10 Best Satellite Phones That Could Work Anywhere in the World
You know those crucial moments, emotionally or financially, when you try to call an important person in your life and you get one of those annoying pre-recorded messages that say ‘the person you are trying to reach..’? Well, that usually means your operator is not covering the area or that someone’s phone needs changing.
The more adventurous of you will most likely reach areas of our planet that others will never even know about, which means you require a proper device to get you out of unpredictable situations or allow you to contact friends or authorities. Here we have a list of satellite phones that you may or may not need, but which can surely handle their business and save the day.
Satellite Phones Need Service Too
Just like mobile carriers, competing networks offer different coverage and performance levels for satellite phones as well. The two main satellite phone service providers are Iridium and Inmarsat, but there are a few other providers worth mentioning, like Globalstar and Thuraya.
With signals from 66 low orbit Earth satellites, Iridium promises to offer full, global coverage, even if you go to the North or South Pole, although the signals can be blocked by trees or mountains, which might not be cool. On the other hand, Inmarsat has satellites in high Earth orbit and promises more reliable connections, although it’s near the Equator where the company excels.
Whatever service your phone runs on, you’ll need to buy airtime, which means a predefined number of minutes and texts, or data – as well as a phone number. Please consider the fact that prepaid plans usually come with an expiry date of anywhere between 30 days and two years.
Heading off-grid without any way to communicate is not a good idea but we’ve got you covered with the 10 best satellite phones that could work anywhere in the world.
10. Spot X 2-Way Satellite Messenger
The 2-Way Satellite Messenger from Spot X is not exactly a full fledged satellite communication device like other phones from this list, but since it’s priced just below $240, it could be an invaluable tool for any adventurer. It’s also very small and compact, measuring just 6.5 x 2.9 x 0.94 inches, so it can be easily packed alongside your important adventure gear.
This unique satellite device can be also paired via Bluetooth and comes with satellite GPS tracking and SOS features, with easy-to-use texting capabilities thanks to the GEOS Qwerty Keyboard. There’s also a built-in compass, you can set programmable waypoints and it has a2.7-inch backlit display. Did we mention the IP67 rating? This is one tiny companion that’s always worth having around.
9. Garmin InReach Mini
Another tiny, minimalist satellite communicator, the Garmin inReach Mini is less than four inches tall and weighs just 3.5 ounces; we’ve been lead to believe that size doesn’t matter, but when you want to travel light, this is definitely one of the best options. Water-resistant and bragging about five days’ worth of battery life, Garmin’s 2-way GPS device is truly a dignified and efficient satellite messenger.
The inReach Mini supports SOS service, which means peace of mind; furthermore, it comes with ability to download weather forecasts, a feature that might come in handy at some point. Go crazy and choose a remote destination; this device will not disappoint.
8. Iridium 9555
Iridium Satellite Communications is usually associated with premium offerings. The 9555 is their most popular device and it costs just as much as a brand new iPhone. Known for offering access to one of the world’s most reliable satellite networks, the Iridium 9555 looks like a time traveler; with a design that reminds us of the 1980s, this device shows off an industrial-grade construction.
Simple, functional, easily recognizable, and offering even e-mail together with its SMS and Voice capabilities, this satellite phone will have you covered anywhere you might go.
7. Thuraya XT-Lite
Moving on from satellite messengers, the excellent Thuraya XT-Lite satellite phone offers a dependable dual GSM system, combining both voice and messaging capabilities. This device allows you to access the most powerful satellite network in the world at the simple touch of a button, helping you to keep in touch with your family and friends from almost anywhere in the world.
There has to be a catch, and this is it: Thuraya coverage does not include America. At least not yet. Aside from this “small” disadvantage, users get to rely on one of the world’s largest and probably strongest networks that covers over 160 countries.
6. Globalstar GSP-1700
Feel free to travel anywhere in the world: the Globalstar GSP-1700 satellite phone will keep you connected, especially when you’re sailing. Odd-looking, or not, this satellite phone was designed to handle remote areas where spotty coverage doesn’t exist. Small, sleek, and easy to pack, travelers will surely appreciate this Globalstar device, even though it has a weird antenna.
Furthermore, the phone’s crystal-clear CDMA digital voice quality will put a smile on your face when you’re talking to your family or friends – not to mention the fast data exchange rates and the precise GSP location services.
5. Inmarsat IsatPhone 2
Another odd, yet cool-looking device, the Inmarsat IsatPhone 2 also comes with a big antenna. Aesthetics may not mean much when you’re going off-grid, but I guess this device will get you in a good mood every time you look at it. One of the most dependable satellite phones on the market today, this thing promises to be robust and offers you the ability to stay connected even in the farthest spots of the world.
It’s a tough phone in a tough world and allows you to pinpoint your location, which is somewhat of a traveler’s dream – at least when you get into trouble. The IsatPhone 2 also offers messaging capabilities and crystal-clear call quality, without any extra roaming charges. It also comes with a long-lasting lithium-ion battery and IP65 rating. I think it’s safe to assume that this phone will easily go wherever you will take it.
4. Garmin InReach Explorer+
You can’t discuss satellite communications without mentioning Garmin. The renowned American tech brand has made a name for itself by optimizing and releasing the very first personal GPS devices; today, the company has a full line-up of GPS trackers, 2-way messengers and communicators.
Their popular InReach Explorer+ offers global satellite coverage thanks to Iridium, 2-way text messaging, and even an internal SOS feature, with the latter set to notify the closest national search and rescue center in case anything bad happens. Furthermore, it will – if you choose to – share your location with family or friends regularly.
You also get a digital compass, altimeter and accelerometer features, and IPX7 dust and water resistance rating. But what’s really special about the Explorer+ is that it comes with the Earthmate app, a unique feature that allows you to download maps. It keeps just getting better and better, doesn’t it?
3. Iridium 9575 Extreme
But the Iridium 9575 Extreme, on the other hand, is the company’s most impressive offering. Designed to handle the most rugged, remote and challenging areas in the world (and tested beforehand for this kind of purposes), this device has gained the highest IP rating: MIL-STD 810F – the US Military standard for equipment design when it comes to testing its limits to the elements.
Showing off an illuminated keypad that’s also water-resistant, this rugged satellite phone comes with a military-spec construction, matched by a robust battery. Going off-grid has never felt any safer. Where did you say you were going?
2. Inmarsat IsatPhone 2.1
One of the most popular satellite phones on the market, the IsatPhone 2 has always been highly rated by its users, but the interesting thing is that it comes in two versions. The original IsatPhone 2 was released back in 2014 and the new model, IsatPhone 2.1, was introduced four years later with upgraded firmware, USB drivers and software.
For those of you who love big phones, the updated IsatPhone 2.1 is quite generous in size as well, going to 6.7 inches when the antenna is folded out. The rugged satellite phone is also IP65-rated, so it will perform easily in extreme conditions and remote places, offering up to eight hours of talk and 160 hours of standby mode. That should be more than enough for your next adventure!
1. Thuraya X5 Touch
A bit expensive, to say the least, the X5 Touch satellite phone from the UAE-based service provider Thuraya is getting closer to smartphone territory than ever. An adventurer looking to enjoy a bit more than an off-grid device will love this satellite phone that comes with an advanced omnidirectional antenna, Gorilla Glass touchscreen, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, NFC, and a dual SIM satellite that will make it easy to switch between networks as you move around.
Aside from the obvious functional specs of this fancy-looking satellite phone, the IP67 dust, impact, and water-resistance rating adds to the overall appeal. It looks like the perfect package if you ask us.
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