Motorola and Bullitt group plan to show off their first two smartphones to feature MediaTek’s 2-way satellite connectivity solution at Mobile World Congress next week. But we already kind of knew that was coming.
What we didn’t know was that they would also be introducing an accessory that brings 2-way satellite communications to any modern smartphone. The device is called the Motorola defy satellite link, and it should be worldwide in April with prices starting at $99 for the hardware or $149 for a bundle that includes the defy satellite link and a 1-year subscription to the cheapest messaging service plan.
MediaTek’s MT6825 chipset uses 3GPP NTN technology to allow the Motorola defy 2 and CAT S75 smartphones to connect to satellites to send and receive messages. And the defy satellite link features the same chipset, but in a compact standalone device that can pair with Android or iOS devices via Bluetooth.
That lets users connect to the Bullitt Satellite Connect platform when you’re out of range of terrestrial cellular service for:
- Location sharing
- SOS assistance
- 2-way messaging
The hardware is relatively affordable, but it’s worth noting that a subscription service will cost you: the $149 hardware + service bundle only gets you signed up for an “Essential Messaging” plan for up to 30 messages per month plus SOS assistance.
After the first year the price for that plan rises to $5 per month. Or if you want the ability to send more messages you can pay $10/month for up to 125 messages or $30 for up to 400.
There’s also a “Freedom” plan that lets you pay $60 per year to send up to 250 messages over the course of a year. I suppose that could be useful if you expect to send bursts of messages a few months out of the year without using the service at all during other periods. Otherwise it seems like you might be better off paying for the Essential plan which will also set you back $60 per year while allowing you to send up to 360 messages per year… just not all at once.
A growing number of phones are likely to incorporate satellite functionality in the coming years. Apple already offers emergency satellite services for its latest phones. Qualcomm is bringing support to future devices. Samsung has unveiled its own platform. And it looks like MediaTek’s solution will be available on select phones in the coming months.
But the defy satellite link provides a way to connect your existing phone to non-terrestrial networks without buying a whole new phone. And it’s made for off-grid, outdoor use and features a MIL-SPEC 810H tested design with an Ip68 rating for water and dust resistance. It’s powered by a 600 mAh battery that Bullitt says offers “sufficient battery life for multiple days of use,” and there are physical buttons to send an SOS message or “check in” to let contacts know where you are even when the device is not paired with a phone.
Great till battery dies.
All the electronic gadgets we have phone, compass, maps etc yet still folk get lost and die. More fear of dying and more respect for wild places are needed. Imo
What exactly would I be defying? If anything, it creates more pressures to comply.
Far be it from me to try to pretend a company’s choice of brand name is supposed to be logical, but maybe it’s encouraging you to defy the communications systems that cannot connect you when you’re in the middle of nowhere, where this system would start being useful. It’s not really a tool of defiance or compliance. Then again, this is a rather pointless discussion in any case because, just as the Samsung Galaxy line of phones doesn’t particularly relate to any part of the galaxy, this is just a word they thought sounded nice.
I honestly wouldn’t think it was mentioning if it wasn’t for the increasing amount of checking to make sure you’re not doing something wrong people have to put up with.
Going somewhere that there’s no internet used to come with an excuse to NOT verify everything constantly, but now, with satellites, that’s going away, and it sucks.
I don’t think that’s true, given that this is expensive enough that people who are intentionally avoiding the internet have a very easy reason why they didn’t buy it and nobody would get it by accident. It’s at an affordable level for someone who actually intends to make use of a satellite communications system for some limited usage, but it cannot send a lot of information through the link due to the limited amount of messages you can send on the plan. I wouldn’t worry too much about it being used for surveillance.
There’s another satellite communication device from Globalstar called Spot X. It was released in 2018 and it’s still available from the company and other outlets. Don’t know how it compares in terms of features and price (also requires a plan).
Likely going to go with the Bullit sub plans that have dropped with the new CAT phone.
I don’t know what Motorola’s coverage is going to be like, but if this covers the oceans (or even just coastal areas), this service will be extremely successful in the sailing/cruising/yachting world.
This is going to be a lot cheaper than a Satellite phone plan, and it has the benefit of letting you use your own phone.
Probably worth noting that the bundle comes with 1 year of service. If it came with service for life, it’d be a really impressive deal.
At an implied $50/year for the service.. eh, seems fair. But I’m probably not the target audience.
Thanks, I’ve added that info to the article!