The 9 Best Satellite Phones

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This wiki has been updated 13 times since it was first published in April of 2020. Those who often travel into unpopulated areas or work in certain market sectors, such as energy, government, and NGOs, will understand the important role played by satellite telephones. When there are no cell towers for miles around, these devices are essential for communicating both for business and pleasure, and can potentially save lives should an emergency situation arise. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Iridium 9575 Emergency Responder Package

2. Thuraya X5 Touch

3. Iridium 9575 Extreme Marine Package

Editor's Notes

May 05, 2020:

Unlike cell phones, that work with (and are limited to) terrestrial antennae, satellite phones work with high earth orbit (GEO orbit) or low earth orbit (LEO) satellites that relay their signal across the globe, and each of these configurations comes with its own benefits and drawbacks.

Companies such as Inmarsat and Thuraya, makers of models that include the Thuraya XT-Lite, Thuraya X5 Touch, and the Inmarsat IsatPhone 2.1, use GEO orbit satellites, and due to the distances that the signal travels, are subject to a delay of around a quarter second. This may result in your hearing an echo that might be slightly confusing or annoying. These devices also require a much larger antenna, which makes the hardware bulkier, and they are subject to more outages due to the lower number of satellites orbiting the globe.

LEO satellites are used by companies including Globalstar and Iridium, makers of the Iridium 9555, and the Globalstar GSP-1700, and these satellites are more abundant, with up to 60 used per network. These generally have lower delay times, better call quality, and are more economical on battery power. They do, however, have significantly slower data transmission and the user usually needs to stand in the open air in order for the phone to work.

Due to their satellites’ alignment with the earth and the logistics involved in their operation, different manufacturers and data plan providers have their own preferred areas of coverage. Be sure to take into consideration your requirements and whether they meet the network coverage allowances before you venture into buying a handset or opting for a data plan.

4. Thuraya XT Pro

5. Iridium 9555

6. Iridium Extreme Bundle

7. Inmarsat IsatPhone 2.1

8. Thuraya XT-Lite

9. Globalstar GSP-1700

Christopher Thomas
Last updated by Christopher Thomas

Building PCs, remodeling, and cooking since he was young, quasi-renowned trumpeter Christopher Thomas traveled the USA performing at and organizing shows from an early age. His work experiences led him to open a catering company, eventually becoming a sous chef in several fine LA restaurants. He enjoys all sorts of barely necessary gadgets, specialty computing, cutting-edge video games, and modern social policy. He has given talks on debunking pseudoscience, the Dunning-Kruger effect, culinary technique, and traveling. After two decades of product and market research, Chris has a keen sense of what people want to know and how to explain it clearly. He delights in parsing complex subjects for anyone who will listen -- because teaching is the best way to ensure that you understand things yourself.

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