Author Topic: The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?  (Read 5340 times)

Charlotte

  • Dissolute libertine
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The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?
« on: April 04, 2008, 11:33:40 am »
I'll start out by saying that I've always been a gadget freak.  Little boxes of sleek digital loveliness really do it for me and if they're wi-fi enabled, come with GPS and support push email, so much the better.  However, on the way back from the Middle Roads perm 600 last year, like a total numpty, I left my touchscreen P990i smartphone onna train.  I've been using a borrowed Motorola flip-phone since then and it's reminded me of what I was missing.

It's not the first time cycling's done for a phone.  My last one got smashed up by a rogue multitool inside my saddlebag and another went tarmac surfing, just to teach me for cycling and talking on my mobile at the same time.

Since the demise of my smartphone, my desire for portable webby goodness have been largely sublimated by the Asus eeePC which now lives in my courier bag when I'm out and about.  All it needs to get online is a wi-fi hotspot or, a bluetooth dongle and any old mobile phone.

So I found myself looking to buy a phone which was small, bluetooth enabled and... err, just a phone.  My only other requirements were purely practical.  It should be simple, not too expensive and have a good battery life.

I was assuming that I'd end up with a vanilla Nokia soapbar style phone of some kind.  But I had a good look anyway.  I liked the look of the "rugged" Nokia 5500 that a friend of mine had.  Browsing through some online shops and reviews, I noticed mention of the "JCB phone", designed for builders.  That looked interesting...

Despite being now offered on contract by some UK operators, in fact, it's a branding exercise.  The phone is actually a Sonim XP1 of which the manufacturers have this to say:

Quote
Water, wind, dust, dirt, extreme temperatures - only one mobile phone is certified and proven capable of withstanding extreme environmental and industrial conditions: Sonim Tech's XP1.

It's the only IP-certified, unbreakable GSM phone available in Europe, and the only phone engineered to meet the needs of people who work outside and outdoor enthusiasts. The XP1 works perfectly in harsh temperatures, doesn't die when exposed to the elements, can be dropped, kicked, tossed into a toolbox or backpack, seen and heard in bright/dark and noisy conditions, and provides reliable voice, push-to-talk and data services.

Backed by a 3 year warranty - and a lifetime warranty for the phone housing with immediate in-store replacement if needed - the XP1 is the only phone that doesn't compromise on capability, durability or style.

What they don't say there is that this thing is military specification, to US government stipulations.  I don't think there's ever been a Mil-Spec phone before.

But in essence it's just a phone.  There's no camera, no MP3 player, no games, no nothing.  It's not very pretty, it's not very tiny and it's not very bling.  In fact, it's plug ugly.  But despite this, it has what the older generation of Nokia soapbar phones has going for them - it just works.

Just like the older phones from a few years ago, without a huge screen to light up, the battery life is amazing.  Better still, it's recharged by a standard USB connector, so unlike all the proprietary chargers for Sony and Motorola et al, you can use what you use to run your other devices and you'll always be able to scrounge a charge when you're out an about.  Not that you'll need it.

Being designed for hairy-arsed builders, it's as tough as old boots.  I usually wrap my phone in a plastic bag when I'm out riding, but this thing lives in my back pocket and it doesn't matter.  if it gets dirty, just run it under the tap!  There are videos on Youtube of people driving cars over this phone - it's that strong!

Being meant for construction sites, it's loud, too.  Really loud if you want it that way.

In fact, the only thing that I can say I don't like about it doesn't even affect me.  Sometimes, people I'm calling or people I've just called say that they can hear themselves.  It stops after about fifteen seconds, but I think there may be an issue with whatever system the phone uses to cancel echoes.  I don't know - maybe I'm doing something wrong.  But it's no biggie.

It texts well enough, with predictive T9, although it's not as clever as some phones out there.  The screen is colour and backlit, but nothing special at all.  It just does what it needs to do and no more.  It will handle WAP sites, but I can't be arsed to set it up.  Who uses WAP these days anyway?

It comes with a manual, a charger and very nifty little belt clip and holder so that I can attach it to my courier bag and at the press of a button, it uncouples for use.  Also built like a tank (albeit a plastic one).

New batteries can be had for about twelve quid.  I may invest in one next year to keep it's spangly long battery life up to where it is at the moment.

You can buy XP1s unlocked on Expansys for about £220, but I got mine from a bloke in Surbiton who sells them on eBay for much less.  If you want to know who, just PM me. 

I think I'll be hanging onto this one for a lot longer than the last few phones I've had.  Unless I leave it onna bloody train again...

