Buying a new iPhone? Here are new features designed for your safety

Customers shop at the Apple Fifth Avenue store for the launch of the Apple iPhone 14, September 16, 2022.

Andrew Kelly | Reuters

It’s Black Friday and the official start of the holiday shopping season, and there’s a new iPhone 14 in the market for consumers looking to upgrade their Apple device. From better cameras and longer battery life to faster chips, there are plenty of features for consumers to consider when buying a new iPhone — that is, if you can find one in what seems to be less than a season in supply for Cupertino’s newest models.

One of the new security features that gets a lot of attention is the emergency satellite connection. Cybersecurity may not be among the biggest selling points, but the new iPhone and iOS16 also have some significant security improvements.

The focus on security is nothing new applehas made user privacy one of its core messages for years, regularly adding new security features like facial recognition, blocking app tracking, and private browsing in iOS updates and new phone models.

Improved low-light photo capabilities and extended battery life may be more attractive than security improvements in the new Apple iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, or iPhone 14 Pro Max. But from new satellite connectivity features to Apple’s first eSIM phones, iPhone 14 offers a host of new technologies to further protect your privacy, including a new Lock mode.

Lockdown: Apple’s most extreme security mode

All iPhone 14 models come pre-installed with iOS 16, which introduces a new form of protection called Lockdown Mode. This tool prevents malware from entering your phone, blocks most types of message attachments, FaceTime calls, and more. provides an extreme level of blocking protection. While in lock mode, phone calls, plain text messages and emergency functions will continue to work.

Unless you are a CEO or head of state, or plan to be soon, you are not expected to use this feature.

“This is only intended for a small subset of users who could be targeted by a nation-state threat actor,” said Kathleen Moriarty, chief technology officer at the Center for Internet Security. “It could be the CEO of a company… [an] A government official and the ability to lock down a device and prevent execution or access to data on your phone can be critical.”

But this feature could appeal to a wider base of security-conscious individuals.

Justin Kappos, an associate professor of computer science and engineering at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering and a member of NYU’s Cybersecurity Center, said the study found that more than 90% of unknown security flaws reside in rarely executed code. Lock mode removes this risk, but also makes the phone experience “a little more inconvenient” for most users.

After testing the lock mode, Cappos noted that the only visual changes he noticed were that the fonts looked different and that the icons for the health apps were not displayed correctly. Because of the very similar user experience and added security benefits, it plans to use Lock mode by default and only free apps if necessary.

Android phones have been offering a feature called Lockdown since 2018 when the feature became available in Android 9. Designed to block all biometric security and voice recognition, it works slightly differently than Apple’s feature.

Lockdown mode disables fingerprint, face and voice recognition on Android to prevent anyone from accessing your phone. However, once Android is unlocked via password, pin or pattern, Lock is disabled. While iPhone always keeps your device in Locked Mode, Android only provides this security if users re-enable the feature every time they unlock their device.

Despite the similar names, Android Lock is more focused on preventing physical theft of the phone. Apple’s approach emphasizes protecting the device from digital threats. Both modes are, for the most part, not intended for everyday use by the general public, but are features that can help individuals in higher-risk situations.

Switch to eSIM-only phones

Steve Jobs never wanted the original iPhone to have a SIM card tray, and the iPhone 14 models finally achieve that goal. Apple introduced eSIM cards in 2018, but the new phone series is the first of its kind to do away with the SIM card tray entirely and use only eSIM for the US market. All iPhone 14 models purchased in the US are eSIM only, allowing users to easily connect and transfer their plans digitally.

“This prevents someone from physically changing your SIM card if you leave your phone unattended. It’s been used to hack accounts of high-profile individuals like former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, as well as steal millions of cryptocurrencies,” Cappos said. .

While the physical form of identity theft is on the decline, there are security risks to consider before switching to an eSIM-only iPhone 14.

“Carriers cite security concerns, such as not requiring a physical SIM card to switch carriers, but simply the lack of an eSIM and SMS code on the phone, allowing an attacker to intercept your phone number,” Moriarty said. “At the same time, it also worries carriers because eSIM allows for easier switching between carriers for the end user, which can hurt user retention.”

Android 9 was the first version of the phone to implement the use of eSIM. The company has made an increasing effort to offer both SIM cards and eSIM in its newer phones, but no Android is eSIM-only.

Emergency SOS via satellite

To extend iPhone’s safety features, the new line offers Emergency SOS via satellite, which allows users to connect directly to a satellite and contact emergency services outside of cellular or Wi-Fi coverage. When Emergency SOS is activated, the phone will ask questions to assess the user’s situation and where to direct the phone to connect to the satellite. These questions will be sent to trained experts at Apple, who will then call for assistance.

There is a potential security issue with this new feature.

“It certainly makes situations where someone is stranded or in dire need safer for that person. But of course having additional avenues of communication provides opportunities for surveillance and things like that,” Kappos said.

Apple notes that the messages are sent in encrypted form, but are later decrypted by Apple so that emergency services can intervene. When using this feature, your location will also be shared with Apple and its partners.

“It forces you to trust Apple a little more, but it can also potentially save your life in certain situations,” Cappos said.

Emergency SOS via satellite is rolling out to iPhone 14 models this month with the iOS 16 software update. However, the feature will only be available in the US, including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, along with Canada. Users will be able to use this feature for free for two years from the start of their plan. After that, it can become a paid add-on service for iPhone users.

Recently, Google’s senior vice president of Android and other Google services, Hiroshi Lockheimer Confirmed via Twitter said the company is working on satellite connectivity for Android 14, which requires hardware changes from companies that build Android phones.