Android Users To Miss Out On Critical iPhone Safety Feature After Qualcomm's Surprise Withdrawal From Iridium Deal

In a surprising turn of events, the collaboration between Qualcomm Inc. QCOM and Iridium Communications Inc. IRDM, aimed at introducing satellite connectivity to Android phones, has been abruptly discontinued nearly a year after its initiation.

What Happened: Qualcomm had launched Snapdragon Satellite platform in a joint enterprise with Iridium in January with the goal of enabling satellite-based SMS and emergency messaging on high-end Android smartphones.

However, Iridium revealed on Thursday that Qualcomm had decided to terminate their partnership, effective from Dec. 3, reported PCMag.

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Despite the successful creation and display of the technology, smartphone manufacturers did not integrate it into their devices. This lack of uptake prompted Qualcomm’s decision to terminate the agreements on Nov. 3, as stated by Iridium in their announcement.

The dissolution of the partnership signifies a blow to satellite connectivity on Android phones, particularly considering that Apple already offers satellite-based emergency messaging on its latest iPhones.

Nevertheless, Iridium maintains a positive outlook on the satellite connectivity phone market. Boasting 66 low-Earth orbiting satellites, the company now intends to directly re-engage with smartphone OEMs, other chipmakers, and smartphone operating system developers.

“We believe the direction of the industry is clear toward increased satellite connectivity in consumer devices,” said Iridium CEO Matt Desch.

With the Qualcomm-Iridium collaboration winding up, other firms like SpaceX and AT&T are also exploring satellite services. In addition, Samsung recently hinted at plans to incorporate satellite connectivity into its Galaxy S24 phones next year.

Why It Matters: The end of the Qualcomm-Iridium partnership puts Android phones at a disadvantage, with their Apple counterpart already offering satellite connectivity.

Samsung’s upcoming flagship, the Galaxy S24 series, was expected to feature the advanced satellite connectivity currently exclusive to iPhones. But now, with the Qualcom-Iridium deal falling apart, Samsung’s plans could be in jeopardy.

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Photo via Shutterstock

Disclaimer: This content was partially produced with the help of Benzinga Neuro and was reviewed and published by Benzinga editors.

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