Best Satellite Phone for Remote Calling in 2024

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Image of a best satellite phone for remote communication. Tested by Outdoor Tech Lab in 2024.

Best Satellite Phone for Remote Communication: Top Picks for 2024

As adventurers who have explored some of the most remote locations on Earth, we know the importance of reliable communication devices. While satellite text messengers have gained popularity in recent years, we still believe that satellite phones have a crucial place in our expedition tool kits.

A satellite phone resting on a rugged mountain peak, with clear skies and distant horizon

With subscription plans becoming more affordable, satellite phones are a practical choice for those who require detailed conversations and large volumes of information.

From our experience at Outdoor Tech Lab, nothing beats a voice-to-voice dialogue when it comes to these types of exchanges.

In this new guide, we share our top picks for the best satellite phones and one worthy messenger on the market today, based on our stress-testing and extensive use of these devices in various expeditions.

The Best Satellite Phones of 2024

A sleek, modern satellite phone sits atop a rugged mountain peak, with a clear blue sky and distant horizon in the background

We have researched and tested the top satellite phones available in 2024 and have determined the following to be the best:

  • Best Overall Satellite Phone: Iridium 9555 or Iridium 9575 Extreme
  • Best Value Satellite Phone: Inmarsat IsatPhone 2
  • Best Satellite Phone for Cheap: Globalstar GSP-1700
  • Best Satellite Messenger: Garmin inReach Messenger and inReach Mini 2

The Iridium 9555 and 9575 Extreme are the best overall satellite phones due to their reliable global Iridium coverage and durable design. The Inmarsat IsatPhone 2 is the best budget option with a lower price point without sacrificing important features. The Globalstar GSP-1700 is the best cheap cost sat phone for North America with strong coverage in the region.

Finally, the Garmin inReach Messenger is the best satellite messenger with two-way messaging and location tracking capabilities.

Iridium 9555

A rugged Iridium 9555 satellite phone on rocky terrain under a starry night sky
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  • Our Iridium 9555 satellite phone operates on the Iridium network, providing global coverage.
  • The phone’s antenna is omnidirectional and is internally stowed.
  • Our phone is equipped with T9 predictive text messaging, allowing for easy communication.
  • The battery life of the Iridium 9555 is 4 hours of talk time and 30 hours of standby time.
  • The monochrome display provides clear and easy-to-read information.
  • The Iridium 9555 is not waterproof-rated.
  • The phone measures 5.6” x 2.1” x 1.1” and weighs 9.4 oz.
  • Our Iridium 9555 satellite phone is compatible with an externally mounted antenna.
  • The call timer feature helps users manage their plan usage. 

The Iridium 9555 satellite phone offers affordable monthly plans and high-quality voice coverage. It is a great option for those needing reliable communication in remote areas! 

A tad more expensive but we believe worth it, is the mighty and gold standard Iridium 9575 Extreme.

Inmarsat IsatPhone 2

The Inmarsat IsatPhone 2 rests on a rugged, outdoor setting, with clear skies and a distant satellite in the background
IsatPhone 2 icon image


  • Our Inmarsat IsatPhone 2 operates on the Inmarsat network, providing coverage for 90% of the globe, excluding the polar regions.
  • The fold-out directional antenna ensures a reliable signal, while the waterproofing meets the IP65 standard.
  • Our IsatPhone 2 features color display and text messaging capabilities.
  • With 8 hours of talk time and 160 hours of standby time, the battery life is excellent.
  • The IsatPhone 2 measures 6.6” x 2.9” x 1.1” and weighs 11.1 oz.

Our Inmarsat IsatPhone 2 offers great value for the price and includes an integrated GEOS SOS response. Additionally, it has the ability to send GPS locations. However, it is important to note that the directional antenna requires care to keep aligned and the coverage does not include the polar regions.

Overall, the Inmarsat IsatPhone 2 is the best satellite phone for North America for the money.

Globalstar GSP-1600

The Globalstar GSP-1600 satellite phone sits on a rugged terrain, with a clear sky and distant mountains in the background
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  • Our Globalstar GSP-1600 operates on the Globalstar network and provides satellite coverage for North America, most of South America, Europe, and Japan.
  • The device comes with an external directional antenna and allows for text messaging.
  • The battery life of the device can last up to 4 hours of talk time and 36 hours of standby time.
  • The device is equipped with a color display and weighs 7.1 oz with a size of 5.3″ x 2.1″ x 1.5″.
  • Unfortunately, the device is not waterproof.

The Best Satellite Phones of 2024 including the globalstar 1600

  • We have found that this device offers good deals and comes with a U.S. phone number at no additional cost.
  • The compact design of the device makes it easy to carry around.
  • The device also offers fast uncompressed data speeds.
  • However, the satellite coverage map is not extensive, and there are numerous dead zones.
  • It is important to note that this phone is no longer in production, and support may be limited.

