Iridium released their newest satellite phone, the Iridium Extreme in 2011, and it is by far one of the best satellite phones to date. It offers a few significant improvements over the older Iridium 9555.
The phone is noticeably smaller than the old Iridium 9555. The new phone looks more like a walkie-talkie, and is also smaller than its biggest competitor, the Inmarsat IsatPhone 2. It’s rated IP65 as dust and splash proof, unlike the old Iridium 9555. The keys on the phone are all large and backlit, so the phone is easily operable anywhere, even with thick gloves on. Combined with a rubber grip on the outside edges, the phone is very accessible, no matter what situation you’re in.
When it comes to calling, the Iridium Extreme performs just as well, if not better, than all of its predecessors. On average it takes about 15-30 seconds to connect to a satellite to make your call, which is a little faster than the Inmarsat IsatPhone 2. Because Iridium has 66 global satellites that continuously orbit the Earth, the phone has coverage everywhere, even at the North and South Poles. Moreover, Iridium has added Internet connectivity through a USB port on the phone that you connect to a laptop. Although it’s slow at 13kbps, it’s sufficient to view emails on your laptop, but not much more.
One of the biggest additions to the Iridium Extreme is the new SOS button at the top of the phone. It’s covered by a hard case that you can pop off, ensuring that you won’t accidentally press the button. While you can program it to send your GPS coordinates and a message to any preset phone number, Iridium has partnered up with the company GEOS to allow you to connect the button to their emergency services.
GEOS provides emergency services for those no matter where in the world they are. If you decide to use GEOS, pressing the red button sends a distress signal with your GPS coordinates to the GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Center, which then alerts the closest authorities and embassy about your emergency. They operate ever hour of every day of the year, so you can feel safe no matter where you are as long as you have your Iridium Extreme phone on you. For those who want additional peace of mind, GEOS offers additional Search/Rescue and Medevac emergency service for as little as $10/day, or a few hundred per year. Signing up is easy through the Iridium website, and perfect for those who want to be as safe as possible on their trip.
Despite these great features, the biggest gripe about the phone is the 30 hours of standby time. With a 2300 mAh battery, the phone can only last for about 30 hours of standby, up to around 40 at most. If you won’t have access to a charging port during your trip, you can either buy another Iridium Extreme battery or simply get an external battery to double or triple the standby time. Either way, Iridium is beat out in battery life when compared to Inmarsat’s IsatPhone 2.
As a whole, the Iridium Extreme is a huge improvement over the previous Iridium 9555. In the end satellite phones should be used for the calling and emergency services, which the Iridium Extreme is currently the best at.