The iPhone 14 series brought significant attention to satellite messaging and connectivity as a prominent feature, prompting some Android phones to adopt a similar approach. Anticipated to join this trend, Qualcomm was expected to introduce Snapdragon Satellite, but it seems the launch is facing a delay.
In an unexpected turn, the chipset manufacturer and satellite communications company Iridium have announced the termination of their agreement to offer satellite-to-phone services. While the technology was successfully developed and demonstrated, smartphone manufacturers opted against incorporating it into their devices, leading Qualcomm to conclude the agreement.
The separation doesn’t necessarily imply that satellite connectivity is off the table. According to the CEO of Iridium, the industry is moving forward with integrating the technology into consumer devices. Notably, companies such as SpaceX, AT&T, and T-Mobile are actively engaged in similar initiatives. For instance, T-Mobile users will soon have the capability to send messages from remote locations through SpaceX’s Starlink satellites.
Qualcomm, in a statement, emphasized that smartphone companies will persist in using standard-based solutions. This entails the phone maintaining its connection to a cell phone tower, which, in turn, is linked to a base station receiving signals from a high-orbit satellite.
Qualcomm introduced the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, featuring satellite connectivity capabilities, contingent upon smartphone manufacturers incorporating the necessary antenna hardware. The planned launch of the Snapdragon Satellite in the latter half of this year is now off the table due to the discontinued deal.
Despite this, Qualcomm will continue collaborating with Iridium to advance existing solutions. Additionally, the decision to end the agreement presents an opportunity for the satellite communication company to directly engage with device manufacturers.