This Sonim XP3 review has been a long time in the making. It’s difficult to know, at the best of times, how to start a review and where to go with it, but for something like the XP3 it’s even trickier.
The focus of the Sonim XP3 is not on functionality (well, not entirely anyway) but rather on ruggedness and bringing you your basic, reliable mobile phone features in a package that requires focussed, wanton destruction in order to destroy it.
During our destruction testing of the Sonim XP3, which was inspired more by immature, spur of the moment, and barmy “what if” ideas rather than hard science, we subjected the hardy phone to extreme and unlikely situations.
This included kicking the phone down a concrete sidewalk, dropping it out of upstairs windows, boiling it in a kettle, smashing it on the corner of desks, immersing it in water, standing on it, tossing it into the air, shooting it with a pressure washer and more.
Out of all these tests, the only thing to really damage the Sonim XP3 was the desk bashing. It scarred the keys, which are black-coated transparent plastic, and blemished the screen. Neither of these cosmetic scars, however, had any effect whatsoever on the operation of the handset and the screen blemishes were easily removed by pouring boiling water onto the phone.
Destruction resisting miracles aside, and they’ve surely been done to death in articles and Youtube videos the web over, what really matters in the Sonim XP3 is just how usable the core set of features that it offers actually are.
The Sonim XP3 really is a back-to-basics phone for anyone who is used to carrying around a full featured yet fragile multimedia device in their pocket. It lacks, for example, even a camera which is an understandable compromise in favour of ruggedness but something that people have come to expect in mobile phones.
Furthermore, even with basic multimedia capabilities in place there is no way to expand the internal memory of the XP3 with a storage card and thus any hope of it ever becoming a rugged replacement for your mp3 player is lost. Of course, you would first have to find durable, waterproof, bluetooth headphones if you were even considering such use.
Where the Sonim XP3 does excel is at reliably providing such features as a basic Organizer, Alarm Clock, Calculator, Audio Recorder, Stopwatch, Timer and Universal Time application. Many of these are things that will be used very, very infrequently but it’s always handy to have them available.
Perhaps the most important of the above, the Organizer, is well implemented and simple to use. You’ll find a pretty familiar calendar layout which you can navigate with the arrow buttons and select a day to enter meetings, birthdays and events with various levels of recurrence. All very handy to have in your pocket, even for 30 minute stints in neck-high water.
The Sonim XP3 doesn’t just focus on ruggedness, but is designed to be suitable for other harsh conditions you might encounter in your work environment. The ringer, for example, at its maximum volume level is excessively loud for ordinary conditions but has that extra punch so that it can cut through the noise on a factory floor.
Furthermore, if you’ve ever used your mobile phone screen backlight as an impromptu torch, you’ll be pleased to know that the Sonim XP3 integrates a battery-friendly and usefully bright LED torch with a dedicated on-off button which works even when the phone itself is locked. Don’t worry about it turning on and draining the phone batter in your pocket, however, because it requires a very firm second long push to bring that LED to life.
The Sonim XP3 is a very usable phone with a good key feel and keys that are big and raised enough to be used with sizable thumbs. I have no end of trouble with smaller feature phone keys, but the Sonim is comfortable and easy to use.