Sonim XP1 Toughphone

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Product: Sonim XP1 Rugged Handset
Provided By: Sonim
Price: $543.10CAD
MSRP

Introduction:

Not many people here in North America have heard of Sonim.  The truth is Sonim doesn’t have much coverage here in Canada and the USA, but after spending some time with the XP1 tough phone, perhaps they should.  The recently sent us the XP1 phone for us to play with, test, use and abuse and following is our review of this remarkable phone.

XP1 - Box
XP1 - Box

 

Package and Details:

The XP1 arrived in a very attractive retail box, but the truth is that when phone shopping here in North America, you generally don't see the box on the shelf first.  The phone is typically on display and then you see the box after you've signed your life away on a contract or locked yourself into expensive pre-paid service with one provider.  The Sonim XP1 arrived ready to go on any network as it is unlocked and actually arrived rattling around in the box.  It came out of the assigned cut-outs, but thankfully the tough phone arrived working and without any damage.  That's right; it can even stand up to UPS.

 XP1 - In Box
XP1 - In Box
 XP1 - Bundle
XP1 - Bundle

 

The XP1 is a “Candy-Bar” style phone that is a little bulkier than most phones today.  The housing of the phone is pretty rugged and it has several raised rubber points that offer protection, toughness and also increase the overall indestructible appearance of the phone.  Sonim claims that this is the “world’s toughest phone” and while we don’t have every phone in the world to compare it to, we’ll put it through the paces soon enough and see if it can survive.

 




 XP1 - Front
XP1 - Front
 XP1 - Back
XP1 - Back
 

Specs & Features:

Tech Specs:

Durable Casing - Hardened rubber molding cast via dual injection.
Temperature range - Operational range between -20C and +60C.
Shock and vibration - Rated to 1.65m drop to concrete. Protection from 5Hz to 500Hz.
Screen - Protected by leading scratch resistant coating.
Water and humidity - Rated for stream of water at 90 degree angle.
Durable mechanics - Keypad buttons tested to 500,000 pushes. Dedicated PTT buttons tested to 200,000 pushes.
Dirt and dust - Non-porous casing withstands micro-particles.

 

Unconditional 3 year guarantee:

Sonim provides this Unconditional three year Guarantee for your mobile phone (hereinafter referred to as "Product"). Should your Product need guaranty service, please return it to the dealer from whom it was purchased, or contact Sonim Customer Care at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Our guarantee:
Subject to the conditions of this Unlimited 3 year Guarantee Sonim warrants this product to be free from major defects in design, material and workmanship at the time of its original purchase by a consumer, and for a subsequent period of Three (3) years.

What we will do:
If during the guarantee period, this product fails to operate under normal use and service, due to defects in design, material or workmanship, Sonim's authorized distributors or service partners, in the country/region where you purchased the product, will replace with the same or better model in the same or better condition.

 


 

Core platform
Philips Nexperia 6120 platform
ARM-9 processor
900, 1800, 1900 Mhz
Lithium-ion 1100mA/h battery
5 hour talk time
GCF/CE certified
Storage for 1000 100-character SMS messages

Physical characteristics
Weight 100g/128g without/with battery
7 soft keys /10 programmable short-cuts
2.5mm headset port
USB charging port
External antenna port (optional accessory)
Dedicated volume and PTT keys

Audio system
Two 14x20mm speakers
95bd+ at 10cm range
Omni-directional microphone
98bdb signal-to-noise ratio

Following are the Bluetooth headsets that are verified and compatible with our phone
Nokia BH 100
Jabra BT 5020
Motorola H350
Sony Ericson HBH-PV702
Aliph Jawbone bluetooth headset
Plantronics 370
Invisio G5
Nokia BH 900

Following are the car kits that are verified and compatible with our phone
Nokia CK-7W
BlueAnt's Supertooth-Light Model: BTSLBC3/BTPP5
Parrot CK 3100
Nokia CK – 15W ( verified only for 4.0.2-218.2)
 

Push To Talk
The PTT functionality shall be available in your
XP1 Phone only if the PTT service is enabled.
Following the instructions to create contacts, make
calls to individual, predefined groups and ad hoc
(informal) groups
This feature is subject to phone model and
subscription support. If the user menu does not
show PTT, then the feature is not supported.

PTT client (OMA PoC 1.0)
100% interoperable with Sonim & Nokia OMA PoC 1.0 servers
Optimized for 1-to-1 and large group walkie-talkie call initiation
presence-enabled contract list with network storage and auto synchronization
Multiple call settings, including barge, invite and do-not-disturb
Advanced SigComp implementation for optimized call set-up performance
Over-the-air provisioning

Software package Standard services
SMS
WAP
Bluetooth
Polyphonic ring tone support

Display
128x160 resolution and 65,000 colors
67x37mm for display bar + 7 rows of data
Language support

English Chinese Dutch French
German Greek Italian Russian
Spanish Swedish  

Accessories
Extra battery 12-25V Car charger
Headset  Plug-in external antenna
Wall Charger  Belt Clip

 

On the next page we'll take a close look at the phone before we drop in for some testing.


