Flying in remote areas where cell phone reception is weak or nonexistent can become frustrating, but more importantly these areas reduce your chances of survival in case of an emergency landing. Throw DeLorme’s inReach satellite communicator in your flight bag and you’ll be able to keep in touch beyond the areas with cell phone coverage, which is 90 percent of the planet, according to DeLorme. The unit can serve as a stand-alone communicator or instantly turn an Android phone into a satellite device.
While connecting the inReach unit to the Android won’t enable its phone feature, the contact list on the Android can be used to send messages, and a reliable GPS signal is provided for the smartphone. DeLorme’s North American topographic map that includes detailed data for remote areas can also be downloaded to the Android.
The inReach device itself can send and receive text and SOS messages, and it provides message delivery confirmation so you know that the intended recipient got your message. There is also a remote tracking feature that allows loved ones to track your flight online.
The unit weighs only 7 ounces and is waterproof and buoyant. DeLorme claims the two lithium batteries that power the device last as long as 60 hours.
Aircraft Spruce offers the device for $249.95; a monthly subscription is also required.