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It has long been said that we humans only use ten per cent of our brains. Now that may well be a myth, but the same could certainly be said of our devices. Surely you have looked down at your top-of-the-range, latest-model mobile phone and thought, “Gosh, I’m holding decades worth of tech advancement in the palm of my hand, and I only use a fraction of its functionality.”

Well if you do indeed have one of the latest offerings from Apple or Samsung, then we’d like to make sure there is one function that you definitely are using.

Both Apple’s iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus, and Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge or later models, have SOS Messaging capabilities. Each phone has a feature that, when activated, is able to send an alert message and your location to your designated emergency contact. Sure, we tend to worry about the personal data and information that our phones are constantly tracking, but this time it’s for good reason.

So, here are the Apple and Samsung specifics, and instructions on how to activate this potentially life-saving function on your own device.

Samsung Galaxy S7 (and beyond) SOS Messages

Quickly press the Power key 3 times

This action will automatically send your location AND an alert to your emergency contact. You also have the option of including pictures or an audio recording in that alert.

How to enable SOS function

  1. Swipe down from the home pageto access the notifications drawer.
  2. Tap the Settings button(top right).
  3. Select Privacy And Emergency.
  4. Tap Send SOS Messages.
  5. Slide the switchat the top to right to “On”.
  6. A “Create Emergency Contact” Alert will pop up, tap “Add”
  7. Select “Create Contact”to set up a new person as your emergency contact, or “Select From Contacts” to assign an existing contact. If selecting an existing contact, skip to step 10.
  8. Enter the person’s name and phone number.
  9. Press Save(top right).
  10. Add up to 4 emergency contacts.
  11. Tap the back arrow (top left).
  12. Adjust the optionsfor Attach Pictures or Attach Audio Recording to your preference.


Apple: iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus (iOS 11)

Calling Emergency Services

Firstly, if you have not yet graduated to the iPhone 8 or X and have an iPhone 7 or earlier model, we completely understand. Your emergency action should be to:

  1. Rapidly press the side button five times. The Emergency SOS slider will appear.
  2. Drag the Emergency SOS slider to call emergency services.

Your iPhone will then automatically call the local emergency number. In some countries and regions, you might need to then choose the specific service that you require.

If Location Services is off, it will temporarily turn on.

Here’s how to make the call on an iPhone X, iPhone 8, or iPhone 8 Plus:


  1. Press and hold the side button and one of the Volume buttons until the Emergency SOS slider appears.
  2. Drag the Emergency SOS slider to call emergency services. If you continue to hold down the side button and Volume button instead of dragging the slider, a countdown begins and an alert sounds. If you hold down the buttons until the countdown ends, your iPhone automatically calls emergency services.

For those of you with the latest iPhones, the additional features are as follows…

You can add emergency contacts. After an emergency call ends, your iPhone automatically alerts your emergency contacts with a text message, unless you choose to cancel. Your emergency contact will be notified of your current location, and then be updated if your location changes while your iPhone is in SOS mode. You will get a notification that your contact has been updated about 10 minutes after the message is sent.

To stop the updates, tap the status bar and select “Stop Sharing Emergency Location.” You’ll get a reminder to stop every 4 hours, for 24 hours after the call.

Ending a call

If you started an emergency call by accident, press the Stop button, then tap Stop Calling.

Add or remove emergency contacts

You can add emergency contacts from the Health app on your iPhone:

  1. Open the Health app and tap the Medical ID tab.
  2. Tap Edit, then scroll to Emergency Contacts.
  3. Tap to add an emergency contact.
  4. Tap a contact, then add their relationship.
  5. Tap Done to save your changes.

Here’s how to remove emergency contacts:

  1. Open the Health app and tap the Medical ID tab.
  2. Tap Edit, then scroll to Emergency Contacts.
  3. Tap next to a contact, then tap Delete.
  4. Tap Done to save your changes.

Turning off Auto Call

Should you wish your iPhone NOT to countdown, sound an alert, and automatically make the emergency services call then:

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap Emergency SOS, then turn Auto Call on or off.

If you turn off this setting, you can still use the Emergency SOS slider to make a call.


Apple and Samsung are looking out for you on these ones, so make sure you take a minute to set up your emergency contacts. It might save you a minute when you most need it.

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