.
  • 3 0
 @Baller7756: Don’t ask me it’s dumb, I just know alot of people who do that.
  • 9 3
 @Compositepro: Yikes. Discussing interesting new tech triggers you like this? Tim Cook living in your head, rent free?
  • 1 1
 @Sethsg: Been out for a while now, easy enough to find actual user reviews. 50 in bad conditions, 300+ otherwise.
  • 1 1
 @Sethsg: err… so you didn’t actually RTFA?
  • 1 1
 Am I right in thinking this similar feature/crash protection had been on the last 2/3 android Google pixel phones. My pixel 6 has this I'm sure.
  • 4 0
 I disagree. SARS teams are already overloaded with legitimate and also non threatening emergencies this will increase their workload beyond what they can handle.
  • 2 0
 @5chmaus: the cool thing is that u can text back and forth after, and they can decide if it's worth a SAR callout.
  • 1 0
 @litany: yes the globalstar network is about 1/3 of that of iridium which Zoleo a much cheaper option and better than Inreach due to designated number and the ability to go through cell, wifi and satellite vrs just sat with Inreach for about half the cost and more for the same monthly fee.
  • 1 0
 @Drew-O: yes carry your Inreach or zoleo in a place where u can reach it if badly injured. A guy on fromme was injured badly and could not get into his pack to get his phone. Important to think about!
  • 3 0
 @Sethsg: people change their phone more often than 2 years? I have an android flagship fron 3.5 years ago and intend to keep it at least 5 years. No wonder the world is running out of raw materials. Both my mtbs are 4 years old and I will keep them another 5 years. My road bike is 10 years old and still going strong. Im not an eco warrior by any means but we live in a ridiculous world where you are pushed to have the latest thing with marginal improvements and you can get it all with 'simple monthly payments' rather than actually saving up for it.
  • 1 0
 @drjonnywonderboy: it is pretty sad how consumeristic western culture has become.
  • 1 0
 Agreed, this would be a killer feature, but the having to point to satellite, fill out a need of assistance survey, and hope it goes through with no confirmation of receipt is a dealbreaker for me. Garmin Inreach is still my go-to, and with crash detection setup to trigger an SOS I don’t have to be point to a far off part of the sky to line up a satellite if I am incapacitated.
  • 1 0
 @nicktapias: Inreach has crash detection?
  • 1 0
 @drjonnywonderboy: I’m with ya. Still rocking 4 year old XS and it’s totally fine. One bike is now almost 6 and other is 5. I will admit I almost went with the 13 mini as I really want a smaller phone than todays norm. The original SE is still my absolute favorite. Phablets are just too unwieldy IMO.
  • 2 0
 @Chuckolicious: no, but the Edge 530 does, and it pairs to the inreach.
  • 1 2
 @savagelake: OK ya more data on the situation is definitely an improvement to just a simple SOS.
  • 2 0
 @5chmaus: someone that gets it, i much prefer it when someone has to cut their own arm off at least they can make a film about it later
  • 1 2
 @nicktapias: Huh, never knew that! But that would reduce battery time on both devices due to Bluetooth, yea?
  • 1 2
 @Compositepro: Cool! You seemed pretty angry and salty earlier, glad I could turn that frown upside-down!
  • 2 1
 @Chuckolicious: maybe the sarcasm doesnt work well on the internet
  • 1 1
 @Compositepro: Hmm... seems like maybe you're devolving into word salad? Why not just keep the smile I gave you and call it a day?
  • 1 0
 @Chuckolicious: stick to your original eh be triggered by someone else on the www
  • 33 1
 Does it send the battery data so rescue services know whether to bring your charger or not? Hospitals suck without your charger
  • 8 1
 You have been neg propped by someone lucky bugger that has never sat in a hospital with a flat bat. I know your pain. Well.
  • 18 0
 I live on the North Shore. Alot of the trails here are out of cell phone range, even though the city is only 20 minutes away. If you need a new phone anyway, the extra cost might be worth it for the peace of mind of having access to 911.
  • 71 0
 If you crash on the North shore you can just wait 8 seconds for the next rider.
  • 3 0
 @wobblegoblin: this is what i came here for hahaha
  • 18 18
 I would rather rot into the moss 20 minutes from Tim Hortons pancakes than buy an iphone
  • 4 0
 @wobblegoblin: I mean at the end of the day a lot of locals aren't necessarily riding "legal trails" all the time. If you are riding unsanctioned stuff you could be one of five people down the run all day.