::-)
Commercial, Editorial and PR Photographer - www.charlottebarnes.co.uk

andygates

  • Peroxide Viking
Re: The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2008, 11:50:16 am »
I've been looking at this as a possible replacement should my Nokia soap-bar inna sleeve ever die. 
It takes blood and guts to be this cool but I'm still just a cliché.
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FatBloke

  • I come from a land up over!
Re: The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2008, 12:27:26 pm »
I too have already marked this out as the one to get when my Nokia 5140 expires.
This isn't just a thousand to one shot. This is a professional blood sport. It can happen to you. And it can happen again.

Re: The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2008, 01:20:06 pm »
the phone for people who want to make phone calls . . .

It does look good. I wish it had a camera - I use mine when dissembling engine/wiring etc - just take photos at each stage, it's an instant reminder when reassembling.

I have a Sony Ericsson walkman W800i phone, the first one that came out. It has survived being dropped on the road whilst cycling, mud, dirt and diesel. Buttons are now wearing out, and some minor scratches, but still ok after 2 years. I've booted it across the office a couple of times, just to show people how robust it is.
<i>Marmite slave</i>

Lonewolff

Re: The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2008, 01:29:23 pm »
I have one of those for work and it is amazing. I found it difficult to find a phone which is just a phone, no camera (this was very very important because I need my phone when I visit our data center space, and cameras are not allowed inside).  This one is perfect, it can go bouncing across the room without any problems (unlike my iPhone which has a big dent in the side from a similar experience).

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2008, 01:42:00 pm »
I don't think I can justify that price over a £10-15 bog standard cheapie.
All this ruggedness won't prevent the phone getting left on a train.
By the way, you can recharge a Motorola off a USB (USB -> mini B, same as Canon cameras) cable so long as it's not totally flat.

Valiant

  • aka Sam
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Re: The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2008, 07:01:30 pm »
Sounds good. What are the storage specs like? I'm a sentimental fool and don't like deleting numbers or the odd nice text. Can it be used as bluetooth GPRS modem or anything?
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Re: The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2008, 07:10:41 pm »
I don't think I can justify that price over a £10-15 bog standard cheapie.
All this ruggedness won't prevent the phone getting left on a train.
By the way, you can recharge a Motorola off a USB (USB -> mini B, same as Canon cameras) cable so long as it's not totally flat.

I've got a little adapter for my Nokia that cost something like £10, and fits in my wallet.  I end up charging my phone using my desktop PC at work, far more than I do using it's original charger!
Actually, it is rocket science.
 

Charlotte

  • Dissolute libertine
  • Coffee snob and pencil fetishist
    • charlottebarnes.co.uk
Re: The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2008, 09:13:44 am »
Sounds good. What are the storage specs like?

10Mb

Quote
I'm a sentimental fool and don't like deleting numbers or the odd nice text. Can it be used as bluetooth GPRS modem or anything?

Not tried it yet, but I think so.
Commercial, Editorial and PR Photographer - www.charlottebarnes.co.uk

andygates

  • Peroxide Viking
Re: The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2008, 09:35:45 am »
Godsdammit my Nokia-soap-bar-inna-skin got drenched during yesterday's kayakfest but still won't die!  I'll just have to wait...
It takes blood and guts to be this cool but I'm still just a cliché.
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Re: The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2008, 01:34:03 pm »
...
By the way, you can recharge a Motorola off a USB (USB -> mini B, same as Canon cameras) cable so long as it's not totally flat.

In the case of my Motorola that's ONLY if the relevant drivers have been installed on the computer.
<sitting here surrounded by computers, with the USB cable, and a dead phone as I have no driver >:(>

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2008, 01:43:59 pm »
...
By the way, you can recharge a Motorola off a USB (USB -> mini B, same as Canon cameras) cable so long as it's not totally flat.

In the case of my Motorola that's ONLY if the relevant drivers have been installed on the computer.
<sitting here surrounded by computers, with the USB cable, and a dead phone as I have no driver >:(>

If the battery is dead flat, you can't charge it on a USB cable anyway...

border-rider

Re: The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2008, 01:54:50 pm »
...
By the way, you can recharge a Motorola off a USB (USB -> mini B, same as Canon cameras) cable so long as it's not totally flat.


In the case of my Motorola that's ONLY if the relevant drivers have been installed on the computer.
<sitting here surrounded by computers, with the USB cable, and a dead phone as I have no driver >:(>
Not mine

It only can charge off a USB connector, and it doesn't seem to mind whether that's attached to a Win machine, a Linux box or a power supply.  No drivers were used in the making of this production.

It'll do it from dead flat too.  It has to.

Charlotte

  • Dissolute libertine
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    • charlottebarnes.co.uk
Re: The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2008, 02:17:35 pm »
The Sonim appears to charge dead quick on the wall wart charger, but much slower on the USB.  Not a problem, as if I charge it at my desk, it can take as long as it needs, but just an observation...
Commercial, Editorial and PR Photographer - www.charlottebarnes.co.uk

Really Ancien

Re: The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2008, 02:47:36 pm »
How scratch resistant is the screen? Is that part of the certification standard. My eyes seem to be getting weaker by the day, so I would like a phone that doesn't need a cover.

