People still want flip phones—I know because those people email me. There are some businesses with extreme work environments that smartphones can’t stand up to, parents who want to be able to call their kids but don’t want them surfing YouTube, and older folks who simply want to be able to make calls. Sonim’s XP3 is the best stupid phone on the market. It’s a rugged, traditional flip phone that supports 4G calling on AT&T and Sprint. And at $240, it’s our Editors’ Choice for anyone who wants a phone that’s simple, loud, and reliable.
Design and Durability
Sonim has made rugged phones for more than a decade, but most of its phones have had brick-like form factors that weren’t appealing to everyday dunb phone users. The XP3 is handsome—and more importantly, it fits in a pocket. That expands Sonim’s market beyond its usual clientele of building contractors, hotel employees, and forest rangers, and into anyone who wants a good voice phone that won’t break.
The XP3 is made from matte gray plastic, with a casually industrial look. It measures 4.4 by 2.3 by 1.1 inches (HWD) and weighs 6.88 ounces. It’s in the ballpark of classic flip phones from 10 years ago, like the Motorola E815.
It’s also wonderfully tough. The XP3 is IP68 waterproof and MIL-STD-810G ruggedized. Its physical buttons mean it’s fully usable when wet, even underwater. I dunked it for half an hour, and the speaker was a little quiet until it dried out and then it was fine. I then kicked it around like a hacky sack, leaned my full weight on it when the flip was open, and dropped it onto hard surfaces numerous times. If your work or life involves a lot of potential phone damage, this device will pay for itself quickly. Sonim backs all of this up with a three-year warranty. More than anything else, I think this justifies the $240 price.
On the front, there’s a monochrome display showing time, date, signal, battery life, and caller ID. Inside, there’s a perfectly adequate 2.6-inch, 320-by-240 LCD and big, backlit keys with nice separation. There are volume buttons on the side, along with a big, programmable yellow button that in theory is for push-to-talk, but can be set to quickly launch any application.
The only downside is the vibration motor. While ringtones are customizable and loud, vibration is weak; if you throw the dumb phone in a bag, make sure to have the ringer turned up.