A Litany of InReach Mini Woes: MAJOR LIMITATION!!

Apologies for the caps and exclamation points, but I think this is >>really<< important.

I've been having a ton of problems getting my Mini to send text messages reliably. I just heard from a tech support person that there is a known problem with AT&T rejecting text messages that include the map/location link which the Mini sends along with the text messages. The net result? The message vanishes into hyperspace, and no indication of a problem ever gets back to the Mini.

This is a huge deal, IMHO, and not just because AT&T happens to be my cell phone provider. Many people use AT&T...and there is no indication, anywhere that I found online, that the Mini does not work "reliably" with AT&T. Frankly, had I known this I would never have purchased the Mini, because I'm not about to switch cell phone providers just to humor a piece of add-on hardware.

Tech support did tell me that you can send messages to an email address, and those work "without issue" (no offense, but at this point given all the other glitches, problems, etc., I've run into with Garmin and the Mini I'm not sure I trust anything they say). I've sent one message via email, which got through, and will try some more to see how "reliable" this work around is.

Interestingly, the Earthmate app is configured >>not<< to include "include location" when sending messages...yet that one successful email included a link to my location (which is also apparently the link you have to use to send a reply to my Mini) anyway. Documentation not consistent with actual operation; par for the course.
  • While I understand your frustration and the importance of the functionality, the issue with AT&T and SMS messages is outside of Garmin's control. This is not the first time that unilateral changes on the AT&T side have adversely affected inReach SMS functionality for AT&T customers. Note that this impacts all inReach devices, not just the Mini.

    I don't regularly use the Earthmate app with iR devices. I think there may be some misunderstanding as to the functionality. And there is certainly a possible conflict with regard to location information in the SMS messages. Under normal circumstances, all outbound messages from an iR device include the location. This is an integral part of the tracking and emergency response functionality. That does not mean that you want to disclose your location to message recipients. Because the Garmin servers are in the message delivery path, you can control what goes out in the SMS message (as opposed to what was received from the device).

    You can control the inclusion of the location data in all SMS messages from the Account tab at inreach.garmin.com. Look in the lower right corner. I assume, but do not know for sure, that the first option (include my latitude and longitude as text in the message) is what is causing problems with AT&T at the moment. Note that you can turn THAT off while still including a link to a map page which shows your location. Of course, it was the shortened nature of that link that caused problems with AT&T delivery the last time. Or you can also turn off the link to the map page.

    With regard to responses, you are confusing email and SMS. SMS recipients can reply to your message directly from the SMS screen on the phone. It is not necessary to visit a web page to do so.

    Email recipients, on the other hand, must use the link included in the email to access a web page from which they can reply. They cannot reply directly to the email. Without getting into the gory details, this is intended to protect you from being charged to receive spam on your iR device.

    The two linked web pages (the one from SMS and the one from email) look similar at first glance. The main difference is that the one from SMS does not provide for reply functionality; the one from email does.

    Please see the reply to one of your other threads for more information on how messages are delivered, including information on why email tends to be more reliable:
  • While I understand your frustration and the importance of the functionality, the issue with AT&T and SMS messages is outside of Garmin's control. This is not the first time that unilateral changes on the AT&T side have adversely affected inReach SMS functionality for AT&T customers. Note that this impacts all inReach devices, not just the Mini.

    We'll have to agree to disagree about that characterization, twolpert. Given that I (and I suspect many others) purchased the InReach in order to have a (reasonably) reliable off-the-grid locator/communication capability, inconsistent, unpredictable or erratic delivery is very much a Garmin issue.

    Think of it this way: if I told every potential InReach customer that there was never more than a 25% chance that any given message would get through -- and that there would be no indication that delivery had failed -- what would happen to the product's sales potential?

    My guess is it would drop significantly. Not totally eliminated, granted. But sharply reduced.

    Now, the actual situation is not that dire. The outages -- and the fact that they have happened more than once means the probability they can happen again is non-trivial -- only happen occasionally. But because no one knows what specific pattern of data, network interaction, whatever, causes them, they aren't predictable. Which means a reasonable person would have to assume they can happen at any time...also limiting the market potential for the device.

    Granted, since this problem (so far as I know) has only ever occurred with the AT&T network, Garmin could simply advertise that the InReach isn't compatible with the AT&T network. But that, of course, would also limit the device's market potential.

    Speaking as a retired public company chief financial officer, all of this adds up to a problem. For Garmin.

    Whether it's worth them spending the time and effort to resolve this once and for all is a different question. Personally, if I was a C level exec at Garmin I'd arrange with my chief technical officer colleague to lock some of our senior engineering team members in a room with their counterparts at AT&T and tell them they don't get to go home until they determine precisely what the cause of the problem is :). Which would then open the door to resolving it.
  • This is still a problem. It is March 2020 and the problem is not fixed. Garmin can say it is "outside Garmin's control", however Garmin is still advertising that you can text to any cell phone. If this is not true then stop selling the unit or stop advertising that it will work. This is not a toy that it is simply an inconvenience if it doesn't work! It is very much a work tool for many safety related uses. Garmin, get it together!!! We expect more from you

  • The problem has actually been fixed - and broken again by AT&T - multiple times. Status of the current issue can be found here: https://forums.garmin.com/outdoor-recreation/inreach/f/inreach-general/219217/status-inreach-messages-to-at-t-customers-with-locations-links-not-being-delivered.The current Garmin workaround is to remove the map link from all SMS messages.

    If you are willing to permanently live without the in-message link to the online map, you can disable this feature and permanently avoid the ongoing problems with AT&T. The appropriate setting appears in the lower right corner of the Account tab at explore.garmin.com.

  • The problem persists again.  As a customer, I don't care whose issue it is.  The product failed me multiple times last week.  I would not recommend it to other hikers until this issue is resolved.

  • I reported the same issue sending preset messages and never heard back from tech support! I have AT&T. I sent the preset messages to my wife's phone as well as email. Some messages were received out of order 

  • sent this message before I finished.

    The last message was not received at all--phone nor email.

  • Thank you for posting, I'm sorry you haven't heard back from Product Support yet. Email messages aren't affected by the AT&T issue, so the issue you're encountering is likely unrelated. I would highly recommend checking for software update to your inReach Mini using Garmin Express on a computer, then run the inReach Mini through the inReach Sync Desktop App to sync your account data, then try sending a message to the email recipient again. 

    This article has steps to sync and update the inReach Mini: Updating the Firmware and Syncing Account Information to an inReach Mini