In a surprising move, Qualcomm and its partner Iridium have announced that Snapdragon Satellite is abruptly coming to an end of sorts, as the two companies have ended a deal that would have brought satellite connectivity to Android phones.
Satellite connectivity was, just a couple of years ago, something that no one really expected to see on smartphones, but it’s now table stakes as Apple’s iPhone 14 and iPhone 15 lineups have emphasized the feature and its importance in remote locations without cellular coverage. But, on the Android side of things, there hasn’t been much action in this area.
The biggest announcement around satellite connectivity on Android came with Qualcomm’s reveal of Snapdragon Satellite early this year. The technology, in partnership with Iridium, would have enabled Android smartphones to establish limited connectivity via satellites to send emergency messages. Yet, we haven’t heard much in the nearly-a-year since the tech was announced.
Now, Qualcomm and Iridium have announced that their partnership will be dissolved effective December 3, 2023, without bringing any devices to market with Snapdragon Satellite.
In a press release, Iridium says that the reason the partnership is coming to a close – a decision that traces back to Qualcomm – is simply that Android phones aren’t yet using the technology needed to connect to satellites.
The companies successfully developed and demonstrated the technology; however, notwithstanding this technical success, smartphone manufacturers have not included the technology in their devices.
Qualcomm had previously announced that devices from Oppo, Nothing, and Motorola would all adopt the tech, but we never saw anything come of it. The company had also proudly said that the tech would be available to all tiers of Snapdragon chips.
Rival chipmaker MediaTek has also previously announced satellite connectivity for Android phones and other devices.
What does this mean for satellite connectivity in Android phones? CNBC notes, citing a statement from Qualcomm, that Android makers apparently have expressed an preference to use “standards-based solutions” rather than Qualcomm’s proprietary solution. The company added that it will be “discontinuing efforts” with Snapdragon Satellite as we know it today, and that it expects to “collaborate with Iridium on standards-based solutions.”
More on Android:
- Google Messages may work with Garmin for satellite connectivity
- Motorola Defy Link adds satellite messaging and SOS to Android and iOS for $100
- MediaTek is also bringing satellite connectivity to Android phones
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