Chip Maker Qualcomm and New 5G Modem

Qualcomm Working On Satellite Messaging for Android Devices

US mobile chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. has teamed up with Android smartphone companies to bring satellite communication to their devices.

The world’s largest chip supplier stated on Monday that it is working with multiple smartphone makers, including OPPO, Vivo Communication Technology Co. Ltd., Xiaomi Corp., Motorola Mobility LLC, Nothing Technology Ltd., and Honor Device Co., to develop devices with satellite-based messaging features.

San Diego, California-based Qualcomm revealed in January its Snapdragon Satellite technology in partnership with mobile network provider Iridium Communications Inc., designed to enable two-way texting and other messaging apps’ features using satellites during emergencies.

The Snapdragon Satellite is set to be available to upcoming RF modems and different models of the 8 and 4 smartphone processors.

Satellite-based communications make it possible for people in remote or rural areas, where network connectivity and other telecom networks are quite difficult to come by, to send and receive data. Satellite phones have existed for decades but have yet to become the norm.

Qualcomm earlier this year said it would include satellite-messaging capabilities in its chips.

Mobile Space Race Intensifies

Qualcomm’s plan with the Android smartphone firms could intensify competition between the six companies and US tech giant Apple Inc., which in 2022 transformed its iPhone 14 into a satellite phone by introducing its safety service Emergency SOS via satellite.

The iPhone 14 series is equipped with a Qualcomm chip, although the Cupertino, California-based firm stated that the phones have in-house custom hardware and software as well.

South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. also joined the mobile space race, announcing in the previous week its own satellite technology and plans to add the feature in a future smartphone.

In addition, UK mobile phone manufacturer Bullitt Group Ltd. recently launched a “rugged” smartphone with satellite connectivity, while Taiwanese semiconductor group MediaTek Inc. is due to demonstrate its satellite connectivity technology for smartphones at the Mobile World Congress (MWC).

Qualcomm did not provide details of when the new satellite messaging features from the Android brands would be released, although the chipmaker has said the capabilities would be available to certain Android phones in the second half of 2023.

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