SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says the company did have discussions with Apple about providing satellite connectivity for the iPhone 14's Emergency SOS via Satellite feature.
The iPhone 14 is the first model to connect to terrestrial cellular, Wi-Fi, and also to satellites thanks to the Emergency SOS via Satellite feature unveiled at Apple's Far Out event.
The iPhone 14 satellite feature is only for emergencies and only supports texting, not calling, with messages delayed by about 15 seconds. Apple's SOS app, built into iOS 16, shows users where to point the iPhone to get a satellite connection and facilitates SOS communications. Users can also share their location with the Find My feature via satellite.
SEE: Here's everything Apple announced during its 'Far Out' event
iPhone 14 users need to keep the iPhone pointed at the satellite for 15 seconds where the sky is clear, and for a few minutes if the view is obscured by trees or terrain. It launches in November in the US and Canada and will be free for the first two years.
Apple nominated satellite operator Globalstar to run the extremely narrow bandwidth iPhone 14 SOS messaging service.
But now Musk responded to a question on Twitter about the possibility of Apple working with Starlink to provide connectivity for the feature.
"We've had some promising conversations with Apple about Starlink connectivity. iPhone team is obv super smart," wrote Musk.
"For sure, closing link from space to phone will work best if phone software & hardware adapt to space-based signals vs Starlink purely emulating cell tower."
After Apple announced the iPhone 14 satellite service, Globalstar published an SEC filing stating that Apple agreed to pay "95% of the approved capital expenditures Globalstar makes in connection with the new satellites."
It's a very different service to Starlink's satellite broadband, which aims to offer low-latency high-speed broadband.
T-Mobile recently inked a deal with SpaceX to patch up mobile "dead zones" in the US. Rather than relying on Starlink user terminals, T-mobile will use its existing midband spectrum for cell phones to connect to Starlink satellites. Its second-generation satellites will then broadcast directly to cell phones.