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How to make an emergency SOS call from your mobile phone

Whether you're using an iPhone or an Android smartphone, make sure you know how to use the emergency call function

How to make an emergency SOS call from your mobile phone

Every modern smartphone has some form of emergency function, so it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with how your own device works. Plus, letting your phone know who your emergency contacts are is also a good move.

While some phones simply provide a shortcut to calling the emergency services (quick-tapping the Power button, for example), others can be configured to automatically send your current location to your friends and family.

Keep scrolling as we explain how to make emergency calls on a mobile phone. Our guide covers Apple’s iPhone models, along with smartphones from Google, Huawei, Motorola, Samsung and Xiaomi.


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How to make an emergency call on an iPhone

Apple’s iPhone models feature a built-in Emergency SOS function, which means you can call for help quickly without having to scroll through a packed contact book. When you make a call through SOS mode, your iPhone will automatically call the local emergency number.

To call emergency services on an iPhone 8 or later, follow these steps:

  1. Press and hold the button on the right side of your phone, along with one of the volume buttons on the left side of the phone.
  2. An ‘Emergency SOS’ slider will now appear. If you drag your finger along this slider, you will call the emergency services. If you keep the buttons held down but don’t use the slider, a countdown will begin and an alert will sound.

Note that if you accidentally start an SOS countdown, you can cancel this on iPhone 8 or later by releasing the side button and volume button.

To call emergency services on an iPhone 7 or earlier, follow these steps:

  1. Press the side button or the top button rapidly five times in a row – this will make the Emergency SOS slider appear.
  2. Slide your finger along the Emergency SOS text to call emergency services.

If you accidentally start an SOS countdown, you can cancel this on iPhone 7 or earlier by pressing the Stop button, then Stop Calling.

Adding emergency contacts to your iPhone

We suggest you add your emergency contacts to your iPhone sooner rather than later. Doing so means that, after an emergency call ends, your mobile will alert your emergency contacts with a text message. Those contacts will also receive details on your current location.

To add an emergency contact, follow these steps:

  1. Open up the pre-installed Health app and tap on your profile picture.
  2. Select the Medical ID option, then Edit.
  3. Scroll to Emergency Contacts and tap the Add button (plus symbol).
  4. Select one of your contacts, then add their relationship. Tap on Done to save your changes.

To remove an emergency contact, you’ll have to work through the following steps:

  1. Open up the pre-installed Health app and tap on your profile picture.
  2. Select the Medical ID option, then Edit.
  3. Scroll to Emergency Contacts and tap the Delete button (minus symbol). Tap on Done to save your changes.

See also: Use Emergency SOS on your iPhone (Apple website)

Emergency and SOS calls on Android

If you own an Android smartphone, the steps you need to take to make an emergency call vary depending on the brand. For example, Google Pixel owners will need to use a different method compared to Samsung Galaxy owners.

How to make an emergency call on Google Pixel smartphones

Your emergency settings on Pixel are handled by the Personal Safety app, which is pre-installed on Pixel 4 and later. Configuring this now means you’ll be able to share your real-time location with emergency contacts.

To add your emergency information to the Personal Safety app:

  1. Open the Personal Safety app by selecting it in your app tray or by searching for it in device settings, and if prompted, sign in to your Google account.
  2. Tap the Settings button, then Medical information. Here, you can store information on allergies and medications.
  3. Tap Emergency Contacts, then Add contact. Select an existing contact that you would like the app to recognise as an emergency contact.

If you ever need quick access to the Emergency function, long-press on your Pixel’s power button. Doing so will bring up the Emergency, Power off and Restart functions. Tapping Emergency will take you to a screen where you can dial 999 or reach out to your emergency contacts.

See also: Get help in an emergency using your Pixel phone (Pixel Phone Help website)

How to make an emergency call on Samsung Galaxy smartphones

The latest Galaxy smartphones come with an SOS feature that will alert your emergency contacts in just three taps.

To set up the emergency SOS feature on a Samsung Galaxy smartphone:

  1. Open the Settings menu, and choose Advanced features.
  2. At the bottom, you’ll see Send SOS messages. Toggle this on and then choose your emergency contacts.
  3. You can opt to automatically send an audio recording and photos using the front and rear cameras. Emergency contacts will receive this alongside your current location.

If you need to make an emergency call and don’t have time to unlock your phone, swipe up on your screen to be taken to the Lock screen. From there, you can tap Emergency call.

See also: How to use your Galaxy phone in emergency situations (Samsung website)

How to make an emergency call on Huawei smartphones

If you own a Huawei smartphone, you’ll be able to send an SOS message to emergency contacts or make an emergency call right from the lock screen.

To send a message to an emergency contact:

  1. Make sure your GPS is enabled so that the Emergency SOS feature can access your location.
  2. Head to Settings > Security > Emergency SOS. From there, enable the Also send SOS message option.
  3. Finally, set your emergency contacts.

With the Emergency SOS feature set up, you can now press the power button five times in quick succession to activate it. This will automatically send a message with your current location to each of your emergency contacts. To make an emergency call, navigate to your lock screen (this will appear automatically when you wake your phone up) and tap Emergency.

See also: Emergency SOS and Calls (Huawei website)

How to make an emergency call on Xiaomi smartphones

Xiaomi owners can use the brand’s Emergency SOS tool to quickly let friends and family know they need help.

To configure Xiaomi’s Emergency SOS tool:

  1. Open up device Settings and scroll down to Passwords & Security.
  2. Select the Emergency SOS option and make sure the feature is enabled.
  3. Your device will prompt you to add at least one emergency contact. You can also choose to send your call history over the last hour to your emergency contact.

To ask for help, press the power button five times in quick succession – doing so will activate Xiaomi’s Emergency SOS tool. Now, your emergency contact/s will see you’ve asked for help, plus they’ll have information on your current location.


If your mobile phone maker isn’t listed above, we suggest you check the manual that came with your device. If you’ve misplaced that, head to the manufacturer’s website and run a search for the ‘SOS’ or ‘Emergency call’ function.


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