How to Turn Your Android or iPhone Smartphone Into A Satellite Phone

William Fieldhouse
By William Fieldhouse April 5, 2018 00:00

How to Turn Your Android or iPhone Smartphone Into A Satellite Phone

By William Fieldhouse

To maximize your chances of survival in a crisis you need to be able to keep in touch with others. That lets you share knowledge, ask for help when you need it, and keep each other informed of approaching threats. Unfortunately, our modern communications network will be one of the first things to go down in a real crisis. Even a bad storm can knock out cell towers over a large area, and if the power goes down a lot of people will find out why a Voice Over IP landline phone isn’t as reliable as an old-style one with a dial. That’s not even considering the damage that would be caused by an EMP attack; if that happens you can forget most of the comms you’re used to. It would be years before all our cell and internet services were restored – if they ever were.

Luckily, there’s a solution – satellite phones. A modern satellite phone has all the capabilities of a cell phone, but it doesn’t rely on towers that can be demolished by the wind or disabled when the power goes out. Instead it connects to a network of satellites. This has two advantages. The first is that you can get a signal practically anywhere. You don’t need to be within range of a tower; as long as you can see the sky, you can get a signal. There’s no more frustration at finding yourself in a dead spot. Secondly, the satellites are almost invulnerable to any hazard. Parked in a geostationary orbit 26,000 miles up they’re far above the weather, and in fact they’re far above the reach of an EMP, too. As long as a satellite phone is in a Faraday cage when the attack happens, you can take it out an hour or two later and start making calls.

The only problem is that most of us don’t have a sat phone, and they’re not exactly cheap. Luckily there’s now a way to upgrade your smartphone and give it satellite capabilities. All you need is a Thuraya SatSleeve.

As well as support for making calls and sending SMS messages, the latest SatSleeves also have satellite data capabilities. That means you can stay connected for instant messaging, emails, browsing and all your internet needs.

By the way, calls and data are definitely going to cost you an arm and a leg (you shouldn’t be surprised if it adds up to several dollars a minute, depending on where you want to use your handset). But when you’re in a situation where you absolutely have to make or receive a call, or access the internet, nothing beats a satellite phone.

Related: How To Make A Tin Can Directional WiFi Antenna to Extend your Communication after an EMP

This SatSleeve comes in three flavors:

  • SatSleeve for Android: This has a standard adaptor for Samsung Galaxy S4 inside the sleeve (adaptors for Samsung Galaxy S5 and S3 are also available from Thuraya service partners)
  • SatSleeve for iPhone: This has an adaptor for the iPhone 5 or 5S as standard (adaptors for iPhone 6/6S and iPhone 4/4s are also available from Thuraya Service Partners)
  • SatSleeve+: This is a universal sleeve compatible with a wide variety of iPhones and Android devices.

The SatSleeve also has a built-in rechargeable battery to extend the battery life of the smartphone, and there is an optional solar charger to make sure you can always keep the phone powered up even in extreme adventure situations.

The SatSleeve isn’t cheap – it costs around $499 – but if you need coverage where there isn’t a ground-based carrier service, this could very well be what you need.

This article was written by William Fieldhouse and it was published on – where you can follow his work.

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William Fieldhouse
By William Fieldhouse April 5, 2018 00:00
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  1. Mike April 5, 13:13

    Unfortunately, it does not have service in North America or South America, so it is useless here.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Hoosier Homesteader April 5, 14:07

    If things get really bad, and I believe they will, the LAST thing I’m going to be worried about is my phone. My family already knows to come here.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Wannabe April 5, 14:42

    Yea this trinket will not be in my stock pile.

    Reply to this comment
  4. left coast chuck April 5, 15:17

    In the event of a EMP there is a chance that satellites will be disabled. What better way to blind the military than to take out their satellites?

    CMEs can also disable satellites although apparently it is possible to shield satellites from all but the most powerful


    At the EOTW worrying about satellite bills will be very low on your list of things to be concerned about. That’s what it is called The End of The World as we know it.

    I’m with Wannabe. This is low on my list of must haves.

    Reply to this comment
    • Claude Davis April 6, 14:08

      A CME could disable satellites, but an EMP won’t. The satellites these phones talk through are 26,000 miles up. EMP weapons detonate between 350 and 450 miles up, and their effects build up as they travel down through the atmosphere. The phone might be in danger, but the satellites won’t be.

      Reply to this comment
      • Verity December 14, 17:35

        Satellite phones may well be the same radio technology that ships used (probably still do) to communicate. I’ve heard from people with powerful telescopes who say they have never seen a satellite, hard as they’ve searched.

        Reply to this comment
        • Bing December 26, 07:33

          Something the size of a VW Bug is hard to see 26,000 miles away.

          Reply to this comment
        • HoundDogDave March 23, 00:36

          That’s odd. Most any day of the week with clear skies in the hour before sunrise and the hour after sunset I can look up and see a half dozen or so go by in the night sky (occasionally I can see the ISS too). Granted these are not the geosynchronous satellites used for communication, but just look up. Their up there for all to see.

          Reply to this comment
  5. Lucia April 5, 15:29

    I love all your emails and they have helped us prepare for any attack!

    Reply to this comment
  6. Rodger Dodger April 5, 15:36

    So! Let me get this straight. You will only be able to talk to someone who also has a Sat Phone.

