Sonim XP1300 Core review: Sonim XP1300 Core

For your own look at the tests, check out our Sonim XP1300 First Look video.

The next test was even more gruesome. Using dry ice, we lowered the temperature of a bucket of antifreeze to a frigid minus 20 degrees Celsius before giving the phone a quick bath. Here again, it kept on ticking even if it wasn't entirely unscathed. Though the display continued to shine and the keys registered our commands, the phone's ring volume was much lower immediately after we fished it out of the antifreeze. Sonim said it was a natural effect of extreme temperatures and that the ring volume would return to normal later. Indeed, when we tried it again after some time, the volume was louder.

Keep in mind that we're not guaranteeing that the XP1300 is completely indestructible. Though gadget reviewers, and Sonim itself, have subjected the company's handsets to a variety of torture tests, we've heard from CNET readers who have reported nicks to the armor and scratches on the screen. Also, CNET UK's Charles Kloet was able to break the Sonim XP2 at Mobile World Congress last year. But despite those incidents, the XP1300 Core is stronger than your average phone.

As we said earlier, the XP1300 Core offers everything you need for communication, but not much else. The phone book holds 1,000 contacts 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 pair contacts with a photo and one of 18 polyphonic ringtones.

The XP1300 Core supports text and multimedia messaging. The latter feature is particularly welcome given that we didn't get it on the XP3. 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.

You'll also find Bluetooth, a file manager, and PC syncing. POP3 and IMAP4 e-mail support are present as well, though the interface is pretty clunky. The XP1300 Core lacks a camera, but it does offer an FM radio and a generic music player that supports MP3, WAV, and AAC files.

The Sonim has an Opera Mini browser. Features include bookmarks, stored pages, and a record of your browsing history. The handset doesn't come with any games or applications, though it supports Java.

We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) Sonim XP1300 world phone in San Francisco using T-Mobile service. Call quality was good on some fronts, but not so great on others. We'll start with the high points first.

Placing a call was rarely a problem, and we enjoyed a strong signal once we were connected. T-Mobile's network wasn't so reliable in underground transit stations, but the places we couldn't get a signal were few. Also, we never encountered a dropped call or a failed connection. Audio clarity also was good. Our friends sounded natural, and we didn't notice any static or interference. And on their end, callers said we sounded fine. They could tell that we were using a cell phone, but there weren't any major complaints.

On the downside, however, we found the call volume to be much too low: we had to strain to hear if we were talking in a noisy place. Even when using the phone in a quiet room, we still had to have the volume turned up and hold the phone close to our ear. Sonim says the XP1300 Core has an omnidirectional microphone with noise cancellation, and to its credit the phone did a good job of cutting background noise on either end. But even with that feature, it just wasn't loud enough.

Fortunately, the speakerphone offered more power. The speaker sits on the phone's rear face, but you can hear adequately even when the phone is resting on a table. Speakerphone calls were satisfying to our callers and to us, and we had no difficulties with automated calling systems.

The Sonim XP1300 Core has a rated battery life of 18 hours of talk time and 33 days of standby time. It had a talk time of 10 hours and 3 minute in our tests. According to FCC radiation tests, the XP1300 Core has a digital SAR of 0.601 watt per kilogram.

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