What Satellite phone for use around Southern Africa





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  1. #1
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    Question What Satellite phone for use around Southern Africa

    As we do a great deal of our traveling on a solo basis I would like to purchase a satellite phone for safety. I have been looking around and it seems to be coming down to a toss-up between ISatphone2 or the Iridium 9575. All I am looking for is a phone that I can use in case of an emergency. We are not looking to send photographs or trying to keep up with any social media, just a phone for emergency use. I am looking to buy as we tend to pack up and go at the drop of a hat (pleasures of being retired).

    Can anyone give me any help with a few queries?

    1. Is it true that the ISatphone2 will not find a signal if you are behind a tree or kopjie? I was told that the Iridium has more satellites and therefore finds a connection more quickly. Is this true, as I cannot imagine jumping out of the car in Big 5 country to try and find a satellite!

    2. Is it worth looking at things like the Iridium Go? Pairing it with a cellphone sounds like a good idea, but is it? Does this work well in practice?

    Any advice or real world experience would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks
    Cathy

  2. #2
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    Default Re: What Satellite phone for use around Southern Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by Buggsy View Post
    As we do a great deal of our traveling on a solo basis I would like to purchase a satellite phone for safety. I have been looking around and it seems to be coming down to a toss-up between ISatphone2 or the Iridium 9575. All I am looking for is a phone that I can use in case of an emergency. We are not looking to send photographs or trying to keep up with any social media, just a phone for emergency use. I am looking to buy as we tend to pack up and go at the drop of a hat (pleasures of being retired).

    Can anyone give me any help with a few queries?

    1. Is it true that the ISatphone2 will not find a signal if you are behind a tree or kopjie? I was told that the Iridium has more satellites and therefore finds a connection more quickly. Is this true, as I cannot imagine jumping out of the car in Big 5 country to try and find a satellite!

    2. Is it worth looking at things like the Iridium Go? Pairing it with a cellphone sounds like a good idea, but is it? Does this work well in practice?

    Any advice or real world experience would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks
    Cathy
    If you don’t need voice (can get by with SMS, email, and an SOS function, have a look at Garmin InReach. They have a few different devices. I use the Explorer+ and more recently the GPSMap 66i which is a wonderful device and also runs T4A.

    Plans are significantly cheaper, and the device - especially the 66i- is multi-function (gps, T4A, etc...)

    As far as signal - any satellite device needs a clear view of sky. Ours transmit and receive just fine from their windshield mounts.
    Last edited by heyyahhey; 2020/08/14 at 06:09 PM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: What Satellite phone for use around Southern Africa

    We chose the Isatphone2. I confess that after comparing all the various positives and negatives I couldn't find a clear winner and I just bought the cheapest one that I could get quickly, as I'd left the decision too late. I have used Thurayas and iridium phones for work. My experience has been that they are all susceptible to poor signal quality at times.

    With the Isatphone2 I made a call from Mabua at the edge of one of the pans, a single tree about 20 meters from me and a clear sky full of stars and the call quality was terrible. On the other hand, we've used it with no issues at all near closer obstacles. I've had terrible audio delays on iridium phones, where they are almost unusable, with zero obstructions at all. But sometimes they are all great.
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  5. #4
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    Default Re: What Satellite phone for use around Southern Africa

    We used our Isatphone 2 all over East Africa and the Sudan with no problems, over about a year in 2015/6. Sometimes we had to move a little away from immediately adjacent high trees and high buildings obviously, but never had significant hitches with reception.

    We used the phone to make contact with home almost every Sunday evening to use up the airtime which has to be prepaid. We bought our phone and airtime from Immarsat in Stellenbosch, excellent service.

    We usually travel alone and once things open up again will be traveling with the satphone again. If you have one it gives you extra confidence when traveling alone in the back of beyond. You do need appropriate contact numbers though and air evacuation medical insurance.
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    Default Re: What Satellite phone for use around Southern Africa

    We don't travel as much as we'd like, but had the requirement to be reachable as my mom was advanced in years and bedridden at home with her carer.
    We have a card that allows pay-as-you-go type functionality, where you can buy 20 minutes valid for 365 days. This through sat4rent.co.za.

    We have the older isatphone pro, now on end-of-life by the vendors. What works quite well, is having the car kit with it. This means that the phone can be left on while driving, and that we found we received SMSes pretty soon after they were sent. It has a magnetic base flat antenna. We had no signal for only short times while driving. Also, it pairs well via bluetooth to the car radio, which is quite handy when talking.
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  8. #6
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    Default Re: What Satellite phone for use around Southern Africa

    We have an Iridium (had it about 20 years now). It has always worked when we've needed it (which is half a dozen times in all). We do need to have a clear sky view, although have always found it possible to make the few calls we've made.

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    Default Re: What Satellite phone for use around Southern Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by heyyahhey View Post
    If you don’t need voice (can get by with SMS, email, and an SOS function, have a look at Garmin InReach. They have a few different devices. I use the Explorer+ and more recently the GPSMap 66i which is a wonderful device and also runs T4A.

    Plans are significantly cheaper, and the device - especially the 66i- is multi-function (gps, T4A, etc...)

    As far as signal - any satellite device needs a clear view of sky. Ours transmit and receive just fine from their windshield mounts.
    This unit sounds great , any more details as I am in the market for a Garmin to run T4A. Currently using T4A on my ipad?

  10. #8
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    Default Re: What Satellite phone for use around Southern Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by Waals View Post
    This unit sounds great , any more details as I am in the market for a Garmin to run T4A. Currently using T4A on my ipad?

    im very impressed with it. They are hard to find in SA. I bought mine on Amazon. There are various plans for messages depending on how regular u will use. Details on the Garmin site.

    if you’re using T4A in iPad, the Garmin version is updated much more regularly (every quarter). I have both the IOS T4A app and the Garmin- I never use the iOS version any more.

    messages send quick. I broke down once out of cell range and was able to have a reasonable text discussion with a mechanic to troubleshoot. Not as convenient as voice would have been but it worked. Basic plan is like $25 a month. But they also have a plan that is only when u need it as opposed to monthly.

    Youll want to pair the GPS via Bluetooth with, fir example, your iPad, and use that to compose messages. You can do it right on the device but there is no keyboard, so it’s quite slow.
    Last edited by heyyahhey; 2020/08/18 at 08:20 PM.

  11. #9
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    Default Re: What Satellite phone for use around Southern Africa

    I've had an Iridium for 15 years now and haven't had any reception issues whatsoever. Costs me $300 a year for 300 minutes and whatever is left rolls over.
    Disclaimer - All my posts on this forum is without prejudice, is based on my fair assumptions or perceptions, is in no way intended to cause harm to anyone and is acted upon at your own discretion.

  12. #10
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    Default Re: What Satellite phone for use around Southern Africa

    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    I've had an Iridium for 15 years now and haven't had any reception issues whatsoever. Costs me $300 a year for 300 minutes and whatever is left rolls over.
    Hey George,

    Can you tell me where you buy your minutes from?

    Many thanks,

    Steric

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