Best Satellite Phone Reviews

Updated September 7, 2020

A satellite phone is something you may have wished you had after that last hurricane, a hiking trip, or even on an industrial site. However, you may have forgotten about it and returned to the assumption that they are something for military and governmental use!

That’s not the case. They are becoming more and more popular for daily use in poor phone signal areas plus as something to have on hand in areas prone to natural disasters. A satellite cell phone is also an ideal companion for adventurers and those who often go to off-grid areas.

To simplify your sat phone buying process, we’ve sifted through the best and reviewed our top 7 models. You’ll also find a buying guide at the end!

Best Satellite Phones

#PREVIEWProduct
1 Iridium - 9575 Extreme Satellite Phone Iridium 9575 Extreme Satellite Phone
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2 Inmarsat - IsatPhone Pro2 Handheld Satellite Phone
Best Overall
Inmarsat IsatPhone Pro2 Satellite Phone
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3 Iridium - 9555 Factory Unlocked Phone Iridium 9555 Factory Unlocked Phone
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4
Best For Higher Budgets
4Thuraya X5 Touch Satellite Phone
Thuraya - X5 Touch Satellite Phone
Best For Higher Budgets
Thuraya X5 Touch Satellite Phone
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5 Garmin - inReach SE+ Handheld Satellite Communicator
Best For Low Budgets
Garmin inReach SE+ Satellite Communicator
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6 Thuraya - XT-LITE Satellite Phone Thuraya XT-LITE Satellite Phone
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1. Iridium 9575 Extreme Satellite Phone

Highlights
  • Military-grade durability.
  • Backlit, weather-resistant keys.
  • Operates at high and low temperatures,
  • Able to make 2-way SMS contact.

Iridium has hit the nail on the head when it comes to creating a durable satellite phone. The model has a military-grade durability rating, withstanding shock, dust, vibration, and water.

The keyboard is much like an ordinary flip-up phone with well-spaced traditional black keys plus colored call and end call buttons at the top. The keys are backlit making them easy to see in dark conditions. Furthermore, this model has a suitable glare-resistant screen size for a satellite phone, however, it’s not the largest one on the market.

With a standby battery life of 30 hours and up to 4 hours of talk time, this model should get you through your daily trips. It allows two-way SMS and has a short email capacity. Plus, you can set it up as a Wi-Fi hotspot!

In addition to these features, this satellite phone includes customizable GPS services and online tracking. The GPS feature allows you to view your coordinates and share them with others over the phone. This is excellent for those working in groups or leaving a base camp.

An emergency SOS button is located on the top of the phone for your safety. This safety button is closed over with a small cover, allowing you to quickly flip it open and activate the red emergency button transmitting to emergency services in case the situation arises.

Lastly, this model has a huge temperature operating range, from -10 degrees celsius up to over 55 degrees celsius. Therefore it is suitable for multiple climates worldwide!

Specifications

IP Rating:
IP65
Battery Type:
Lithium
Battery Life:
30 hours
Warranty:
2 years

Pros

  • Grip-material on sides.
  • Includes SIM cards.
  • Includes a Wi-Fi hotspot function.
  • Includes GPS.

Cons

  • High price point.
  • Slightly bulky for some.

2. Inmarsat IsatPhone Pro2 Satellite Phone

Highlights
  • Modern design.
  • Includes GPS software.
  • Includes a hands-free earpiece.
  • Free receiving for calls and SMS.
Best Overall
Inmarsat - IsatPhone Pro2 Handheld Satellite Phone

Inmarsat’s Pro2 is a pretty sleek and modern looking design, ideal for those wanting to steer away from that traditional clunky satellite phone design. It’s a pure black design with a generous 2-inch display screen just above the keypad. The attractive design is also thanks to the powerful antenna that collapses back into the device when you store it away.

This model boasts global satellite coverage making it suitable for worldwide use. It also comes equipped with GPS software, allowing you to keep track of and share your coordinates when needed. In addition to this, receiving calls and SMS’s to the phone is free!

In terms of durability, this model packs a punch. It comes with an IP65 rating meaning it can withstand dust, shock, and jet water. The screen is also crafted from durable gorilla glass reducing the likelihood of scratches and cracks. With these features, the price is highly justified as it will last you a long time.

Furthermore, the phone comes with several extra accessories making it suitable to use on-the-go and worldwide. It comes with an international plug kit including different plug adaptors for the charger so there is no need to purchase extra ones when you travel. It also includes a holster, DC cable, lanyard, and USB cable.

The final cool feature of this model is the included hands-free earpiece that pairs with the device. This is ideal for those who need their hands to be free while using their satellite phones, such as climbers or even mariners.

Specifications

IP Rating:
IP65
Battery Type:
Lithium-ion
Battery Life:
160 hours standby
Warranty:
1 year

Pros

  • Global coverage.
  • Rechargeable with DC plug.
  • Foldable antenna.
  • Large display screen.

