Review by Sunetra Chakravati,
12/12/2011 4:00:47 PM
It withstood all we threw and dropped on it, proving it?s very much water, shock, dust and drop proof
A brute of a phone, the Sonim Force is heavy and cumbersome
Reviewing a tough-phone is one of those rare occasions when you want a heavy, sturdy handset. The Sonim Force is exactly that. It's a brick of a phone that makes a loud bang when you place it down, and you'll certainly be conscious of it while it's in your pocket.
The phone is engulfed in a rubber shell that acts as a kind of shock absorber from any knocks it receives. It does nothing for the aesthetics of the phone, but the Sonim Force takes a certain amount of pride from its rugged looks. Despite its rubber body the edges are sharp and defined, which only adds to its aggressive demeanour.
Flip the phone over and you'll see two metallic screws that need removing to access the battery. Surrounding the edges of the handset are two ports (one for the charger and one for your headphones), both of which are meticulously sealed, volume keys, an on/off button for an impressively bright torch (located on the back of the phone) and a shortcut key that will take you to a list of Java apps, including GPS-based programs and the Opera Mini web browser. We've been championing the inclusion of GPS on tough-phones for a while now - a handset that is built for the great outdoors surely should include some sort of mapping service - so it's great to find a decent offering in the Force.
Yet the truth is Sonim has packed the Force with a number of features. Not of the calibre you'd find in a smartphone, but the inclusion of a music player and two-megapixel camera would have been unheard of in previous Sonim incarnations. You can even download a voice recording app from the Application Manager platform, with Sonim claiming that more will be added over time.
Yet as pleasing as such features are, they're a mere bonus. What will really determine whether you purchase this phone is how it fares in the rugged stakes. Sonim has for the first time used a Gorilla Glass display that is 1.5mm thick and promises even more scratch and shock resistance than before. So of course we went about testing this claim.
We took a softly-softly approach when testing the Sonim Force's ruggedness. The manufacturer claims that it can survive a two-metre drop onto concrete. Well, its being too modest. The handset had not so much as a scratch on it. We repeated the process, angling the way in which the phone landed, but honestly you could have boxed it back up and you'd have been none the wiser.
It fared just as well after we attacked it with a flat heeled shoe. Repeatedly stomping directly on the screen with all our weight did nothing other than leave a few dirty marks that could simply be wiped away. Our stamping had created quite a racket and subsequently caught the attention of Mobile Choice co-workers. One female colleague asked if she could stamp on it with her stiletto heel. 'Sure,' we said with a new found confidence in the phone. Our faith was rewarded despite the best efforts of said colleague.
Time to up the ante. We took to our tool box and found the biggest hammer we had. We have to admit we had our doubts as to how the Sonim Force would fare in this test. We needn't have worried. Six consecutive hits directly on the screen and nada. It was as though we had been hitting it with a pillow. Feeling somewhat humiliated, we attacked it once more, but after no damage whatsoever, we sat back in awe ofthis bruiser.
The Sonim Force is not just resistant to stilettos and hammers though. It's also waterproof. Note that's water proof. There are a few mobile phones that are water resistant, but the Sonim Force can be submerged (allegedly) in water as deep as two metres. Sadly, the swimming pool at Mobile Choice towers was being cleaned so we settled for a pint of water, and after tightening the battery cover screws and making sure all the ports were sealed, left the phone bathing for just over half an hour.
On our return we rang the Sonim Force and, low and behold, the phone's piercing ringtone (the Sonim Force is kitted with extra loud tones - good for the outdoors) rang out.
Scratching our heads in bewilderment and wondering what else we could do to test the phone's toughness, our eyes fell on the five storey building being constructed across the street.
With the Sonim Force in hand, we wandered over and asked one of the construction workers if he fancied doing his worst to the handset. His worst? Hurling (not dropping) the phone from the top of the building. Surely this would kill it, especially as this was far higher than the two-metre drop Sonim had conceded was its limit?
As we wandered over to it lying motionless on the concrete road we feared the worst. We needn't have worried. OK, so the bodywork had begun to separate around the top half of the handset and the top left-hand corner was a tad scuffed, but this was still very much a working phone, while the Gorilla Glass screen remained flawless. For the sake of decency, we'll paraphrase the construction worker's reaction, but it went something like: 'Cor blimey, that is one tough motherfarmer.'
And that quite frankly sums up the Sonim XP3300 Force. While the added features such as internet and GPS are welcome, it's the phone's pure hardness that makes this the daddy of all tough-phones. When Sonim handed us our review sample it confidently claimed that this is the toughest phone around. We'll second this claim.