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Did the iPhone 14 just kill Garmin inReach? Lol, no. Here's why not.

There's been some hype about the new SOS function via satellite on Apple's new iPhone 14—and how it just changed the game for satellite communicators like Garmin's inReach lineup.

It's only hype. Unfounded hype. And we're explaining why in this article.

Sure, the new iPhone 14 has some cool new upgrades. We would not dispute that.

But Apple's new emergency SOS feature is severely limited, and there is no conceivable way it could relplace a designated SOS satellite communicator in the field.

Anyone who has used or considered using a Garmin inReach or inReach Mini 2 satellite GPS communicator knows that an iPhone with a satellite SOS trigger is not sufficient enough for most of the situations these overland devices were built for.

Not unless the the new iPhone charger can plug into a tree. Or survive extreme temperatures. Or work in a canyon. All of which, it can't.

But you don't have to take our word for it ... let's dig into the proof!

First we'll compare Garmin inReach satellite GPS communicators with the iPhone 14.

Then we'll look at several real-life situations—both recreational and professional—in which an inReach is used in a life-saving capacity—and where an iPhone 14 couldn't possibly suffice as an emergency satellite communicator.

By the way, we're not trying to be jerks or dis on the iPhone 14. Many a PlayBetter team member loves their iPhone and Apple products. In fact, this article is being typed out on a MacBook Pro.

But it's plain irresponsible to suggest it could replace an emergency satellite communicator. Seriously.

Garmin inReach vs iPhone 14/iPhone 14 Plus SOS Feature

Feature Garmin inReach Satellite Communitator iPhone 14 Smartphone

Signal Strength

Garmin inReach devices have helix-shaped antennas for omni-directional
message transmission.

The iPhone 14 has a weak antenna that requires the user to aim by hand at a passing
satellite (see adjacent image of iPhone).


inReach provides global coverage via the Iridium satellite network.

iPhone coverage is only available in the US and Canada, not worldwide. In fact, it's
limited to below 62 degrees latitude—no coverage above Anchorage, AK.

SOS Response

Garmin IERCC is a full service rescue coordination including third-party
It simultaneously communicates with the inReach user, search and rescue
(SAR), and Emergency Contacts.
inReach messaging allows two-way communication with friends
and family and SAR.

The iPhone 14 only communicates with 911, has limited ability to coordinate with
SAR or third-party assistance.
Notifies emergency contacts but does not allow two-way exchange with them or
other friends and family during an emergency.


Send custom messages to friends and family or to other inReach users
outside of cellular connectivity.
Communicating with friends & family can prevent incidents from escalating
to emergencies.

You can only send emergency messages to 911 with an iPhone 14.

Battery Life

An inReach Sat Nav has exceptional battery life with up to 4 weeks
(670 hours) at 10-minute tracking interval.
It performs well in cold weather and is optimized for satellite
communication—even in cold.

The new iPhone gets up to 26 hours of battery life when playing video, which
is a close comparison to satellite communication.
It also has limited battery life in cold weather, as it is designed for full phone
features that tax a cold battery.


You get rugged construction built for active, outdoor use.
The physical SOS button is designed for use in wet and cold weather.

The iPhone 14 has a glass display that can shatter if dropped, rendering it not
functional, as it depends on touchscreen interaction to trigger SOS.


You can continuously share your location to MapShare with up to a 2-minute
tracking interval.

With the iPhone, you can manually send your location to Find My app, in case
someone checks.


Receive basic, extended, and marine weather forecasts with global Iridium

The iPhone has no satellite weather capabilities.

SAR Benefit

Garmin Search and Rescue Insurance protects users who incur costs
during a rescue.

No rescue insurance available with the iPhone 14.

Verified Garmin inReach Rescue Stories

The following are just a few instances where a Garmin inReach saved someone's life. In each case, it's obvious an iPhone 14 would not have been a viable substitue for the emergency. You can find the full stories on the Garmin blog.

  • Four snowbikers stranded for 40 hours in the Canadian Chic-Chos mountains are saved by inReach. The iPhone would have run out of battery, been too cold to keep power, and the bikers were stuck in a ravine, likely making it impossible to get a satellite signal with the iPhone's weaker antenna.
  • A violent plane crash at a remote landing strip in the Idaho backcountry. This was a wreck in a tight valley between mountain faces. The parties involved were able to communicate with loved ones while waiting on helicopter rescue.
  • A 24-year-old commercial filmmaker was seven days into a long winter trek in northern Sweden, when he fell through the ice while crossing a frozen river. His inReach satellite communicator saved him from severe frostbite. The iPhone would not have even worked in this area, let alone kept a charge in backcountry for 7 days.
  • An experienced hunter in Alaska breaks back and has stroke in a 125' fall and his friend uses the unconscious man's inReach to call for help. The friend was able to coordinate with IRECC and Airforce Pararescue Jumpers in Blackhawk helicopters, and his friend's wife while they waited only an hour to be rescued. Additionally, the friend could not move from the injured, because he was holding him to keep him from sliding further down. He would not have been able to get to a clear spot to search for a satellite signal with the iPhone 14.

There are thousands of these Garmin inReach inReach from around the world.

Some companies even require that their employees wear inReach satellite communicators at all times.

For example, a journalist for the New York Times who chronicles crimes at sea, requires that anyone who is traveling with him wears an inReach on their belt and that it’s fully charged at all times when they are at sea. That way, if they fall in the water they can be tracked or if there is ever an emergency or if they are in trouble or get separated from each other, anyone in the party can hit the SOS button.

When You Life's on the Line, It's Garmin inReach

We don't dispute that adding emergency SOS to the iPhone 14 is a bad idea. It could certainly help out in certain situations, and good for Apple for going there, technology-wise.

What we take issue with, is certain hypesters out there suggesting that this new feature can even begin to "kill Garmin" satellite navigation devices.

It's a joke, and a gravely irresponsible one at that.

Many of the adventurous folks who had to trigger an SOS on an inReach to save their lives, had to be talked into getting one by a loved one. And they only learned the real value of the Garmin inReach technology AFTER they needed it.

It's just wrong to suggest to people that an iPhone 14 can replace an inReach satellite navigator for emergency SOS situations. We hope this article made that clear along with the mounting evidence that these Garmin devices really do save lives.

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