Cons

  • The number of keys could be a little more spaced.
  • Slightly slow service speed.

3. Iridium 9555 Factory Unlocked Phone

Highlights
  • Industrial-grade durability.
  • Compact design.
  • Headset and handsfree capability.
  • Up to 4 hours of talk-time.

Don’t let the compact size of this model fool you, as it has some serious strength. The entire unit has industrial-strength durability, easily withstanding knocks, and drops. To add to the compact size the antenna is also stowed internally.

The most highly praised feature of this Iridium design is its reliability and straightforward design. It survives harsh environments while retaining good satellite signals to keep you in touch with the world no matter where you are. The compact size also makes it super easy to bring along in your bag or even your pocket.

As the design is so simple, you won’t have to wait around learning to use the device, you’ll be ready from the moment you open the box. Once you’ve switched it on, it has a great battery life functioning for 30 hours on standby with 4 hours of continuous talk time.

Furthermore, this satellite phone comes with a retractable, hands-free headset. This allows you to do what you need to do without worrying about how you’ll hold your phone at the same time. It also includes a mini USB data port and international adapters inside the box!

Finally, this unit comes with a speakerphone function, SMS, and email messaging capability.

Specifications

Battery Type:
Lithium Polymer
Battery Life:
30 hours
Warranty:
1 year

Pros

  • Easy to use.
  • Includes a mini USB data port.
  • Comes with a leather case.
  • Includes a portable charger.

Cons

  • High price point.
  • The design doesn’t look very modern.

4. Thuraya X5 Touch Satellite Phone

Highlights
  • Modern touchscreen design.
  • Built-in camera.
  • Generously sized display screen.
  • Omni-directional satellite antenna.
Best For Higher Budgets
Thuraya - X5 Touch Satellite Phone

This stunningly modern Thuraya product was the world’’s first smart satellite phone. Its modern touchscreen design is attractive for both younger generations and more traditional ones alike thanks to its well-thought-out features. The large 5.2″ full HD LCD touchscreen is created with Gorilla glass, for great screen protection and capacitive display.

The powerful omnidirectional satellite antenna provides strong communications helping you to feel safe and secure on your journeys without the worry or poor signal. It also includes walk-and-talk technology. In addition to this, the smart satellite supports 2G, 3G, and 4G networks worldwide making it an excellent travel companion.

A unique feature of this satellite phone is its built-in camera allowing you to document your trips. It is long-lasting with 11-hour talk-time battery life and 100 hours of standby battery life. The reliable battery life makes this model ideal for long days and even overnight use.

This device is suitable for colder weather conditions too as the touchscreen works with gloves! It also comes with a 32 GB storage capacity.

Lastly, this phone has an essential SOS alert button which even works when the phone is switched off. When activated, the button will set off an SOS call, plus an SMS if programmed, to your pre-programmed number of choices.

Specifications

IP Rating:
IP67
Battery Type:
Lithium
Battery Life:
100 hours
Warranty:
2 years

Pros

  • Works with gloves.
  • Supports 4G.
  • Gorilla glass protection.
  • Includes an SOS button.

Cons

  • No coverage in North and South America.
  • Some may find it too bulky.

5. Garmin inReach SE+ Satellite Communicator

Highlights
  • Includes an SOS trigger button.
  • Global satellite coverage.
  • Pairs with mobile devices for added features.
  • Transflective color.
Best For Low Budgets
Garmin - inReach SE+ Handheld Satellite Communicator

This Garmin satellite phone is simple, well-designed, and fuss-free. It’s a compact size phone with a black and bright yellow design making it easy to find in the dark or in a packed bag. It has a decent-sized display with transflective color, making it easier to read in bright sunlight.

The strong global satellite coverage allows two-way SMS communications worldwide, however, it does require a satellite subscription. You will be able to send and receive communications with any phone number or email address. Plus, with integrated GPS technology, this phone allows you to track and share your coordinates too.

Furthermore, it also has an SOS alert button. When this is activated, it will alert the 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center and inform them of your coordinates. This is an essential safety feature for any adventurer, particularly in locations where there is no usual mobile signal.

Although the phone is fairly simple with its features, it can be paired with another mobile device using their free“Earthmate” app. This allows you to access maps, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather charts, aerial imagery, and more.

This model holds all the essential features for a satellite phone paired with a very friendly price tag!

Specifications

IP Rating:
IPX7
Battery Type:
Lithium Polymer
Battery Life:
100 hours
Warranty:
1 year

Pros

  • Decent display screen size.
  • Includes GPS navigation.
  • Send and receive from any number or email.
  • Track and share location.

Cons

  • No preloaded topographic maps
  • Some won’t like the yellow design.

6. Thuraya XT-LITE Satellite Phone

Highlights
  • 12 languages available.
  • A generous battery life.
  • Satellite calls and SMS.
  • Coverage in ⅔ of the globe.

This Thuraya model has a generous battery and excellent coverage worldwide. The 80 hours standby battery life paired with 6 hours talk time makes this an ideal satellite phone for a day and even two-day trips where you won’t have an opportunity to recharge your device.

