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Garmin launches InReach Messenger for satellite communication

Garmin isn't a stranger to device- or app-based satellite communication, and its new InReach Messenger is its most affordable InReach device yet.
Written by Jason Cipriani, Contributing Writer
InReach Messenger held in a hand
Image: Garmin

Garmin on Tuesday announced an addition to its InReach lineup with the Garmin InReach Messenger device and a Garmin Messenger companion app. 

Garmin's InReach line provides a way for those who frequently travel outside of cellular service to communicate with friends, loved ones, and emergency responders using satellite communication. 

The InReach Messenger is a $300 gadget with a small display on it. You can use InReach Messenger when paired with your smartphone or as a stand-alone device to send and receive messages, including sending an SOS message to the Garmin International Emergency Response Coordination Center. 

When it's paired with the Messenger app, you can send and receive messages with individual contacts or in group messages. The app will automatically pick the best network to send the message through, be it cellular, Wi-Fi or satellite.   

The InReach Messenger has 28 days of battery life, is IPX7 rated for immersion in up to 1 meter of water, and takes up little space, measuring 3.1 by 2.5 inches and weighing 4 ounces. If your phone dies and you need to use Messenger, you can charge your phone using the small device to give you enough power to call for help. 

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Any messages you send in the Garmin Messenger app will require the recipient to sign up for and use the free Messenger app on their mobile device. There's no fee to use the Messenger app on its own. 

Garmin has had satellite communication products for years. In fact, I tested the InReach Mini earlier this year and just about had to use it to call for help after a friend and I decided to go hiking in very deep snow while being completely underdressed and underprepared. 

InReach Messenger app
Image: Garmin

So, the InReach Messenger isn't a direct reply to Apple's new Emergency SOS via satellite that's launching in November on the entire iPhone 14 lineup

But Garmin's timing couldn't have been better. Satellite communication via a smart device is a hot topic right now, thanks to Apple's announcement, and the conversation will no doubt will draw a subset of users who want broader and more capabilities from a satellite communication product.   

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Based on my past experience with a Garmin InReach device and what Garmin promises to be possible with Messenger, I have no doubt that Garmin's offering has more features. 

However, it also carries with it a monthly fee that starts at $15, and to some extent requires that you carry a secondary device. 

Apple's service, however, is free for the next two years and is built directly into an iPhone you'd already have in your pocket. 

There are pros and cons to that, of course. For example, if your iPhone's battery is empty, you can't send any messages, satellite or not.

You can order the Garmin InReach Messenger starting today for $299.99

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