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Apple’s holding off on charging for Emergency SOS for another year (but it depends…)

Satellite SOS Australia: Choose your emergency.Updated: Apple’s sort-of-kind-of making Emergency SOS services available for an extra year — but only under some very specific circumstances for iPhone 14 owners in Australia.

Back in May, Apple launched Emergency SOS for iPhone 14 customers in Australia, and I had the opportunity to go hands-on with it, albeit in a simulated way.

I’m sure there’s some folks that would gladly drop me in the middle of absolute nowhere with no supplies, but this wasn’t that kind of day.

Also read:
How Do I Use Emergency SOS on an iPhone 14 in Australia?

At the time, Apple said it would offer the service for two years to iPhone 14/Plus/Pro/Pro Max buyers, after which it would charge an unspecified sum for access. I did ask, but there were no announced details on how much that kind of access might cost, just that it would be free for 24 months.

Today, it turns out, sorting out that pricing might be a tad trickier than anticipated, because Apple’s announced that two years… is actually three.

Apple’s extending access for an additional free year for owners of the iPhone 14, although it’s not really stated as to why it’s made this decision.

Update: So, I was curious about how this would work for Australian iPhone users, because the US release was in November 2022, and being a US-centric company, the official press release thinks in terms of those dates.

The Australian launch was in May 2023, but there wasn’t any detail about whether we’d get ┬áthe extra year “from” that date, or only six-ish months to line up with the US date. It was confusing, so I reached out to Apple Australia to clarify.

Which it did, although not with news that’s going to make every new iPhone owner happy.

Specifically, the additional year is for iPhone 14 owners only, and basically only if you owned one before Wednesday this week.

As per Apple, if you activated an iPhone 14 model prior to 12 a.m. PT on November 15, 2023, you’ll get three years of Emergency SOS coverage.

If you activated an iPhone 15 — still with the Emergency SOS hardware under the hood — at that time, it’s still just two years, and if you activate an iPhone 14 or iPhone 15 today, it’s also just two years.

That’s… clearer, but still a slightly odd decision on Apple’s part.

Alex’s Take

You should hope that you’d never, ever need satellite SOS, but it could be a literal life saver if you did.

I do hope that Apple makes it very transparent and very easy to sign up for whatever the paid service might be, because this does feel a bit like the conversation I often have with people about backup.

It’s boring, yes… right up until you need it. Something tells me that if you had to sign up for Satellite SOS right when you needed it you might not be able to do so, because by definition if you don’t have a mobile signal to call out, you also don’t have one to sign up to emergency services.

The whole business with how long you have it for free is a little befuddling — I honestly don’t get why Apple hasn’t just settled on “have 3 years free” for most users, because while it’s not a zero-cost service, it’s one that hopefully the vast mass of iPhone users will never require, but then I guess I don’t run Apple, and maybe there’s some big satellite service contract quirk I’m not privy to.

The takeaway from that, however, is that it would be wise to keep an eye on this for the next 18-24 months to see what Apple starts charging for the service, and when that might affect you.

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