My phone’s not dumb, it just looks it.

Well actually it is a little.

For my money, the height of the smartphone age was 2009-2011. That brought us the Nokia n900 and Nokia n9. Both brilliant for their own reasons. There were devices before that which I’d be happy to have back. But nothing since then. Sure, the Ubuntu Edge or Neo900 would have been great. But they never came to be.

So my current phone is chosen to match my lifestyle: A rugged Sonim XP5 . It runs Android. Without the full store, but you can sideload apps. It has no touchscreen, and only a numeric keypad. But it’s still pretty decent for one-handed operation. It does what I want out of a phone:

  • Calls
  • SMS
  • Email (with hacked K-9 Mail version)
  • Alarms and timer.
  • Flashlight, on/off with one button, no going through gui.
  • Browser. Just useful enough to look up a business, see its hours, and call.
  • Hotspot for laptop for anything more serious.
  • Waterproof (wash it under running water)
  • Rugged
  • 3 or more days battery life.
  • FM radio


I wrote this some time ago but hadn’t posted it. Very lately I’ve actually been playing with sailfish. I really like the interface, but it’s not very reliable. I’m considering trying out ubuntu touch. I don’t really want to buy another phone (nexus 5), and ubuntu touch is known to not be working fully on my secondary phone, but I should be able to help with that, especially as there is mention of not attaching to LXC containers *duck*. Just have to decide I’m willing to remove sailfish.

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14 Responses to My phone’s not dumb, it just looks it.

  1. Joe says:

    Hi S3hh, this post really caught my eye. The “dumb” / “smart” phone thing is a fun conversation. Nice review of the Sonim XP5, too. You also mention that you’re interested in Ubuntu Touch and maybe even helping out. In any case, if you have any questions, then please feel free to send me an e-mail or join us in the Telegram group( , if you haven’t already. 🙂

    • s3hh says:

      Thanks – I’ve stopped by the #ubports irc channel, which I gather is bridged to the telegram group? I got as far as trying a failed build of the sony experia x port, but no further as of yet.

  2. What do you mean by being able to “sideload” apps on the XP5?

  3. Mike says:


    Great post, I am really impressed with the sonim xp5 too, it has all the staples you mention and is tough as hell. I have tried installing various older versions of K-9 mail but they will not install on this phone. Would you be able to give us any more information about the ‘hacked k-9 mail’ you mention, where this may be available etc? I cant find any info on google at all about basic email apps for non touch screen phones. Thanks for your time and best of luck!

  4. Shreyash Mahajan says:

    I am facing the same issue as @Mike says. I have made an APK file from the given branch But sadly, it is not being installed in to the Sonim Xp5. Can you please help me with how to generate an APK file that can be helpful to installed the APK file into this device and can be usable?

    Shreyash Mahajan

    • s3hh says:

      Just to be clear, you successfully built the .apk? Can you be precise about where / how it is failing? You copied it to your phone (adb push), opened it with the file explorer, and tried to install, and it refused?

      • Mike. says:

        Hello S3hh, thank you for your replys. Regarding the ADB push, I just moved the APK file into downloads folder on the Sonim via drag and drop, when connected to pc via USB. Is the ADB method essential in moving the file onto the phone?
        Thanks again for your continued support.

  5. Mike. says:

    Hello again, Just to confirm it is a rooted xp5700 with USB debugging switched on!
    Many thanks,

    • s3hh says:


      using adb push is not essential, although now looking at the manpage again, i *probably* did ‘adb install x.apk’ from my laptop. Can you try that?

  6. Mike says:

    Apologies for the delay and thanks for your reply again. I will surely get round to trying this just as soon as I have moved home! Thanks again and have a good weekend.

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