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Samsung's Galaxy S23 Skips Out on Satellite Connectivity (for Now)

Samsung's mobile chief says it may consider adding satellite connectivity when the tech matures.

Lisa Eadicicco Senior Editor
Lisa Eadicicco is a senior editor for CNET covering mobile devices. She has been writing about technology for almost a decade. Prior to joining CNET, Lisa served as a senior tech correspondent at Insider covering Apple and the broader consumer tech industry. She was also previously a tech columnist for Time Magazine and got her start as a staff writer for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide.
Expertise Apple | Samsung | Google | Smartphones | Smartwatches | Wearables | Fitness trackers
Lisa Eadicicco
2 min read
Samsung Galaxy S23

Samsung's new Galaxy S23 lineup won't add satellite connectivity, but Samsung's TM Roh says the company has made other efforts to give people peace of mind. 

Bobby Oliver/CNET

One of the iPhone 14's most significant new features is its ability to communicate with satellites to contact emergency responders when cell service isn't available. Chipmaker Qualcomm has also pledged to bring similar tech to Android phones later this year.

Samsung, however, is sitting this one out. At least for now. 

The South Korean tech giant unveiled the Galaxy S23 lineup at its Samsung Unpacked event on Wednesday, which includes all the hallmarks we've come to expect from premium smartphones in 2023. All three new devices boast faster processors and more advanced cameras, while the two smaller phones are also getting bigger batteries. But satellite connectivity, which is already shaping up to be a key trend in new phones, is noticeably absent.

TM Roh, president and head of Samsung's mobile experience business, acknowledges that there's interest and promise in bringing satellite connectivity to smartphones. But he also thinks it's too soon because the satellite functionality on today's phones is still fairly limited. Roh spoke through a translator in an interview with CNET ahead of Samsung's Unpacked event.

"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. 

Watch this: Samsung's Galaxy S23 Lineup Is Here With Big Camera Upgrades

Apple's implementation of satellite connectivity kicks in automatically if you have an iPhone 14 and attempt to call 911 without a cell signal. When this happens, you should see the Emergency Text via Satellite option, writes my colleague Patrick Holland, who has tried the feature. But Apple's service isn't available everywhere; it launched in the United States and Canada initially before rolling out to parts of Europe in December. 

The feature also works a little differently than traditional texting. Instead of typing out a message, you answer prompts on your phone so that dispatchers can gather more information about the emergency. Although the technology is new, there have already been reports of Apple's satellite network being used to locate a stranded snowmobiler in Alaska. 

Qualcomm, meanwhile, debuted Snapdragon Satellite last month at the annual CES trade show in Las Vegas. But unlike Apple, Qualcomm has already said it plans to expand beyond emergency scenarios so people will be able to send texts for social purposes too. 

According to Roh, satellite connectivity is just one way to make phones better at helping people communicate in emergency scenarios. He says Samsung has made other efforts to give people a sense of security, such as improving the sensors found inside its phones and broadening 5G coverage. 

"I do not believe that is the end-all or be-all of the solutions to ensure peace of mind among users," he said.

For more, check out CNET's first takes of Samsung's newest Galaxy Book and phones, the Galaxy S23, S23 Plus and S23 Ultra. They're available for preorder now.  


Samsung's all-new Galaxy S23 flagship lineup is now available to preorder, with devices shipping on Feb. 17. You can save on the latest devices with several Galaxy S23 preorder deals already available at Samsung, Best Buy, all the major phone carriers and more.