Its rubber encased body suggests it can withstand a few bangs and bumps and, although bulky, it suggests a degree of robustness.
The lack of features mean its easy to get to grips with, though the menu options could be a little better mapped out.
Water, shock and dust resistant, the phones main selling point is its ability to withstand even the hardest of knocks. GPRS and voice recording are also onboard.
Able to withstand nearly anything we threw, dropped, or drove over it, the Sonim XP3 Enduro is the daddy of toughphones.
A reasonable battery life of 330 minutes talktime and 216 hours standby.
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,12/12/2011 3:54:10 PM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Not only is this the toughest phone available, but should you manage to destroy it, Sonim has included an unconditional three-year warranty.
The lack of features, most notably the omission of a camera may put some off.
When we received our Sonim XP1 (aka the JCB Toughphone) back in February 2008 we dropped it from a first floor window, showered with it and even drove a car over it. Much to our amazement and a degree of frustration, it actually survived all of the above. So when we got our hands on the even ‘tougher’ Sonim XP3 Enduro (Xtreme Performance) we were determined to really put it to the sword. So confident is Sonim in the phone’s indestructability that it has included an unconditional three-year warranty for every XP3 Enduro purchased.We’re not sure what happened to the Sonim XP2 – perhaps it’s so tough it has been locked away for our own safety – but the XP3 Enduro looks and feels like a bigger and heavier version of the original, suggesting it is a tad more robust.There’s no JCB branding attached to this phone, though it is available in the same yellow and black that made the XP1 so eye catching as well as a plain black model.
The phone is encased in a tyre-like rubber, presumably to help cushion any blow it might receive. Unfortunately, much like the original, the XP3 Enduro’s TFT screen is pretty basic. It’s only capable of displaying 65,000 colours and with only 128x160 pixels, the resolution is poor in comparison to what we are now used to. Likewise at only 1.77 inches, the screen size is rather miserly with content subsequently appearing very narrow. This is particularly the case when browsing the web. Sonim has included the excellent Opera Mini browser, but as this automatically condenses text, we often found ourselves having to scroll down for what seemed an eternity to read an entire page.Furthermore, with only GPRS on board, the overall web experience was lethargic, and the lack of camera may put off some.
The Sonim XP3 Enduro is not built for the avid web browser or keen photographer. This is a phone for the outdoorsy person, a labourer or rock climber for example. The lack of features therefore needs to be kept in perspective. That said, there are a number of decent additions. A surprisingly bright torch is found on the top of the phone, and is definitely a useful acquisition should you find yourself in a dark cave, or for that matter fumbling for the keyhole to your front door after one too many down the pub. It’s switched on by a button found on the right side of the phone; however, it’s a little stiff and requires a degree of force to switch it on.The Sonim XP3 Enduro also gives you the option of a) Any key answering; and b) Automatic answering. Both of these would prove useful should you pair your phone with a Bluetooth headset while positioning the phone on the belt clip included in the box. The phone’s ring volume is incredibly loud, so much so that there is little danger that you would miss a call even on the most noisy of building sites. Bizarrely, the XP3 Enduro also enables you to record phone conversations, both one way and two ways. We’re not quite sure what the legal ramifications of such a function is or what the point of such a service is, other than any sinister purpose, but that said it works flawlessly and the recording quality is of a high standard.
So just how hard is this phone? Claiming to be waterproof for 30 minutes in depths of up to one metre, our first test was to drop the XP3 Enduro into a pint of water and leave it to soak for half an hour. It’s worth noting that before you conduct any of these water-based tests, Sonim recommends that you tighten the back of the handset. This
is achieved by simply using a standard screwdriver and turning the three screws, thus sealing the device.Having left the handset soaking for half an hour we returned to see whether it was in working order. Awakening the phone by pressing the keypad fired it up immediately. So far so good. We then tested the phone for both outgoing and incoming calls, sending a text message and surfing the net. We’re pleased to say that the XP3 Enduro passed with flying colours.
Time to raise the bar. How would it fare in a washing machine? There was only one way to find out. In the name of fairness, we once again tightened the screws on the back of the handset before throwing the phone in with our weekly wash and setting it for a 40 minute spin at 30°. As the machine began to turn we were greeted with a clunk each time the phone got flung from side to side. After making sure everything was as it was supposed to be, we went to put our feet up leaving the washing machine to do its thing.The moment of truth. Having dug out the XP3 Enduro from among our now clean jeans and t-shirts, we were slightly alarmed to find that the screen had frosted over and the phone had in fact switched itself off – never a good sign. Our concern proved well founded because upon trying to restart the phone, although the keypad lit up, the screen flickered but ultimately remained dead.The next day our hopes were re-ignited when we managed to switch the phone on. But these hopes were short lived, as the power button was the only key that did work. So it was a case of washing machine 1, Sonim XP3 Enduro 0. That said, the cycle was for 40 minutes, which was 10 minutes longer than Sonim suggests. Stay within Sonim’s boundaries – don’t exceed the one metre level depth or the 30 minute time limit – however, and we can concur that the Sonim XP3 Enduro is in fact waterproof.Despite this washing machine setback, Sonim was quick to send us another sample of the XP3 Enduro to continue with our review.
As mentioned earlier, we drove over the original JCB toughphone with a five-door saloon car and it remained completely in tact. Taking on board that the XP3 Enduro is meant to be even tougher, a saloon car just wouldn’t be enough. The answer? That most iconic of London sights, a red double decker bus.However, even before this test, for good measure, we dropped the phone from the emergency window on the back of the bus. Sonim once again safeguards itself by saying the XP3 Enduro can withstand a two metre drop onto concrete. Well Sonim should have more faith, as it survived the four metre fall without so much as a scratch.Now onto the finale. Having placed a (sporting) wager with our volunteer bus driver that it would survive the eight tonne (approx) vehicle’s weight, we placed the handset in position and stepped back. As the bus eased its bulk over the phone, we grimaced when we heard an almighty crack. Once the bus had cleared, we rushed over to see what the damage was. On first inspection there appeared to be little else other than a few scuff marks. However, we then noticed a slight crack running across the bottom of the screen. Reluctant to admit defeat to the smiling bus driver we fired the phone up. As the keypad lit up we held our breath only to find the internal display had been shattered to such an extent that it was impossible to determine any text.So had the indestructible proved to be fallible? Well yes and no. Obviously a phone with an unreadable screen is pretty much redundant. However, despite not being able to see the digits we
were entering, we were still able to make calls. So that’s eight tonnes of metal driving over it and still the XP3 Enduro can conduct phone calls.
Sonim has reiterated its position as the daddy of the tough-phone market. In terms of robustness, no manufacturer comes close and the Sonim XP3 Enduro is its toughest creation yet. It may be lacking the specs and features of more popular high-end handsets, but for a phone that you’ll have to go out of your way to damage, the Sonim XP3 Enduro is one hard case. Just don’t leave it in the washing machine.