3. Iridium and Inmarsat Satellite Phones

Iridium and Inmarsat Satellite Phones

Here we take a look at the Iridium and Inmarsat satellite phones themselves, starting with the cheaper of the two, being the Inmarsat phones.

Inmarsat Phones

Founded as a collaboration between the International Maritime Organization and the British government to provide safety communications for ships at sea, Inmarsat has a sterling record of innovation and engineering spanning all the way back to 1978.

Inmarsat only released its first and rather rudimentary handheld satellite phone – the iSatPhone Pro, in 2010 and has since released a much better and indeed brilliant successor to it, the Inmarsat iSatPhone 2. The iSatPhone 2 is a very well built phone with exceptional design and build quality. 

The Inmarsat iSatPhone 2

The iSatPhone 2 was in part a competitive response to the Iridium Extreme, in that it also has GPS with tracking, an emergency SOS button, an IP65 ruggedness rating, and the ability to receive calls with the antenna stowed away.

Although the iSatPhone 2 cannot be used at the polar regions of the earth, it does have the very unique ability, for users on land, of being able to be used indoors from a window facing suitably towards the equator. The iSatPhone 2 is quite a bit cheaper than the Iridium phones, and from an airtime perspective the iSatPhone 2 is also cheaper to use on a global basis than the Iridium phones.

Inmarsat iSatPhone 2 Satellite Phone
Inmarsat iSatPhone 2 Satellite Phone

Iridium Phones

Iridium was the first company to produce handheld satellite phones, and it is still the leader in this field today with more subscribers than any other handheld satellite phone company. The Iridium handsets and airtime are at the more expensive end of the market, however Iridium does have discounted regional vouchers which offers very affordable call rates in some regions.

The Iridium satellite phones also feature omni-directional antennas, meaning the user never has to do antenna pointing (as may sometimes be required with other satphones), and an Iridium satphone (or HotSpot) may even work below deck on fiberglass vessels without the need for external, mast-mounted antennas.

The Iridium Extreme

The Iridium 9575 Extreme is one of the smallest satphones that ever existed, bringing a beautiful aesthetic to an old school design. In addition to the global voice call and text message capabilities offered by the Iridium network, and IP65 waterproof rating; the Iridium Extreme also has an built-in GPS with position reporting features and SOS button with optional search and rescue services, for more discerning user.

Iridium 9575 Extreme Satellite Phone
Iridium 9575 Extreme Satellite Phone

The Iridium 9555

The Iridium 9555 satphone is perfectly sufficient for someone who wants basic voice and text messaging across the global coverage of the Iridium satellite network. The Iridium 9555 has the same core transceiver as the Iridium Extreme, however is stripped of the GPS, tracking/position reporting, SOS button, military grade ruggedness, and IP65 water resistance, which the Iridium Extreme has.

Iridium 9555 Satellite Phone
Iridium 9555 Satellite Phone

Next we’ll take a closer look at the airtime options available for the Iridium and Inmarsat phones.