Zoleo Satellite Communicator Review

Zoleo satellite communicators can rival even the Garmin InReach. We cover Zoleo prices, plans, and more.

Ben Gran
Dec 03, 2022
Icon Time To Read5 min read

If you’re looking for an affordable satellite communicator device with 100% global coverage, the Zoleo satellite communicator is a great choice.

The Zoleo satellite communicator pairs with your smartphone (iOS or Android) to give you worldwide SMS text messaging, a built-in emergency SOS button, and a sturdy-but-lightweight design. The price point is only around $199.99, making it more affordable than many other satellite communicators.

This device is best for people who don’t need the most elaborate features of a higher-priced satellite phone or a standalone satellite communicator like Garmin Inreach devices. For most people, the Zoleo satellite communicator offers the global messaging and emergency support capabilities that you need most—at an affordable price.

Should I buy ZOLEO?

The Zoleo satellite communicator device is a versatile option for a wide range of hikers, boaters, bikers, climbers, hunters, fishers, campers and explorers.

It gives you truly global satellite coverage via the Iridium® satellite network. So if your work or travels take you off the grid to remote areas where cell phone coverage doesn’t reach, the Zoleo satellite communicator could help you stay in touch with loved ones at home or colleagues in the field—it could even save your life in an emergency.

Just like any other satellite communicator, the Zoleo device has a few advantages and possible drawbacks. This satellite messenger might not be right for everyone, but it has some big strengths in its favor.

Zoleo satellite communicator Pros and Cons

pro 100% global coverage with the Iridium satellite network
pro Turns your smartphone into a satellite communicator
pro Built-in SOS and Checkin buttons to easily share location or call for help
pro 200-hour battery life
con Does not offer satellite phone voice capabilities
con No visual screen for mapping
con 3-month minimum commitment

ZOLEO offers weather reports, but if you want more advanced mapping capabilities, you might want a standalone satellite communicator device like Garmin inReach®.

The 3-month commitment for the Zoleo device is unfortunate, but not unusual among satellite communicator services. You can suspend your service instead of full-on quitting for $5 per month after that, but other satellite communicator devices might have more flexible plans.

Zoleo plans and prices

Zoleo satellite service subscription plans have a few different price points and levels of features included. All Zoleo plans give you access to the Iridium® satellite network, which provides 100% global coverage.

Type of planBasicIn TouchUnlimited
Text messages 25/mo. (includes incoming or outgoing messages, check-ins, weather reports); additional cost $0.70 each250/mo. (includes incoming or outgoing messages, check-ins, weather reports); additional cost $0.70 eachUnlimited satellite messages
Other featuresAll plans include:
- Free SOS messages
- Dedicated Zoleo SMS number and email address (plus your smartphone’s contact information)
- Unlimited cellular and WiFi messages (the Zoleo device will use whichever network is cheapest/most available; it only uses satellite messaging when other networks are out of reach)
- Location Share+ can be added for $7.50 per month

Before you buy a Zoleo device and sign up for a Zoleo satellite service plan, keep in mind that you’ll have to pay a $25 activation fee and that Zoleo requires a 3-month minimum commitment for whatever plan you choose.

After that 3-month initial period, you can suspend your service for $5 per month. Suspending your service lets you keep your account active (without paying for another activation fee) so you can keep your Zoleo email and number for receiving SMS messages. If you just quit instead of suspending your account after three months, you’ll have to make a new Zoleo email and number and pay an activation fee—with that three-month minimum commitment—all over again.

So before choosing a Zoleo satellite plan, think carefully about how much and how often you expect to use your satellite communicator device. If you’re a regular outdoor adventurer and need to constantly stay in touch, then the Unlimited plan or In Touch plan offer good value.

But if you only need a few satellite text messages per month, the Basic plan might better suit your budget.

Which is better: Zoleo or Garmin inReach®?

