Making its debut at MWC 2023, the new Motorola Defy Satellite Link will enable almost any smartphone to send and receive text messages in areas with a lack of cellular signal. Satellite communication features have been mainstreamed after Apple added Emergency SOS via satellite to the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Ultra. Qualcomm is also looking to continue the same technology in future high-end Android devices later this year, but Bullitt and MediaTek say their devices will be the first ones you can buy that talk in two directions.
Users out there who don’t want to upgrade to a new iPhone – or who are worried about seeing Samsung sit out the space race with the latest Galaxy S23 series – now have the option to stick around on the device they have. The Defy Satellite Link interfaces with the Bullitt Satellite Messenger app on Android and iOS devices and enables location sharing, SOS assistance, and two-way messaging via satellites.
The $99 Defy Satellite Link accessory is cheaper than buying a new phone with the technology, including Bullitt’s recently announced $599 rugged Motorola Defy 2 smartphone with the same MediaTek chip we see in other midranges Android phones soon. Defy devices can connect to geostationary satellites 22,300 miles above Earth using 3GPP NTN open standard “direct-to-device” satellite communications technology.
To use the actual service, you must pay $4.99 per month (starting) for SOS Assist, which is operated by FocusPoint International. There’s also a $149 bundle with the Defy Satellite Link device and a one-year subscription to an Essentials Messaging service that includes up to 30 two-way Bullitt Satellite Messenger messages per month in addition to SOS Assist. For the people on the other end of the conversation, they will receive a message as a simple SMS to their existing phone with an invitation to download the accompanying Android or iOS app so they can respond.
According to CNETBullitt’s Skylo-backed network will rely on geostationary satellites from Inmarsat and EchoStar for connections, while CNBC reports satellite coverage should be live across Europe and North America at launch, followed by Australia and New Zealand, Africa, and Latin America in the middle of 2023.
The Defy Satellite Link can also provide simple SOS and location sending with a physical check-in button, even if the smartphone it’s paired with dies. It contains a 600mAh battery that lasts for “several days,” and it’s IP68 waterproof and dustproof, according to the company.
In comparison, Apple’s one-way service runs on a 24-satellite low-orbit constellation through a partnership with Globalstar. The purchase of a new iPhone 14 or Apple Watch Ultra includes two years of service that can send messages, SOS alerts, and share Find My location with loved ones, all with a clear view of the sky. using Band 53 / n53 communications.