XOX to offer 4G and 5G phones with satellite connectivity very soon

Mobile Network Virtual Operator (MVNO), XOX has announced that they will be offering a range of 4G and 5G smartphones with satellite communication capabilities in the next nine months. The device bundle is offered in collaboration with AdvanceTC.

According to XOX, the first device to be introduced is the Xplore X5 which offers a combination of 18 4G LTE bands with Iridium satellite networks. It also has Digital Mobile Radio which allows short band two-way radio communications.

From the provided spec-sheet, the Xplore X5 features a 4.7″ Full HD IPS LCD display and it runs on an unspecified octa-core Snapdragon processor that has 4GB RAM and 64GB of storage.

For taking pictures, it gets a 12MP main camera that’s capable of recording 4K videos while the front gets a 16MP camera. Out of the box, the Xplore X5 is listed to run on Android 10 and guaranteed updates. In addition to its chunky rugged looks, the device also gets IP67-rated dust and water resistance.

Powering the device is a rather large 4,900mAh battery that supports Quick Charge 3.0. Strangely, it lists both MicroUSB and USB-C ports in the spec-sheet. Apart from voice calls via satellite, the phone also offers two-way messaging with location tracking via a Short Burst Data service.

XOX Executive Director, Steve Tan said, “Satellite network is the future of mobile communications and by working with a satellite phone provider that has proven themselves, we will be able to offer, truly global connectivity in a world that relies on real-time communication.” XOX aims to provide a unified network plan by integrating their prepaid plans and messaging platform with ATC’s extensive satellite emergency services. He added that XOX users can activate a satellite service as and when necessary whether it is for leisure at remote areas, for work purposes or during emergencies.

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XOX didn’t provide any pricing for the device or rate plans for the satellite communication services but it claims to be innovating rapidly to provide affordable satellite smartphones for Malaysia and the region.

According to AdvanceTC Limited CEO, CP Loi, the seamless integration of 4G, 5G and space networks in an Android device will provide mobile operators and consumers a unique value proposition to increase network coverage, internet access and safety devices which aren’t possible with terrestrial networks. He added that Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites are expected to become the most affordable internet connectivity solution for many remote areas. According to the CEO, there are 1,500 new LEO satellites being launched in 2020 and up to 12,000 satellites are expected to be deployed in the next few years.

AdvanceTC Group had previously launched its satellite phone in Malaysia with the Magic Xplore X7. The device was reported to be carrying a hefty RM4,128 price tag and was even offered on Indiegogo. At the time of writing, it appears that the Xplore X7 didn’t receive any backing on the crowdfunding platform.

Although satellite connectivity offers a significantly wider coverage compared to existing 4G and 5G networks, it usually isn’t feasible for the mass market. The devices are often bulky and expensive, making it suitable for very specific applications in remote areas. Even if they can bring down the price, there’s always the issue of latency which hampers the internet experience.

Alexander Wong