  • 4 0
 @browner: haha. People don't get you. I get you bro, I get you.
  • 1 0
 And half of the Squamish network, a zoleo or Inreach should be on all rider groups in the backcountry,
  • 16 1
 Putting this on the christmas list for 2028 when they've depreciated down to below $200
  • 2 9
flag ilovedust (Sep 9, 2022 at 11:44) (Below Threshold)
 Guessing you dont have phone subscription. No one buys a phone here. You just pay £25-30 a month for it over a couple of years. Plus data
  • 4 0
 Yeah usually just buy 2 year old phones off-contract; much cheaper if you're not prone to needing the latest features and don't require device protection. (rather have newer bike parts than new phones lol)
  • 3 0
 @ilovedust: Assuming as you're quoting prices in pounds you're in the UK. Look at the cost of a sim only (eg GiffGaff) + buying the phone vs the contract; often it's cheaper to do so if you have the spare cash.
  • 2 0
 @korev: and if you don't, first ask yourself whether you should
  • 1 0
 Not a bad idea, although the two years of free subscription will have ended by then
  • 13 1
 OK, let's pre-empt the knee-jerk dentist jokes, yes, Apple is the Yeti of electronics world. Regardless: this is a really promising development for everyone who carries a cell phone while riding. If this sat-com tech gains enough traction to trickle-down across the Apple line or if Samsung jumps in with their own offering, this will significantly increase backcountry coverage for most of us. Most riders I know do fair amount of backcountry riding that is out of cell phone range, but have a hard time justifying buying and carrying a second Garmin satellite device and its subscription cost. If cell phones gain this capacity, I'm definitely looking into it when it is time to replace my current phone.
  • 5 0
 You'd be better off waiting for the next-gen Bullitt CAT or Motorola phones come out early next year. The Bullitt phones are using a similar SOS technology and are pretty much indestructible, plus there a fair bit cheaper than Apple.
  • 16 3
 But they are not Apple and whilst not a fanboy, Apple just works. And well.
  • 5 0
 @ilovedust: I guarantee an Apple can not stand up to the abuse that my CAT S61 can take which already has a built in SOS locator. There is a weight penalty. lol
  • 1 0
 @captainclunkz: can you somehow dm your contact details. I liked your S61 comments.
  • 6 1
 $450 iPhone SE, $400 InReach, $50 a month for tracking, limited weather and unlimited texts covers way more backcountry scenarios, and the wife is stoked to be able to drop in on my rides. The Apple cidiot SOS feature is, realistically, not enough for what we do. A PLB does the same thing and cost $300 with no ongoing cost.
  • 3 0
 Yeah. I would never replace a PLB with an iPhone. Anyone considering which emergency device to buy should not assume that this new feature is meant to replace a PLB or aviator’s beacon.
  • 4 0
 @Mntneer: Good thoughts. Most won't realize that a PLB (in the US, anyway) uses the dedicated 406.x MHz NOAA frequency. And most assume an ongoing cost to access the frequency (there is no cost). My 10 yr old retired PLB still has battery, I still get the bi-yearly registration update email for it. More often than not, we just need to let someone know we're overdue but okay, or come pick me up at X location. You know all this.
  • 3 2
 The iphone feature allows "find my friends" tracking via satellite
  • 1 0
 PLBs also transmit a full 5 watts in power, compared to a meager milliwatt rating for the spot tracker and inreach and I will assume iPhone. Much more transmitting power for distress, much more likely to be picked up by passing sat especially if you're deep in a valley, thick tree canopy, etc.
  • 1 0
 And you can do even better than Inreach with zoleo, 200 US and you get a designated number and lots of other features,
  • 5 0
 I like how they make it look like you send an SOS and a helicopter will pick you up in minutes. You'll be lucky if mountain rescue is there in a few hours (probably on foot), and that's assuming good weather in an easy to access location.
  • 3 10
flag Compositepro (Sep 9, 2022 at 12:40) (Below Threshold)
 Exactly this you can beat an apple fan muppet
  • 8 5
 @Compositepro: "Fan muppet"? Why is someone a "fan muppet" for enjoying that their phone now has satellite connectivity to place a distress call?

It's not Apple's (or any competitor's) business to operate helicopter/rescue fleets - but it is cool that they are proactively thinking about using their handsets to augment the ability to place a distress call.

People who dislike Apple are the exact same (but inverse) as the fanbois they love to hate on.
