Satellite Phones

Costs, reviews, comparisons, 2017 Buyer’s Guide and more

What You Need to Know About Satellite Phones

It is important to compare satellite phones and other satellite equipment to ensure they match your critical personal communications needs. What do you need to be able to do with your satellite phone or device? Are you looking to make calls and send text messages? Do you need basic email access? Do you want to be able to use your smartphone or tablet for satellite voice or data access? Do you want to be able to send SOS alerts, or track your location? Do you need to access the internet or broadcast capabilities?

Major Satellite Phone Brands

2017 Satellite Phone Buyer's Guide

Discover how the top satellite phones compare!

The comparison chart below is designed to help you select the satellite phone best suited for your needs including quality of service (QoS), potential limitations, and advantages one satellite phone may have over another.

  Iridium Extreme Iridium 9555 IsatPhone 2 Globalstar GSP-1700
Compare Iridium Extreme Iridium 9555 IsatPhone 2 Globalstar GSP-1700
MPN/UPC CPKT1101 BPKT0801 885562000343 706166016267
Pricing (approx) $1,295 $1,099 $699 $499
Network Iridium Iridium Inmarsat Globalstar
Coverage Global Global Global (Minus Poles) Regional
Weight 8.7 oz (247 g) 9.38 oz (266 g) 11.14 oz (316 g) 7.05 oz (200 g)
Size 5.5” x 2.36” x 1.06” (14.0 x 6.0 x 2.7 cm) 5.63” x 2.17” x 1.18” (14.3 x 5.5 x 3.0 cm) 6.65” x 2.95” x 1.14” (16.9 x 7.5 x 2.9 cm) 5.3” x 2.2” x 1.5” (13.5 x 5.6 x 3.8 cm)
Battery Life 4hr talk / 30hrs standby 3hr talk / 30hrs standby 8hr talk / 160hrs standby 4hr talk / 36hrs standby
Antenna Retractable omni-directional Retractable omni-directional Fold-out directional Fold-out directional
Display Monochrome Monochrome Color Color
Durability MIL-STD 810F N/A IK04 N/A
Ingress Protection IP65 N/A IP65 N/A
Network 66 Low Earth Orbit satellites 66 Low Earth Orbit satellites 3 Geostationary satellites 40 Orbiting Satellites
Text Messaging (SMS) Supported Supported Supported 35 Character Receive Only
GPS Yes N/A Yes Yes - During Call
Interfaces Mini USB, Audio Mini USB, Audio Micro USB, Bluetooth Mini USB, Audio
Data Connectivity Yes, via USB or AxcessPoint Yes, via USB or AxcessPoint Yes, via USB or AxcessPoint Yes, via USB or AxcessPoint
Data Speed (Uncompressed) 2.4 Kbps 2.4 Kbps 2.4 Kbps 9.6 Kbps
Emergency SOS Yes No Yes No
Learn More Iridium Extreme Iridium 9555 IsatPhone 2 Globalstar GSP-1700

What Do You Want to Use Your Satellite Phone For?

Satellite Voice, Text & Basic Email

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Use My Smartphone Where There's No Cell Coverage

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SOS, Tracking & Satellite Communication

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Satellite Broadband Access to the Internet

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Where Do You Want to Use Your Satellite Phone?

In addition to comparing the features of satellite phones, consider where you will need to use it. Do you need to make and receive satellite calls inside a building, vehicle, plane or boat? If so, consider specialized accessories, like docking stations, that are compatible with your satellite phone and enable use in these environments.

In-building Solutions

Use satellite phones in a building, lodge, camp or cabin.

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In-vehicle Solutions

Use satellite phones in a car, truck or recreational vehicle.

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Marine Solutions

Use satellite phones on a yacht or power boat.

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Aviation Solutions

Use satellite phones in the cockpit of a recreational aircraft.

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How are Satellite Phones Typically Used?

Satellite phones have been around for decades, but until the launch of the Iridium network, they were unaffordable for many people. Satellite phones can be a valuable back up to traditional phones because they operate independently of terrestrial communication or cell phone networks, which can be unreliable or non-existent in less populated regions and can be vulnerable to natural or man-made disasters.

Unlike cell phones, satellite phones require line-of-site with the sky to receive a signal for service. Don’t expect your satellite phone to ring in the lobby of your hotel or inside a stateroom while at sea. However, you might be able to receive a signal if you are by a large window. Hardened structures, buildings, mountains, and heavy tree cover can all negatively affect your signal. Pilots often leave a satellite phone or an Iridium GO! on the dashboard of their plane’s cockpit to receive a signal.