A great point of this device is that it is programmable in 12 different languages, allowing you to set it to the language you feel most confident in. Furthermore, Thuraya has coverage in ⅔ of the globe which is around 160 countries. If you are an avid traveler and need a device to come along with you, this could be a perfect choice.

It allows both satellite calls and SMS messaging alongside excellent voice quality. The coverage and voice quality are improved with the omnidirectional antenna located on the top of the voice for clear communications.

Last but not least, this Thuraya satellite phone comes with several additional features including many you would find on a traditional phone. It includes an address book to store contacts, contact groups, a calculator, a stopwatch, and a calendar. In terms of calling, you’ll find speed dial, call logs, and a conference call function.

We also love that this device is very affordable!

Specifications

IP Rating:
IP66
Battery Type:
Lithium Polymer
Battery Life:
80 hours
Warranty:
1 year

Pros

  • Great voice quality.
  • Traditional phone-like design.
  • Compact design.
  • Decently sized display.

Cons

  • No coverage in the US.
  • No Bluetooth.

Satellite Phone Buying Guide

What Is a Satellite Phone? 

A satellite telephone is defined as a type of mobile phone that functions through a satellite phone service rather than traditional cell phones that connect to other phones through terrestrial cell sites. 

The result of this is that satellite phones can function as normal in almost all places on Earth, no matter how remote they are!

Satellite phones appear much like normal cellphones with screens and a keypad, however few have such modern features like smartphones (although you will have found one satellite smartphone featured above). 

Uses

Sat phones have a variety of uses. 

Emergency Satellite Phone

Satphones are often used as a backup safety apparatus for hikers, kayakers, climbers, and other adventure sports. Due to their global coverage, they are a reliable option and often come with SOS buttons to alert emergency services.

Military Satellite Phone

Military operations often use satellite phones as they will often have operations in more remote locations. Military-grade satellite phones require high IP durability ratings and must work as a Satellite Emergency Notification Device (SEND).

Marine Satellite Phone

Mariners tend to go out into bodies of water that won’t have the best cell phone signal. Some opt for walkie talkies or sat phones instead. They can aid with GPS navigation, communications to land and emergency SOS calls.

Inmarsat Vs Iridium

Inmarsat and Iridium are 2 well-known satellite phone brands. They have a few fundamental differences.

Inmarsat’s satellite coverage is supplied with their 3 satellites that orbit Earth at an altitude of over 22,000 miles. Their high altitudes allow them to appear as fixed-position satellites.

On the other hand, Iridium has over 66 satellites providing their coverage. These orbit Earth at an altitude of approximately 485 miles. This means they are always moving in the sky, as opposed to staying in a fixed position.

Features

Features of satellite phones are what sets different models apart from each other.

Durability

You can assess the durability of these phones by looking at their IP rating. This looks at durability against elements such as dust, shock, and water.

Coverage

The benefit of satphones is that they are not limited to usage in areas that are covered by cell towers. Instead, they can be used almost all over the globe, no matter how isolated the location is. 

Security

The majority of satellite phones have pre-installed encryption software to prevent others from listening in. For governmental or high-status use, further security measures are often put into place.

SOS Alert

An emergency button on a satellite phone is an essential feature to look for. These are usually towards the top or side of the device with a bright color coating. When activated, they should communicate with emergency services or other pre-programmed numbers.

Satellite Phone Cost

Satellite phones are not the cheapest device that you can buy, however, their prices are certainly justified when you put into perspective their use and features.

In addition to purchasing the device, you will often have to purchase a satellite SIM card and/or a subscription package to the satellite networks. These can be anywhere from 30 to over 100 USD a month.

How Much is a Satellite Phone? 

Costs of satellite phones vary, as with most electronics. It’s no secret that they can be a fairly expensive purchase, however that doesn’t always need to be the case.

A cheap satellite phone will have less features and a generally more basic design than more expensive models. If you want a sat phone with high-grade durability or GPS, or a smartphone-like device then the cost will be considerably more.

Satellite phones vary from around 200 USD all the way up to over 1000 USD.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where to buy a satellite phone?
A:

They can be purchased both in-store or online. Many tend to purchase electronics through trusted online shopping destinations such as Amazon. You can buy all of our reviewed sat phones on Amazon too!

Q: How do satellite phones work?
A:

They transmit radio signals to a space satellite which will then return it to Earth. Next, a specific station will transfer the call to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).

Our Verdict

A satellite phone has more uses than one from emergency backup phones to suitable travel companions for adventurers. While they are suitable for the military, a sat phone is also something that can fit into everyday life.

You may have been shocked to see just how modern some satellite phones have become, with smartphone versions and even Wi-Fi hotspots. However, if you like the classic and compact design then there are plenty of suitable models available in our reviews above too.

Although it can be confusing to start your search, we have hopefully helped you feel a little more guided and confident to make your purchase!