The Inmarsat IsatPhone2 Review: Never Be Out of Reach

Dan: Yesterday I had an emergency conference call with my top two congregational leaders; that wasn’t unusual. The fact that one of them is currently in Aruba and the other in China was, however; it was as if they were next door, and that’s how good cellular coverage has become.

Still, there are those times when phone calls need to be made and there is no cell service. That’s where the Inmarsat IsatPhone2 comes in. It’s an affordable satellite phone and much more.

Gear Diary Reviews the inmarsat IsatPhone2

Judie: Where I live we have 4G service in areas, which was a completely unimaginable scenario even three years ago, and yet just down the hill — not even 150 yards away — we have no service. Absolutely nothing. And that is the case across the ranch — areas with decent service, areas with iffy service, and then absolute dead zones. The type of areas where if you break down, you are going to be hoofing it for miles until you hit an area with service again.

Dan: Before digging into this phone and what it offers, a quick story. About 15 years ago, I was leading a congregational trip to Israel. I was standing on top of Masada right next to the Dead Sea, and I decided to call my parents. They were vacationing in Hawaii celebrating my father’s retirement. My sister and brother-in-law were there with them. I had rented a digital cell phone for the first time, and I decided to see if there was reception on Masada. Mind you, two thousand years ago Masada was chosen by King Herod for one of his palace escape retreats because it is in the middle of nowhere. That was true in antiquity… and it is true today. There is nothing around except for desert. And more desert. It is in the middle of nowhere. I slipped out the cell phone – yes it was a flip phone – and placed a call from Masada… in the Negev desert… to Hawaii… on the other side of the world.

My sister, “Hello”

“Hi” I said, “I’m calling you to check in from Herod’s Palace on top of Masada.”

A few seconds later I heard my sister yell to my parents something like, “Mom, dad, Dan’s on the phone and claims he’s calling from Masada. Obviously he’s full of s*** but he is on the phone.”

Yes, that’s how far we’ve come in the past 15 years.

Two days later we were riding on the bus when the phone rang. I saw that it was my wife Elana calling from New Jersey. A quick calculation told me it was 3 a.m. in New Jersey and something was wrong. It was. My father had had a stroke and was in the ICU in Hawaii. Thank goodness for that primitive cell phone.

Judie: I got a flat on one of our back highways coming out of a neighbor’s ranch a few years ago. I can remember lying under my truck trying to figure out how to remove the ranch truck’s huge spare tire, and knowing that there was no one I could call — there was no service, and the closest house was at least ten miles away. While I was under the truck, a car pulled up and a man offered to help. I was fortunate that he was an ex-DPS officer, and that he had no ill intentions, but I remember that terrible feeling of vulnerability that made me curse Murphy’s law for putting me in such an uncomfortable situation.

Dan: We share these stories because 15 years ago cell phones were just becoming ubiquitous. Today they are commonplace, and their connectivity is pretty much consistent in vast swats of the world. That was why I was able to have a conference call with someone in China and Aruba yesterday. But there are places that don’t have cellular reception and there are times when various people need to connect and make a call. For those times a Satellite phone is still the best — if not the only –option. And while satellite phones look like something that military Special Forces carry, with a price starting at under $1000, the IsatPhone2 is actually affordable for anyone who needs to know they can make a call from pretty much anywhere in the world at any time.

Gear Diary Reviews the inmarsat IsatPhone2-029

Judie: The IsatPhone2 is a good example of how far these products have come. This satellite phone is affordable, comes as a complete kit, and it lets you get your phone call connected almost anywhere in the world. The IsatPhone2 operates over the global Inmarsat satellite network. That may not be a familiar network to you, but trust us — it’s a big deal — since it has an average network availability of 99.9 percent. That means, “you can depend on IsatPhone2 for reliable voice connectivity, wherever and whenever you need it.” You add minutes to the phone by purchasing pre-paid SIM cards that come with a particular number of minutes. Here’s an example of what to expect from a 100 unit SIM card (which retails for $110 on Amazon):

  • 100 Units (77 Minutes) & 180 Days (6 mo) of Validity
  • FREE Incoming Voice & SMS Messages
  • 1.3 Units = 1 Outgoing Voice Minute & .5 Units = 1 Outgoing SMS
  • Easily Check Your Balance from your IsatPhone Handset
  • Rollover Unused Units if Extended Before Expiration Date

Dan: It’s perfect for people who do deep woods backpacking or for people who do good work in difficult areas throughout the world.

Judie: Bear in mind, though, this isn’t a phone that you would want to use as your only means of daily communication; those prepaid SIMs with built-in minutes are expensive. But when traveling or when working in those remote locations with no real service, this is a fantastic alternative to going without any means of keeping in touch. This is the phone I would want to own if there were ever a Zombiepocalypse!

Dan: As the company explains:

The new-generation IsatPhone 2 joins IsatPhone Pro in our handheld satellite phone portfolio – bringing more choice to customers wanting the reliability Inmarsat delivers.

IsatPhone 2 is a tough phone for a tough world. The robust handset has been engineered to cope with anything that nature can throw at it – from searing heat to icy blasts, desert sandstorms or monsoon rain. It offers unrivalled battery life – 8 hours of talk time and up to 160 hours on standby.

Together, IsatPhone 2’s design and capabilities – including safety features – make it ideal for the most demanding of users in sectors such as civil government, oil and gas, NGOs, and media.

In the box you’ll find:

Handset Battery Mains charger – 4 adaptors Car charger – 10-30 volts Micro USB cable Wired hands-free headset Quick start guide (8 languages) Warranty Support USB memory drive Holster Lanyard strap Yes, this is a complete kit.

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Judie: The Inmarsat IsatPhone2 is a communication device that will come in handy pretty much anywhere in the world, and it comes with the added benefit that you’ll feel like you are on a special ops mission when you first open the box.

IsatPhone2 coverage map

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Dan: Here’s a company video about the IsatPhone2’s capabilities …

The satellite phones key features include:

  • Dependable connectivity
  • High voice quality Voicemail, text and email messaging
  • Extended battery capacity
  • Assistance button – sends GPS location data and text to pre-set emergency number
  • Tracking – sends location information
  • Bluetooth for hands-free use Incoming call alerts with antenna stowed
  • Ergonomic and ruggedised handset

Long story short: The Inmarsat IsatPhone2 works where other phones won’t; if you absolutely have to be able to stay in touch, this is an affordable, reliable, easy to operate and accessible way to do it.

Judie: So there you have it. Do you need to make calls from the deep woods? Do you spend time in areas with limited cellular coverage? Are you part of a team that may be called into remote areas at a moments notice? If you are, then the Inmarsat IsatPhone2 is for you. And at well under $1000, it is affordable connectivity you can rely on.

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.