Ericsson T28 World Phone ($299)
With the flip cover closed, it's smaller than a deck of playing cards, but the screen is bright and large enough to read easily.
2.9 ounces with battery; you could forget it's in your pocket.
Super stylish. Made of magnesium metal, it comes in two matte finishes: Urban Gray and Metropolitan Blue.
Where it can be used:
Anywhere in the world that is part of either the GSM 900 MegaHertz network (the most widely used digital network in the world) or the GSM 1800 MegaHertz network. It can travel seamlessly between more than 120 countries, most of which are in Europe, Asia, and North America.
Very good, though still not as sharp as a corded phone. I like the sliding volume-adjust button on the left side of the phone.
3.5 to 10.5 hours of talk; 50 to 150 hours of standby. Also comes with a one-hour battery charger and a set of voltage adapters.
It will ring or vibrate when a call comes in; you can put calls on hold or mute the microphone volume; the phone book can store up to 250 names and numbers; there is a world clock with alarm, calculator, and stopwatch, as well as Tetris and Solitaire. It also supports caller ID, conference calling, short-message service (SMS), call waiting, and call blocking. If you purchase Ericsson's Bluetooth cordless headset (scheduled to be released early next year), which functions on the new Bluetooth short-range radio frequency technology, you can make calls from up to 30 feet away just by pressing a button on the headset and talking into it.
The phone doesn't switch to analog. Ever. That means that when you travel outside of a GSM area, even within the United States, you won't get a connection. And you may find that the buttons on the dial pad are too small to use easily.
Ericsson, 800-374-2776; www.mobile.ericsson.com.
Qualcomm GSP-1600 Phone ($1,199)
At seven inches long, it is huge compared to the majority of cellular phones—but still much smaller than most satellite phones. The display is nice and large.
13 ounces. Forget about fitting it into a pocket or purse.
The matte-black plastic shell is attractive, but looks more like a cordless, rather than a cellular, phone.
Where it can be used:
Virtually anywhere in the world, thanks to Globalstar's network of 48 low-earth-orbiting satellites. You do, however, need a direct line of sight with the satellites, meaning that you must be outdoors. When I made calls from my back porch in satellite mode, it only took four seconds to connect. On the digital setting in the United States, it works wherever the 800 MegaHertz CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) or the 800 MegaHertz analog (AMPS) networks exist.
In CDMA and analog modes the sound was clear but a bit muffled. In satellite mode it wavered several times, making it sound as if I were calling from underwater.
2.5 to 4.5 hours of talk time, 9 to 72 hours of standby time.
Emergency calls to 911 and calls to Globalstar's customer service line are free. The phone supports voice mail, 160-character short-message service (SMS), and call forwarding. You can also hook up external devices such as a PC to the data port.
Fees, fees, fees! To use the phone in satellite mode, you have to sign up for Globalstar service, which is expensive (from $24.95 to $499.95 per month) and does not include international charges or regular cellular service—meaning you also have to sign up with a wireless provider. E-mail or faxes receive and transmit at a rate of 9.6 kbps, which is extremely slow.
Globalstar Mobile Satellite Services, 877-452-5782; www.globalstarusa.com.