When traveling or working in remote areas with no cellular coverage, satellite phones provide critical communications services. These devices work worldwide and feature an SOS function which signals 24/7 search and rescue services if required.
Some packages provide all you need for instant connectivity, including a prepaid SIM card and accessories. We’ve curated a list of top satellite phones with global coverage that come equipped with various features to meet all of your needs.
1. Iridium Extreme
Iridium Extreme is the world’s toughest satellite phone, designed for demanding jobs and environments. Built to withstand extreme temperatures, heavy rainfall, and dust accumulations – making it the perfect solution for military and government personnel who operate remotely or across land, sea or airspace.
Iridium’s global coverage is made possible through a constellation of 66 low-earth orbiting satellites linked together and orbiting in low earth orbit. This provides unparalleled voice and data capability even in remote corners of Earth. Their phones also feature an SOS button which can send your location and emergency notification instantly to selected contacts, while Iridium Extreme provides market leading durability, an extensive feature set, and accessories so you stay connected wherever life may lead you.
But unlike regular cell phones that connect through towers and utilize the same signal as mobile phones, satellite phones operate using an international satellite network and require an overhead view in order to function. Therefore, people calling you from another landline or smartphone will have to dial a different number than they would when calling from another landline; additionally, calls may cost significantly more; nevertheless, its benefits outweigh its costs considerably.
When making calls via Iridium satellite phone service, dialers must begin the call by using an international access code – usually represented by a plus sign (+), followed by country code and phone number of their destination country. They can also take advantage of Iridium’s global push-to-talk capabilities by creating talkgroups among users within their network and communicate directly at the touch of a button.
Iridium Extreme phones are ideal for travelers looking for global coverage, including water-based activities or traveling in areas with extreme weather. Package options such as the Peace of Mind Package offer 225 minutes at an excellent value – perfect for light users!
IsatPhone 2 from Inmarsat is an affordable satellite phone, designed specifically to serve travelers traveling remote areas. Featuring one button SOS and built-in GPS tracking capabilities in a small handset form factor. In addition, its standard call features such as calling history, caller ID and call waiting are provided as standard features.
IsatPhone 2 operates on Inmarsat’s global I-4 satellite network to deliver call stability and seamless roaming around the planet excluding Polar Regions. Engineered for rugged use in any environment from searing heat to icy blasts; desert sandstorms to monsoon rain; registration to network happens within 45 seconds with unrivalled talk time (8 hours in talk mode and 160 hours standby time).
IsatPhone users can also stay in touch via Inmarsat’s Global Xpress Ka-band network, offering high-speed mobile broadband connectivity. Already comprising seven satellites in service with five more to be deployed between 2023-2024, GX provides layers of redundancy to maintain network availability as well as targeted capacity allocation to regions where demand is greatest.
Inmarsat’s global network of geostationary satellites covers most areas in the world – excluding polar regions – with 99.9% network availability, making IsatPhone reliable connectivity no matter where it’s used. IsatPhone offers voice calls, SMS texting messages email transmissions and mobile data transfer.
IsatPhone 2 has an inbuilt GPS that can send your coordinates as text messages to pre-programmed contacts or notify them with customizable alerts if you press its emergency assistance button, making this device great for reporting an emergency or crisis situation. In addition, its antenna stowing feature makes this phone an essential asset when operating in mountainous terrain or other vertical obstructions where satellite signal might otherwise be blocked by such obstacles.
3. Zoleo Satellite Communicator
The Zoleo Satellite Communicator is an all-in-one satellite communicator, personal locator beacon and GPS device all in one. Syncing easily with smartphones via Bluetooth connectivity, it offers two-way messaging (even without mobile coverage), SOS alerting capabilities, location sharing features, weather updates and much more.
ZOLEO’s ruggedly designed Iridium device keeps travelers connected and safe when venturing beyond mobile network coverage*. A built-in Check-in and SOS button alerts loved ones of your departure and allows them to track your progress through its free app, ZOLEO. While an active subscription plan is required in order to transmit messages over Iridium satellite network, incoming text messages do not count against your data plan since they use WiFi or Cellular data instead resulting in faster communications wait times and reduced data usage compared to SPOT devices which use Iridium satellite network instead, meaning much shorter wait times and less data usage overall!
Zoleo stands out from its competitors by using replaceable AAA batteries and providing up to 156 days of tracking with 8 hours per day of activity – meaning recharging will only need to occur every few months or so – making this device perfect for thru-hikers.
Users will only receive messages if their app is connected to satellites and receives them pushed from them directly onto their phones; this way they avoid using up plan data or sending emergency SOS alerts (which count towards plan). In contrast with Garmin inReach or Spot devices, all SMS, SOS alerts, Check-in requests, Check-in confirmations and other functionalities will be combined into one bundle that will be sent directly to recipients’ phones at once.
The device is waterproof and military-std shock-resistant, boasting IP68 water resistance – meaning it can withstand being submerged up to 4.9 feet for 30 minutes – as well as mil-std 810g shock resistance – so that it can handle the rigorous demands of long hikes or backpacking trips. Plus, its battery can last 200+ hours depending on its settings and usage!