Will the new iPhone make PLBs obsolete?


Jun 28, 2021
The tech podcasts are saying the next iPhone (might be announced next week) will have the capability of connecting directly to satellites for things like emergency messaging.

Does this mean that the PLB (for which I paid $700 several years ago!) and the Spot will no longer be necessary?
That's very interesting. Will it be restricted to emergency messaging only, or will you be able to text at your leisure like with an InReach? If it's the former, I'll stick with my InReach, but if it's the latter, I may be swayed to switch from Pixel to iPhone so I don't have to pack the InReach.

Either way this is cool. I figured it was only a matter of time until cell phones started getting satellite messaging capability.
Wouldn't matter if iphone does...... Wouldn't buy one, rather not have a phone if was only brand...... My opinion...
I'm really looking forward to this (at least once it's available on non-Apple phones). I hate carrying electronics - not just because of the weight, but because of the fuss factor - so this will be welcome technology.

Glad to hear it'll be for emergency use. Our wild places are being encroached enough as it is.
Stubbed toes are an emergency to some......... it will enable those who shouldnt be pout there..... just like cell phone calls to SAR
So emergency only by the sounds of it. I often use my Inreach to send check-ins if on a solo trip (although Jo knows not to panic if she doesn't get one), and it has been useful a couple of times for getting other messages out from deep in the backcountry. Anyway- I only updated to an iphone 12 last winter so I won't be getting a new phone anytime soon.
Plus, emergency texting on iPhone is only available in US and Canada. It seems Garmin will still have a place in my kit for at least some trips if not all. Sometimes, you're just a day late and want a family member to cancel a reservation for you.
Plus, emergency texting on iPhone is only available in US and Canada. It seems Garmin will still have a place in my kit for at least some trips if not all. Sometimes, you're just a day late and want a family member to cancel a reservation for you.
That's my conclusion too. I bet that in coming years, they'll have the capability to send normal messages using satellites (probably at an additional cost), but I'll hold on to the InReach until that happens.
The new satellite connectivity is extremely interesting and does matter quite a bit. Given time this will see advancements. Of course this won’t replace common sense for newbs or those curmudgeons who live on a computer but obtusely decry tech advancements. Lol

For me, one who has used gps since 1993 the iPhone has replaced dedicated gps units but you still have many hangers on. I suspect it will be the same for plbs. I also precisely navigated with USGS quads every day of my three decades plus career even when some areas of the west had yet to be filled in with 7.5’ quads. I’m a total map junkie from the first time I navigated with them at twelve years old. I’ll never give those up so perhaps I’m a curmudgeon too. The only difference is I view them on an OLED screen these days.

They say free for a while for the satellite connectivity but it’ll be pay soon enough. I’m going from the iPhone 12 Pro Max to the 14 Pro Max anyway for the camera advancements alone as we still take more than a hundred photos a week in our wilderness. You will never again see me schlepping a DSLR, multiple lenses, tripod, dedicated GPS unit and plant guide books around when one tiny device does all of that so well.
Never a iphone for me.... So wouldn't matter ... Heck I don't have a plb either
"The iPhone 14 lineup also introduces Emergency SOS via satellite, which combines custom components deeply integrated with software to allow antennas to connect directly to a satellite, enabling messaging with emergency services when outside of cellular or Wi-Fi coverage. Satellites are moving targets with low bandwidth, and it can take minutes for messages to get through. Since every second counts, with Emergency SOS via satellite, iPhone front-loads a few vital questions to assess the user’s situation, and shows them where to point their phone to connect to a satellite. The initial questionnaire and follow-up messages are then relayed to centers staffed by Apple‑trained specialists who can call for help on the user’s behalf. This breakthrough technology also allows users to manually share their location over satellite with Find My when there is no cellular or Wi-Fi connection, providing a sense of security when hiking or camping off the grid. Emergency SOS via satellite will be available to users in the US and Canada in November, and the service will be free for two years."
Along with the crash detection, the Apple watches and iPhones also have an "I've fallen" detection that will call 911 if you don't respond. This could be good or bad. A friend fell in her yard and thought she's broken both wrists. The watch alerted her husband, who came to her rescue, as he also had a watch. Otherwise it might have been hours before anyone noticed.

Also, keep in mind that a PLB battery will last for YEARS. The iPhone/iWatch? Not so much.
This is quite a good review of the Emergency SOS feature of the iPhone 14

Will Apple be subsidizing local first responders' and SAR teams' costs associated with a large spike in false alarms? My neighbor didn't know about the feature until she triggered it with a minor bicycle fall.
Probly not.. add things like that with no regard to what happens in the real world...

More excuse for the I prepared to go places they shouldn't. Nothing like adding millions of them to potentially false alarm to the already overburdened sar people...
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