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printed July 24, 2014
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Review: Sonim XP Strike for Sprint

Form Performance Basics Extras Wrap-Up Comments  17  

Screen

The Strike's screen measures 2 inches across the diagonal and includes 240 x 320 pixels. It's certainly not the worst screen I've seen on a rugged device. It’s bright and colorful, and I had no trouble using it outdoors. From an arm's length you can't see individual pixels, but hold the Strike any closer than about 18 inches from your eyes and you can see them start to appear along the edges of icons and letters. It’s a good screen for this class of device.

Signal

Sprint sent us two Strikes to review and both behaved the same on Sprint's network. The Strike is not an LTE device. It uses Sprint's CDMA EVDO and 1X networks, and includes individual signal meters for each. The Strike performed above average when compared to other Sprint devices. It always held onto the network and was always able to make/receive phone calls. Neither device gave me any network-related trouble whatsoever.

Sound

Uh oh, here it comes: the bad news. Normal cellular phone calls with the Strike are absolutely horrible. Volume in both the earpiece and speakerphone is quite good, but volume is no substitute for horrendous quality. The earpiece, in particular, seemed only capable of producing teeth-rattling screeches that were incomprehensible. People with whom I spoke didn't have any trouble hearing me, however, and said I sounded fine in their device. The quality of calls improved only a little bit when routed to the speakerphone. Switching to PTT doesn't make much of an improvement. Walkie-talkie conversations were slightly less awful, but still of astoundingly poor quality. Ringers and alerts are incredibly loud, and the vibrate alert could rouse a bear from hibernation. Both review units exhibited these behaviors. It’s a challenge to protect a speaker from the elements without muffling the sound, but most other rugged phones do a better job than this.

Battery

In a word, the battery life is amazing. Three days was the least battery life I got with the Strike. The Strike packs a massive battery and the feature phone operating system sips power conservatively. You can easily wait a day or two in between charges.

Ruggedness

The Strike can handle blowing rain, salt fog, vibration, shock, and dust. According to Sonim, it can also withstand 6-foot drops to concrete, as well as a 30-minute bath in water that's two meters deep. I took it sledding and snowshoeing over the weekend and it didn't mind sitting in the snow for a while. I had it in my front pocket when I rocketed off the top of a ramp, lost my sled, and came crashing down on top of it (it was an epic wipe out). I kicked it around my driveway, threw it down the street, put it in the sink when I washed my hands, and subjected it to all sorts of other abuse. It’s still working just fine. It lives up to is tough image.

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