  • 5 14
flag Compositepro (Sep 9, 2022 at 16:11) (Below Threshold)
 @KJP1230: crack on fan muppet
  • 3 8
flag thewanderingtramp (Sep 9, 2022 at 16:41) (Below Threshold)
 @KJP1230: You mean latching on to the safety psyche ? f*cking IDIOT !!! as someone said above international rescue aint coming!!
  • 6 1
 The battery in my iPhone 7 is in hospice, so I was waiting for the 14's to come out so I could snatch up a discounted 13. Then they go and really boost the battery life of the 14 and add this satellite stuff. I feel personally targeted. My new 14 arrives next Friday, dammit.
  • 3 0
 Take it from someone who just broke their collar bone, 9 ribs and scapula. You will not be able to "point" the phone for any length of time to track a satelite - you will be in too much pain. My InReach was one button push and done. Apple watch recorded the fall but without cell service it was worthless.
  • 5 2
 Just wait until all the satellite bandwidth is eaten up because TikTok figured out how to hijack the signal, so people can tik and tok while out in the wilderness. I'd say it's a "cool to have" but hoping it doesn't end up abused, I think it was outside though that just posted an article about a couple getting charged for their rescue because they were unprepared, this needs to happen more.
  • 8 2
 for $1400 it should perform CPR on you...
  • 8 1
 They start at $800 with the SOS feature. Not cheap thats for sure but also not as expensive as $1400 for everyone.
  • 3 1
 @m3hl: tie them with a phone plan and trade in old phone credits and the phones are actually pretty cheap!
I think I’ll end up getting one and should be like $8.70 a month for it
  • 1 1
 @stormracing: I did this along with a deal from Verizon and got an iPhone 13 for about $100 last year. I don’t think I’ve paid even close to full price for a phone ever.
  • 4 0
 The new apple watch I think is a bigger story for cyclists, I really like what I saw on that watch for riding. Might be time to ditch the garmin bar mount and a phone!
  • 1 0
 Been using just an Apple Watch with cellular for my shorter local rides which has been great. The new ultra looks like it might address most of its short comings (battery life, accuracy). Only sticking point is price!
  • 3 0
 Down side is that it is US and Canada only, and you have point the phone towards a satellite, looked like line of site. I can’t wait for PB to do a real test, in the woods, or the likes of, before I buy.
  • 2 0
 I think this is absolutely brilliant and forward thinking on Apple's part. There are many of us who enjoy being outdoors from Mountain bikers, hikers, skier's, etc that could potentially need this. I've already pre-ordered my iPhone 14 Pro and can't wait for iOS 16 to launch as well.
  • 10 9
 Would be nice if Apple donates some profit to SAR organizations who will undoubtedly be overwhelmed with non-emergencies and accidental SOS texts. Or should I expect a satellite SOS fee on top of my 911 fee on my already ridiculous cell phone bill?
  • 10 0
 This. ^ The idea that now everyone with a fancy phone can expect a chopper to rescue them if they get lost is absurd. What about making a plan, being prepared, and taking some personal responsibility? Sure, real emergencies happen and there are times when satellite enabled devices can truly save lives, but I fear this will just push more people to overestimate their sense of security and get in over their heads, and/or not take responsibility for themselves. "It's cool, I don't need to carry a map and compass or a first aid kit. I'll just push the button on my iphone if anything goes wrong."

Old man rant over.
  • 1 1
 If you speak to anyone that works in a police call centre they will tell you they are already inundated with pocket calls.
  • 1 0
 Actually with Inreach or zoleo you can stand down and I imagine with this if it has that it will and does actually save tones of money. Anyone can make a donation and many do. The service provider is the help, the rescuee is the one who is best to offer a donation to the people saving them.
  • 5 0
 We know Apple owns you Outside.
  • 1 0
 So, Garmin has a similar technology and you pay a monthly fee. Apple implements it in the phone and has the fee included in the price. So how does that compare financially? Say you get a basic phone, the Garmin and you pay the fee for two years. Compared to the Apple phone, which is more expensive after two years? And after four years?
  • 1 0
 Considering the Face ID doesn't work with goggles or a helmet (opps who would have thought iPhone users like to get rad) I wonder if this thing will be calling the meat wagon every time your take a digger on your bike or drop a cliff on skis? I can see it now, "because of mountain bikers and skiers, apple no longer calls help for Karens trapped in during vehicles!"
