Thuraya SG-2520

The Thuraya SG-2520 satellite phone offers GSM network access and smartphone features. It also has a fair price tag.

Thuraya SG-2520
  • Thuraya SG-2520
  • Thuraya SG-2520
  • Thuraya SG-2520
  • Expert Rating

    3.75 / 5

Pros

  • Good call quality, MP3 playback, 1.9in screen, built-in camera, GSM mode, expandable memory

Cons

  • Only one Thuraya satellite

Bottom Line

The Thuraya SG-2520 provides a range of features not normally found in satellite phones, like a built-in camera and MP3 playback, in small and light package. Call quality and reception are relatively good, but the lack of alternative satellites results in a narrow angle of coverage.

Would you buy this?

The Thuraya SG-2520 is a satellite and tri-band GSM smartphone that bundles features like a camera and a 1.9in colour LCD into a light and portable package.

Modern satellite phones are no longer the large and clunky backpack systems that they once were, even though they are typically chunkier than regular mobile phones. The Thuraya SG-2520 satellite phone has a candy bar form factor and it isn't too much larger than an average GSM mobile phone. It weighs a relatively light 190g with the battery included, so you'll barely notice it in your backpack.

Although the Thuraya SG-2520 satellite phone isn't ruggedised or waterproof, the gunmetal grey chassis feels very solid and should stand up well to everyday use — just don't drop it from a height or dunk it into water.

Satellite phones can be a must if you're travelling between townships, live in a remote area or work on a large property, but call costs are expensive when compared to regular mobile phone plans. Traditionally, many regional users have opted for two phones — a regular mobile for when normal network coverage is available (such as Telstra's Next G network), and a satellite phone for when they're out of range of a network.

To make things simpler, the Thuraya SG-2520 uses a dual-service system with both satellite and tri-band GSM capabilities, so you can switch between satellite and GSM services. Swapping from satellite to GSM reception took the handset an average of 1min 15sec. Unfortunately, the Thuraya SG-2520 doesn't tell you when GSM networks are available, so it is a matter of trial and error when you want to change systems.

Trying to find satellite coverage for the handset is a slower and more involved process. The Thuraya SG-2520 uses the Thuraya-3 satellite launched in January 2008 and currently in orbit over Singapore. That means people in Australia have to extend the antenna and aim the handset in a north-westerly direction at a 45 degree angle. We found that acquisition took at least 1min 38sec in an open area when pointed at the optimal point.

Unfortunately, the reliance on a single satellite means that if you have mountains, a tall building or medium to heavy cloud cover blocking your north-westerly line of sight, you won't be able to connect.

We tested the handset in the foothills of the Blue Mountains and found that the cloud cover prevented the Thuraya SG-2520 handset from finding a signal. While this is a common problem with satellite phones, it's exacerbated by the lack of other satellites with different lines of sight.

Unlike GPS navigation units, satellite phones require a lot of bandwidth to maintain a call connection, so even a few degrees of deviation will result in decreasing call quality and more frequent dropouts. This means you'll often need to use the bundled headset for conversations while aiming the handset at the optimal point in the sky. Bluetooth is built-in, so compatible headsets can be connected to the Thuraya SG-2520.

Fortunately, when the phone is aimed at the best point call quality is very good, aside from a very slight muffling effect when using a satellite signal.

The Thuraya SG-2520 satellite phone uses the WinCE 4.2 operating system and has a simple icon-based menu. Menu navigation is easy and suffers from very little lag; messaging, a calendar, alarms and a media centre are all available.

The 1.3-megapixel camera phone can capture both still images and movies. Videos are limited to a resolution of 320x240. The SD card slot on the right side provides expandable memory and Thuraya includes a 128MB SD card in the sales package.

The Thuraya SG-2520 satellite phone has a talk time of 144min and a standby time of 40hr when in satellite mode and a talk time of 240min and a standby time of 75hr when in GSM mode.

The phone doesn't come cheap, with Optus offering the handset for $1650. Fortunately if you're an Australian citizen, permanent resident or registered business and live in an area without regular mobile phone coverage, you're eligible for a government subsidy of 60 per cent of the retail price up to $1000.

The Federal Government is increasing the subsidy to 85 per cent with the same $1000 cap. According to the office of Stephen Conroy, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, this will be in place from July 1, 2009, at the latest. Alternatively, if you live in an area with mobile coverage but spend more than 120 days per year in places without 2G/3G coverage, then you can claim a 50 per cent rebate of up to $700.

If you're looking for a single phone that can make satellite and GSM calls while maintaining a relatively small form factor, the Thuraya SG-2520 offers plenty of features that aren't traditionally found in satellite phones.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?