Sonim XP1: Does What It Says on The Tin

“Well, they did tell me it was unbreakable… and asked me to do my best to destroy it… and it has a three-year warranty.” Those were roughly the thoughts that ran through my head as my new Sonim XP1 phone described a graceful arc from the top-floor balcony. Time seemed to stand still as my mind extended its nascent parabola to the point where it would inevitably, crunchingly intersect with what my applied mathematics teachers would have termed an “inelastic horizontal plane” – a concrete floor, about 30ft below where I was standing.
The mistake had been all mine. It is one thing to accept an invitation from an inebriated French journalist to join him for a quick whisky to mark the end of his assignment to a warzone – in this case Goma in the Democratic of Congo. (That is plain good manners.) It is quite another to hand said hack your gleaming new handset for him to admire as you stand on his balcony.
“Ah yeees, theeez izz very nice,” he said, moments before apparently losing all control over his finger muscles. The black, rubberised phone popped from one hand to the other as he tried to regain his grasp. In fact he succeeded only in batting it over the balcony railing.
By the time I’d raced down the stairs to the sun terrace a couple of security guards were standing staring at my phone – much as if it had been a jumper. “Nothing to see. It’s all fine. It’s a supertough phone,” I said, not really believing my own words. But there it was, still in one piece, looking for all the world like a phone – rather than an assortment of broken components that might once have been inside a communications device of unspecified appearance. Apart from two scratches on the casing, it was absolutely fine.
So in this regard, the XP1 is exactly what I’m looking for. My last couple of phones have lasted approximately six months. Even my pocket seems to be too hostile an environment for them, causing their coatings to end up scratched. Drop them from a height of 4ft and they exploded.
The XP1 is tough enough for my requirements, but is it any good as a phone? Yes and no. I love that it has no fancy ringtones or FM radio and that its only volume is “loud”. All perfect for my no-nonsense life on the road. If I need a camera then I’ll use my, erm, camera. Ditto radio. The menu is straightforward and easy to navigate. Sure the phone is a little bulky, but that just means I have less chance of walking off without it.
The only real problem is that I can’t pick up any voicemail messages. Dialling 111 seems to send it into SOS call mode (no-one ever picks up, incidentally) rather than accessing my mailbox. My phone network seems clueless about how to sort this, so for the time being I may revert to my old Motorola until I can fix it and save the XP1 for road trips when I need its durability.
That aside, the XP1 is a great phone. It does what I want it to do – allows me to make calls and text people – without bogging me down with all that other stuff I don’t want. And I know that it is French journalist-proof. Perfect.