Home > Technology

Satellite ‘Global Phone’ Now Available At Smartphone Price

Support us! GearJunkie may earn a small commission from affiliate links in this article. Learn More

From a wifi-connected laptop, I typed in a test message. It arrived almost instantly to my sat phone, which emitted a series of beeps to signify the incoming note.

The text message goes only one way — you cannot text back from the Global Phone. You can, however, call the person who sent you a text to confirm or communicate.

Online form to send text message to Global Phone

As for costs, there are several options for calling plans, including an entry point of $24.99/month for 10 minutes of talk time. As noted above, $149.99 is the price for monthly unlimited voice. Spot lists the options in a rate chart on its site.

Roaming charges apply when calling between some geographies, from almost no cost to over a dollar a minute. For example, a call from Croatia to the U.S. is about $1.30 per minute. Roaming fees replace the rate plan; sometimes it may be higher or lower than the per-minute plan you buy.

Spot Global Phone

Spot has coverage all around the world, and its parent company, Globalstar Inc., recently launched a new satellite network to enhance its coverage and reach. But a portion of the world, including the poles and swaths of the oceans, are still out of service.

India, Central America, and the southern two-thirds of Africa are not yet in the full coverage area. The company cites “coming to service in 2013” for these regions. You can see a full coverage map below or here on the Spot site.

Global Phone coverage map (as of Sept. 2013)

The phone worked well in Jordan. The connection was immediate and almost scary good — it seemed like my wife was right there speaking to me.

We talked a few times during the weeklong trip, and the phone was reliable, though more than once a call was “dropped” and we had to re-dial. I’ve had similar experience using different sat phones in Nepal, Chile, and other places.

If you’re traveling out of cell range this year, look into a satellite phone to stay in touch. Units like the Spot are priced similarly to the smartphone in your pocket.

The emergency link could save a life. For me, it’s also worth the money just to keep in contact and hear my wife’s voice from across the world.

—Stephen Regenold is the editor of GearJunkie.

Subscribe Now

Sign up to receive GearJunkie content direct to your inbox.

Subscribe Now

Sign up to receive GearJunkie content direct to your inbox.