    Reply to this comment
    • Gus April 10, 13:31

      You dont need one to recive a call. You can call land lines and mobiles from a Sat phone or they would be useless

      Reply to this comment
  7. LuciusTate April 5, 16:24

    The gravitational pull of x will move orbits. Though a good idea if things are somewhat normal. They had them in Alaska. Those remote areas had a text service that the truckers used north of the Yukon river.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck April 5, 17:03

      This might be ideal for someone who regularly travels in remote areas where there is no cell phone coverage. Those area are becoming more and more sparse. I suspect that one cannot just buy the unit and not have prior arrangements with the company to provide service. There must be a monthly charge too — or did I miss where the author discussed the monthly charge? I know when I was treasurer of the gun club I belong to we paid a $17 monthly charge for the satellite phone we keep at the range for emergency use. We also paid additionally for any time we spent on the phone. Mostly we used it to report fires in the area to the Forest Service.

      Reply to this comment
  8. DEFENDER April 6, 04:25

    Not being an astro-physicist, I don’t know, but I understand an EMP can come in the form of a Solar Flair(like the one in the 1890’s that wiped out most electric systems of the day. If so, would not a Solar Flair reach the satellites 1st? Or are they protected from this?

    Reply to this comment
    • crazysquirrel March 1, 17:13

      Presumably, satellites are in a sort of Faraday Cage and thus protected from most EMP.

      A strong enough CME to wipe out satellites would also extinguish most life on Earth.
      Asteroid Debris would be the greater risk for satellite damage.
      A pea sized particle traveling fast can act like a bullet.

      Reply to this comment
  9. left coast chuck April 6, 18:44

    I’m not an astro engineer or space scientist, so I have no idea how high the orbit is for satellites used in phone service. If, indeed, they are as high as 26,000 miles, then an EMP from a rocket would most likely not affect them. As I understand EMP technology, the ideal hight for an EMP explosion is 250 to 350 miles up. Too high and the pulse effect is reduced. Too low and the area covered is too little. Also, the lower the blast, the more surface radiation is likely, thus negating the reason to use an EMP weapon in the first place. Radiation is decreased by time. Distance equals time. what effect 25,000+ miles would have on an EMP blast is beyond my limited knowledge, but I suspect it is significant, otherwise one could take out both Europe and North America with an EMP blast higher up over the mid-Atlantic. I haven’t heard any discussion of that being a likely event. Maybe it is “If we don’t talk about it, it won’t happen.”

    Any discussions I have read about attacking Europe and North America have always talked about simultaneous attacks on both continents, not a single, centrally focused attack with the explosion over the mid-Atlantic.

    As I stated above, my only experience with satellite phones comes form the one we have at the range and the discussions about its spotty service when the satellite is over the horizon. Maybe it is just the company we are using, although it is a large corporation that offers service to many users, so I would expect that its service is comparable to other service providers. I personally have never had to use the satellite phone at the range, so my knowledge is all second-hand and we all know how reliable that is.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Suzanne April 8, 18:59

    I agree!!! A cell phone is the least of my worries!! If I were to get anything it would be the system that links you to the nearest phone not satellite and then it links from there on out! But most of my family lives near by and we will probably be using HAM radio or the like!!! These would also work much like the cell connection from one to another!!! We can also train carrier pigeons as well to go between two or three places, making one place it’s resting place and another it’s feeding, then the feeding station can have resting places at multiple locations for multiple pigeons!!! Allowing info to travel across a pretty large area if done correctly keeping more than blood family connected and on the lookout for trouble coming in anyone’s direction for many miles if done correctly even hundreds of miles!!!

    Reply to this comment
  11. PlainJane April 9, 01:25

    When SHTF, I really don’t want ANYTHING that can track me on/around my person. So I will pass. Besides, who could I call? No one I know will have one of these.
    I will admit this though. If I traveled for a living and frequented questionable areas of the world, I would think this could be a handy dandy device.

    Reply to this comment
  12. TheSouthernNationalist April 9, 13:07

    I want to get to the point in my preps and life that should an EMP happen, I wouldnt know it unless you told me.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Gus April 10, 13:30

    You dont need one to recive a call. You can call land lines and mobiles from a Sat phone or they would be useless

    Reply to this comment
  14. Enigma April 14, 12:32

    Geo-synchronous orbits become practical above 22,500 miles from the surface of Terra.

    Touted device seems more of a business tool than a survivalist/prepper one. In a real crisis, you DO NOT want any ‘smart’ phones – such devices may easily get used to locate you, family members, and your shelter & supplies.

    Reply to this comment
  15. JustS November 6, 22:04

    This is a helpful conversation, so thanks to everyone!

    My understanding is that the 66 Iridium sats are in low earth orbit and don’t require a ground station as a relay. In the event of an EMP, ground equipment will be toast, so even if the birds aren’t affected, a network that depends on ground stn relays will be useless. Right now, I think Iridium is the only one where the birds talk to each other. If I’m wrong, please someone chime in.

    That said, whose network does Thuraya attach to? Just any up there? Don’t you need software for whichever sat network you’re trying to reach?

    Last question: Is there a way to make a DIY sat sleeve or create a DIY sat phone from the bones of a cell phone or other devices in a SHTF event? Is there proprietary tech at work in these sleeves or is it just the need for a directional antenna and increased power supply? I have family across the country, not all of whom are prepared or preparing.

    Thanks, everyone – this is seriously helpful info!

    Reply to this comment
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