Stay connected anywhere with the ZOLEO satellite communicator | ZDNet

Sometimes, you need to be in communication no matter where you are in the world. That’s where the Iridium satellite constellation comes into play. With the right device, you need never be “out of the office.”

Satellite phones and plans are expensive, but if you’re OK with limiting your communications to text, then the ZOLEO Satellite Communicator is an extremely affordable when traveling beyond cellular coverage zones.

What makes the ZOLEO different is that you get a dedicated SMS number that works whether you’re in or out of cellular coverage. You also get a unique email address that follows you around the globe.

Unlike other networks, you get long messages with the ZOLEO, up to 950 characters.

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The ZOLEO is controlled using an app that you install on your smartphone or tablet, which controls two-way messaging, SOS alerting, check in, weather forecasts, and location sharing. The app will intelligently switch between the Iridium network and cellular/Wi-Fi when available to send and receive messages.


ZOLEO satellite communicator tech specs:

  • Compatible with the Iridium satellite network and via cellular/Wi-Fi
  • Weight: 150 g (5.3 oz)
  • Size: 9.1 x 6.6 x 2.7 cm (3.58 x 2.6 x 1.06 in)
  • Operating temperature: -20°C to 55°C (-4°F to 131°F)
  • Charging temperature: 0°C to 45°C (32°F to 113°F)
  • Battery life: 200+hours checking messages every 12 minutes
  • Battery charging time: 2 hours using 1.5A charge
  • Rating: IP68/MIL-STD 810G
  • Power connector: Micro-USB 
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth LE 4.1

$199 at Amazon

The ZOLEO unit is designed to be outdoors. It’s built to be shock-resistant to MIL-STD 810G, is dust- and water-resistant to IP68, and has an operating temperature range of -4°F/-15°C to 131°F/55°C.

Battery life is also decent, with a single charge offering 200+ hours of use when the ZOLEO is set to check for messages every 12 minutes. Charging is done using a microUSB port and takes about two hours.

It’s usually the high cost of the service plans that make using satellite systems like Iridium impractical, but the ZOLEO plans are competitively prices, with a plan starting at $20 a month, and there’s an unlimited plan for $50 a month.

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