You may have thought this article was about phone apps only found on the iPhone. It's purely about the phone aspect and its ability to communicate. Last year, Apple released a game-changing feature that could help snowmobilers and has already saved a snowmobiler's life.
Snowmobiles take us to some amazing places; it's why we do it! Many of these locations are remote, with spotty cell phone service at best. In the event of a breakdown, crash, or health event, it can make contacting emergency services nearly impossible or time-consuming.
Starting with the release of the iPhone 14 and all subsequent models, the ability to communicate via Satellite when no cell phone service is built into the phone. While satellite communication is not new, and services have been provided for many years, it's the first time a consumer phone comes stock with the capability.
Currently, this is the only phone manufacturer on the market that offers built-in satellite functionality.
Emergency SOS Already Saved A Snowmobiler
The first ever reported use of the app was a snowmobiler stranded in an isolated area of Alaska. The troopers were impressed by the details the Apple Emergency system provides, such as GPS coordinates and the ability to communicate via text messages. If that isn't proof that every snowmobiler needs this capability, we don't know what it is.
Alternatives to Apple Emergency SOS
Garmin has a device called inReach based on the Iridium satellite system. Devices start at $299.99, with connection plans starting at $11.95. I know many backcountry riders who utilize this technology but no trail riders despite many trail systems with no cell coverage. inReach also allows you to text message contacts as part of their plan to stay in touch and is not strictly an emergency device.
It appeared Android phones were trying to work with Iridium to develop an equal service for the phones, but as of November 2023, the plans were called off. We hope they get something developed as this is a necessary feature needed on all phones.
How much does Apple charge?
Currently, Emergency SOS is available free of charge and included by default, regardless of carrier. They stated the first two years will be free, but no plans to charge for the service have been noted. The Emergency SOS feature will likely remain free, but we can see a non-emergency communication feature being a paid option in the future.
What iPhones have Emergency SOS?
iPhone 14 and newer phones come equipped with satellite connectivity for Emergency SOS.
How to use?
At the end of the day, it's about communication.
What a phone has become is so much more about calling others, but at the end of the day, we own them because they are phones. Remember, screen size, camera quality, and other features all pale in importance if you can't reach 911 in an emergency, and that's why the iPhone should be the #1 choice for all snowmobilers.
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