Closer Look:

As we take a closer look at this phone you can see that it is not built for sleek sexy looks or a ton of extra functionality.  This is simply a phone.  Well, a phone with an organizer, calculator, and a WAP browser, but it is still mainly a phone.  It doesn’t have a camera, QWERTY keyboard or an external antenna, but it does support displaying pictures, sending SMS, and can even work in an accessory external antenna if you need better reception.  As it stands, I’ve used the phone on Fido/Rogers here in Alberta as well as on Digicel in Jamaica and the reception is pretty good for the most part.  In our hotel in Jamaica, the reception was spotty inside some of the large buildings, but it seemed that everyone was experience the same thing with their phones as well.

 XP1 - Offside
XP1 - Offside
 XP1 - Left Side
XP1 - Left Side
 
 Keypad - Close
Keypad - Close
 XP1 - Bottom
XP1 - Bottom

 

Underneath the bottom rubber cover is a place for a 2.5mm headset jack as well as the standard mini-USB connector for charging the phone.  I’m very happy to see a standard connector for charging, and the 2.5mm jack is not a big deal on this phone as it isn’t a multi-media phone that you’ll be listening to a lot of music on.  Once again, this is simply a tough phone - not a multi-media player and entertainment device.

 XP1 - Back Open
XP1 - Back Open
 Tri-Band
Tri-Band
Sim Slot
Sim Slot

 

 

Phone Menus & Settings:

Even though the Sonim XP1 strengths lie in its, well, strength, it still has enough features to be a handy all around device.  It features a calculator, organizer, and has enough space to hold 500 addresses in the phones memory as well as 250 on the SIM card.  It easily configures and connects to available networks and as I mentioned before, I was able to connect quickly to Digicel in Jamaica as well as Fido/Rogers in Canada.  This phone will be used in Panama and down in the USA in the next couple of months.  It has no issues with different carriers as it is fully unlocked.

XP1 - Comparison
XP1 - Comparison
XP1 - Comparison
XP1 - Comparison

 

As you look at the phone dimensions above, please keep in mind that the HTC S640 is using a extra large battery and the phone is typically much slimmer.  As I'm used to the thickness of the S640 with the larger battery, I don't mind the thickness of the XP1.  If you're used to a much slimmer phone, the size of the XP1 may bother you.

The screen is fairly small by today’s standards and the resolution of 120x160 may cramp some peoples style, but with the audience of this phone aimed toward industrial, agricultural, forestry and construction, many people will be happier with the phones durability than its lack of a few features and high screen resolution.


If you haven’t used an unlocked phone before, you may be surprised that your phone number, and other network information is not in the phones memory and if you want to personalize your phone, you’ll have to go into the setup menu and add your name, the phone number and other information.  The beautiful thing is that contacts stored on the SIM card can be easily and quickly copied or moved to the phone memory.

 Sonim XP1 Main Screen
Sonim XP1 Main Screen
 Main Menu
Main Menu
 Settings
Settings
     
 Phone Settings
Phone Settings
 Tool - Menu
Tool - Menu
 Bluetooth Services
Bluetooth Services

There are more phone menu pictures available in the gallery as I've only used a few of the more interesting ones in the review.

The Sonim XP1 supports Bluetooth headsets and this is a welcome addition for sure.  Like pretty much every other phone on the market, pairing is done quickly and easily and you can connect your favorite headset in a matter of minutes.  I’ve used the BlueAnt Z9i headset as well as a Plantronics headset with this phone and have had no issues whatsoever.  I also used the phone with the Blueant Supertooth 3 - and the address book function worked very well with this phone.


 

Feature and Performance Testing:

Before we jump into testing the durability and toughness of the XP1, I thought that I should test the features and performance of this phone before I set out to try and destroy the phone.  We may or may not end up destroying the phone, but I thought it best to see how it worked before we drove over it and dropped it from an unnecessarily high building.

Volume:
The ringer volume of the XP1 is ridiculously loud and if you are crazy enough to have it set to “Outdoor” mode in the office, you’re going to get a lot of dirty looks from people.  I had is set to this mode when traveling on a crowded bus in Jamaica and it pretty much scared everyone within 5 rows and pissed everyone off with its loud, shrill ring.  The speaker volume when talking with people is also quite loud.  I had to turn the volume to about 50% when in a call.  The microphone is loud enough for most situations, but I had a couple of complaints that I was a little quiet - of course that is when I was in Jamaica and there’s no guarantee that the connection was very good either.

