Google Pixel 9 Leak: Satellite SOS Feature To Challenge Apple's iPhone

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Taking a page from Apple, word is now swirling that Google might infuse the next Pixel 9, Pixel Fold, and a 5G tablet with basic satellite-based SOS texting connectivity. This will be made possible by the new Samsung-made Exynos 5400 modem along with a partnership with T-Mobile as the service provider.

Last year, iPhone 14 and 15 owners were given free access to a feature called Emergency SOS, which makes it possible to contact emergency services through satellite if cellular or Wi-Fi connectivity aren't available. It was a small step forward to bringing mainstream phones into the space (get it?) owned by dedicated satellite phones like Inmarsat and Iridium. 

In a recent insider report, Google is thinking about the same thing with the upcoming Pixel 9 series, Fold, and possibly a 5G-enabled tablet, currently codenamed "clementine." While it's expected that these will be running on a Tensor G4 chip, it is the incorporation of the Samsung Modem 5400 with its support for non-terrestrial networks (NTN) that has gotten people talking about the strong possibility of satellite 5G connectivity. 

It's no secret that users of Android 14 QPR3 Beta 2 have discovered in settings a new Satellite Messaging screen. This points to a possible big feature roll-out for Android 15, if not to play catch up with Apple's Emergency SOS. According to the insider leak, messaging emergency services won't be an open messaging feature like SMS, but will be in a series of questions to determine what the situation on the ground is. Some of the questions that the feature will ask are (and no limited to):
  • What happened?
  • Are you/Are they/Is everyone] breathing?
  • In total, how many people are [missing/trapped]?
  • What best describes your situation?
  • What is on fire?
  • Are there weapons involved?
  • What type of vehicle or vessel?
  • Do any of these apply?
Another key player in this feature is that Google could be partnering with T-Mobile as the service provider. Currently in testing, T-Mobile utilized the SpaceX network for its satellite messaging services, plus there's no word on pricing just yet. Some say that it will be included in T-Mobile's top-tier packages, but regardless of who or what service Google eventually goes with, Tensor G4 device users may have to fork up for the privilege.

Of course, it's also possible that Google may offer the service gratis for during the Pixel 9 and Fold launch and eventually roll in pricing before the Pixel 10 arrives.