Spot Global Phone Review: Wilderness Satellite Communication

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When it comes to be prepared, communication is always a top priority. But when you’re out in the wilderness, miles from the nearest cell tower, communication can become a big problem. Do you have a reliable way to make contact during an emergency situation?

SPOT Satellite Phone with Antenna Out

While there are a number of options, from shortwave radios to emergency signaling devices, nothing can replace the ability to make a direct call to emergency responders. That’s where something like the SPOT Global Sat Phone comes into play.

When your fancy iPhone is out of range, there’s a new phone that will allow you to get through no matter where in the world you might be. The SPOT Global Phone, is a satellite handset that allows you to make calls in even the most remote parts of the country.

Over the last couple of months I’ve had the opportunity to test out the SPOT Global Sat phone; while this phone isn’t going to win any style contests, its ability to make calls in areas where cell phones are completely unusable makes it a must have for anyone who spends a lot of time out in the wilderness.

SPOT Global Phone

THE GOOD:

  • No Cell Tower; No Worries: The Spot Global Phone lets you make calls in areas where no cellphone could ever hope to get a signal. In testing, I was able to easily make calls from areas where my cellphone had no signal.
  • Instant 911: In the event of a life threatening emergency, contacting emergency responders is as easy as dialing simply 9-1-1. All emergency calls are routed directly to GEOS International Emergency Response Center. GEOS notifies the appropriate emergency responders to your situation.
  • Easy to Use: It’s not pretty, but the phone itself is pretty straight forward and easy to use.
  • Off Grid Emails: With an optional data kit, your SPOT Phone can directly connect to your laptop, allowing you to check and respond to emails when you’re off the grid.

THE BAD:

  • The phone is not cheap: At $499, the phone is probably more expensive than most cellphones on the market. That being said, if you plan on being out in the wilderness for an extended period of time, you have to take into account what’s your safety’s worth.
  • The Plans aren’t cheap: Unlimited calling is going to cost you about $150 a month; while this is in line with some cell phone contracts, you probably won’t be walking around the city with one of these phones so you must keep that in mind.
  • Dropped Calls: In testing, I did have a couple of dropped calls. You have to remember that these phones are communicating with satellites hundreds of miles in orbit. For the best reception you should have at least an 80% view of the sky, and try to stay out from under or around trees.
  • No USB Charger: This was the biggest negative I could find with the phone. While the optional car charger worked with my portable solar panel, it does add one more cord that I have to take – which could have been avoided had they allowed for a USB charging port. I hope they fix this oversight in the future!

SIZE & WEIGHT

The phone weighs in at roughly 7 ounces, making it far less bulky than most of the Satellite phones on the market. It measures in at 5.3 inches high by 2.2 inches wide by 1.5 inches deep. The Antenna folds into the phone, and must be turned out to its full length (8.5 inches) before you can get a signal.

CONNECTION:

Overall I was pretty happy with the phones performance. I was easily able to make calls from areas where my regular cell phone had zero coverage. Every time I dialed, I was able to connect in less than 30 seconds.

Once connected, I did have several calls drop off around the 5 minute mark, so you must be aware that these phones are definitely not for making long rambling calls. They’re really meant for two purposes; making quick communications to inform people of your status, and more importantly as a safety device that can alert emergency responders should you find yourself in a life-threatening situation.

Comments

Responses to " Spot Global Phone Review: Wilderness Satellite Communication " Please share your thoughts...

  1. Pacific Crest says:

    I was giving this some serious thought for my hike next year. It is a little bit on the high side but then again compared to other sat phones that I’ve been looking at it’s actually not that bad. Plus your right about the price of safety. I’m going to be out there for at least 4 months alone on the trails so the price is worth it in my eyes. What solar panel are you using?

  2. Joe says:

    Regarding the Spot Global phone, I have been concerned about the ability of just about anyone to find my location through my cell phone’s GPS capability or a chip. Would this service and equipment provide strangers with the same capabilities to track my phones location?

    Thank You

    • Jesse says:

      Joe,

      The Spot Global Phone is a rebranding of the Globalstar GSP-1700. It does not provide GPS coordinates. The SPOT Tracker is the device that gives tracking options.

  3. rich says:

    Do you have to get a yearly contract?

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