Reception:
I live in rural Alberta and my best choice for reception has traditionally been TELUS.  TELUS is certainly not the best choice for a cellular provider as you can see by the way they cheat and lie to their customers, but they offer the best reception out in the country.  I found that the Sonim XP1 registered on the Fido/Rogers network worked pretty well, but it dropped a few more calls in poor areas that are sketchy on the TELUS network.


I was actually surprised that the reception was as good as it was, but I’m not sure if I could bail on TELUS just yet as reception is very important when you’re out in the field at 1:00am and you need to service your agricultural equipment.  With that in mind, Sonim also offers an external accessory antenna which should improve reception and probably would make it just as good or better than my HTC S640 or Samsung U540 on the TELUS network.

General Thoughts:
Sonim claims that the buttons on the phone are good for 500,000 presses and while I can’t confirm that in the time I’ve had the phone, they do remain response even after some of the punishment we put the phone through.  The layout of the keypad is very standard and the volume buttons are located in a traditional spot and also work well.  The phone supports PushToTalk features as well and has a larger button located on the side of the phone just below the volume buttons.  It seems to work well - if your carrier supports this feature.

Overall this phone is very usable and I can’t think of anything major that could be improved and tweaked to make it better.  I’ve been spoiled with a smart phone and a qwerty keyboard so I find SMS a pain on this phone, but the T9 predictive text seems to be fairly robust and knows be better than the iPhone/iPod Touch - which really isn’t all that impressive.

 

Durability & Toughness Testing:

I’ve done a lot of stuff with this phone that I would even dream of trying with a standard phone.  I’ve showered with it, kicked it, jumped on it, buried it in sand, dropped it, drove over it and even played catch with it.  It did suffer some damage, but still seems to work despite some damage.  Sonim never claimed that it can survive without blemish or spot.

One of the stupid things I did was leave this phone lightly buried in sand on a beach just outside of Ocho Rios.  The temperature of the phone was just over 50C after it had been baking in the sun.  To cool it down, I buried it much deeper and jumped on it for a while.  After I had thoroughly packed all of the keys full of sand, I washed it under a heavy stream of water and got most of the sand out of the keys.  The left soft-key didn’t work very after this test as there were micro-particles of sand jammed under the edge of the key.  I dropped the phone several times on a ceramic tile floor and that helped loosen the sand and the key worked well after that and still continues to work fine.

In the Sand
In the Sand
 Jamaica Sand
Jamaica Sand
Washing Phone
Washing Phone

 

The whole burying and jumping on the phone caused some scratches, but it still works just fine.  In fact the scratches on my other phones are much worse than the XP1 and I never buried them, drove over them or jumped on them.


Please check out the video clips and pictures below to see all that we put the Sonim XP1 through.  I’ve been impressed at how this phone stood up to the use and abuse we gave it - while it certainly isn’t indestructible; it is by far the toughest phone I’ve ever seen.


For your peace of mind, I'll have you know that I was in fact wearing swimming trunks in the shower - I wasn't au' naturale.

 Post-12ga Side
Post-12ga Side
Post-12ga Top
Post-12ga Top
Post-12ga Front
Post-12ga Front

 

 

Final Thoughts:

I didn’t know what to expect from the unlocked GSM Sonim XP1 phone.  I knew it would be tough as demonstrated over at www.toughestphone.com, but I didn’t expect it to take the beating that it actually did.  I tried to do just about everything I could within reason and a little out of reason and still the phone held up very well.  It’s pretty amazing how well it works and took all the abuse, but if you’re looking for a “smart” and tough phone, you’ll find this phone is a little lacking in the brains department.

It’s a very solid, reliable phone that is capable of WAP browsing, SMS, and more but it falls short on the feature list if you’re looking for a phone with a camera and MMS capability.  Overall though, the phone lives us to its claims and is a must have if you’re the guy that is dropping and breaking your phone…or if you just want the experience of showering while talking on your phone.

 

Pros:

  • Functional Candy-bar phone
  • Ridiculously tough.
  • Good T9 Predictive Text Capability
  • Unlocked and works around the world
  • Nice tactile feedback on keys
  • Loud ringer and speaker
  • Supports Bluetooth headphones


Cons:

  • Microphone sometimes quiet
  • No software included for syncing to Outlook Calendar
  • Shotgun can neutralize phone and cause battery to explode

 

 BCCRating

 

Overall, I’m very impressed with the Sonim XP1 and am excited to see what else Sonim will bring to the table in the future.  We are hoping to have the XP3 in our hands in the near future and will let you know what they show off on the next model.  Perhaps it will be tougher and we can use it as a projectile for hunting ground squirrels.