While voice calls to a satellite phone incur a significant international calling surcharge, texting is often treated much like texting on a cell phone. The cell phone subscriber with an international SMS feature can text to a satellite phone at about the same cost to say, texting a cell phone in Mexico or other international numbers. Inmarsat and Iridium satellite phones can send and receive text messages (SMS) or short emails. Globalstar phones can only receive messages up to 35 characters, but cannot reply.

The Inmarsat IsatPhone offers global satellite connectivity at an affordable price. In addition to voice and text, the IsatPhone also includes a built-in GPS receiver. While signal acquisition is somewhat slow due to the placement of the Inmarsat I-4 satellites and GPS acquisition, the call quality is reasonable. For the ultimate in satellite communications the Iridium 9575 Extreme is the most rugged, and full-featured satellite phone on the market today. Utilizing the Iridium network for unparalleled quality and coverage, this IP65 rated handset can be dropped into a puddle and still function for voice calling or sending your GPS coordinates via SMS or email.

Satellite Phones and Internet Access

Many satellite phones offer data but few offer Internet access and most have very limited bandwidth. However, many popular online functions can be carried out with an added accessory to a standard phone.

Other devices connect directly to a smartphone via built-in Wi-Fi. Note that browsing webpages is simply out of the question even for the most patient subscribers! A Wi-Fi enabled satellite device will offer limited Internet capabilities such as basic email, compressed photos, or tweets. The Iridium GO! satellite hotspot is the first portable satellite Wi-Fi hotspot that enables subscribers to call, text, email, all from their iOS or Android devices. Best of all it is the least expensive device to offer access to Iridium, the most reliable satellite network.

For true Internet access with web browsing, a portable BGAN or IsatHub terminal are the mobile satellite internet solutions we recommend. Portable BGAN and IsatHub terminals like the Wideye ISavi utilize a passive antennae that must be stationary to receive a signal and transmit data. Even on a slow moving cruise ship you may have trouble maintaining a signal. Whereas satellite phones from Iridium and Globalstar can maintain a signal even while traveling in a car, train or plane.

FAQS

Why do people need satellite phones?

If you spend time areas without reliable landline or cellular coverage, or are concerned with having a backup to these systems, satellite phones enable you to communicate where and when other forms of communications won’t. Because the satellites are in space, they aren’t dependent on land-based infrastructure like cell towers, and they are also less vulnerable to events on earth like natural disasters that can knock out cellular or landline systems.

Should I rent or own a satellite phone?

If you are likely to need a satellite phone for more than six weeks a year, then purchasing a phone is likely your best option. If you spend less than one month a year in regions lacking reliable landline or cellular coverage, we suggest a daily or monthly satellite phone rental for the times you need it.

Do you sell refurbished phones?

We sometimes have units that are like new, but they are in boxes that have been opened and can’t be sold as new. Inventory varies so please enquire via live chat or by emailing: customercare@bluecosmo.com.

How quickly can I get a satellite phone?

We maintain inventory of most satellite phone models and can generally ship the next business day for orders placed before 3 PM (Eastern).

Which satellite phone has the best coverage?

We only work with the leading satellite networks. Inmarsat, Iridium and Globalstar all offer different coverage which may be better in certain areas or for certain types of voice, text or data services. The only satellite network that offers complete whole earth coverage (including the North and South Poles) is Iridium. Compare satellite networks.

Who owns the most satellites for phone service?

Iridium owns the largest commercial satellite constellation in the world. They operate an array of 66 satellites that cover the globe, no matter where on earth you are if you have clear access to the sky you can place a call on the Iridium satellite network.

Do I pay long distance or roaming charges with satellite phones?

There are no long distance or roaming charges with the Iridium or Inmarsat satellite networks. Globalstar’s network is more regional so if you travel outside of the United States, Canada or the Caribbean, Globalstar roaming fees may apply and you should check the rates.

If I buy multiple satellite phones can they share one SIM card?

No, if you want to be able to use each satellite phone, each will need its own SIM card. Much like an unlocked cell phone, a satellite SIM card can be moved to another compatible phone, but to be able to make calls, each satellite phone will need its own SIM card with an active monthly plan or prepaid airtime.

Which accessories are worth owning?

hat depends on how you plan to use your satellite device. A spare battery is always something we recommend. It comes in handy on extended trips where you may not have access to a power source for recharging, or if you lose the one that comes with your device. Also, all satellite phone manufacturers offer compatible docking stations with an external antenna that can be stationed outdoors, enabling the satellite phone or device to be used inside a cabin, vehicle, boat or plane. You’ll find a selection of docking stations and related accessories for each model of phone on our website. You can also live chat or email us at customercare@bluecosmo.com if you’d like to discuss options.