If you’re still jealous of the iPhone 14’s ability to send satellite messages, Motorola has a Bluetooth accessory that will make you feel less left out. The Motorola Defy Satellite Link is officially on sale today, following its announcement in February. This is basically a satellite messaging hotspot: it’s a box of Bluetooth, a battery and a chip that gives you a satellite connection. You connect your phone to it, run the app and you can send text messages into space. The hotspot costs $150 and works on Android and iOS devices in the US starting today.
The iPhone 14 made satellite messaging state of the art when it was announced last year, and the competition is just starting to emerge. The big difference between Motorola’s hotspot and an iPhone (and the reason why you might want Motorola’s option, even if you have an iPhone 14) is that the iPhone 14 only sends a specially crafted SOS message to emergency services – a keyboard is not involved in the process at all, it is for emergency use only. The Motorola hotspot isn’t just for emergencies. It does full messaging, where you can type any message to whoever you want, but via satellite instead of the usual cellular network.
Motorola’s messaging service works just like SMS, but can only be delivered to other people using the dedicated Bullitt Satellite Messenger app. The service will do text forwarding though, so if you enter any number, that person will receive a message asking them to download the Bullitt app so they can talk to you. It’s probably best to arrange this with someone beforehand, but it sounds like a great way to communicate when you’re off the grid.
If you didn’t guess it from the app link, Bullitt Satellite is the service provider here, and just like a cellular plan, you have to pay a monthly fee for satellite access. The basic “essential” plan is $5 per month for 30 messages per month, with the largest plan for 400 messages for $30 per month. It is also possible to charge some sort of overage surcharge.
It looks like a few things have changed since the initial announcement. The original plan was a $99 price tag with no service or an optional $149 price with a year of service. Looks like the $99 option has been dropped. Motorola’s site doesn’t clearly explain what’s going on with the entry fees, but REI’s sales page for the device says the device includes “one year of SOS service and one year of essential service plan.” The service runs on Inmarsat satellites, a company that has been around since the 1970s and has 14 satellites in geostationary orbit. That REI page also states, “Current service areas include the continental US and Europe; Canada and Alaska will be available by September 2023,” and that coverage extends “up to 75 miles offshore in coverage map areas.”
Keep in mind that this service won’t be the lightning-fast cellular access you’re probably used to, and Bullitt says, “The time to initially connect to the satellite and send a message is about 10 seconds.”
For specs, the little Bluetooth box has a 600 mAh battery that’s apparently enough for “up to four full days” of runtime. The whole thing is powered by the MediaTek MT6825 satellite connectivity chip, which is built to use the new 3GPP NTN (Non-Terrestrial Network) standard. The device is IP68 rated and claims to be “waterproof to 1.5m for 30 minutes. It also has GPS for location tracking. Buttons on the side allow you to quickly “check in” or activate an emergency call.
Motorola’s site still says the device is available for pre-order only, but a press release in our inbox assures us that this is actually for sale. Motorola says the device can be found at “AT&T, REI Co-op, Bass Pro.com, B&H Photo, Nomadic Supply, BlackOvis.com, GoHunt.com and other major retailers.”
List image by Motorola