When you stroll past a mobile phone surrounded by a school of 100 colourful fish in a tank of water, it's quite the challenge not to ask, "Excuse us, but why have you built a phone for mermaids?"

Sonim's Quest phone is, it transpires, not a phone for submarine fish-ladies. Rather, it's a freezable, drownable, drive-overable, drop-tested-to-2m phone for the world's butterfingers, builders, mountaineers and arctic explorers.

On the inside it's mostly just your average tri-band setup -- 176x220-pixel, 65k colour display, 2-megapixel camera, MP3 player, Opera Mini Web browser, stereo Bluetooth. It's got GPS and a turn-by-turn navigation app, though no 3G data connectivity -- just EDGE and GPRS.

But you can freeze it, drive a car over it, submerge it in up to a metre of water for 30 minutes, drop it from head height on to concrete and throw it in a tank of oil. You can pretty much beat the bejeezus out of it and it'll keep working. If you don't make a call, it'll stay alive for up to 62 days on standby, and it offers 18 solid hours of talk time.

And if it does somehow cave to the terrors of nature -- or a baby -- Sonim offers an unconditional three-year guarantee to replace it. 

It'll cost you around £300 SIM-free direct from Sonim's Web site, where you can also read more technical details about its built-to-be-beaten-the-hell-up certifications. More photos over the page.

Many more fish in this photo.
The phone out of the tank.
The back of the XP3 Quest.
A better look at the camera and built-in ultra-loud speaker.

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