• Our Sonim XP7: My phone can beat up yours

    Body:



    Letís check out Sonimís claims about how tough the XP7 is:

    IP68 dust and water resistant:
    Translation, it laughs in the face of water. It can handle being submerged in 6.5ft of water for up to 30 mins.

    If you plan on using the Sonim in or near the water remember, water activates the touchscreen so when it gets wet, it will react like there are many fingers touching it.

    Drop/Impact resistant and shock/vibration resistant:
    I repeatedly dropped the XP7 from about 6ft (Iím a short guy) onto the concrete floor in my basement. What the specs don'tí tell you is that chances are, the XP7 wonít even have a scratch on it when you do this. Of course, if you try this outdoors on rough cement you might get some scratches.



    More importantly, the XP7 probably wonít lose its water resistance when you drop it



    Resistant to extreme temperatures:
    I didnít want to toss the XP7 in my stove but I did leave it in my freezer overnight where it chilled to 5F. When I took it out in the morning, I was able to use it right away.



    I don't suggest you try this but with winter around the corner, if you were to lose the XP7 in the snow I'm pretty sure it would be fine when you find it in the spring.

    Itís also resistant to extreme pressure and punctures/oils and chemicals. I didnít really put these claims to the test but I did put it in my back pocket and sat down - it did not bend when I tried this...

    The most telling thing about how tough the XP7 is that there is a 3 year warranty that covers accidental damage. Thatís how much faith Sonim has in their product.
    True story; a while back I was testing another Sonim phone. I donít remember the exact model but it was a feature phone. I spent all day tossing it around on concrete and letting my friends do the same. The only time we managed to hurt it was when someone took it and literally threw it with all their might into the ground. When that happened, I think a cable came loose and the screen stopped working. Despite this, we were still able to use it to make calls and check it out; the phone didnít have a scratch on it.

    The body is all rubber and plastic. If youíre wondering why thereís no metal outside the phone itís probably because rubber is much more resistant to impacts.

    When you pick it up, the first thing youíll notice is how dense the XP7 feels. Itís 290g which is more than half a pound. Just to compare, a ďregularĒ 5Ē Android phone usually weighs around 150g.

    Size-wise, thereís an antenna nub which also houses the speaker. While the XP7 has a small 4Ē display, its footprint is similar to a 5Ē Android phone while itís about 2 or 3 times thicker.

    The corners arenít square - this helps to spread out the energy when you drop it and it lands on the corner.

    There are 3 physical menu buttons in front

    the volume and a shortcut key are on the right


    power, camera and 2 more shortcut keys on the left.


    On top are a LED indicator, headphone jack and a SIM card slot that youíll need a Torx screwdriver to access.

    While there is a cover over the headphone jack, leaving it open doesn't compromise the water resistance.


    On the bottom is a proprietary charging and accessory connector


    At the back is a 8MP autofocus camera and LED flash. The flash can double as a flashlight but I was surprised that thereís no way to launch it using the buttons. You have to turn the screen on and tap the on-screen flashlight button. I was also surprised that the LED flash isnít extremely bright - instead itís similar to a flash youíll find on a Ďregularí phone.

    The XP7 is covered with buttons - the idea is that there are lots of extra buttons that custom applications can make use. Buttons are much easier to use when youíre wearing thick gloves than on-screen buttons. Thatís great but out of the box, I donít think there is a way to map what these buttons do. At least I didnít notice a way to do this in the XP7ís settings. The spec-sheet says that the extra buttons are for PTT and the alarm.

    I also found that having so many extra buttons can make the XP7 kind of tricky to use sometimes. My guess is that a lot of people who use the XP7 will doing so for work and will normally another phone be it an iPhone or some other Android device. These people will have muscle memory about where their power and volume buttons are and will end up pressing the wrong buttons on the XP7.

    The placement of the power button is especially bad. Itís in the top left corner, a place very few if any other phone have theirs.

    There is a glove mode which lets you use the XP7 while wearing gloves. Youíll have to go to the accessibility settings to turn it on.

    I tried it out while wearing heavy winter gloves and while it does work, the gloves themselves really limit what you can do. Itís more so you can answer calls and maybe check your email. While typing with gloves is possible, itís not easy.

    Iím not sure if this is the same as the high sensitivity modes that can be found on other Android phones. If youíre not wearing gloves itís best to leave this mode off as it can make the phone tricky to use.

    Display:

    Just like many other phones, the display is made from Gorilla Glass 2 but unlike them, the XP7ís is 1.8mm thick. To put that in perspective, thatís more than ľ the thickness of an entire Phone 6.

    When the display is wet you can really see just how thick the glass is.

    Iím not sure what kind of display the XP7 has (IPS, STN or VA) but I think itís an STN display. Itís optimized to be used outdoors in direct sunlight and unfortunately, not much else.

    Indeed, outdoors itís great but no more so than an iPhone 6 which is also excellent outdoors.

