Whatever your feelings are about wielding an iPhone, you can’t ignore the fact that calling for help via satellite connection is a genuinely helpful safety feature, and one that we’re starting to think everyone should have. That’s because we keep hearing about people getting saved thanks to their new phone.
The iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro are the only phones from Apple that have satellite connectivity right now—the Apple Watch Ultra is the only other device with it. The feature kicks in if you try to call emergency services and there is no cellular connection. The iPhone will guide you to finding the closest satellite and then route you to Apple’s dispatch service to answer a few questions and enter text descriptors about your situation.
Two motorists in Los Angeles County’s eastern canyons are the latest people to get saved. That area can often be a dead zone for cellular service. According to the Montrose Search & Rescue Team’s Twitter, the call for aid kicked off after the iPhone 14 recognized it had been in a car crash. The victims then exited the car and followed the instructions to connect to Apple’s emergency satellite services, informing the Crescenta Valley police station that they had slid off 300 feet down the side of a mountain. Apple’s call center also reached out to other rescue units, including the country’s sheriff’s department, which had access to the helicopter that helped extract the two victims from the bottom of the canyon.
You can see a video of the helicopter rescue over on Twitter. The tweet credits Apple’s use of “accurate latitude and longitude” for helping locate the 20-year-old victims near their car. They were then taken to a local hospital for further observation.
This isn’t the first tale of Apple’s Emergency SOS service actually working. A snowmobiler in Alaska was rescued in the middle of the night because of the iPhone 14's satellite connectivity. Apple’s Emergency SOS via satellite launched only last month, so some of these stories are simply evidence of the feature working as Apple intended.
We’re likely to hear more anecdotes as the winter months kick up overseas, where Apple has just announced that satellite emergency services are available. iPhone 14/14 Pro devices based in the U.K., Ireland, France, and Germany should all have access as of yesterday.
Now the question remains: with Apple getting some of the glory of helping its users out of a bind, will other phone makers follow suit? There are rumors that the Samsung Galaxy S23 could be the first Android smartphone in the new year to adopt the iPhone 14-like feature. And Google has confirmed it’s figuring out its satellite solutions.