The Sonim Land Rover S2 is a rugged phone which is able to withstand water, dust and extreme shock thanks to its IP68 certification. Shipped with a 3-year manufacturer's guarantee, it boasts a super-tough case design and a scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass screen.
The phone retails for around £360 SIM-free and unlocked to any network.
Should I buy the Sonim Land Rover S2?
Super-thin mobiles with blisteringly fast chips and massive, high-resolution displays are all well and good, but the sad fact is that most of the world’s most powerful and desirable mobiles are woefully ill-equipped to deal with accidental drops, water damage and general wear and tear.
That’s where the Sonim Land Rover S2 comes in. This is the kind of phone which laughs in the face of the elements and bounces off concrete like a rubber ball. It’s water-proof, dust-proof, shock-proof and scratch-proof, making it one of the most resilient phones on the market.
Naturally, this kind of protection -- coupled with the very basic processing power, lack of apps and small screen -- should tell you that this isn’t aimed at your inner-city fashionista.
The Sonim Land Rover S2 is for serious outdoor types and people who work in the rough and tumble outdoor world. If you spend the majority of your day on a building site or working outside no matter the weather, then you need a phone you can rely on, and this fits the bill.
Compared to the JCB Toughphone ProSmart -- which runs Android -- the Sonim Land Rover S2 looks technologically weak, but it offers more impressive protection. The JCB-backed device has IP67 certification, compared to the S2's superior IP68 -- it also lacks proper physical buttons, which makes it less suitable for wet, outdoor conditions.
If you’re looking for something which slips effortlessly into your pocket, runs all the latest apps and can record crystal-clear HD video, then you’d be better off investing your cash in a modern smart phone.
One option to consider is the waterproof Sony Xperia Z, which is infinitely more powerful and capable of surviving a dip in the wet stuff, but doesn't possess the same robust shock-resistance as the Land Rover S2.
Design and display
When Sonim’s designers sat down to draft out what they wanted from this phone, it’s likely that one of the prime objectives was to make a handset which could survive nuclear armageddon.
Fashioned from hardened rubber fused to a super-tough fibreglass frame, the Sonim Land Rover S2 is built like the proverbial brick outhouse and is capable of withstanding practically any punishment you can throw at it. It boasts IP68 certification, which means it can endure total submersion in water of up to 2 metres in depth for an hour. It’s also completely dust-resistant and can survive a drop of 2 metres onto solid concrete. In short, this is the Jason Statham of mobile phones.
Of course, all of that protection doesn’t make for a particularly attractive piece of technology; the Sonim Land Rover S2 is bulky and at 185 grams, a bit on the portly side. Unless you’re on a building site 24 hours a day, it’s not what you could ever describe as fashionable.
Touchscreens are impossible to use when they’re covered in greasy grime and you're wearing a pair of thick, mud-encrusted workman’s gloves, which is why the Sonim Land Rover S2 doesn’t have one. Instead, it features a 2-inch TFT screen with a 240x320-pixel resolution, covered with 1.5mm thick scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass. According to Sonim, the screen is capable of surviving a 50g steel ball being dropped on it from a height of 4 metres, so you need not worry about cracking the glass when you absent-mindedly put your keys in the same pocket as this bad boy.
The display is disappointing when compared to the ones seen on high-end smart phones, but it does the job well enough -- text is legible and the screen is bright and colourful. For those times when you’re not looking directly at it, the Sonim Land Rover S2 has a stupidly loud speaker -- presumably designed with those busy construction site conditions in mind.
Software, connectivity and camera
There’s not a sniff of smart phone software on offer here - the Sonim Land Rover S2 uses a basic proprietary OS which calls to mind the era before iOS and Android arrived on the scene to shake things up a bit. It covers all of the basic tasks, such as making calls, sending text messages, browsing the Web and tinkering with your settings, but aside from primitive Java-based downloads, there’s little in the way of proper app support.
The Sonim Land Rover S2 offers 2G and 3G connectivity, as well as Bluetooth for file transfers and wireless connections. Wi-Fi doesn’t make the cut, but seeing as the tiny 2-inch screen is hardly suited to viewing funny cat videos on YouTube, that’s not too much of a loss.
Equipped with a basic 2-megapixel camera, the Land Rover S2 isn’t going to replace your point-and-shoot digital snapper any time soon. Photos are ill-defined and fuzzy, and video recording is just as disappointing. The phone’s submersible qualities mean you can take underwater movies though, which isn’t something a lot of phones can boast.
Battery life and storage
Remember the good old days of mobile phone ownership when you only had to charge your phone once a week at the very most? The Sonim Land Rover S2 is doing its bit to revive that era, offering quoted stamina of 22 hours talk time and a whopping 1,500 hours standby. I’ve little reason to doubt those lofty figures -- even after a week of solid usage, the phone isn’t anywhere near running out of juice.
For storage, the Sonim Land Rover S2 has a microSD card slot which accepts media up to 16GB in size. You’ll primarily use this for storing photos, videos and music, as the phone comes with a reasonably decent media player, and can handle a wide range of formats, including MP3, WAV, AAC, 3GP and MPEG4.
A phone which costs almost £400 and doesn’t have Wi-Fi and has more in common with the “dumbphones” of the past than modern Android and iOS handsets? Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but the Sonim Land Rover S2 isn’t your typical mobile. It’s not aimed at the kind of person who wants cutting-edge processing power and the latest version of Angry Birds, but at individuals who work in environments where the Samsung Galaxy S3 wouldn’t last five minutes.
If you’re one such individual, then the Sonim Land Rover S2 is the kind of phone that could potentially last you a lifetime. Not only is it impervious to water and dust, it’s also got a resilient screen and can survive drops onto solid ground. The battery life is also amazing, which is a prime consideration when you’re onsite and away from a plug socket for days on end.
Compared to the likes of the HTC One and Nexus 4, the Sonim Land Rover S2 is incredibly unsophisticated in the technology stakes, but it’s the toughest phone I’ve ever seen -- Chuck Norris has probably had one on backorder for months. If all you need is something that can survive a dunk in your pint, perhaps consider the likes of the Xperia Z instead. But if you need a device which is almost impossible to break and are content with just making calls, sending texts and occasionally browsing the Web, then your prayers have been answered.