Robust, shock proof, water resistant and built like an armadillo, the Sonim XP1, aka the JCB Toughphone, is easily the hardest phone on the planet. Well, it was until the new XP3 Enduro flexed its muscles.
This second-generation bruiser is even tougher, billed as the only waterproof phone on the market and, according to Sonim, able to be submerged in water up to one-metre depths for 30 minutes.
In fact, Sonim is so proud and confident of its latest heavyweight, guidelines supplied with the phone encourage you to drown the handset and drop it from a height of two metres onto concrete.
The water test
Naturally we obliged, conducting the old ‘pint glass test’ while arranging several dates with the pavement. True to the manufacturer’s claims, the XP3 emerged unscathed and fully functional. It even took several calls while taking a swim.
Like the original Toughphone, the XP3 is IP-57 certified, built to withstand temperatures from -20 up to 60 degrees, repel dust and micro particles and, of course, the odd impact.
But to survive the added chance of an underwater adventure the XP3 has considerably bulked up and tightly sealed those nooks and crannies.
The new extra heavy-duty hard plastic armour adds heft and inches to the XP3, while it now takes three screws instead of one to batten down the battery cover.
Remember to tighten these babies before carrying out any water tests – but if you do happen to have an accident, the XP3 comes with an unconditional three-year guarantee.
The phone’s keypad and big button mechanics have also gone through rigorous checks, tested to 500,000 pushes (start counting).
It certainly feels sturdy, while the layout is incredibly spacious and achingly easy to operate – even when wearing gloves.
With the XP3 destined for the builder’s tool belt, hearing the phone over the clamour of a building site is essential. Sonim has dutifully cranked up the ringtone volume to 11; just don’t forget to turn it down after hours.
Unfortunately, there’s little improvement on the already bare bones features line-up.
This means no camera or 3G and the pokey 1.7-inch low-res display remains. Still, sluggish GPRS-assisted internet surfing on the tiny screen is made less frustrating by the new embedded Opera Mini web browser. Elsewhere, a press of a side button illuminates the handy top-located torch.
The XP3 is also geared for the walkie-talkie style push-to-talk communications. But if you want you and your builder mates shouting ‘Roger’ and ‘Wilco’ at each other you will have to grab the phone on a Vodafone contract via YouPoC.
Surviving the vagaries of a construction site and watery hazards is the XP3’s top priority, so we can understand why it’s concentrating on upgrading protection rather than the latest whiz bang features.
It would be nice to see some feature advancement on the XP1, but we’re not going to argue with a phone that’s harder than a titanium-clad armadillo.