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Christmas Gift Guide
Phones

Sonim's XP300 Force might not be smart, but it's rugged as hell

The Sonim XP3300 Force handset promises nearly a day of talktime and an 'ultra-rugged' design that laughs in the face of big drops, antifreeze and, er, concrete.

Stamp on the Sonim XP3300 Force, and it won't bat an eyelid (or whatever the mobile phone equivalent of an eyelid is). Drop it from 30 feet, and it'll bounce back with revenge in mind. Encase it in concrete, and it'll laugh in your face. Although, admittedly, the laugh will be somewhat muffled.

Yes, the XP3300 Force is the latest 'ultra-rugged' phone from Sonim Technologies, a company we once spotted at Mobile World Congress throwing its new handsets around a bar and grinding them against table corners in a (successful) effort to prove how indestructible they were -- although a determined ZDNet UK reporter with a nail was a different matter.

The new model promises similar toughness, along with 20-24 hours talk time and up to 800 hours of standby on a single battery charge. The quad-band phone has a 2-megapixel camera and sports a 2-inch screen, protected by Gorilla Glass, meaning it should be able to handle more table grinding with aplomb.

The XP3300 Force also runs... Java apps. Yes, don't be expecting any of these new-fangled smart phone operating systems here. But then that's not what it's for.

Sonim sells its handsets to companies with workers in extreme environments: think oil rigs, the Arctic and Justin Bieber's road crew. These people don't want to play Angry Birds -- they want to be tracked if they get buried under a girder, snow drift, or hormone-crazed mob of teenage girls (delete as appropriate). Its Assisted GPS helps the handset be located more quickly in these situations, although as far as we know, it doesn't yet support Foursquare check-ins.

The XP3300 Force may not be 'smart' in the smart-phone sense, but it's smart enough for its core tasks of workforce location monitoring, fleet tracking, timecard reporting, real-time work order updates, alerts, job scheduling, event confirmation, data collection and reports. Plus being lobbed around bars to awestruck impressionable journalists, of course.