A plastic barrier lines the battery cavity to create a firm seal. We had to use the corner of the screwdriver to pry out the battery, at first. In most cases, we frown on any manufacturer that places the SIM card and 16GB-capable microSD card slot behind the battery. In this case, Sonim had good cause. In addition to creating a physical shield, the battery keeps both smaller plastic wafers from dislodging.
Sonim makes lots of promises about the XP3300's durability. It's certified to military specifications for salt, fog, humidity, transport shock, and thermal shock; it can tolerate temperatures between minus 4 degrees and 131 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 20 degrees and 55 degrees Celsius); you can submerge it in 6.5 feet of water for half an hour; you can cover it in oil; and it can endure pressure of 1,000 pounds per square inch. We subjected it to every test we performed on the XP1300 and on thebefore it, including dropping it on a hard surface, throwing it down the stairs, putting it in a freezer, and stomping the heck out of it with a boot.
We also conducted some of our own tests. We called the phone underwater and smashed it on the ground out of a concrete brick Sonim had helpfully poured around one of two test units. We also hammered a small nail into the screen, which created just a scratch. The one test the XP3300 failed was a test where we threw it into the air and watched it land on the concrete. The phone itself still works fine, but the screen is a cobweb of shattered glass. It may not be Sonim's fault. The XP330 Force is supposed to withstand drops of up to 6.5 feet (2 meters) onto concrete. We only eyeballed the toss, but it's possible we overshot the height. At any rate, the phone performed admirably in the majority of the tests. In that one, we managed to push it beyond its limits.
Sonim built its XP3300 Force for strength, not brains. Even so, there are more features in this model than in the sorely lacking Core. The phone book holds 1,000 contacts (with an extra 250 on the SIM) with room in each entry for multiple phone numbers, a fax number, a company name, an e-mail address, a birthday, a street address, a URL, and notes. For caller ID, you can associate contacts with a photo and one of 18 polyphonic ringtones.
The Force supports text and multimedia messaging, in addition to Bluetooth, A-GPS, a file manager, and PC syncing. POP3 and IMAP4 e-mail support are present as well, though the interface is pretty clunky. In terms of entertainment, there's an FM radio and a generic music player that supports MP3, WAV, and AAC files.
The handset also has an Opera Mini browser, with bookmarks, stored pages, and a record of your browsing history. The City Cruiser app does turn-by-turn navigation. Unlike the Core, the Force supports MRM apps (a company's resource management programs) like Xora, ACTsoft, Econz, Spotmaster, and NoteVault for construction workers. Other tools include an alarm clock, a calculator, a unit converter, a world clock, a calendar, a sound recorder, a notepad, a stopwatch, and a text reader.
Don't expect much from the 2-megapixel camera. It takes dull, noisy pictures that you can send via e-mail, photo message, or Bluetooth. It's better than having no camera, as with the Core, but photo quality is poor by any measure. There is, however, a handful of photo tools, such as six white-balance settings, a night mode, and six color effects. For storage, there's 64MB of RAM and there's room for 16GB external memory.
We tested unlocked the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) in San Francisco using AT&T's network. Call quality was remarkably clear on both ends of the line throughout multiple calls. None of us heard much background noise. In fact, if we dropped silent, it wasn't always obvious we were on a live call. Volume was quite strong as well, and voices sounded loud and fairly natural, with a hint of muffling.
Speakerphone was very loud and clear on our end. In fact, it's one of the best loudspeaker specimens we've found on a phone. On the other end, callers said volume was diminished to the point where they had to listen closely to hear. The call was otherwise clear.
Sonim XP3300 Force call quality sample
Sonim kept in mind the long workday shifts of its demographic. The previous model, the XP1300 Core, maintained a rated 18-hour battery life. The XP3300 Force, on the other hand, extends that time to between 20 and 24 hours of talk time. The company says that's 17 hours with continuous turn-by-turn navigation and a full 27 hours using GPS tracking with the corporate applications updating at 5-minute intervals. According to our tests, the Sonim XP3300 Force did result in an astounding 20.3 hours talk time. Sonim claims a standby time of 33 days on its 1,750 mAh battery. FCC radiation tests measure the digital SAR at 0.782 watt per kilogram.