Sonim XP7 hands-on: The ruggedized Android smartphone built to withstand active lifestyles

More and more people are hitting the slopes, diving through muddy pits, leaping over fire, and working in extreme weather conditions. The Sonim XP7 can handle all of these arenas and more.

Sonim XP7 hands-on: The ruggedized Android smartphone built to withstand active lifestyles

Field workers, outdoor sports participants, and those with extremely active lifestyles often end up destroying powerful touchscreen smartphones. Sonim will soon be launching the Sonim XP7 Extreme that can handle even the toughest workplace or outdoor arena.

I have spent the last few weeks with a preproduction model SIM-unlocked XP7, taking it underneath a 350 foot ferry in rainy Alaska, out for runs on trails in the Pacific Northwest, and on to the sunny beaches of Florida. It has withstood all the elements and gave me peace of mind no matter what environment I was in.

As a professional engineer and marine salvage engineer, I spend a lot of time in shipyards, crawling around in tanks, and surveying damaged ships. I also enjoy participating in weekend mud runs. Given these work and play environments, the Sonim XP7 may be a perfect fit for me. 

It is also worth noting that the Sonim XP7 supports LTE networks. I was able to test out this model using AT&T's LTE network in the US.

Hardware

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There are a few current ruggedized smartphones, such as the Kyocera Hydro Life and Samsung Galaxy S5 Active, but I have yet to see one that can match the extreme protective design of the Sonim XP7.

The Sonim XP7 isn't just an Android smartphone installed in a rugged shell. It is built like a tank from the ground up. The first thing you will notice is the hardened rubber molded black housing with yellow highlights. There are physical front buttons for back, home, and recent apps button.

The four inch 480x800 pixel display is made of Gorilla Glass 2 and includes support for using gloves on the display. It looks great both inside and outside.

In the upper right of the device you will find what looks like an antenna from phones we used a few years ago. This nub actually houses an extremely bright indicator light and an ear-shattering 19mm loud speaker capable of output up to 103 dB. You will hear this phone while working outside and also be able to clearly see when you have a waiting notification.

The left side houses the power button, push-to-talk (PTT) button, and camera capture button. The right side has a volume button and a red custom application button.

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The SIM card slot and headphone jack are both covered with waterproof sealed covers and are found on the top. A proprietary Sonim connector is found at the bottom to charge up the XP7.

The 8 megapixel camera and LED flash/torch light are found at the top of the back. The screwdriver needed to access the covers is included in the package.

The Sonim XP7 is 137 x 72.1 x 20.8 mm and weighs in at 290 grams. Much of that weight is due to the massive 4800 mAh battery that seems to last forever. I easily went days with the device, even with extended usage. A battery like this is exactly what the field worker needs to make sure a full shift or two are completed before charging.

The Sonim XP7 is IP68 rated for complete submergibility in water up to 2 meters for 30 minutes and IP 69 for resistance to high temperature pressure washing. It is impact resistant up to 2 meter drops onto concrete from any angle. In addition, it is rated to withstand sudden shocks up to 30G, extreme pressure up to a ton, 4J of impact energy, and temperature resistant from -20 degrees Celsius to 55 degrees Celsius. It is also resistant to petroleum oils and cleaning agents.

Sonim is so confident in the rugged nature of their new smartphone that they offer a three year comprehensive warranty that even includes accidental protection coverage. You won't find anything like this anywhere else on the planet.

Bob Plaschke, CEO of Sonim Technologies, stated:

Our unmatched three-year comprehensive warranty proves how much we believe in our product. Individuals with extreme outdoor lifestyles choose to rely on Sonim ultra-rugged devices endorsed by professionals in the most demanding environments. In addition to being the optimal smartphone for those working in harsh conditions, the XP7 is also the perfect device for weekend warriors who play in ‘extreme’ environments. Adventurous explorers and thrill seekers now have access to a smartphone as fearless as they are. We expect extreme selfies to be taken to a whole other level.

Software

The Sonim XP7 is powered by a 1.2 GHz quad-core processor running Android 4.4 KitKat. The experience is nearly a pure Google experience, much like the Moto X. It actually felt like I was using the Moto X and that is a great thing for Sonim.

Like the custom experiences Motorola added to make the Moto X even better, Sonim has a couple of nice touches here. These include a torch/flashlight shortcut on the lockscreen, inclusion of an FM radio, and a double press of the recent apps button to launch the menu.

Availability

Sonim will soon be launching an Indiegogo campaign for the US launch of this device. Make sure to check the Sonim XP7 Extreme site around 25 November and sign up to be alerted to the campaign. It is available for Bell and Telus in Canada as well.

I am very interested in seeing the launch price for this device and can tell you from my own experiences that field workers and weekend warriors will greatly appreciate the Sonim XP7 construction and performance.

Final initial thoughts

I recently completed my second 12-mile Tough Mudder competition and wish I had the Sonim XP7 along with me to capture some fun and memorable moments of the extreme obstacles. My wife and daughters were not able to see me out on the course and I would love to have shared what I went through in the 30+ obstacles.

The Sonim XP7 reminds me of the Moto X with its nearly pure Google Android experience and flawless performance. While the display is 800x480 pixels, it looks crisp and clear at the four inch size.

Battery life has been absolutely stunning. I actually had to check to make sure everything was running properly because I just couldn't believe there was still plenty of power remaining days after I started using it regularly.

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