Satellite GPS Trackers: Everything You Need to Know

The Ministry Of Defense has used satellite GPS trackers technology for many years to locate and assess asset movement across the globe. 

These tiny gadgets use a process known as trilateration as well as the transmission power of microwaves to leverage the varying positions of three dishes in the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) network to determine latitude, longitude, elevation, and time. 

In this blog, we’ll go into trackers in more detail, including how they operate, what they’re capable of tracking, and their principal uses. Plus, we’ll also briefly talk about the top models out there right now.

Table of Contents

What is a Satellite GPS Tracker?

Person holding a satellite GPS tracker

The person holding a satellite GPS tracker

At their core, GPS devices can determine a person or object’s location anywhere in the world. 

Additionally, their navigational functionality can be leveraged in the automotive industry to provide details around safe progression routes. 

In the 2000s, the US military ended the Selective Availability law allowing for satellite GPS tracker technology to become more widely available. 

As such, trackers complete a number of commercial or domestic tasks. From locating family pets to tracking expensive construction equipment to keeping mountaineers safe when out on an expedition.

What’s the Difference Between a GPS and a Tracker?

Woman navigating a map on her in-car GPS

Woman navigating a map on her in-car GPS

Where GPS and tracking technology differ is in the purpose of the gadgets. 

Ordinarily, uses for GPS systems are contained to navigational services. Whereas a tracker pinpoints a person or object’s location. 

GPS navigation is prevalent in the modern automotive industry. In your car’s onboard navigational system, signals go to satellites. Your car is then located, as well as the location you want to arrive at. This is all then extrapolated and decoded into map form on your screen. 

Meanwhile, in satellite GPS trackers, there is no navigational element to the tech. Just like in the car system. Signals go to dishes above the earth which then locate the target receiver. That’s where the flow of information ends. 
In devices that use a 2D trilateration system, the communication flow uses three satellites to determine the location of the beacon. However, 3D trilateration systems include a fourth dish to increase accuracy.

What Can be Located Using Satellite GPS Tracking?

Dog wearing a tracker while out on a walk

Dog wearing a tracker while out on a walk

GPS tracking is incredibly accurate. As the send and receive signals have developed hugely over time, you can now track the position of many objects, including: 

That trilateration system we outlined makes it quick and simple for items to be located and tracked worldwide. 

This technology has revolutionized the development of businesses such as haulage firms. GPS technology means the courier and end client can be kept completely up-to-date with the estimated arrival time of assets when in transit. 

Away from the corporate world, this technology has also helped encourage animal conservation works. Trackers added animals worldwide allow naturalists to track their movements, monitor behavior patterns, and even analyze species population density.  

Do Satellite GPS Tracking Devices Need Phone Signals?

A person searching for a building on a cell GPS app

A person searching for a building on a cell GPS app

Originally, satellite GPS tracking systems required mobile service to be able to complete the informational loop. Because the systems needed cell towers to transmit data to and from satellites. 

However, satellite-based tracking devices are now readily available, which eradicates the need for cell tower communication. Thus allowing for tracking to continue even when offline. 

Having said that, some mobile apps still require the internet or phone service to be able to open the mapping app. 

So it may be the case that you can communicate and pinpoint your object’s location, but the results will be unattainable in the application.

5 Satellite GPS Trackers On The Market At The Moment

Holding a commercially available GPS tracker

Holding a commercially available GPS tracker

The consistently best-rated satellite GPS trackers on the market at the moment are: 

  1. Garmin GPSMAP
  2. Zoleo Satellite Communicator
  3. SafeTrack PrimeTracking GPS Tracker
  4. Garmin inReach Explorer+
  5. Tracki Mini GPS Tracker

1. Garmin GPSMAP

Garmin is a giant of the domestic GPS sphere. Their industry-leading products have been used across a host of sectors, from recreational activities to automotive GPS apps. 

Their GPSMAP product offers super-long battery life as well as two-way transmission. Plus, it also comes pre-loaded with Garmin’s topographical maps, which are displayed brightly on a color screen for additional clarity. 

2. Zoleo Satellite Communicator

One of the best mountaineering tracker devices. Zoleo’s bulky option delivers more two-way communication. This time through a smartphone app. However, the app also offers messaging functionality over Wifi networks for added connectivity. 

In addition, Zoleo’s heavyweight tracker leverages satellite communication technology to enable weather forecasts through DarkSky, while also offering SOS functionality through GEOS technology.

3. SafeTrack PrimeTracking GPS Tracker

Updating every 10 seconds, this tracker is super precise to destinations across North America and can be displayed through mobile, tablet, and desktop systems. Other notable features include GeoFencing and speed tracking. 

The SafeTrack PrimeTracking’s slender design is also easily stored in pant pockets or rucksack compartments. 

4. Garmin inReach Mini 2

The second entry from Garmin is, again, more suited to the outdoor adventure niche. This streamlined version of their inReach Explorer+ is more lightweight without slacking on battery life. However, at $400, it’s at the higher end of the price spectrum. 

5. Tracki Mini GPS Tracker

This diminutive device comes in even smaller than the diddy in Reach Mini 2. But that smaller stature doesn’t affect performance. 

The lightweight device is perfect for fitting in your pocket or around a pet’s collar. The uncomplicated design and performance make it a hit with entry-level users. 


As satellite GPS tracker technology becomes smaller, more adaptable, and cheaper to source, it will undoubtedly enter more areas of society. 

But these tiny devices are changing the way we think about safety while developing our understanding of the world around us. 

From vehicle tracking and navigational systems to animal conservation projects. Satellite GPS trackers are driving human ingenuity.

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