Emergency SOS icon appears on iPhone when out of cellular/Wi-Fi coverage, not making SOS call.
iPhone users may have been surprised to see a satellite icon and the words SOS appear in their status bar at the top of their iPhones recently. This is due to Apple rolling out Emergency SOS via satellite to a number of countries late last year to the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max. If you have one of these handsets and live in the US, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, or the UK, you can test this out by tapping on Settings > Emergency SOS.
However, this SOS satellite message may appear on other iPhones as well. To replicate this, the user needs to be outside of a cellular and Wi-Fi coverage and have a mapping app such as Google Maps or Waze running. When this happens, the Emergency SOS icon appears in the status bar and the Control Center panel.
When iPhone users reach out to Apple technical support about this issue, they are told that it is normal behavior, even though no emergency SOS call is being made and no data can be sent or received over the satellite network. As such, users don’t need to worry about getting billed or getting into trouble.
The reason for this SOS satellite message is not clear. It could be a bug or a feature, or something to do with Find My. It could also be something strange happening when running mapping apps.
In conclusion, iPhone users should not worry if they see the SOS satellite message appear on their handset. This is normal behavior and no emergency SOS call is being made.