  • 3 0
 I feel this is a step in the right direction, If Apple can keep it as a no charge feature that would be amazing.
  • 2 0
 everything has a cost. You clearly just said you'd rather live in an illusion where you don't see the cost... which means higher prices for everyone via obscurity. I would rather live in an opt-in world than pay-out-of-my-ass-for-everything-with-no-option
  • 3 0
 If this actually works as advertised I will get a new iPhone. I usually ride by myself so this would be handy.
  • 4 0
 This is why I only ride park!
  • 1 0
 I'm kind of an e-tech idiot but why can't they develop an app that'll piggy back on a GPS signal and and comm satellites to do this for any phone that has the programing capacity?
  • 6 0
 GPS isn’t a send/receive transfer of data. Your phone triangulates itself based off the available GPS satellites visible to it and then displays your current location to you. It does not actually send any data to the satellites in the sky.
  • 4 0
 Just so everyone knows, you dont have to buy this.
  • 1 0
 I can still remember the days when there was no digital lifeline and you had to figure out how to solve your problem without outside help... All this tech is cool, but at what cost?
  • 1 0
 I think there is a UK company developing a similar device - phone with built-in satellite communication ability - Bullitt or similar.
  • 1 0
 Correct and it'll be licenced to CAT or Motorola.
  • 2 1
 One thing that always comes out of crashes in worse condition than me, has been my phone.
How well does this tech work with broken phones?
  • 3 1
 I think SpaceX just announced a partnership with T-Mobile to do a similar thing.
  • 3 0
 dammit apple really found a way for me to upgrade my 5 year old iphone
  • 3 2
 putting on the tin hat but kinda thinking theirs an ulterior motive for that feature
  • 1 0
 “We don’t take kindly to your city slicker kinds round these parts yhear!”
  • 2 2
 90% of my rides are in dense forrest so I don't think satellites can help me. It's either limp out or see if someone else comes along.
  • 3 1
 I want mine to link to Starlink…
  • 3 0
 Then get tmobile
  • 2 0
 Where is the tmobile/spaceX sat phone article?
  • 3 5
 How much is this toy? 2000$ . I decided on a 200$ phone and a DSLR with two lenses Nikon D3400. Both came to less than 2000$
I let people know before I do a back country adventure. Being prepared is far more important than relying on fancy electronic toys .
  • 6 2
 I’d guess the new iPhone is $3000, maybe even $4000. I’m not sure though. If only there was some way to easily find this information. I hate the idea of these overpriced toys. Anyways, I’m going to go ride my multi-thousand dollar bicycle that serves no purpose other than to be played with.
  • 3 1
 @shagolagal: sweet . Make certain you replace your outdated bike every year . Next year's is better.
  • 1 1
 Your not wrong with letting people know when and where your going but if u were on your own or with a buddy and no cell signal, you will see how important a personal locator like an Inreach or zoleo is. Way more important than a camera that won’t do shit to help you.
  • 1 1
 @shagolagal: At least the company that made my bike don't sent out mechanics to detune it so I have to buy their newest model.
  • 2 0
 Alright. Skip the Dishes from anywhere.
  • 1 0
 I prefer to buy a real SOS beacon....and we know that Iphone are power hungry.
  • 3 1
 We need to ask ourselves, is this feature worth $1399?
  • 1 0
 My Garmin Inreach Mini works pretty poor under the Pisgah National Forest canopy.
  • 3 2
 Is that all?
  • 9 10
 IPhone users, are you bummed that your phones are going to start slowing down now?
  • 7 1
 They're just excited to buy a new iphone.
  • 7 8
 This is literally fake news and has been debunked many times
  • 9 0
 @HeyBaumeister: Was it? Do you count your comment as one of that times when it was so successfully debunked?


www.businessinsider.com/apple-paying-113-million-lawsuit-slowing-down-iphones-2020-11

Sure, if you choose so - you can believe in Apple's noble reasons why they did it. But the fact remains that users were not notified about this practice and Apple had to pay $113 million in a settlement for slowing down old phones.
  • 3 3
 I don’t ride with a phone.
  • 3 5
 cause most of apple users live outside of mobile grid covered area
so we already seen ebikes commercials now apple what next propaganda of transgender athletes and ecars?
  • 1 4
 The most stupidest thing in the whole world right here. iPhone blows, iPhone can’t even hold a battery life. iPhone can’t even hold a beer. Good luck to anyone who’s gonna depend on something like this
  • 2 4
 I'm sure it does...
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