I now own two SPOT Emergency Satellite Messengers (ESMs) so it’s time to put these two devices head to head in my SPOT X vs Gen3 Review.
Both of these devices are satellite messenger and offer S.O.S. distress calls and messaging services but that is about where the similarities end. They both have their own strengths and weaknesses so let’s start breaking these two ESMs down.
Note: There are several categories I am not including here as they both offer the same service. I will only compare where they differ.
SPOT X vs Gen3 Overview
- Size & Weight
- 1 or 2-Way Messaging
- Pre-Programmed Messages
- Custom Messages
- Built-In Keyboard
- Navigation & Waypoints
- Battery & Battery Life
- Initial Purchase Price & Subscription
Size & Weight
Let’s get the obvious comparison out of the way first. I don’t mean to be politically incorrect but the SPOT Gen3 wins this battle hands down. The Gen3 is about the size of a small wallet and it connects nicely to my daypack strap, so much so that I often forget it’s even with me.
- SPOT X Size & Weight
- 6.54″ High, 2.9″ Wide, 0.94″ Thick
- 7.0 oz.
- SPOT Gen3 Size & Weight
- 3.43″ High, 2.56″ Wide, 1.0″ Thick
- 4.0 oz.
1 or 2-Way Messaging
The winner of this may of this category may seem obvious to you but if you have people in your life that seem to bother you all the time when you want some peace and quiet on the trail, then you may find the Gen3’s 1-way messenger the winner.
The bottom line for me is I believe most people will see the benefits of being able to communicate 2-way. You might have to tell your bothersome friend that your SPOT X is only a 1-way device so they let you hike in peace.
The SPOT X wins out in this category.
The SPOT Gen3 has only one pre-programmed message. It’s the Check-In message. You can customize the message but it really is only pre-programmed.
The Gen3 has one Custom Message that you can customize at your home before heading to the trail. You cannot change the message once you leave your computer.
The HELP/S.O.V. message is meant to alert emergency roadside services of your need for help but if you elect not to use the service, you can make this a custom message that could go out to family and friends if you needed help quickly but it was not life-threatening.
The SPOT X comes with 14 pre-programmed messages, but once again, you can customize each of these messages at your computer, before you leave home.
Personally, I don’t need a lot of pre-programmed messages, however, I do like having a few more messages over the 3 that are offered with the SPOT Gen3.
The winner is…SPOT X.
This is another easy winner for the SPOT X. The SPOT Gen3 only offers up to 3 pre-programmed messages, configured at your computer, while the SPOT X offers 14 pre-programmed messages but that’s not the real point here.
The SPOT X allows you to type out custom, unique messages while in the field, on a built-in keyboard, the same way you would with your smart phone.
I like my SPOT Gen3 but it looks to be losing the battle at this point.
SPOT X – # of Contacts = 70
SPOT Gen3 – # of Contacts = 10
I normally don’t need 10 contacts when on an outdoor excursion. If I am careful and only include the contacts that are close to me and can help, then 10 contacts is plenty. However, I will have to give the edge here to the SPOT X.
Honestly, the built-in keypad may be the number one, greatest advantage the SPOT X has over any other Emergency Satellite Messenger (ESM). I personally love this feature. It makes typing out custom messages as fast as you can do it on your smartphone.
SPOT Gen3…has to rely on its simplicity, lightweight and lower initial purchase price.
Navigation & Waypoints
This is another obvious winner. The SPOT X has a navigation function and way points you can enter at your computer or that you can enter in the field on your device.
The SPOT Gen3 does not offer either of these.
Battery & Battery Life
We need to dig a little deeper into this one as the batteries are different and the extra functions of the SPOT X may run down the battery faster.
- SPOT X – Rechargeable Battery
- Built-in rechargeable battery
- Battery Life: 240 Hours (10 Days) in 10 Minute Tracking Mode.
- SPOT Gen3 –
- 4 AAA Energizer Ultimate Lithium Batteries (Recommend Using NiMH Rechargeable Batteries)
- Battery Life: Over 17 Days When Using with Clear Skies.
The winner is…SPOT Gen3. This is an obvious categorical winner. The SPOT Gen3 seems missing from my pack when I carry it, even though it is there, due to its lightweight and small size.
The SPOT X moves around on me more and I have had to buy an extra strap to help keep it in place.
I had to add this last category to give the SPOT Gen3 at least one more categorical win. If you want simplicity and an easy setup and something you can forget about on the trail, then the SPOT Gen3 is your Emergency Satellite Messenger.
Initial Purchase Price & Subscription
The SPOT Gen3 wins this battle as the initial purchase price is normally around $150.00, while the SPOT X’s initial purchase price is approximately $250.00.
We need to take a closer look at the differences in the subscription plans and pricing.
Both plans offer the same basic plans at the same price but the SPOT X offers additional service plans due to the cost associated with the 2-way messaging.
It’s hard to say there is an out right winner here because these devices serve different functions even though they are made by the same manufacture.
It’s probably obvious to most of you that my vote goes to the SPOT X, primarily due to it’s 2-way messaging and built-in keyboard. The SPOT X also has more predefined messages, extended contact list and the ability to create unique custom messages.
With that said, if all you want is an S.O.S. distress call and the ability to send 1-way messages to let everyone know you’re okay, then the size and packability of the SPOT Gen3 may be the perfect device for you. The simplicity and size of the Gen3 is a winning combination.
You can learn more about the SPOT Gen 3 at my SPOT Gen3 Review page.
If you think the SPOT X is the winner and the device for you then take a closer look at it on my SPOT X Review page.
I would enjoy hearing your opinion of either of these SPOT Satellite Messengers, so please leave a Comment below or Email me.
- Message- exchange messages with any cell phone number or email address from virtually anywhere in the world
- S. O. S. - send an S. O. S. To the 24/7 search & rescue center, message back and forth about the nature of your emergency, and receive confirmation when help is on the way
- Tracking- Select from 21/2, 5, 10, 30 or 60 minute tracking intervals, and let family, friends and other Adventurers follow your progress with SPOT easy-to-use google maps interface
- Check in - quickly and easily let everyone know you're ok
- Post to social- Link your social accounts to keep your friends and family in the know wherever you go
- Service agreement required.
- S. O. S. - in an emergency, send an S. O. S. With your GPS location to geos, who facilitates search and rescue
- Check in - let contacts know where you are and that you're okay with a pre-programmed message
- Help/spot S. O. V. - request help from your friends and family at your GPS location. OR, ask for help from professional assistance organizations
- Custom message- let contacts know where you are by sending a pre-programmed message with your GPS location
- Track- automatically send and save your location and allow contacts to track your progress using google maps
- Service agreement required.
You can find a short video of the SPOT X vs Gen3 comparison here:
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