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Samsung Now Has Its Own Tech for Connecting Smartphones to Satellites

Samsung is joining Apple and others in exploring how satellite connectivity could benefit smartphone users.

A GIF showing a scenario in which Samsung's upcoming satellite-based connectivity is meant to be used. 

Samsung's Galaxy S23 lineup lacks satellite connectivity, but it looks like that will change for future smartphones. The tech giant announced Thursday that it has procured technology to enable direct communication between smartphones and satellites. The technology will be integrated into Samsung's Exynos modems and will allow for conversations and emergency assistance, separating it from Apple's current offering.

The debut comes after various tech giants and wireless carriers, including Apple, Qualcomm and T-Mobile, have announced plans to bring satellite connectivity to smartphones. Such satellite connectivity is absent from the new Galaxy S23, even though the phones include the necessary hardware for Qualcomm's upcoming Snapdragon Satellite service. 

The announcement shows that Samsung plans to offer its own approach to what has become one of the biggest mobile industry trends in 2023. Its system will use satellites and other nonterrestrial vehicles to bring smartphone connectivity to remote areas like deserts, mountains and oceans, according to the company's press release. Samsung also says this technology could one day be used for disaster relief efforts and to help power autonomous aircraft and flying cars. Future phones with Exynos modems equipped with Samsung's satellite technology will support two-way text messaging and the ability to share photos and videos. 

Samsung hasn't said when satellite connectivity will arrive to its phones or which devices will support it. 

Samsung's approach seems to vary from the current version of Apple's emergency satellite connectivity, which is available in the iPhone 14 lineup. Instead of initiating a two-way conversation, the user answers prompts on their iPhone to share critical details with emergency dispatchers. Qualcomm also announced the Snapdragon Satellite system at CES in January, which will use Iridium's satellite fleet to enable emergency communications and eventually two-way texting. 

Both Apple and Qualcomm plan to eventually monetize their satellite services in different ways. Apple will charge for the service after two years, while Qualcomm will offer a premium option for sending satellite-based texts for nonemergency scenarios. It's unclear whether Samsung will charge for its satellite connectivity offering. 

The announcement comes after TM Roh, president and head of Samsung's mobile experience business, referred to current satellite options as being too limited when discussing the Galaxy S23's lack of satellite support with CNET.

"When there is the right timing, infrastructure and the technology [is] ready, then of course for Samsung Galaxy, for our mobile division, we would also actively consider adopting this feature as well," he said ahead of the company's Unpacked event earlier this month.