As the father of several school-aged kids who are eager to have and use cell phones—including my iPhone—I worry about breakage. Fixing an iPhone can cost $200, so I often slap a good, rugged case around mine before I hand it off to anyone. (My current favorite is the Ballistic Hard Core Case, which I reviewed a few months back.)
Sonim Technologies contacted Geek Dad late last year and asked if we’d like to see if any of us could break their Sonim XP5560 Bolt. My kids cheered at the chance to do some deliberate damage to a phone, and I replied, “Challenge accepted.”
When it arrived, we charged it up and checked it out. As a phone goes, it’s your basic few-frills communications device, but it comes stuffed into a rugged, permanent casing with a solid heft and an easy-to-grab feel. It also has the loudest ring I’ve ever heard from a cell phone, enough to wake up even the soundest sleeper. Sonim bills it as being able to withstand being dropped 6.5 feet onto concrete, being submerged into 6.5 feet of water for 30 minutes, and being run over by a forklift.
They have a page full of GIFs that show people testing it out in all sorts of ways, including being taped to a model rocket and fired away, being used as a hammer, and being tossed into a washing machine. There’s even one of it being deep-fried.
My kids had a great time with it, happy to re-enact scenes from Lonely Island’s “Threw It on the Ground.” It held up well—much better than the phone in the video—bouncing back every time.
I gave our sample phone to a few of my sons and their cousins over the holidays, and they took it out onto a frozen lake in northern Wisconsin to play hockey with it. It withstood several minutes of abuse, slap shots and all. (See the video below for a small sample of the ruckus.) The kids then took it to the top of the hill and tossed it toward the frozen lake, and it survived that too.
While horsing around later, though, one of them drop-kicked it with his skate, and that put an end to it. The phone and case show no signs of damage, but something inside it finally gave out. It no longer turns on.
However, Sonim has a three-year “no questions asked” warranty, so if this had actually been my phone, I could have had it repaired for free. It’s available through AT&T in the US (suggested retail is $199) with their ePTT (enhanced Push-to-Talk) service and is intended for use on construction sites and other dangerous places—like homes with lots of kids.
Special thanks to Todd Dunsirn for recording the video, and to Marty, Ken, and Nick Forbeck; Murray, Henry, and Leo Dunsirn; Luke and Matteo Marta, and Max Rawling for taking the phone to the ice and checking it hard.