The United Arab Emirates-headquartered Thuraya has been in the mobile satellite services business literally as long as I can recall seeing their ads on MTV as a teenager. Thuraya operates in 140+ countries across Europe, the Middle East, North, Central and East Africa, Asia and Australia, covering two-thirds of the globe. Last summer, the company also started providing roaming services in the United States through its partnership with T-Mobile USA.

Because Thuraya has been selling pricey satellite phones and access to its global communications network for ages, their very first iPhone accessory launch is totally unexpected, but welcomed. The aptly named SatSleeve enables global satellite coverage for your iPhone by tapping an accompanying app to talk to the sleeve and route your text messages and phone calls through Thuraya’s network of satellites. Wait, there’s more to this special case than meets the eye…

The SatSleeve also doubles as a 3.7V/2400 mAh battery pack (purposefully though: satellite networking is taxing on the battery) that extends your iPhone’s battery life and lets you talk longer.

The SatSleeve’s standby time is up to 48 hours and talk time is up to four hours. It takes about two and a half hours to charge an empty SatSleeve. And thanks to  the Hhigh Ppenetration Aalerting (HPA) capability, the SatSleeve lets you receive calls even if the satellite antenna is retracted.

From the blurb:

Thuraya SatSleeve is the world’s first satellite adaptor for the iPhone, providing users with easy and affordable access to mobile communication services delivered over Thuraya’s powerful satellite network.

You just insert your device into the sleeve to gain instant access to Thuraya’s satellite network that reaches even the most remote places on the globe. There’s also a built-in speaker, mic and a handy red emergency call button for calling a predefined number even without your iPhone docked.

One caveat: the SatSleeve doesn’t seem to sport the new Lightning adapter so we’re holding our breath for Thuraya to address the situation sooner than later.

For more information, check out Thuraya’s global coverage map and web store.

Being a fan of National Geographic’s ‘I Shouldn’t Be Alive’ series, I just cannot help but imagine myself in a life-threatening situation, freezing on a misty mountain top or dehydrating to death in a desert – with no connectivity to the outside world whatsoever.

Should I ever grow foolish enough to embark on a similarly risky adventure, I’ll sure as hell throw a pair of Thuraya sleeves in my backpack, just in case.

If you’re wondering how Thuraya got its name, it’s from the Arabic name “Thurayya”, which means “star”.