An Unflattering Review of the Iridium Go by “A Real World End User”

SPR Staff:

This review is a perfect example of how important it is to buy from a dealer with knowledgable technical support staff as well as testing your equipment in advance and understanding their strengths and limitations.

Who knows if his problems were operator error or real limitations with the Iridium Go, but this happens much more often than most are willing to admit.

As a constant traveler in countries with limited GSM coverage (not least – US), I’ve been using satellite communication for quite a while. My latest device, Iridium Extreme, has proven to be great aid as a phone in case of an emergency, however carrying it around on a daily basis was somewhat confusing, and I have given up trying to make Iridium AccessPoint work properly.

After receiving notification about release of Iridium Go!, I have pre-ordered it immediately (thanks to eBay I’ve even managed to sell my Extreme at a price higher when I’ve purchased it for – to my big surprise).

Iridium Go: Public Presentation.

Here is what I was buying (extract from Iridium website/booklet):

Iridium GO! is unlike anything the world has seen before. Powered by the world’s furthest reaching network, this compact, rugged and portable unit dramatically extends the capabilities of any smart phone, laptop or tablet by creating a satellite-backed Wi-Fi hotspot – anywhere on the planet.

Data Speed up to 2.4 kbps (this line was removed from the Iridium website recently, but is still published on dealer’s websites).

That is exactly what I needed! On top of that an announcement of unlimited Sat Data Plan (which I subscribed to) was almost too good to be true. Official video:

Iridium Go: Real World Conditions

I will not bother you with details of my initial struggles, attempts to contact tech support of Iridium as well as my Sat provider, here the bottom line.

Conditions: open sky, no clouds, no structures in radius at least 1km, unit mounted in-car, external antenna attached to the car’s roof.

  1. Without external antenna I was not able to get a signal for longer when 2-3 min.
  2. With external antenna the signal remains longer, which allows loading a website of Google for example.
  3. Cannot be used for web connectivity as such:
    • If you plan receiving your email by connecting to hotspot – you are in a wrong place: only email, which will be generated for you on registration, can be used for communication.
    • Forget about Skype, chrome, Facebook messenger, LinkedIn… frankly all that you can eventually do is limited to:
      1. Sending/receiving short messages via iridium mailbox
      2. Sending posts to Facebook via email
      3. Sending tweets using sms
      4. Eventually some web browsing (see video of how it works on my end)

In short: 9 failed connection attempts, 1 page loaded without images.

Iridium Go: Field Review Conclusion

Someone should have sooner thought of selling unlimited data plans with no ability to use it. Support of Iridium does not assist in technical issues, it sends you straight back to the dealer, who sold you the unit for this purpose.

The dealer’s tech support was learning and testing along with me, and was also surprised to discover limitations I’ve encountered. Dealer support reported that they have contacted Iridium directly, but had no straightforward reply on how to make things work.

The Android app seems to work, while iOS does not (at least on my iPhone 5). My personal record for maintaining a signal is at around 12 minutes, during which I managed to load 1 website (connection dropped when I was opening the second one).

On a bright side – the call quality from within the Iridium Go! App is quite good.

Review originally posted on by Dimitry Feodotv.

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