Bell and Sonim have jointly announced the exclusive Canadian availability of three new rugged HSPA+ push-to-talk phones: the entry-level XP1520 BOLT SL; the Sonim XP5560 BOLT 2; and the the Sonim XP5560 BOLT 2 IS.
We covered the Sonim BOLT last year, which purported to be one of the toughest devices on the market. These three phones extend the functionality of the original — waterproof, dustproof, crushproof, etc. — and add essential features for specific verticals like oil & gas and mining.
Specifically, the BOLT 2 IS, which stands for Intrinsically Safe, has been certified by the Canadian Standards Association to be used in hazardous environments where traditional phones are disallowed due to dangers associated with sparks. The BOLT 2 IS has built-in heatsinks and a protected battery that seals off and cools down the internal hardware, obviating the danger risk.
Both the BOLT 2 and the BOLT 2 IS also come with ‘Lone Worker’, a feature that tracks users’ whereabouts via GPS and, in case of emergency, can be used to connect the individual to emergency services. Sonim uses its cloud servers to keep track the phone’s whereabouts and, combined with specific optimizations from the Bell team, GPS precision is higher than with a traditional cellular device. ‘Lone Worker’ keeps track not just of movement but erratic behaviour, and can be used to automatically trigger first responders in case of emergency.
The BOLT 2 series now has multi-app support which, despite not being a smartphone, means that the phone can perform multiple functions at once. This was necessitated by having push-to-talk and Lone Worker features built in from a firmware level while other functions, like Mobile Resource Management for specific verticals, can be run simultaneously. The original BOLT was limited in this sense, but as Sonim expands its distribution to more Canadian workers and companies, the need to do more at the same time became imperative.
Sonim’s CEO, Bob Plaschke, told me that the company is taking care to ensure all of its devices are 100% usable all the time, even when multiple applications are in use. Push-to-talk is still the key feature, and requires just one button press to enable, with call connection speeds of under one second over Bell’s HSPA+ network. With Sprint’s IDEN network shutting down at the end of June, TELUS’ remaining MIKE customers will be without a roaming partner. Plaschke, along with Bell’s Director of IP Services and PTT, Peter Wilcox, told me that the network provider has a strong roaming partner in AT&T, which has also rolled out HSPA+ push-to-talk, so the experience will be the same above and below the border.
As for the entry-level XP1520 BOLT SL, Sonim is hoping it appeals not just to companies but individuals looking for a rugged device that can withstand a fall. While pricing hasn’t been announced, the BOLT SL will be significantly cheaper than the BOLT 2, but lacks a few features like multi-app support and a GPS, making it suitable for more conventional uses.
All Sonim devices are backed by a three-year Comprehensive Warranty, so in the event the device gets damaged or broken, even by accident, the company will replace it.
Bell says it has seen a tremendous amount of traction from Canadian businesses looking to keep their employees connected in environments that would otherwise discourage phone use — the company says its HSPA+ network is available to 97% of Canadians — and with the BOLT 2 and BOLT 2 IS, Sonim phones will be accessible to customers across in even more verticals like mining, fertilizer plants, grain elevators, pharmaceuticals and oil & gas.
All the Sonim BOLT devices come with practically unbreakable chassis and 1.5mm Gorilla Glass screens. The BOLT 2 is a slight upgrade of its predecessor, including more RAM, a faster processor, NFC support and more internal storage.
The three Sonim devices are coming to Bell in early July for around $229 on contract and $489 outright.
Update: We’ve received a few internal docs today that states both the Sonim XP5560 BOLT 2 IS and the Sonim XP1520 BOLT SL will be available on Wednesday, July 17, 2013. Both devices “are exclusive to Bell until September 30, 2013” – IH