Sonim XP Strike review: Poor design and camera plague tough device

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
MSRP: $129.99

The Good Sprint's rugged Sonim XP Strike includes basic Web features and push-to-talk Direct Connect.

The Bad The XP Strike charges through a 3.5mm jack, has a few design flaws, and takes terrible pictures, and its display collects moisture after a dunking.

The Bottom Line While the Sonim XP Strike is tough as nails, Sprint has other rugged devices that are better not only in performance, but in price too.

Visit for details.

6.0 Overall
  • Design 5
  • Features 7
  • Performance 6

Though it isn't the sleekest device, the Sonim XP Strike from Sprint isn't anything to mess with. Fulfilling military-grade specifications for ruggedness, the handset can survive the toughest of environments. It's shock-resistant, waterproof, and dustproof, and can withstand up to 1 ton of pressure (so don't feel too bad if you accidentally run it over in your driveway with your SUV).

The carrier's first Sonim phone, it not only expands Sprint's rugged lineup, but it also features Sprint Direct Connect, which enables callers to quickly communicate with one another at a push of a button.

It's available now for $129.99 after you sign a two-year contract and send in a mail-in rebate.

With its thick rubber accents and bright yellow markings, the XP Strike looks like what Bumblebee the Transformer would carry around for its cellphone. Like most rugged devices, it's bulky, with a thick, 0.98-inch profile.

At 6.52 pounds, it also has a heavy construction, and it measures 4.95 inches tall and 2.3 inches wide. It won't fit comfortably inside front jean pockets, and don't expect to hold long conversations comfortably with it pinned between your shoulder and cheek. Again, this handset is meant for those working in an industrial, outdoor setting.

Sonim XP Strike
The XP Strike has a thick profile, but slim buttons. James Martin/CNET

On the left are its push-to-talk Direct Connect button and two outlets for the headphone jack and charging port. These are both covered by a plastic door. Take note that the charging port is not for a Micro-USB, but rather a 3.5mm jack. While it's nice that the phone does come with a 3.5mm jack charging cord, as well as an adapter, it still is inconvenient. You'll always need these specific accessories around, and you can't simply connect your device with someone's Micro-USB charger if you're out of the house and need a quick power-up.

On the right are the power rocker and a shortcut button that has two options. You can long-press it, which will continuously turn on the flash, or click it once and it'll activate the camera.

The back has a 2-megapixel camera and LED flash. Below those are 23mm speakers that are protected by narrow vents. The battery is protected by a thick plastic back plate and two screws. Sonim includes a tool to unscrew these, if you ever want to access the battery and the microSD card underneath it.

The 2-inch QVGA display has a 240x320-pixel resolution. It's not much, but it's enough to render text and simple icons clearly. The backlit also adequately brightens the display, and the Corning Gorilla Glass screen itself is 1.8 millimeters thick to ensure durability.

Below the screen are four navigational keys with a center select button, two selection keys, clear and back buttons, keys to make and end a call, and an alphanumeric keypad. All these buttons are a bit small, but easy to press and spaced out well.

There are some general design flaws, however. Seeing as the handset is so wide, it's a wonder that the side buttons are so narrow. They're also difficult to press, and you'll need to push down extra-hard to adjust the volume or open the camera.

Secondly, it won't stand upright on its own because its bottom edge rounds outward. When you use it as a walkie-talkie with Direct Connect, it's natural to place it standing, and given its thickness, it should be able to otherwise.

Software and features
As a feature device, the XP Strike includes all the basic necessities. When you select menu, you'll see 12 icons. A few are self-explanatory, such as call history, missed alerts, and My Account, which lets you access your phone bill.

The handset includes a contact book where you can file multiple numbers under one person and you can send them both SMS and MMS messages. Messages are limited to 160 characters and you can only hold up to 1,000 messages. Under the settings icon, you can change your security settings, wallpaper, ringtone, and other such things.