updated 11:40 pm EDT, Mon October 20, 2008
Iridium 9555 sat phone
Iridium Satellite has unveiled its latest satellite phone, the 9555, which offers smaller dimensions and a form factor that is closer to traditional cell phones than its predecessor, the 9505A. The antenna is mostly internally stowed, allowing full extension only when the phone is being used. A speakerphone function, brighter screen, and mini-USB data port have been added, along with improved SMS and E-mail functionality.
In line with other products designed for exploration in environments far away from civilization, the 9555 is water and shock resistant and offers only basic functionality. The company has been able drop the device weight by 27 percent from the 9505A, with a 30 percent reduction in volume, potentially attracting more mountaineering or wilderness adventurers that count every single ounce and cubic inch that can be carried.
The phone claims a standby time of 30 hours with a talk time of four hours. The menu is configurable for 21 different languages, and the address book has been expanded for longer contacts lists. International codes are programmable for automatic dialing, and a help function is built in.
The Iridium network of 66 low-earth orbiting satellites offers coverage across the entire globe, including oceans and both poles. The array is fully meshed with in orbit spares to protect against failure. Iridium claims a 99 percent connection rate of initial calls, and a 98 percent call completion without being dropped for a three minute duration. The 9555 is scheduled for availability in November, however no pricing has yet been provided.