Smart phones for satellite comms

Published on March 9th, 2023

For onboard communication technology, this update comes from George Day in the Cruising Compass:

I’ve been on a satellite comms jag lately and here I go again. For the last year, smartphone companies, Apple in particular, have been working on satellite connectivity for their new phones and this is definitely a trend that is going to be quite real in the near future.

But, if you want to get your smartphone, iOS or Android, linked to the geostationary array of communications satellites right now, Motorola has created the gadget to do so. Somewhat similar to an InReach, a SPOT or, to a lesser extent, to an IrdiumGo, Motorola’s Defy Satellite Link connects to your phone via Bluetooth and then links directly to the satellite network.

All you need is an unobstructed view of the sky.

The Defy is capable of sending short text messages, your location and has an emergency “help” button. You charge the Defy’s battery just as you would a smartphone and the charge will last 48 hours or more. The Defy costs only $99 and monthly plans start at $5.

The hitch is that you can’t use your regular messaging app or WhatsApp for texting. Instead, you have to download an app to your phone called Bullitt Satellite Messaging Manager and the folks you are communicating with will have to do so as well. The Bullitt app works like a regular messaging app when connected to WiFi or a cell network and switches to the sat connection when not otherwise connected.

As a “crisis response” gadget, the new Defy is appealing for offshore sailors and those who want to keep their sat comms simple and cheap. To learn more, a useful article is on the Android Authority.

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