Zoleo and the Garmin inReach® are big names in the satellite communicator market. To find out how they match up head-to head, and which might be better for you, check out our review of the best Garmin inReach devices.

Zoleo GPS specs and features

Zoleo satellite communicators come with a host of comparable features, rivaling even the Garmin inReach and Bivy for convenience and ease of use. If you want an easy-to-carry satellite communicator device that’s durable enough for tough conditions and gives you lots of satellite messages per month, Zoleo might be the best value on the market.

Here are the details on the Zoleo satellite messenger so you know what to expect on your adventures.

Zoleo weight

The Zoleo satellite communicator device is compact and lightweight: it weighs only 5.3 ounces and is 3.58 x 2.6 x 1.06 inches in size.

Does Zoleo offer tracking?

Zoleo offers a Check-in button to easily share your GPS location if you choose, and all Zoleo plans offer Location Share+, an optional $6 per month add-on that lets you send unlimited location shares. 

Zoleo activation

Zoleo activates with a 9-step process explained on the Zoleo website.

You’ll need to use your smartphone (to get the Zoleo app), a credit card, and a few SOS emergency contacts of your choice. When you activate your Zoleo device, be ready to choose a Zoleo satellite service plan. Remember that Zoleo requires a $25 activation fee each time you want to activate service.

Zoleo customer service

Zoleo has toll-free customer service available via phone in the U.S. and internationally. Live support is available Monday–Thursday from 8 a.m.–Midnight ET, and Sunday from 6 p.m.–Midnight ET. 

The verdict on the Zoleo satellite communicator

The Zoleo satellite communicator is an impressive, low-cost, convenient device. If you want to turn your smartphone into a satellite messenger, if you want easy-to-use built-in buttons for SOS and check-in messages, and if you want a device with a high level of durability that’s also easy to pack and carry, the Zoleo is a great choice.

Although the Zoleo does not have all of the most advanced features of higher-priced satellite phones and satellite communicator devices, it gives you access to the 100% global coverage of the Iridium satellite network. It also offers an impressive range of fundamental capabilities—SOS, GPS location sharing, weather reports, two-way messaging via the Zoleo app—that should serve the needs of most weekend adventurers.


Who makes Zoleo?

Zoleo is a joint venture of Beam Communications Pty. Ltd., an Australian company that is a global leader in satellite communications technology, and Roadpost Inc., a top global partner of Iridium. Zoleo has offices in Toronto, Seattle, London, and Rotterdam.

Can Zoleo communicate with inReach?

No. Zoleo is a separate product from Garmin inReach. Although they both use the Iridium satellite network, Zoleo devices and Garmin inReach devices require separate subscriptions for satellite service. (However, you can send SMS text messages or emails via your Zoleo device to any Garmin inReach device, just like any other telecommunications device.)

Does Zoleo work without subscription?

Each Zoleo device requires a monthly satellite service subscription plan to function, starting at $20 per month for the Basic plan.

What is the difference between Zoleo and Garmin inReach?

Zoleo and Garmin inReach are different types of satellite communicator devices offered by different companies. The Zoleo device is a messenger device that turns your smartphone into a satellite communicator; Garmin inReach has a range of standalone devices, as well as the Garmin inReach Messenger that is similar in price and functionality to the Zoleo.

What can I do with a Zoleo?

You can send and receive SMS text messages via satellite, send check-in messages to keep people updated about your status and location, send SOS messages for 24-hour emergency support and rescue, and get satellite weather reports and track your location.

The Zoleo device also has a dedicated email address and phone number to receive SMS messages.

What is the difference between Zoleo and the Zoleo app?

The Zoleo device requires you to use the free Zoleo app on your smartphone (iOS or Android) to connect your smartphone to the Zoleo device. This app helps you manage your Zoleo account and also lets you send messages via the Zoleo satellite service.

How long does a Zoleo last?

The Zoleo device’s battery life lasts approximately 200 hours.

Ben Gran
Written by
Ben Gran