IMAGINE taking a hike up a mountain or exploring a remote jungle when an emergency occurs. Your regular smartphone will not be able to contact the outside world due to the absence of any telecommunication towers.
Now you need not worry with as the advance in satellite communications technology. A Malaysian technology company Advancetc Group (ATG) has claimed to have launched the world's first smartphone with integrated satellite communications, the Xplore X7.
ATG makes the case that less than 40% of the Earth is covered by terrestrial networks, leaving many areas unreachable by mobile networks. The company sees this as an opportunity to appeal to travellers who go to remote locations or the people who live in these areas who need communication services.
The smartphone connects with 3G and 4G LTE networks though its the main feature of the phone is its ability to conduct two-way messaging and location tracking anywhere on Earth. Using the Iridium satellite network, the phone can connect with 66 low Earth orbit satellites giving it practically 100% global coverage.
According to ATG project director for satellite Herve Jegou, users would need to pay a subscription fee of US$10 to send messages over the Iridium satellite network. It is said that this would bundle 50 messages with the services with subsequent messages costing users RM1 per message.
The Xplore X7 even has a built-in emergency button that activates an interactive SOS message to a professional 24/7 global monitoring centre to communicate the emergency and get help.
Externally, the Xplore X7 appears like a slightly large Android smartphone, though with a chunky exterior thanks to its rugged design. It is IP67 rated which goes to say the phone is able to survive dust, splashes of water and even being submerged in 1m of water for up to 30 minutes.
It has a 5.2-inch FullHD IPS LCD display with Corning Gorilla Glass and an anti-glare coating. Internally, it comes powered by a Qualcomm MSM8953 Snapdragon processor with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. One can also expand the storage via microSD card up to 128GB in size.
The Xplore X7 will run on Android 8.0, in what appears to be a very stock version of the mobile operating system.
It has a single rear camera with 16-Megapixel sensor along with other typical features including Phase Detect AutoFocus (PDAF), Electronic Image Stabilisation and the ability to record up to 4K quality videos. Not forgetting it has an 8-Megapixel front camera.
The Xplore X7 has a 4,500mAh battery that supports Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 as well as wireless charging. ATG claims is able to last up to two days of normal 4G LTE use and up to 30 days of standby via the Iridium network.
ATG executive chairman Ahmad Ghiti Mohd Daud said the Xplore X7 is a consumer-oriented device that puts a smartphone with satellite communication capabilities in the hands of everyday people who may not be able to afford an expensive satellite phone.
Though it is a consumer device, ATG is also looking at marketing the Xplore X7 to commercial industries particularly those in the oil and gas and shipping industries.
ATG already plans to distribute the Xplore X7 across several countries, with distributors in Indonesia, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam
Jegou added that ATG is working on a future product that would enable users to make satellite phone calls.
The launch event was held at the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (Magic)’s campus in Cyberjaya and was officiated by the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
ATG declined to comment on the price of the Xplore X7 but said the smartphone is expected to be available in two months time, Oct 2018.
For more information about the Xplore X7 phone visit ATG’s website.
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