First Look At The Sonim XP3

I’ve finally got my hands upon a Sonim XP3 and joined the ranks of journalists who are searching the deepest and most destructive reaches of their imagination for cruel and unusual scenarios to subject the rugged phone to.

Alas, everything I think of seems to already have been done… although I admit that tossing one into a cement mixer is probably a bit too obvious a test for a phone touted as being built for industrial use.

The same goes for the washing machine, boiling water, dropping, kicking, placing calls underwater and the long, long list of abuse that the Sonim XP1 was subjected to.

The Sonim XP3 is, even at a glance, a marked improvement from the XP1 which I only laid hands upon during a press event last year. It includes an integrated, and painfully bright LED torch and the Opera mini browser.

It’s also very, very loud. I find, being slightly deaf, that many phones are somewhat of a pain to hear anyone or anything via. The XP3, on the other hand, made the pre-recorded Vodafone credit line practically yell at me, suffice to say I had absolutely no trouble hearing it, and that’s without even turning on speaker phone which is definitely loud and punchy for a phone.

It’s pretty clear that the Sonim XP3 was built after having established a confidence in the dos and don’ts of building a rugged phone, this has allowed Sonim to flesh out the feature set and provide an all-round better iteration of the XP1.

The only complaint I have so far? I can dial arbitrary numbers even when the phone is locked, a caveat of UK legislation I believe, which basically renders the ability to lock the phone totally useless. The Sonim XP3 combats this problem in a couple of ways, the keys are relatively firm and surrounded by a raised portion of the case, and there’s also an included belt-clip which places the phone in a location where the buttons are extremely unlikely to get mashed. It’s still a potential problem, however, for a phone shoved into a pocket alongside tools.

I’m no tough-phone designer, but it seems logical that a rugged clamshell design would most effectively protect the buttons, screen, speaker, microphone and potentially even the I/O and charging ports much more effectively than a candy-bar, although it would still have to be sufficiently waterproofed and toughened in these areas to remain rugged when open.

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