Best Satellite Messenger

Garmin inReach Messenger

A rugged outdoor landscape with a clear sky and the Garmin inReach Messenger device prominently displayed in the foreground
inReach mini 2 icon


Weighing in at 4 ounces and measuring 3.1″ x 2.5″ x 0.9″, the Garmin inReach Messenger is a compact device that offers global satellite coverage through the Iridium network. With an external, fixed antenna, the device is waterproof with an IPX7 rating. The monochrome display is easy to read, and the battery life lasts up to 28 days with a message sent every 10 minutes. The device also has a standby time of up to one year.

The Garmin Messenger app allows for seamless texting, and the device has integrated SOS functionality. It also allows for location tracking and can be used to reverse charge other devices. However, it is important to note that the inReach Messenger is not a true satellite phone as it does not support voice calls. Additionally, using the device without a phone can be challenging.

Satellite Phone Comparison Chart

A table with labeled columns comparing satellite phones and men at a desk doing sat phone testing
BlueCosmo sat phone deals today

Here is a comparison chart of four popular satellite phones: Iridium 9555, Inmarsat IsatPhone 2, Globalstar GSP-1600, and Garmin inReach Messenger.

Satellite Phone Price Satellite Network Global Coverage Battery Life Weight

Iridium 9555

Iridium 9575

$1,150+ Iridium Global 4 hours talk; 30 hours standby 9.4 oz.
Inmarsat IsatPhone 2 $899 Inmarsat Global but no polar coverage 8 hours talk; 160 hours standby 11.1 oz.
Globalstar GSP-1700 $499 Globalstar North America, most of South America, Europe, Japan 4 hours talk; 36 hours standby 7.1 oz.
Garmin inReach Messenger $300 Iridium Global (text only) 28 days w/ a message every 10 minutes; 1 year standby 4 oz.

We can see that each phone has its own strengths and weaknesses. The Iridium 9555 and IsatPhone 2 both offer global coverage, but have shorter battery life than the Garmin inReach Messenger.

The Inmarsat IsatPhone 2 has a longer battery life than the other phones, but does not offer coverage at the polar regions.

The Garmin inReach Messenger is the lightest and cheapest option, but only offers text messaging and no voice communication.

Overall, the choice of satellite phone depends on the specific needs of the user, such as the desired coverage area, battery life, and communication capabilities.

How We Tested Satellite Phones

At OTL, we understand the importance of reliable communication devices, especially when venturing into remote areas. That’s why we put several satellite phones to the test to determine which one is the best for staying connected in the backcountry.

Our testing process involved measuring connection speed, audio quality, and the number of dropped calls. We also evaluated more common features such as battery life, display legibility in harsh conditions, and durability in extreme weather.

To ensure accuracy and real-world testing, we sent mountain guide Jim Knapp on a four-week expedition to climb a first ascent on Mt. Bradley in the Alaska Range and guide a team of climbers on the West Buttress of Denali. Jim relied on the sat phones for everything from getting in-depth weather updates to hailing the team’s glacier pilot.

During our testing, we found that each of the devices we tested performed well in terms of making calls and sending messages. However, we did notice some differences in audio quality and connection speed.

The Iridium 9575 Extreme and the Iridium 9555 both had clear audio quality and fast connection speeds, making them our top picks for reliable communication. The Inmarsat IsatPhone 2 had slightly lower audio quality but was still a strong contender due to its long battery life and durable design.

On the other hand, the Globalstar phone had lower connection speeds and occasional dropped calls, making it less reliable options for backcountry communication.

Overall, we were impressed with the performance of the sat phones we tested, and we’re confident in their abilities to keep you connected when you need it most. As technology continues to evolve, we’ll continue to test and update our list of the best satellite phones on the market.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Satellite Phone

The Impossible Nature of Direct Comparisons

When it comes to choosing a satellite phone, it’s difficult to make direct comparisons between providers. The ability to connect to satellites depends on where and when you attempt to make a call. Even the most reliable satellite networks have moments when they just cannot make the link. Therefore, the best option for you depends on where you plan to put it to use.

International Travel and Satellite Phones

If you plan to use your satellite phone for international travel, it’s important to pay attention to satellite phone regulations in each destination. Many countries require expensive permits or ban satellite phones outright.

Failure to obtain the necessary permissions can result in confiscated phones or stiff fines. In some countries where satellite phones are illegal, such as India, North Korea, and Libya, travelers with phones in their luggage are regularly tossed in jail.

It’s important to know the regulations before you go.

