TerreStar’s Genus satellite phone, previously reserved for business and enterprise customers, is now available for sale to individuals, though at a hefty premium.
The Windows Mobile 6.5.3 smartphone has a standard 3G cellular radio on-board (with AT&T providing the service), but when you wander into a coverage dead-zone, you can switch over to the satellite connection to pick up the slack, keeping you online and in-touch. Sadly, this sort of convenience doesn’t come cheaply, as you’ll pay nearly $1150 when picking up the handset from one of TerreStar’s resellers on a contract, or $1400 without one – a big bump from the $800 business users are paying. Add on satellite data charges of around $5 per megabyte, and you’re going to have to be very committed to rural data coverage to tolerate that bill.
Unlike global satellite networks like Iridium, TerreStar’s coverage is North American-only. The phone features a 2.6-inch QVGA touchscreen and a 2-megapixel camera; not exactly state-of-the-art, especially with the aging OS, but if you’re in the market for something like the Genus, pretty much the only thing that matters is the satellite connection, which you’re not going to find with another smartphone.