    There is significant brightness, colour and contrast shift when you move off angle. The refresh rate isnít amazing either so sometimes youíll notice ghosting.

    At 4Ē, itís not a very large display and the 800x480 resolution is barely adequate. In pictures, the display looks bigger than it really is because the front of the phone has a very wide black bezel.

    The way the market is going, Phones like the XP7 that arenít at least 4.3Ē and 960x540 will have problems because apps are going to be optimized for larger displays.

    Sometimes youíll find the user interface in some apps eats up a lot of the screen space.

    You know how I often argue that really large displays donít need super high resolutions? The same canít be said for smaller displays. When youíre browsing the web, text can often look a little rough. Itís too bad Sonim couldnít put a 4.5Ē, 960x540 panel in the XP7.

    Camera:

    The XP7 just uses Googleís camera software which if Iím honest, is pretty terrible.

    You get a 8MP camera with autofocus on the back. Indoors itís quite noisy, and typical of what youíd find on a $150 phone. Itís not class leading by any means but if youíre outdoors, it will get the job done.

    I didnít compare it side-by-side but the images from the camera remind me of the Blu Studio 5.0C HDís.

    Software:

    The Sonim runs Android 4.4.2 with almost no customizations aside from an option in the settings for the accessories that you can attach to it.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Our Sonim XP7: My phone can beat up yours started by howard View original post
    Comments 12 Comments
    1. kizagjo's Avatar
      kizagjo -
      a quick search says 7 might be your answer.
      http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/...ts-1154497013/
    1. HC - NO "i"'s Avatar
      HC - NO "i" -
      Fellow HC,

      I wonder if this Sonim would appeal to Ben, the landscaper cousin of WorldIRC...
    1. dragon2knight's Avatar
      dragon2knight -
      Give it to me for a day or so...I'll find a way to break it When I die, I'm sure all of the phones that I've destroyed will be waiting for me to get revenge,lol. Seriously, though, great review on a phone that really does have it's uses. Sometimes being tough is all that matters(construction sites, outdoor jobs, etc.) and specs are secondary.
    1. WorldIRC's Avatar
      WorldIRC -
      I think Sonim's goal here was to release a perfectly adequate smartphone that would conform to their usual rugged standards at a price point that clients would be willing to pay.

      Something tells me if that phone had S5 specs, the price would be much higher.

      That phone has a calling to a niche crowd, and I anticipate success within those industries...this truly is the first usable smartphone with those rugged specs.
    1. Jim1348's Avatar
      Jim1348 -
      Thank you for the article.
    1. Sonim Extreme's Avatar
      Sonim Extreme -
      Thanks for the article Howard. And some of the pictures are awesome. If you're interested in learning more about our US availability and want the shot to get up to $100 off your Sonim XP7 go to sonimextreme.com
    1. Sonim Extreme's Avatar
      Sonim Extreme -
      You are absolutely correct!! Thanks for showing your interest in the Sonim XP7

      Quote Originally Posted by WorldIRC View Post
      I think Sonim's goal here was to release a perfectly adequate smartphone that would conform to their usual rugged standards at a price point that clients would be willing to pay.

      Something tells me if that phone had S5 specs, the price would be much higher.

      That phone has a calling to a niche crowd, and I anticipate success within those industries...this truly is the first usable smartphone with those rugged specs.
    1. Jim1348's Avatar
      Jim1348 -
      http://www.catphones.com/news/press-...-outdoors.aspx

      I would love to see a head to head comparison between the Sonim XP7 and the Cat S50.
    1. Sonim Extreme's Avatar
      Sonim Extreme -
      Jim1348 we don't have a Cat S50 to test with, however if you look at the specs of the Sonim XP7 it seems to be a clear winner. What makes you want to test the Sonim against the CAT (meaning: what does the CAT phone do that we don't?)??
    1. Sonim Extreme's Avatar
      Sonim Extreme -
      Just being tough is not all that matters...We are also about usability, functionality, as well as reliability. The specs are there look above at the CAT vs XP7 specs.
    1. Jim1348's Avatar
      Jim1348 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Sonim Extreme View Post
      .....What makes you want to test the Sonim against the CAT (meaning: what does the CAT phone do that we don't?)??
      I just like rugged smartphone. And, I like comparing phones to one another.

      Lately, I have been interested in the Kyocera Brigadier for Verizon, but I found out something interesting about that one. According to Verizon, their LTE phones are unlocked for GSM. Users have reported that they can insert a GSM SIM card, like AT&T and T-Mobile, they get talk and test, but NO data through the cell network! Apparently they have locked out the ability to change APNs.
    1. Jim1348's Avatar
      Jim1348 -
      Coincidentally, there is something on CNET about the Cat B15Q today. Maybe the Cat S50 will be better than the Cat B15Q!

      http://www.cnet.com/videos/the-rugge...es-with-style/
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