The Motorola Defy Satellite Link is a nifty gizmo, offering a version of iPhone 14's handy Emergency SOS via satellite feature to anyone regardless of whether they have one of the latest or best smartphones. And now U.S. customers can finally get their hands on it.
Originally announced in February, the Motorola Defy Satellite Link offers a built-in satellite-based SOS feature. But it does more than just provide emergency coverage. It's basically a satellite messaging hotspot, hooking up to your smartphone via Bluetooth for two-way satellite messaging and location sharing. The idea being that you can still keep in touch with friends and family even when you're in an area where cell coverage is spotty or not available at all. And most importantly, only one of you needs the satellite-capable device for it all to work.
Motorola's messaging service works just like SMS. You send a message via the Bullitt Satellite Messenger app on your phone, and the device links up with the relevant satellites to forward it to the recipient over whatever cellular or Wi-Fi network they're using. Those on the other end will get it as a standard SMS message. Recipients don't need the Bullitt Satellite Messenger app to receive messages, but will need to download it to send responses back.
The system then works in reverse to get their responses back to you. It doesn’t cost the recipient anything, instead, everything's deducted from the sender's own subscription through Bullitt Satellite. Similar to a cell plan, you'll need to pay a monthly fee for satellite access.
Plans start at $4.99 for 30 messages each month with the Essentials Messaging service plan, and go up to $30 per month for 400 messages. Motorola is selling the accessory for just $150, which includes a year's subscription to the Essentials Messaging plan.
The Defy Satellite Link uses Bullitt's Satellite Messaging service first announced at CES 2023 earlier this year. Powering the little Bluetooth box is the MediaTek MT6825 satellite connectivity chip, which supports two-way satellite messaging over non-terrestrial networks (NTN) and can connect both to LEO (Low Earth Orbit) satellites and geostationary ones over 22,000 miles away. It comes with dedicated emergency SOS and check-in features, as well as integrated GPS, all of which can function without an active smartphone connection. Buttons on the side let you "check in" quickly using GPS or trigger an emergency call in an instant.
In terms of specs, the Defy Satellite Link packs a 600 mAh battery, enough for "up to four full days" of runtime, Motorola advertises. Designed with durability in mind, the Defy Satellite Link is IP68 rated for dust and water resistance, and MIL-SPEC-810H rated for drops. And the whole thing weighs just 2.4 ounces. Not bad for something only the size of a key fob.
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Alyse Stanley is a news editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing weekend coverage and writing about the latest in tech, gaming and entertainment.
Prior to joining Tom’s Guide, Alyse worked as an editor for the Washington Post’s sunsetted video game section, Launcher. She previously led Gizmodo’s weekend news desk, where she covered breaking tech news — everything from the latest spec rumors and gadget launches to social media policy and cybersecurity threats. She has also written game reviews and features as a freelance reporter for outlets like Polygon, Unwinnable, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. She’s a big fan of horror movies, cartoons, and miniature painting.
Coverage map is not correct; drove to Mexico's Baja California peninsula and did not have any signal after 200miles south from the US border. Map shows coverage almost all the way to Cabo San Lucas...Reply