Iridium 9555 vs. Iridium Extreme® | Which Satellite Phone is Right for You?

The Iridium satellite network is the world’s only truly global network meaning people with an Iridium device can communicate from any location on earth. The Extreme and 9555 satellite phones from Iridium are widely used by businesses and individuals all over the world thanks to their highly reliable connectivity levels, however, they do come with a set of differences which we weigh up in this blog post.

Comparison of the Iridium 9555 and Iridium Extreme®

From the outset, these two powerhouse satellite phones don’t appear much different at all. Their button layouts are almost identical. The only thing that stands out at first glance is the Iridium Extreme’s sleek, silver screen surround. Both measure up relatively equally as well at around 14cm tall and at 255g on average they only have about 10g difference in weight. So they’re lightweight and perfectly pocket-sized, however, only the Extreme has the SOS and GPS functionalities built-in, meaning if you’re looking for a satellite phone that can log your movements and summon emergency services should you run into trouble, the Extreme satellite phone is the model for you. It is here where potentially the most deal-breaking differences lie.

Key differences in design, features, and functionality

When it comes to the specifics, the differences between the Extreme and the 9555 are slightly more subtle. Some of the key differences include:

  • Design and Durability: The Iridium Extreme is built to be more rugged and durable than the Iridium 9555. The Extreme has an IP65 rating for dust and water resistance and is designed to meet military-grade standards for durability. The 9555 has an IP54 rating for protection against dust and water splashes. The Extreme is bulkier and heavier than the 9555, but it is designed to withstand more extreme conditions.
  • Features: The Iridium Extreme has more features than the Iridium 9555. The Extreme has a built-in GPS tracking system, an emergency SOS button, and an online tracking portal. The Extreme also has a higher-resolution display and a better camera. The 9555 lacks these features, but it still provides basic satellite communication.
  • Functionality and Battery Life: Both phones offer the same 1-2 punch of up to 4 hours of talk time and up to 30 hours of standby time on their battery lives, meaning you will still have to plan in your phone calls on a short-to-medium term excursion, adventure, or trip.

Pros and cons of each model for different scenarios

Each satellite phone model benefits different scenarios. Below are some of the strengths and drawbacks of the two models when faced with different real-life events:

  • Emergency Response

Pros of Iridium Extreme: The built-in GPS tracking system and emergency SOS button can be lifesaving in an emergency. The durability of the phone ensures it can withstand harsh environments.

Cons of Iridium Extreme: The cost of the Extreme may not be suitable for some users who only need basic satellite communication. The phone's bulkier size may make it less convenient to carry during an emergency.

Pros of Iridium 9555: The 9555 provides reliable satellite communication in emergency situations. The phone is more compact and lightweight, making it easier to carry.

Cons of Iridium 9555: The phone lacks the built-in GPS tracking system and emergency SOS button of the Extreme. The phone is also not as hard wearing, which may be a disadvantage in harsh environments.

  • Adventure Travel

Pros of Iridium Extreme: The ruggedness of the Extreme ensures it can withstand harsh weather conditions and physical abuse. The built-in GPS tracking system is useful for navigation, and the online tracking portal allows others to track the user's location.

Cons of Iridium Extreme: Adding to the rest of their kit, the price of the Extreme may be a barrier to entry for some adventure travellers, and the phone's bulkier size may make it less convenient to carry.

Pros of Iridium 9555: The 9555 provides reliable satellite communication in remote areas, which is crucial for adventure travel. The phone is more compact and lightweight, making it easier to carry.

Cons of Iridium 9555: The phone lacks the additional features of the Extreme, such as the GPS tracking system and online tracking portal. The phone is less robust, meaning it may get damaged at the back of a knapsack.

  • Military Operations

Pros of Iridium Extreme: The Iridium Extreme is specifically designed to meet military-grade standards, making it suitable for use in combat situations. The built-in GPS tracking system and emergency SOS button can be crucial in military operations.

Cons of Iridium Extreme: The higher price point may be a barrier to entry for some military personnel. The phone's bulkier size may be less convenient for some military operations.

Pros of Iridium 9555: The 9555 provides reliable satellite communication in remote areas, which is essential for military operations. The phone is more compact and lightweight, making it easier to carry.

Cons of Iridium 9555: The phone lacks the additional features of the Extreme, such as the GPS tracking system and emergency SOS button. The phone cannot withstand as much of an onslaught as the Extreme, which may be its downfall in combat situations.

Factors to consider when choosing between the two models

Some of the main things to consider before purchasing either the Extreme or the 9555 include:

  • Budget: the Extreme is more expensive than the 9555 because of its advanced features
  • SOS/GPS: depending on the nature of your trip, you may or may not need location and search & rescue functionality
  • Conditions: if where you are heading to isn’t an extreme environment, the Iridium 9555 satellite phone might be the better option as it doesn’t have to meet such rigorous requirements.

Conclusion

Choosing between two of the world’s leading satellite phones is obviously a difficult decision to make. For the most part, the Iridium Extreme and the Iridium 9555 are largely very similar. However, we would suggest you evaluate the details of your trip or adventure to determine the features you are looking for in a satellite phone. If you think you will need to be tracked and want the peace of mind of an SOS response at the push of a button, the Iridium Extreme is your best bet. If, however, you are simply looking for reliable global coverage from anywhere in the world, without the need for GPS tracking or emergency pick-up, the Iridium 9555 will serve you very well.

As always, our team of experts is here to help. So, if you need any advice about the Iridium Extreme or the 9555 satellite phone, contact us via:

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