Damon.

Re: The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?
« Reply #15 on: April 08, 2008, 02:48:11 pm »
My Nokia USB charger is dumb ie it passively takes power off of the USB bus, and doesn't appear to the PC whatsoever (ie no data connection, just power).

Theoretically this should limit the current to 100mA, since USB devices can only draw 100mA until they request more from the PC, at which point they can request up to 500mA (iirc).  A smarter charger requiring more current should request that from the PC, so has to be more complex, and would need a driver.
Actually, it is rocket science.
 

Charlotte

  • Dissolute libertine
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Re: The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?
« Reply #16 on: April 08, 2008, 03:06:01 pm »
How scratch resistant is the screen? Is that part of the certification standard. My eyes seem to be getting weaker by the day, so I would like a phone that doesn't need a cover.

Damon.

Having only had it a little while, it's hard to give you a definitive answer.  It appears to be made out of tougher than usual stuff though and I'd not be surprised if it managed to avoid scratches.
Commercial, Editorial and PR Photographer - www.charlottebarnes.co.uk

clarion

  • Tyke
Re: The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?
« Reply #17 on: April 08, 2008, 09:38:50 pm »
There's a very +ve review of the JCB phone in, IIRC, Country Walking mag this month.

And a chance to win one!  :thumbsup:

Hey - why am I telling you?  Forget I mentioned it - I wanna winna gadget  ;)
We are all just prisoners here of our own (mobile) device.

Re: The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?
« Reply #18 on: April 08, 2008, 10:07:35 pm »
There's a very +ve review of the JCB phone in, IIRC, Country Walking mag this month.

And a chance to win one!  :thumbsup:

Hey - why am I telling you?  Forget I mentioned it - I wanna winna gadget  ;)
He doesn't remember correctly - it's in TGO this month. :)
Quote from: Kim
^ This woman knows what she's talking about.

clarion

  • Tyke
Re: The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?
« Reply #19 on: April 09, 2008, 04:51:25 pm »
There's a very +ve review of the JCB phone in, IIRC, Country Walking mag this month.

And a chance to win one!  :thumbsup:

Hey - why am I telling you?  Forget I mentioned it - I wanna winna gadget  ;)
He doesn't remember correctly - it's in TGO this month. :)

d'Oh! Yes.  You're right.  But keep it under your hat!  ;)
We are all just prisoners here of our own (mobile) device.

mattc

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Re: The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?
« Reply #20 on: April 09, 2008, 04:55:28 pm »
There's a very +ve review of the JCB phone in, IIRC, Country Walking mag this month.

He doesn't remember correctly - it's in TGO this month. :)
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Dave

Re: The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?
« Reply #21 on: April 09, 2008, 06:11:32 pm »
OK. I've bought one.  :D

I didn't really need a new phone, but Charlotte's review was very persuasive...

It arrived yesterday and I like it. Chunky, decently heavy and not that unattractive (looks like something from Aliens - therefore is fine by me).

One thing I've noticed is that if I dial a number I'd stored on the SIM card when it was in my old phone, the call connects, but only at the other end - I can see the timer counting up, but can't hear them and they can't hear me. If I try three or four times, is magically starts working and I don't have the problem again.

Anyone else noticed this (Tesco Mobile, by the way).

mr endon

Re: The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?
« Reply #22 on: April 10, 2008, 02:47:06 pm »
I don't have a mobile 'phone, and seem to get along as a cyclist without one.
You need to know lots of people to justify having one, and that's never seemed worth the risk.

Re: The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?
« Reply #23 on: April 10, 2008, 02:56:09 pm »
Err what risk ? And why do you need to know loads of people to justify having one ? I'm hardly Mr Mobile phone (they laugh at my ludicrously small phone bills at work) but they are really useful to ring and say your going to be late / have forgotten what you were supposed to buy in the supermarket / have fallen off your bike and it's raining and it's 15 miles home please come and fetch me.
PAYG and a cheap phone, no risk at all.
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that.

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: The Sonim XP1 - a rugged mobile phone for cyclists?
« Reply #24 on: April 10, 2008, 02:57:40 pm »
I don't have a mobile 'phone, and seem to get along as a cyclist without one.
You need to know lots of people to justify having one, and that's never seemed worth the risk.

I do have a mobile phone, but don't use it much by many standards. [Edit: I spend about £1 per week on my PAYG]

I like:
Being able to call a cab from the warmth of the pub.
Calling my Mum to help me get out of a cab one minute before I arrive.
Sending text messages as instant postcards (I sent Dad one from the Knossos; that way he knew I'd landed OK but I didn't disturb him.)
Calling for anything from anywhere, without getting off my ****
I heard one chap order a takeaway meal from a train, at just the right time for it to be ready when he reached the shop by his destination.