Talk or Text Messaging?

Before deciding whether to choose a satellite phone or a satellite messenger, evaluate the features you currently use and like. Satellite phones are great for off-grid voice communications, but most don’t offer tracking features, GPS navigational aids, or detailed maps.

If you need these features, a satellite messenger might be your best bet. For short-range chats between camps, a powerful walkie-talkie might be a more affordable option.


Satellite phones aren’t cheap, but there is a range of phones and features available to fit different budgets. More budget-minded phones like the Globalstar GSP-1700 or 1600 have a lower price tag but don’t provide the widest coverage. However, they can be an excellent way to get into a sat phone if it covers where you’ll be going.

A sub-$1,000 satellite phone like the Inmarsat IsatPhone 2 offers a good amount of features to make up for its few limitations. The biggest difference between this and premium sat phones is the network itself.

While the Inmarsat satellite network is still robust, there is some delay in getting a signal due to the limited number of satellites.

If you’re looking for the best network coverage, Iridium is the way to go. With global coverage, the Iridium 9555 and 9575 have proven to be the most reliable satellite phones in our experience. However, premium sat phones can cost over $1,000.

When choosing a satellite phone, it’s important to compare coverage maps and consider where you plan to use it. Additionally, pay attention to satellite phone regulations in each destination, evaluate the features you need, and consider your budget.


When it comes to satellite phones, there are a lot of questions that people tend to have. We’ve compiled some of the most common ones here to help you get a better understanding of what you need to know.

What is the difference between a satellite phone and a satellite messenger?

While both satellite phones and satellite messengers use satellite technology to communicate, there are some key differences between the two.

Satellite messengers are typically smaller and less expensive than satellite phones, and they are designed primarily for sending brief messages and tracking your location.

Satellite phones, on the other hand, are more expensive and larger, but they offer the ability to make voice calls and send text messages.

What should I consider when choosing a satellite phone?

The most important thing to consider when choosing a satellite phone is where you will be using it. Different satellite phone services have different coverage areas, so it’s important to choose a service that covers the area where you will be traveling.

Iridium is currently the broadest satellite phone service available, and it is a good choice if you will be traveling around the world.

Inmarsat is a good choice if you will be traveling abroad but not to polar regions, and Thuraya is a good choice if you will be traveling to Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.

Are satellite phones legal everywhere?

No, satellite phones are illegal in several countries, including China, Pakistan, Cuba, Russia, Chad, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Libya, areas of Nigeria, and India. It’s important to check with the embassy of the country you will be traveling to before bringing a satellite phone to ensure that you are not breaking any laws.

How can I ensure that I have a good signal with my satellite phone?

The quality of your signal with a satellite phone will depend on a number of factors, including the satellite phone service you are using, the location where you are using the phone, and the weather conditions.

To ensure that you have the best possible signal, make sure that you have a clear view of the sky and that your antenna is pointed toward the satellite. If your phone has an eCompass function, use it to orient yourself toward the satellite.

How far can I make calls with a satellite phone?

The range of a satellite phone will depend on the satellite phone service you are using and the location where you are using the phone.

The low earth satellites in the Iridium constellation orbit at a little less than 500 miles above the planet, while the Globalstar birds are at a little less than 900.

The geosynchronous satellites of the Inmarsat system, however, are a staggering 22,000 miles above the planet, which is quite a long way for your signal to travel.

Can I use a satellite phone for recreational activities?

Yes, satellite phones can be a great option for recreational activities like hiking, camping, and boating. While satellite messengers are often sufficient for weekend or week-long trips, satellite phones are a better option for longer expeditions where the ability to make voice calls and send text messages is important.

How much do satellite phones cost?

The cost of a satellite phone will depend on the specific phone and service you choose. Satellite phones can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, and service plans can range from a few dollars per month to several hundred dollars per month.

It’s important to carefully consider your needs and budget before choosing a satellite phone and service plan.

Can I use a satellite phone in an emergency?

Yes, satellite phones can be a valuable tool in emergency situations where traditional communication methods are not available.

However, it’s important to remember that satellite phones are not a replacement for proper emergency planning and preparation.

Before heading out on any trip, make sure that you have a plan in place for emergencies and that you have the necessary equipment and supplies to handle unexpected situations.

The Best Satellite Messengers of 2024

When it comes to satellite messaging, we need devices that work flawlessly. After thorough testing, we have determined that the following are the best satellite messengers of 2024:

Each of these devices offers reliable messaging capabilities, GPS tracking, and emergency SOS features. They are also compact and durable, making them ideal for outdoor adventures.

Whether you’re hiking in the backcountry or sailing across the ocean, these satellite messengers and phones will keep you connected and safe.

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