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Sonim XP1

Yes, they make rugged cellphones
(by Conrad Blickenstorfer)

With the exception of perhaps the Apple iPhone and some other smartphones that a couple hundred dollars even with the dreaded 2-year contract, we've come to view cellphones as throw-away items. If they break, exchange it for a new one at the AT&T or Verizon store. As a result, we don't treat smartphones very well, and we don't care if they break. Hey, they're free.

Enter the Sonim Xperience One, or XP1. It's a phone, based on the Philips Nesperia 6120 hardware platform, offered by Sonim Technologies of San Mateo, California, but you've probably never seen one because the company sells it almost exclusively in the European markets though you can buy it online in the US.

What sets this otherwise fairly ordinary cellphone apart is that it's rugged. Sonim states that "the XP1 is designed and engineered to meet the needs of people who use their mobile phones in tough conditions -- working outdoors in all sorts of weather, working in less-than-pristine industrial settings, or engaging in sports such as sailing, snowboarding, skiing or mountain climbing."

What makes the XP-1 rugged? Well, for one thing it's sealed to IP54 specifications. The "5" means it's protected against dust, and the "4" means it's protected against water spray from all directions. It also haas a very wide operating temperature range from -4 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and you can drop it from 5.5 feet to concrete. According to Sonim, the XP1 has been tested according to MIL-STD-810F methods for salt fog, humidity, transport shock, vibration and thermal shock.

The handsome phone's housing is heavily protected by hardened rubber molding, the simple, easy-to-read numeric keypaad and buttons have been tested for a half million pushes, and the whole thing definitely has a tough look. It measures 2.0 x 4.4 x 0.87 inches and weighs 4.5 ounces with battery.

Technologically, the XP1 is a standard Tri-Band GSM phone that uses a SIM card. It has an ARM-9 processor, 8MB of RAM and 32MB of flash. You get about five hours of talk time from the 1,100 mHA battery. There are two speakers. The 1.8-inch TFT has 128 x 160 pixel resolution, can display 65k colors, and has an anti-glare and scratch-resistant screen. No touch or anything fancy. There is Bluetooth and you can do SMS testing or use WAP 2.0.

The XP1 costs US$499 -- quite a bit, even though unlocked phones have a real price and not a 2-year-contract-subsidized one, and rugged always costs more. Still, for that price we'd like to see IP67.

Sonim now plans to enter the US market with another model, the even tougher XP3. That one will be a Quad-Band GSM/EDGE phone with GPS and a faairly high-res camera.

Added/changed Added 10/2008
Form-factor Rugged GSM phone
CPU/Speed ARM-9 processor
RAM/ROM 8MB/32MB Flash
Card slots None
Display type Anti-glare, scratch-resistant color TFT, 65k color, 150 mcd
Display size/res 1.8"/128 x 160
Digitizer/pens None
Keyboard/keys Standard numeric keypad, tested for 500,000 pushes
Navigation Keypad and directional control
Housing Plastic with hardened rubber molding
Operating Temp -4 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit
Sealing IP54
Shock 26 5.5-foot drops to concrete
Vibration protection for 5 to 500Hz
Other MIL-STD-810F for salt fog, humidity, thermal shock
Size (WxHxD) 2.0 x 4.4 x 0.87
Weight 4.5 oz. with standard battery
Power 1,100 mAH Li-Ion, 5 hrs talk, 200 hrs standby
Interface Mini USB charging, 2.5mm headset port, external antenna port
Wireless Bluetooth 1.2, GSM 900/1800/1900
List price US$499
Contact www.sonimtech.com
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