Review: Sonim XP7
The XP7 runs a completely stock version of Android 4.4 KitKat. That means the lock screen supports the usual set of passwords and other protections. There's one added shortcut on the lock screen, and that's to the flashlight.
The rest of the menus operate exactly as they do on any KitKat phone. There are minimal home screens active out of the box, and they aren't littered with widgets and shortcuts. In other words, it takes only a few moments to customize the panels to suit your own needs. The app menu is laid out in a clean grid. Apps are listed alphabetically, but you can drop them into folders if you want. There's no list view option.
Sonim hasn't dressed up the settings menus at all. It's a simple and straight-forward tool for managing the XP7. Similarly, the notification shade is devoid of extras, like toggles for the radios built into the main screen. Instead, it offers only notifications and access to the Quick Settings with a two-finger swipe.
Sonim stuck the 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 in the XP7. This chip generally does a good job and I didn't notice any hiccups in performance while reviewing the phone. The XP7 ran smoothly.
Calls and Contacts
The stock Android phone app is among the default shortcuts pasted into the dock at the bottom of the screen. Pressing the phone button dials up the stock Android phone app. You can swipe sideways to access the call log and your favorite contacts. The call log provides some information about calls (time, duration) in addition to shortcuts for redialing or sending a text message to those numbers.
Owners interested in using the XP7 as a walkie-talkie on AT&T's network will want to download AT&T's enhanced PTT application and sign up for the service. It costs a few extra dollars per month but is worth it for the ease of walkie-talkie style conversations on the job site.
Contacts are automatically synced with your Google accounts if you use Gmail, but also support ActiveSync, Exchange, and IMAP databases. Contact cards — or direct dial or direct message shortcuts — can be placed on the home screens, which give you instant access to your close contacts. You can also add people to your Favorites list, which is visible in the phone app and includes a homescreen widget.
The Sonim XP7 comes with the same stock Android communications apps that are on every other Android device. That means Gmail, email, messaging, Hangouts, and Google+. The older messaging app is the default SMS/MMS client when you first boot the Sonim XP7. You can switch the default messaging app to Google Hangouts if you want, but you don't have to. The latest version of Gmail is particularly powerful, as it handles non-Google email accounts. Popular social networks are absent, so you'll have to pluck them from the Play Store yourself.
Sonim is hitting its stride in its quest to make the best rugged phones for demanding industries. The XP6 and XP7 are the company's best efforts to date, and represent much more than just two phones, with support for a whole ecosystem of software and specialized accessories.
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