Looking for a rugged phone? Read this Sonim XP5s review and find out our assessment in many areas from its performance, design, camera, to the battery.
Not every phone consumer wishes for a smartphone with all the latest technology. That’s why feature phones remain a popular choice for a certain group of people.
Phones like Sonim XP5s target an even more specific market niche. It’s marketed as an industrial-strength handset with extra endurance than a normal phone.
Sonim XP5s packs a military-grade body that can handle harsh environments. This phone caters to consumers who have to deal with extreme situations, such as those who work outdoors.
In this Sonim XP5s review, we will take a look at this more, along with the phone’s basic features as a communication device.
Sonim XP5s specifications:
- Weight: 260g
- Dimensions: 141 x 64 x 23mm
- OS: Proprietary OS
- Screen size: 2.64-inch
- Resolution: 320 x 432
- CPU: 1.4 Ghz Quad-core, Qualcomm Snapdragon 427
- RAM: 2GB
- Storage: 16GB
- Battery: 3180mAh, Removable
- Rear camera: 5MP
From the appearance alone, anyone can tell that Sonim XP5s is designed for special circumstances. We see here a thick rubber material encloses the edges for one clear reason. The extra bumper has a shock-absorbing purpose.
Thanks to the robust design, you could drop this phone at times and it would still run alright. However, not too much since this phone is not unbreakable when subjected to a strong and overwhelming impact.
This phone is also IP-68-rated waterproof. The manufacturer claims it can be submerged to 2 meters for 30 minutes. The phone will be safe as long as you remember to close the ports and connectors and to not submerge the phone under saltwater. Apart from being shockproof and waterproof, Sonim XP5s is also dust resistant.
The rugged specification is not without its drawbacks. We practically need to unscrew to open the back cover for the battery and SIM card. It does take a bit of effort due to the protective measures this phone has.
At least a screwdriver is included in the box when you purchase the phone. The extra bulge makes the phone slightly uncomfortable to hold. It has a dimension of 141 x 64 x 23 mm and weighs 260g. It can feel too big and heavy.
As for the layout, expect to find more things that are unusual. The Power key is located at the top. There is an emergency button and a dedicated Sonim SecureAudio port instead of a headphone jack.
It’s clear that Sonim XP5s is not your common commercial phone. Keys on keypad protrude more for error-free typing. It ensures easy operation, especially when wearing gloves. However, some people would think the buttons are too small.
Read also: Sonim XP5s User Manual
If the body of the phone is well-protected, so is the display. The 2.64-inch screen is coated with Corning Gorilla Glass. The protection means the display is scratch resistant. Again, it’s suitable for a phone designed for extreme environments.
Aside from the protection measure, the quality of the display itself is nothing special. We got a TFT LCD display with a resolution of 320 x 432. The size at 2.64 inches does not provide much space for the phone’s content. A necessary choice since the phone can break more easily with a larger display.
Sonim XP5s features a colorful display. It looks nice and sharper than typical feature phones. It’s because the compact screen versus the resolution creates higher pixel density than average basic phones. For a phone a customer would use outdoors a lot, this is an important thing.
There aren’t many configurations available for the display. You can stretch the brightness to the maximum for outdoor visibility. You can also set a wallpaper. Menus and icons may look too small for some people, due to the limited display size itself. But overall, the phone has a decent display, if not above average if you count the Gorilla Glass protection.
The camera setup on Sonim XP5s exceeds our expectations. Instead of finding out the usual 2 MP setup, here we got 5 MP cameras on XP5s. This setup caters to a certain profession that still needs to take occasional pictures for their job. The phone delivers with its high-resolution camera, although it’s not as high as a smartphone camera.
There’s also an LED flash alongside the camera. The flash helps when taking pictures under inadequate light. The quality of the picture improves a bit. In addition, you can use this LED flash as a torchlight. Activation is as easy as shaking the device twice. During an emergency situation, this gesture is certainly useful.
Back to the camera, you will get only a rear camera. The rear camera has a fixed focus lens. Meanwhile, a front-facing camera is absent. And it’s understandable either. Selfies are always the least priority for a feature phone, especially the heavy-duty one like this Sonim XP5s.
The Camera app provides some basic settings including Flash, Exposure, and File Format. You can Zoom in and out to adjust the viewfinder. Pictures are automatically saved in the Gallery. There are only two shooting modes, the normal mode which lets users take normal pictures. Then there’s the camcorder mode to take videos.
