SOS cellular in iOS 16

As you may know, each cell phone company operates its own system of cell phone towers. It’s not uncommon, especially in rural areas, to have service with one carrier and not another. Sometimes AT&T works in places where Verizon doesn’t or vice versa. What you may not know is that even if you do not have a signal from your carrier, you can still call emergency services (911 in North America) if there is service available from any phone company. Per federal law, cell phone companies are required to accept 911 calls even if they are not from their own customers. This even works with a cell phone or or Cellular Apple Watch that’s not currently on a plan!

Before iOS 16 if you had an emergency you might look at your iPhone and decide not to call 911 because it showed no service. You probably didn’t know that there was a chance the call would have gone through anyway. But beginning with iOS 16 which was released yesterday, your iPhone will show “SOS” on the signal indicator if another network is available, informing you that 911 calls can still be placed.

As I mentioned before 911 works in North America, while other countries have different numbers for emergency services. But you don’t have to learn the number for each country if you are traveling. For instructions for your specific iPhone model and to customize your options go to the Settings app > Emergency SOS.

Further Help

If you are an existing customer who needs help with this or if you have other questions, or if you are in San Francisco and interested in becoming a client I invite you to book an appointment with me. Otherwise, you may wish to contact Apple Support or find a local Apple consultant.

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