goTenna is a wireless phone accessory that turns your iPhone or Android device into an off-grid mobile communications tool. Here’s our goTenna review.
What is goTenna?
goTenna turns your iPhone or Android device into an off-the-grid on-the-go communications tool. Using goTenna, you can access critical network features on your phone even when you’re outside of cell phone coverage. Talk about a potentially total life saver?
goTenna lets you text and share GPS locations on detailed offline maps, for example. The device is also water-resistant (the makers call it “weather-proof”) and lightweight. It’s primarily targeted towards outdoorsy people who want to stay in touch and share potentially life-saving location data even when they’re outside of typical cell phone coverage.
goTenna works when both the sender and recipient need to have a goTenna attached to their phones. For that reason, the goTenna is sold in groups of 2, 4, 6, and more.
After buying the goTenna, you download the free app to unlock its full functionality. Then, you can send messages to any other goTenna users within range – even if you’re hundreds of miles away from a WiFi network or mobile signal.
Basically, it turns your phone into a two-way messaging device regardless of whether you have a phone signal or not.
How Does goTenna Work?
goTenna works in areas with no cell coverage and no Wi-Fi. It works by creating its own off-grid network – something that takes place in under a minute after attaching goTenna to your phone.
The device attaches to your phone via Bluetooth-LE, so there’s no need to attach it physically to your smartphone. Bluetooth-LE stands for “Low Energy” and goTenna emphasizes that it doesn’t burn down battery like other Bluetooth devices.
The first time you connect with goTenna, you’ll be prompted to set up an account, which takes a few seconds. Then, you can immediately begin to type out texts and share locations using the free offline maps available for download with goTenna.
The device’s manufacturer describes goTenna as a “cognitive digital radio combined with an app that generates its own signal and automatically coordinates with other units within range.”
What’s the Range?
goTenna’s range depends on terrain and elevation. However, the range is described as being comparable to other two way VHF radios. Higher altitude is better than lower altitude and wide open areas are better than dense, obstructed areas.
The manufacturer claims you can expect a range of up to 1 mile in urban areas and up to 4 miles in rural areas.
The manufacturer of goTenna recommends attaching goTenna externally and as high off the ground as is practical – like the top of a backpack, a chest pocket, a belt loop, or dangling off the bottom of your bag.
The manufacturer claims you can use the device “basically anywhere”, including ski trips, vacations on deserted islands, musical festival excursions, and field studies in remote areas.
goTenna App Features (on iPhone and Android)
-Send and receive messages for free to and from goTenna-connected devices (works cross-platform for both iPhone and Android)
-Share locations on detailed offline maps (available for free download via the app)
-Instantaneous message transmission within range
-1 on 1 messaging and group messaging available
-Delivery confirmation and message retry available (only on 1 on 1 messaging)
-“Shout” emergency broadcasting to any goTenna devices within range
-End to end encryption (uses 384-bit elliptic curve encryption)
-Upgradeable via firmware and software updates
goTenna Hardware Features
-2 watt radio
-Flash memory that can store hundreds of messages
-24 hour battery life on standby
-Rechargeable lithium-polymer battery
-Status indicator lights
-Nylon attachment strap
-Water-resistant and dust-tight (“weather-proof”)
-Weighs about 1.8 ounces (52 grams)
goTenna is available in sets of 2, 4, 6, and higher quantities. Here’s how pricing breaks down:
-Purple and Orange (2 Pack): $199
-Green and Blue (2 Pack): $199
-Family Pack (All 4 Colors): $389
You don’t get a discount by ordering multiple sets. You can choose to order anywhere from 1 set to 10 sets of two on the goTenna ordering page.
You can also sign up for a goTenna payment plan starting as low as $18 per month.
What’s Included with goTenna?
goTenna is sold in pairs. Each pair of devices comes with 2 micro-USB charging cables as well as goTenna apps and offline maps that are free to download.
goTenna currently ships to addresses within the United States and its territories. Shipping is included in the price.
all purchases come with a 1 year limited warranty. If there’s anything functionally wrong with your goTenna from up to 1 year after the original shipping date, you can get a replacement.
goTenna is a Brooklyn-based company. In 2015, the company won three major CES awards, including CES Innovation Awards for “Tech for a Better World” and “Wireless Accessory”. It also won CES Editors’ Choice 2015.
You can get in touch with the company today by emailing [email protected] Other contact information is available to view online here: goTenna.com