Today Apple launched the previously-announced Emergency SOS via Satellite function which works with the new iPhone 14 and 14 Pro. If you are outside of cellular service with a clear view of the sky, you can activate the feature either by calling 911 when there is no cellular signal or by holding the sleep button and one of the volume buttons. Most people use these buttons to turn the iPhone off or to take a screenshot, but there is also an SOS slider on the shutdown screen. Or if you continue to hold those two buttons it will call for you.
Familiarizing yourself with the SOS slider is useful for many reasons compared to 911. It will work no matter what country you are in, since 911 is only used in North America. It works even if your phone is locked, so you can use anyone’s iPhone without knowing their passcode. And you can call one-handed simply by holding the two buttons until it finishes counting down.
Find My can also send updates via satellite so that friends can see where you are even when you are off the grid, though as of yet there is no way to communicate with anyone but emergency services.
This service is launched today in the US and Canada. Next month it will launch in France, Germany, Ireland, and the UK. It requires that you have any model of iPhone 14, and are running at least iOS 16.1. It is free for the first two years, which implies that there will be a charge in the future. My hope is that the emergency function will continue to be free, but they may expand it to a paid upgrade where you can text friends and use Find My via satellite.
While a dedicated satellite phone may be a more reliable option for the avid hiker, this new feature will undoubtedly save lives as it is built into all new iPhones.
I urge you to try it out yourself so that you are prepared in case you find yourself in a life-threatening emergency. iPhone has a built-in demo. Go to the Settings app > Emergency SOS. Scroll to the bottom to tap the button for the demo.