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Why might the iPhone 14’s satellite feature be dangerous?

Answer: Because of how people might use it.

Two iPhone 14s next to each other, one showing the back and one showing the front, overlapping slightly.
Shutterstock/Yalcin Sonat
The latest iteration of Apple’s iPhone line, the iPhone 14, has a new feature that could, in theory, help you get aid if you become stranded in the wilderness. Experts, however, are warning that it could do more harm than good.

The issue lies not in the technology itself, but in how people might use it. The feature works by connecting to a satellite to send short messages when cellular and Wi-Fi connections are unavailable (i.e., deep in the wilderness). But wilderness rescue experts fear that it will give people a false sense of security, leading them to venture into places they shouldn’t, by thinking that getting a rescue if necessary will be easy. Satellite connections are slower and more difficult to establish than cellular ones, and the topography can easily prevent you from connecting at all. Forests, caves, canyons and pretty much anywhere in northern Canada or Alaska will be difficult to connect from.

“There will always be a group of novice or untrained outdoor recreation participants that will misplace their trust in the technology as a safety net that they really don’t understand,” said Christopher Boyer, the executive director of the National Association for Search and Rescue. “There will also be others that abuse the technology out of ignorance, entitlement or negative intent.”