I have an ultra-robust device soft spot. When it comes to things like cameras or razor-sharp displays, they may not always be the best phones out there. However it is a good example of what happens when you’re taking a multi-purpose device like a smartphone and turning it into a gadget designed for one thing. That’s sheer ruggedness in this case, and almost ridiculously over-engineered. The Sonim XP8 joins the ring as a new contender for the toughest phone yet. It recently went on sale at AT&T via Android Police,
There’s not much to see here as an Android phone. Instead of the newer Oreo, it still runs Android Nougat. There’s a Snapdragon 630 processor. It also has 4 GB RAM, 64 GB storage (which can be expanded by microSD), which is all pretty standard.
Cameras are a 12-megapixel rear shooter and a front-facing 8-megapixel lens. However if you’re buying the Sonim XP8, you probably won’t have to take pictures. The massive 4,900mAh battery that Sonim claims is good for 30 hours of speaking time or 30 days of standby.
The display is a 5-inch, 1080p panel (pretty ordinary phone specs). And is also puncture-resistant and can be used with (less ordinary) gloves and wet fingers. Also noteworthy is something that has become a bit rare these days: physical Android buttons for home, back, and multitasking, rather than the almost omnipresent icons on-screen.
Sonim XP8 Targeted to military users
Sonim XP8 is design should fit military users or emergency workers. And there is plenty of the feature set dedicated to such demanding use cases. The phone is rated in accordance with MIL-STD-810 G standards for things like dust, shock, rain, and temperature. It is also rated for IP68 (water submersion) and IP69 K (direct water spray).
The pair of 100dB+ front-facing speakers are loud enough for hearing in noisy conditions (say a construction site). The pair of dedicated buttons on the XP8 side, one for push-to-talk communication and a red SOS button to place emergency voice calls to respondents in the event of accidents.
Sonim XP8’s price
Is the XP8 the best smartphone for $699.99 that you can buy? Probably not, if we go through purely specifications. With better hardware, better screens, and a better camera for that price, you can buy any number of more powerful phones. But if you’re someone who needs rugged features of this kind and don’t want to give up a smartphone’s convenience, the Sonim XP8 might fit the bill.
The XP8 may be designed for more demanding jobs such as emergency workers, however AT&T is selling it on its website as a regular phone. Enough to replace broken screens on your iPhone X or Galaxy S9, there’s really nothing stopping you from picking one up yourself.