There was speculation that Samsung could use smartphone-to-satellite technology in its Galaxy S23 much like Apple has for the iPhone 14, but that didn’t happen in the end. Now, the company has unveiled a new standardized 5G NTN (non-terrestrial network) modem that will enable two-way communication between smartphones and satellites. The technology will allow users to send and receive calls, text messages and data without the need for a cellular network, and will be integrated into Samsung’s future Exynos chips.
The aim is to allow people in mountains, deserts or other remote areas to communication with others in critical situations. 5G NTN conforms to 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP Release 17) standards, meaning it works with traditional communication services from chip manufacturers, smartphone makers and telecoms.
However, Samsung indicated that the tech could eventually be used to transmit high-definition photos and even video, on top of texts and calls. It simulated the tech using its Exynos Modem 5300 platform “to accurately predict satellite locations and minimize frequency offsets caused by Doppler shift,” the company said. That will help pave the way for hybrid terrestrial-NTN networks “in preparation for the arrival of 6G,” said Samsung VP Min Goo Kim.
At CES 2023, Qualcomm unveiled Snapdragon Satellite, technology that would allow smartphones to send messages when no cellular signal is available. It’ll work in smartphones that have both the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset and X70 modem system, plus some additional radios. Since Samsung’s Galaxy S23 has both chips, it was thought the device may offer satellite communication technology to match Apple’s iPhone 14.
However, Samsung mobile experience VP TM Roh said it wasn’t the best moment, as satellite functionality is still fairly limited. “When there is the right timing, infrastructure and the technology is ready, then of course for Samsung Galaxy, for our mobile division, we would also actively consider adopting this feature as well,” he told CNET in an interview.
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission. All prices are correct at the time of publishing.