British smartphone manufacturer Bullitt revealed today, Friday, as part of its participation in the MWC 2023 Mobile World Congress, a new phone that has the ability to send text messages through space, thus joining the frantic race to market devices that support satellite communication.
The phone, which falls within the category of highly durable phones, comes in two models: (Cat S75), which bears the trademark of the Caterpillar heavy equipment and engine manufacturer, and targets the European market, the Middle East, and Africa, and will be sold at a price of 599 euros (634.49 USD). ). The other model, is (Motorola Defy 2), which targets the North American and South American markets, and will be sold at a starting price of $ 599.
The company also unveiled the Motorola defy satellite link, a Bluetooth device that provides satellite connectivity to any Android and iOS smartphone, and said it was “designed for anyone who is frustrated by a lack of cellular coverage, whether they are traveling, or participating in outdoor activities, or just in his daily life».
Motorola Defy satellite link will be available from April 2023 across international retailers, priced at US$99 per device only. The package, which includes a one-year subscription to the Basic SMS plan (up to 30 two-way messages per month and SOS assistance), will start at $149.
Both phones come with support for 5G networks, a 6.6-inch screen, and a 5,000 mAh battery, and Bullitt says the battery is enough to work for two full days.
With the new Bullitt phones, messages are sent to geostationary satellites 22,000 miles above the equator and then sent back to the terrestrial network infrastructure before reaching a user’s device.
The user receives the message as a standard SMS, but they will have to install the company’s satellite messaging app, Bullitt Messenger, to reply.
Text messages take about 10 seconds to reach the user, compared to the near-instantaneous speed of mobile phones. Satellite communication only works when the user is out of range of Wi-Fi networks or mobile network signals.
The news of the new Bullitt phones comes shortly after Apple announced the launch of its (iPhone 14) phone, which has the advantage of calling emergency services via satellite. This feature is available in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Ireland.
Device makers such as Apple and chip companies such as Qualcomm are betting on the untapped opportunity to make satellite phones available to the general public in remote areas that lie outside the reach of the terrestrial communications infrastructure.
Satellite communication allows messages to reach large areas of the Earth where terrestrial cellular equipment networks cannot reach because cell towers have a very limited range, which means if you go too far from one, you lose the signal.
Satellite communication can come in handy if you’re a hiker who’s lost on a mountain pass in a remote location, or a worker on a remote construction site who needs to contact his boss but can’t access mobile data.
It is noteworthy that satellite phones have been available for decades, but they are available to a small group of users. Bullitt hopes to change this with its devices. It is also noted that many satellite phones come in the form of rectangular objects with large, visible antennas. But the Bullitt phones look like regular smartphones, thanks in part to a satellite-enabled chip from Taiwanese semiconductor company MediaTek.
Bullitt says that its phones have an advantage over Apple phones, as it allows two-way SMS messages, as well as the emergency SOS feature that the company developed in partnership with Focuspoint International to manage important events.
This, Bullitt’s two-way messaging service prices have been set at 4.99 euros for the basic plan with 30 messages per month, 9.99 euros for 125 messages per month, and 29.99 euros for 400 messages per month.
By comparison, rival Garmin charges £19 for 10 text messages per month, £32 for 60 text messages per month, and £58 for 250 text messages per month, plus a one-off £35 activation fee.
As for the Apple Emergency SOS feature, which does not allow two-way messaging, it is free for two years after activating the (iPhone 14) or (iPhone 14 Pro) phone. Apple did not disclose the prices of the service after the end of that period.
In the framework of the competition to make satellite communication available to the general public, Samsung announced yesterday, Thursday, the development of its modem that supports what is known as (non-terrestrial networks via the fifth generation) 5G NTN, which will bring satellite communication to phones that contain its Exynos chip.