Sonim XP5s also offers above-average specifications for storage. Here we got 16 GB of ROM as the internal storage. Out of that 16 GB, around 6 GB is reserved for the system. There is still plenty of 10 GB space left for users to store their personal files.
If it’s not enough for you, there’s an expandable storage option. The maximum allowed capacity is 128 GB, which is a lot for a basic phone. Just like with the SIM card, you will need to unscrew the back cover to install an SD card. But other than that, Sonim XP5s review on the storage is mostly positive.
Sonim XP5s runs on Qualcomm Snapdragon 427 processor. Again, it’s something we rarely find on average basic phones. The quad-core processor has a processing speed of 1.4GHz. As a comparison, many basic phones use the 1.1 GHz Snapdragon 210. So Sonim XP5s can process tasks a lot faster than most of its peers.
For such a small phone, we’re also delighted to find out that a 2 GB RAM is installed on the system. Accompanied by a proprietary OS, navigating the phone was fairly smooth. The phone was quick when we launched apps and services. There’s a Push to talk button for easy access when calling. It responds fast and is helpful to save time when you’re busy.
Sonim XP5s added several accessibility features to make the phone easier to use. You can configure shortcut keys. Screen readers feature allows Talkback and text-to-speech. You can also assign an application to a key for the faster app launch.
When pressing the Left navigation key, you’ll see the Quick Settings menu. Here you can turn on Mobile hotspot, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth instantly. It’s also where you can activate the torch or flashlight. Notification can be accessed by selecting the Right navigation key, where you can see missed calls, events, and new messages.
Users migrating from Android will find the phone’s icons and menus familiar. We felt like we were seeing a smartphone’s screen. Fonts and notification icons seem to adopt Android design, including the default wallpaper.
Apps range to basic apps to some niche apps. Basic communication apps include the usual Messaging and Phone app. There are also multimedia and entertainment apps such as Music, Gallery, and FM Radio. Some phone-specific features are present such as Verizon Cloud and FieldForce, a data collection app.
Since Sonim XP5s is not a smartphone, apps are pre-installed and you can’t download a new one. The phone is largely for callings, so anything else is not as comfortable as when using a smartphone. Mainly because the small screen feels limiting when typing emails or surfing the internet.
To conclude, it will take a while to understand how to navigate around Sonim XP5s menus and services. The performance is decent, but understanding the software with all the shortcuts and special features can be difficult for non-techie users. It’s more than just a basic phone, but also a work phone, especially for people working on a field.
A 4G LTE connection is a no brainer with Sonim XP5s. On top of that, the phone is also equipped with noise cancelling technology on its microphones. We were pleased to see that the dual 100dB+ loudspeaker is really loud. It’s perfect for important phone calls in a noisy industrial environment.
Meanwhile, the MIMO antenna for LTE reduces the risk of dropped calls. We experience strong reception too for both calls and mobile data. The phone also supports Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS. Miscellaneous features such as tethering and hotspot are also available.
For advanced features, there are VPN and Ethernet, but there’s no NFC capability. Sonim XP5s uses USB type-C as its charging and data transfer port. This phone also supports OTG, which means it can read data from a USB pen drive.
The 3180mAh Li-Ion battery on Sonim XP5s is twice as large as the average battery of basic phones. It’s around the same capacity as average entry-level smartphones. Since it has to power a heavy-duty phone, it’s important for the battery to last as long as possible.
According to the manufacturer, the phone can last 560 hours on standby. Talktime is 22 hours, which is way longer than talk time on smartphones. You can listen to music for 18 hours non-stop with this capacity. When used for internet and browsing, it will need around 10 hours before the battery needs recharging.
Sonim XP5s is not a typical basic phone. So expect the price won’t be in the affordable range either. You can buy one at $288, or through a 24-months installment at $12 a month. It’s certainly not cheap, but it’s worth the price. You get an ultra-durable phone with loud speakers, noise cancellation, and packed with other features as well.
Our overall conclusion for this review is largely positive. Because we think this phone is worth considering. It’s certainly not for general consumers. But if you’re working in a specific field where you need a tough phone, this phone is going to be a reliable companion.
Do you have something to add about the Sonim XP5s review? Write on the comment below and let us know what you think.
- Tough military-grade body
- Gorilla Glass display
- Accessibility (shortcuts)
- Clear and loud audio
- Noise cancelation
- Work-related features
- Large battery
- Needs extra effort just to take off the battery
- Big built and heavy
- Small keypad buttons
- Configurations can be confusing
- No headphone jack