I've had the Zoleo satellite messenger on test for over 6 months. I've grown fond of this reliable little device during my hands on review.
Zoleo satellite communicator
Specifications: 200 hours battery life (when left to check messages every 12 minutes), charge time approx 2 hours, weight : 159g, size: 91mm L × 66mm W × 27mm H, waterproof IP68, charging: Micro USB
I have to admit to being a little skeptical at first when testing a range of satellite messenger devices. Surely a phone would be better because you can text and talk? Well actually no. Not necessarily.
The Zoleo works with an app on your mobile smart phone and you should think of the Zoleo satellite messenger as more of a dongle, but with a really simple set of functions and this is where the Zoleo is a winner.
How many times have I spent ages tapping out a frustratingly slow text message on the Iridium 9555 phone as my daily check in to my parents back home or to friends? It’s probably quite a few minutes for every message sent as I have to press the basic numeric buttons multiple times to get the letter I want. (anyone over 40 years old will know this system well from the early days of mobile phones when texting was all the rage) The Zoleo though is really easy as it uses your smart phone as the interface, which gives you the use of a standard mobile querty keyboard and a big (all things being relative here) screen to see what you’re typing. A text can be sent in seconds. Using the apps’ own inbox system allows rapid text messages to be sent to and be received from anyone you’re communicating with. They don’t need the app to reply to you.
As I like to receive weather forecasts and so on from friends and family ashore, I much prefer to receive this as a text message. Voice calls are the work of the devil on satellite phone as they drop in and out, voices garbled or staccato and I happily forgo making calls in return for fast and efficient texting. Once you’ve set the Zoleo satellite messenger up with your airtime plan, you are allocated a number and this number remains with you for the duration of your airtime plan so it’s really easy for anyone to drop a text message to you. You won’t miss the message if the device is off, as the messages are stored in an inbox that wait until your device is turned on to deliver them to you.
It’s also very cheap to use compared to other devices that have to be on a voice tariff.
The check in function can be used as much as your like, without impacting on your credits. This pings a predetermined message to a nominated number ( someone shore based ideally) and if you have the slightly more expensive airtime plan, it will send your lat and long coordinates too.
The battery life on this is long too. Long enough that I’d forget when was the last time I charged it. I count the battery life in days not hours.
It is possible to set the Zoleo up to drop breadcrumbs on a map, but this really isn’t what it was intended for.
Zoleo satellite communicator
Typical costs for subscription
Monthly Fee for a mid range user £32
Satellite Messages Included: 250
Additional Messages £0.55/ea
Satellite Check-in Messages: unlimited
Mobile Network & Wi-Fi Messages: unlimited
Location Share+ is an additional £4.50 per month
For more messengers you can read about them in our buyers guide: Best satellite messenger and tracker for heading off the beaten path
Competitively priced, you’d be hard pressed to find a better value way to communicate when you’re out of standard mobile phone signal.