How to turn your iPhone into a satellite phone

“Want a satellite phone but don’t want the hassle of swapping out your regular smartphone for some bulky device?” Adrian Kingsley-Hughes reports for ZDNet. “The Iridium GO! might be just the gadget for you.”

“The Iridium GO! looks like a regular portable hotspot device that you might use to connect your devices to a cellular network, but instead of connecting to land-based cell towers, this devices connects to the constellation of Iridium communication satellites that orbit almost 500 miles above the Earth,” Kingsley-Hughes reports.

“The Iridium GO! is built to MIL-STD 810F spec and is water – and dust-proof to IP65. It comes with a battery that’s good for some 7 hours of usage and 16hours of standby.”

Kingsley-Hughes reports, “If you want to or need to remain connected when off-the-grid, this is one of the quickest and easiest to use solutions out there, and works surprisingly well as long as you are aware of the limitations of the Iridium network, and don’t expect 3G/4G style performance from the service.”

 
Read more in the full article here.

 

MacDailyNews Take: When you absolutely have to be in contact from pretty much anywhere, even at sea, this is an excellent solution. Whether you are traveling to Africa or Antarctica the Iridium satellite network will keep you in touch from virtually anywhere on the planet.

17 Comments

  1. Very cool idea, but i just read the 3-4 reviews on Amazon of the product and they were bad. From the sound of the reviews the product needs to work first before being sold. Only one of the reviews was positive and that consisted of “great product,” nothing else.

    Hopefully someone else will come up with a better device. Too bad Apple’s not in the satellite business, but I doubt there is much business. Of course, if they were to put up a low orbit constellation of low cost, quickly replaceable communication satellites offering whoever wanted to pay the premium price for 24-7 everywhere connection then maybe there are enough executives who would be willing to pay the freight?

    1. It’s just the beginning. In 5 years maybe every phone will be satellite capable.
      The price is high at this point. Give it a few years and it may be affordable and have decent bandwidth.
      Just remember it was less than 10 years ago that mobile computing was in its infancy.

    2. No. Those reviews are from ignorant people who expect to be able to surf the web at 4G LTE speed. That is not what this product is for – it’s for satellite communication. Voice and light text, Twitter, etc. The product is actually rather amazing.

    3. It’s not that simple. Iridium as a satellite network works well. But it’s a high latency, low bandwidth platform. Iridium phones with the data kit have worked well. Assiming this device works as well as the iridium phones, the reviews are more likely about expectations comparing to cellular.

  2. iMessage might be tolerable with your 2400 Baud Iridium link, but imagine loading MDN’s webpage, with ads, at that rate! You’d die of old age before it completed loading.

  3. This was MOTOROLA’s ingenious idea, back in its heydays of the late 90s. Then consistent mismanagement made this iconic American company bankrupt and resulted in having to sell off all its various businesses and assets including its consumer cell division to Chinese companies. Very sad.

    Anyway, Apple is now in a position of power and should attempt to launch a series of geosynchronous low orbit sats in order to break free from the tyranny of network operators. I, along with millions of other consumers, would support that plan.

    1. I have been hoping Apple would do this 4 years. Reasonably priced universal satellite internet available to all Apple device users uncluding phone data etc! Then Apple controls the whole experience on a network geared to Apple devices!

      1. As Zaph pointed out, geosynchronous means about a half-second (500 millisecond) latency JUST from the satellite connection.
        Phone -> Satellite -> Internet ->Satellite -> phone. Each arrow in that path involves a signal traveling at least 22,236 miles, for a total of 88,944 miles. At the speed of light, that takes just under a half second. And, that doesn’t include the fact that the “Internet” step above will involve its own latency.
        Maybe Roger meant to leave out the “geosynchronous” part of his comment.

    2. Satellites are very expensive to build and put into orbit. Motorola’s business model didn’t work then. What has changed in the intervening years to make the business model work for Apple now? I think not much.

      But who knows. Maybe SpaceX and its ilk might pave the way with low cost orbital insertions. But the satellites themselves still need serious cost reductions. Space is an extremely harsh environment to design for. And the moon is a harsh mistress.

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