SATELLITE phones have been around for a few years, and there are several providers offering different handsets with different capabilities and user packages at varying prices. I’ve used them all over the years but have only ever owned one: an Iridium unit on the Telstra satphone network.
The Iridium satphone network, with its 66 active satellites in low orbit around the earth, gives the best, most reliable coverage of any satphone network, both here and around the world.
I bought this Iridium Extreme after my old satphone packed it in after near 20 years of service, and it’s a smaller, more robust unit with better voice clarity, faster SMS messaging capability and an easier, more intuitive interface.
The Iridium Extreme comes as a complete kit with included 12V DC and 240V AC chargers, a vehicle kit with antenna and a hands-free headset unit. The handset itself is robust and IP65-rated to withstand the blast of a water jet, and it is shock- and dust-resistant to MIL-STD-810F.
The Extreme features inbuilt GPS tracking and location-sending via SMS, as well as an integrated GPS-enabled SOS button where you program who you want the SOS message sent to in an emergency.
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The unit weighs less than 250g, and the standard battery provides you with 30 hours of standby time or four hours of talk time. Some may see the 30 hours of standby time as an issue but, with the 12V charger, four-wheelers shouldn’t have any problems keeping it charged up and ready.
Now don’t expect this phone, or any satphone in fact, to be as versatile as your normal smartphone – it isn’t. And while you can send and receive SMS message and short emails, don’t expect to be streaming the latest movies or playing with your favourite apps.
You can connect the phone to a laptop where it will act as a data modem, but at a maximum speed of 13kbps you’ll only be able to check emails – without pics. Still, it does what a satphone is supposed to do: make and receive phone calls from anywhere on the planet. And, as far as I’m concerned, it does that better than any of the others.
AVAILABLE FROM: www.trtelecom.com.au
RRP: $2100 plus phone/data plans
WE SAY: Easy to use, reliable and around-the-world capability.