For the iPhone 14 series – standard, Plus and Pro and Pro Max – Apple has introduced the rarest kind of feature: one that could literally save your life.
Emergency SOS allows owners to connect to emergency services via satellite when out of cellular or Wi-Fi range. Although you’re unlikely to need it in the comforting familiarity of Zones 1 at 3, that should give you some peace of mind if you’re going to a remote location where cell reception is less guaranteed.
From December 13, the service is available free of charge for iPhone 14 buyers in the UK, France, Germany and Ireland, should they need emergency assistance.
To be clear, the feature doesn’t connect you directly to a 999 carrier – satellite communications aren’t designed with that in mind, as satellites have low bandwidth, are constantly moving, and are hundreds of miles away. Earth.
Instead, the feature is text-based, forcing you to choose from a handful of options to describe your urgency. You’ll then be connected to a relay center, where an Apple-trained emergency specialist will text you for additional information, relaying the details to emergency services on your behalf. All the while, your iPhone will tell you where to point it for the best reception.
If you want to see how it works, all you have to do is step outside to make sure a satellite is in range. Once you have a clear view of the sky, go to Settings, then tap Emergency SOS. From there, scroll down and tap “Try Demo”.
The function is not only for emergencies, and can also be used for give friends and family peace of mind when traveling off-grid via the Find My app.
Like the collision detection feature introduced on the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch 8, Emergency SOS may well save lives (even if the former took some teething problems in the shape of a roller coaster). But some questions remain: the main one being how much it will cost in the long run.
Apple has pledged that the service will be free for iPhone 14 owners for two years after activating their devices, but the company hasn’t yet said what will happen after that deadline. It will likely be part of a subscription service but whether it will be bundled with something else (Apple Care or Apple One) or a full-fledged subscription remains to be seen.
Still, with at least 20 months until the first iPhone 14 adopter’s free period ends, Apple has plenty of time to iron out the fine details. Assuming the feature continues with the iPhone 15 and 16, Apple is likely waiting to see how much people rely on its satellite network before setting a final price.