Inmarsat, the granddaddy of satellite communication services, has launched a truly portable satellite phone.
The company says that the new phone is "targeted primarily at professional users in the government, media, aid, oil and gas, mining and construction sectors," but its $699 list price and pay-as-you-go airtime at about $1 per minute are likely to win it plenty of social and recreational users as well. With supplier discounts expected to knock the retail price down to $500-$600, it will be competing head on with existing hand-held satphones from both Iridium and Globalstar.
Taking advantage of the increased power of the latest generation of satellites, the IsatPhone Pro is able to do without the dish aerial that is usually required to communicate with the high-orbiting Inmarsat satellites. Even so, the new phone is only slightly bigger and heavier than its rivals from Iridium, Globalstar, and Thuraya, and its data services—which are planned for early next year—are likely to be rather slower.
But the phone boasts Inmarsat's long-standing reputation for reliability and key features that include a mighty eight hours of talk time and up to 100 hours on standby, a tough shockproof and waterproof casing, built-in GPS, and Bluetooth connectivity that allows it to be used hands-free. It's got most of the basic phone functions you'd expect of a cellphone, including call history, caller ID, call forwarding, and a phone book, as well as text messaging and a few of the supplementary functions such as a calendar and an alarm clock.
INMARSAT (786) 431-4800.
This article originally appeared in the August 2010 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.