Satellite Phones: Cost, Plans, Reviews, Buying Guide

Costs, reviews, comparison 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, track your location or make a quick call in case of emergency? Do you need to access the internet or broadcast capabilities?

Find all the answers of these questions on this satellite phone guide

TIP: Remember, a communications device is only as good as the coverage and reliability of the network behind it.

Major Satellite Phone Brands

Best Satellite Phones Comparison

Discover how the top satellite phones compare!

We’ve put together a comparison chart below to make it easy for you to shop for the satellite phone and package best suited for your needs including quality of service (QoS), potential limitations, and advantages one satellite phone may have over another.

  Iridium Extreme Satellite Phone Iridium 9555 Satellite Phone IsatPhone 2 Satellite Phone Globalstar GSP-1700 Satellite Phone
Compare Iridium Extreme Iridium 9555 IsatPhone 2 Globalstar GSP-1700
MPN/UPC CPKT1101 BPKT0801 885562000343 706166016267
Pricing (approx) $1,145 $945 $599 $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.

Our satellite phone handsets work great for the adventurer! Iridium satellite offers phones, packages and data services for avid campers, hikers, hunters or any occupation that takes you off to a remote, off-the-grid location for a while.

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In-vehicle Solutions

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

Iridium GO! and Iridium Extreme are two of the best examples used for vehicle satellite and data service needs. Iridium Extreme offers a feature-rich and durable handset that can take a tough beating and still be provide satellite communications in your time of need. Iridium GO! works like a satellite hotspot providing voice, text and data services to your smartphone making it easy to connect whenever you need to. A portable satellite attached to a vehicle is also a great way to have satellite communication on the go!

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Marine Solutions

Use satellite phones on a yacht or power boat.

Today, Iridium satellite equipment has been implemented on 50,000 vessels and is a trusted provider of safety and security services in the maritime market. Iridium was recognized by IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) in May 2018 for offering maritime distress and safety communications within the GMDSS.

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Aviation Solutions

Use satellite phones in the cockpit of a recreational aircraft.

Iridium provides global flight safety services via satellite solutions keeping crews and commuters safe and secure and able to react at a quick moment’s notice.

View ProductsGuy happily using a satellite phone

How are Satellite Phones Typically Used?

Sat phones are popular for expeditions into remote areas where terrestrial cell and data services are unreliable and unavailable. Satellite phones have been around for decades, but until the launch of the Iridium network, they were often only offered at an unaffordable price. Satellite phones can be a valuable back up to traditional cell phones because they operate independently of terrestrial communication or cell phone networks, which can be unreliable or non-existent in less populated regions or remote 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 or in an open, remote spot. 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, making satellite communication quick and easy. 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 services 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. Iridium GO! can connect up to 5 mobile devices providing satellite data, voice and text messaging services to anyone with a smartphone who happens to be off the grid and on the go!

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.

Guy using the Iridium GO! portible satellite internet

Best Sat Phone Plans

Satellite Phone Plans Included Price Incoming Calls & Text Messages Additional Outgoing Rates
Iridium 10 Monthly Plan 10 Global Voice Minutes, 10 Text Messages $52.95/Mo FREE $1.29/Min Shop Now
Iridium 75 Monthly Plan 75 Global Voice Minutes, 75 Text Messages $79.95/Mo FREE $1.19/Min Shop Now
Iridium 150 Monthly Plan 150 Global Voice Minutes, 150 Text Messages $109.95/Mo FREE $1.09/Min Shop Now
IsatPhone 15 Monthly Plan** 15 Global Voice Minutes $39.99/Mo FREE 99¢/Min Shop Now
IsatPhone 60 Monthly Plan** 60 Global Voice Minutes $54.99/Mo FREE 99¢/Min Shop Now
IsatPhone 200 Monthly Plan* 200 Global Voice Minutes $109.99/Mo FREE 99¢/Min Shop Now
IsatPhone 15 North America Monthly Plan** 15 North America Voice Minutes $34.99/Mo FREE 99¢/Min Shop Now
IsatPhone 60 North America Monthly Plan** 60 North America Voice Minutes $49.99/Mo FREE 99¢/Min Shop Now
IsatPhone 200 North America Monthly Plan** 200 North America Voice Minutes $74.99/Mo FREE 99¢/Min Shop Now

*Requires a 12 month term.**Requires a one-month term.

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