Comparison Between Iridium and Thuraya Satellite Phones

An Overview of Iridium vs. Thuraya Satellite Phones

Iridium and Thuraya are two of the most widely-known satellite network providers in the world. Each manufacturing their own brand of technology, these two satellite powerhouses offer unique satellite phone solutions that are used on a global scale. With Iridium’s global connectivity levels and Thuraya’s more unique satellite phone features, there are various differences between the two brands and their respective hardware. We will outline these as clearly as possible to help you make an informed decision.

Features & Functionality


If you are looking for a satellite phone that can be used anywhere on the planet, an Iridium satellite phone is your best bet. The Iridium Extreme® and Iridium 9555 are the brand’s two flagship satellite phones, and both can be used to make or take calls from any region in the world including the poles. The Iridium Extreme comes with features including SMS and email capabilities, GPS positioning, SOS, and tracking, whereas the 9555 comes with all of these features except tracking, so depending on the nature of your trip, either of these phones would work for whole spectrum of applications.


With a Thuraya satellite phone, you are looking at a handset that is much more affordable, especially in the case of the Thuraya XT LITE. Its is one of the lowest-cost handsets on the market and offers calls and text abilities, a very generous battery life, and is super simple to use so would be great in an emergency when time is potentially of the essence. Other options include the super-rugged XT PRO, designed with professionals and commercial usage in mind, and the Thuraya X5 TOUCH, perhaps one of the best satellite phones available due to its striking resemblance to a smartphone. It runs off the Android OS so is technically a smart satellite phone, and is the first of its kind available to the mass market.

Connectivity and Coverage: Which Satellite Phone Performs Better?

Thuraya’s network coverage is fairly limited to only EMEA and APAC regions, meaning we strongly advise against using a Thuraya phone in regions like North or South America. Thuraya phones do, however, work reliably and deliver crystal clear voice clarity when used in their relevant region, however we warn customers about this and will always ask where they plan on using their phone if they enquire about Thuraya. With Iridium, on the other hand, there is no need to worry about location because Iridium’s satellite communication service is global. This is down to the nature of the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Iridium satellite constellation: it orbits earth in a mesh where there is always at least one satellite to connect to at any given moment.

User Experience: Which Satellite Phone is Right for You?

Depending on what you are looking for in a satellite phone, both Iridium and Thuraya’s repertoire of handsets deliver their own areas of excellent user experience. From the Thuraya X5 Touch’s 5.2” full HD LCD touchscreen offering all the familiarity of the smartphone in your pocket, to the simplistic but effective XT LITE with its clearly laid out dialing pad and confirmatory button clicks, there is a lot to be said about how easy Thuraya makes using their devices. With Iridium, however, there are zero issues in the event of dropping their devices or have heavy objects fall on them. They can be used in extreme environments from warzones to the scenes of natural disasters. Their ruggedized IP65-rated housing protects them against water jets, shocks, dust storms, and even have rugged antennas for unparalleled durability.

Comparing Satellite Phone Prices: Iridium vs. Thuraya

Arguably one of the main areas where Iridium satellite phones differ from Thuraya satellite phones is the price of their handsets. Because Iridium’s network coverage is global and their handsets are that bit more ruggedized, they typically sit better for those with higher budgets. With the flagship Iridium Extreme satellite phone price coming in at $1,281, Iridium airtime bundles are more expensive as well, so if you needed to apply top-ups or sign up to an Iridium monthly contract, you would be looking at handing more over compared to a Thuraya model. The Thuraya X5 Touch, for example, is nearly $170 less expensive, but remember the network coverage is more restricted too. Overall, Iridium is slightly more expensive than Thuraya, but your concerns over location usage are relieved with Iridium phones.

Choosing the Best Satellite Phone for Your Needs

With so many variables at play when it comes to purchasing a satellite phone, deciding which one to go for is understandably not an easy task. However, we recommend considering the nature of your trip or adventure against the key features, prices, and characteristics of the phones we offer. The location is one of the main things to consider because not all satellite phones work on a global basis. Budget needs to play a big part too because satellite phones – and their airtime – are typically more expensive than people think. Other things to consider are any weight restrictions, ease of use, ruggedness, and portability. Scrutinize your adventure as closely as possible and you should be able to draw logical conclusions on which satellite phone would work best for you.

As always, our team of experts at OSAT is here to help. So, if you need any advice about Iridium or Thuraya satellite phones, contact us via:

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