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Thread: Sonim XP3 and VoLTE

  1. #1
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    Sonim XP3 and VoLTE

    So, this is not so much a request for help, as it is a (ongoing) story/gripe. But people with interesting ideas to add should feel free to chime in.

    I've got a Sonim XP3 (not to be confused with the XP3 plus) flip phone, with Sprint firmware. As far as I can tell, this model was introduced in early 2019.

    When I first activated it (in 2020), I activated it on AT&T, and it worked fine for a while (in hindsight, I think it was probably just 3G with AT&T). When AT&T started enforcing their VoLTE-compatibility whitelist, this phone was not on it (maybe if I hacked it to AT&T firmware), so I started shopping around for a new provider.

    With Sprint merged into T-mobile by that point, I focused my search on T-mobile-based MVNOs, and ended up selecting US Mobile. According to both the US Mobile compatibility checker, and T-Mobile chat support, this phone is not compatible with their network. Undaunted, I went ahead and ordered a USMobile simcard, and activated it on a $8/month plan to test it out. With the USMobile simcard in the XP3, I can make phone calls to regular phone numbers, and I get a VoLTE icon on the status bar of the phone screen, but 611 doesn't work, and the "123" voicemail dial code doesn't work. I can get voicemail and (presumably--I've only tested voicemail) customer support via 10-digit phone numbers.

    Now the specs of the XP3 appear to hit all the checkboxes for VoLTE, and it gives every appearance of successfully doing VoLTE currently on US-Cellular (-via-TMobile) , but it's still officially "not compatible", which may be related to the 611/voicemail issues.

    I've contacted Sonim on October 13, the manufacturer, and their initial response was "It should work. We'll look into it" I believe my support ticket is still open pending a final resolution. I suspect this is just a question of Sonim haggling with T-Mobile to get the phone added to a compatibility list, or maybe releasing an updated firmware with a few configuration changes.

    I'll post an update when I find out if Sonim rises to the occasion, or just craps out.

    P.S. I'm mainly interested in using this phone for voice -- data and text are not a priority, although I might possibly set up tethering if it turns out to be easy and cheap.

  2. #2
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    Thanks for the report! Although I couldn't go back to a flip now, I'm always interested in hearing about rugged phones. Please keep us posted.

    Before you go down the rabbit hole of changing the firmware on the Sonim, I doubt that it would make any difference to AT&T. At least for now, they seem to be making judgements by IMEI, not by firmware capability.
    My Tello referral code is P3BSR5HV, and gets both of us 10 Tello Dollars to pay for a plan.
    https://tello.com/account/register?_referral=P3BSR5HV

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenhandle View Post
    Thanks for the report! Although I couldn't go back to a flip now, I'm always interested in hearing about rugged phones. Please keep us posted.

    Before you go down the rabbit hole of changing the firmware on the Sonim, I doubt that it would make any difference to AT&T. At least for now, they seem to be making judgements by IMEI, not by firmware capability.
    To be clear, I've given up on AT&T. I realized months before I made the transition that AT&T was more expensive (for my usage needs) than many of the alternatives. Their BS about compatibility (and randomly temporarily disabling my service to drive the point home) just gave me the push I needed to do the research and pick an alternative.

    At this point, I'm focusing on getting my Sprint-branded phone to be "compatible" with a TMobile-based service. I wouldn't bother with AT&T firmware, even if I could get it through official channels. (unless I get a spare XP3 -- I think they're cheap on eBay now -- and wanted a fun hacking project)

  4. #4
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    Sonim answer to becoming compatible was the plus so you should focus on getting Tmobile or Sonim to let you trade that phone for the plus.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by offthegrid View Post
    Sonim answer to becoming compatible was the plus so you should focus on getting Tmobile or Sonim to let you trade that phone for the plus.
    While I would find a no-strings-attached (extremely) low-cost trade-in deal acceptable, I suspect no such offer is likely to happen. However, my support ticket to Sonim is still open, so I suppose it's possible they might offer it.

    And since I'm looking to be a customer of an MVNO, and not TMobile themselves, I don't anticipate getting a good trade-in offer from any carrier.

    The key details to me are: 1) this phone model (in general, not just the phone I purchased) is only 2 1/2 years old. 2) I'm not aware of any technical reason why this phone should be incompatible with TMobile, and suspect the main reason is just "it's not on the list".

    P.S. The XP3 is dual-sim (though not the good kind) and the XP3-plus is not, so from my perspective, this wouldn't be trading up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bsammon View Post
    To be clear, I've given up on AT&T. I realized months before I made the transition that AT&T was more expensive (for my usage needs) than many of the alternatives. Their BS about compatibility (and randomly temporarily disabling my service to drive the point home) just gave me the push I needed to do the research and pick an alternative.

    At this point, I'm focusing on getting my Sprint-branded phone to be "compatible" with a TMobile-based service. I wouldn't bother with AT&T firmware, even if I could get it through official channels. (unless I get a spare XP3 -- I think they're cheap on eBay now -- and wanted a fun hacking project)
    I had the exact Sonim XP3 (Sprint) you have. I upgraded from a Doro cell on Consumer Cellular (AT&T SIM) to this Sonim and it worked. But as 3G began to degrade, so did the Sonim. I now realize it was using 3G only. I called the manufacturer and they swore it was 4G (yeah, right). I tried to get CC to send me a TMobile SIM thinking that would solve things. They said it was labeled as a 3G and they could do nothing to activate it. Several times I checked the phone and called CC to make sure VoLTE was turned on (it was).

    No other IMEI checker identified this cell as passing. Well, Mint said it passed but I didn't believe it. I have a new cell and the Sonim is a paper weight. Lesson learned that you can't trust when it says it's 4G with VoLTE that it really is.

    Sent from my moto g(7) power using HoFo mobile app

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsammon View Post
    According to both the US Mobile compatibility checker, and T-Mobile chat support, this phone is not compatible with their network. Undaunted, I went ahead and ordered a USMobile simcard, and activated it on a $8/month plan to test it out. With the USMobile simcard in the XP3, I can make phone calls to regular phone numbers, and I get a VoLTE icon on the status bar of the phone screen, but 611 doesn't work, and the "123" voicemail dial code doesn't work. I can get voicemail and (presumably--I've only tested voicemail) customer support via 10-digit phone numbers.
    The 123 voicemail code and the 611 code should be unrelated to VoLTE. If it's working on T-Mobile and the LTE logo stays illuminated during a voice call, then it should be using VoLTE. So far, T-Mobile hasn't said they will boot users off the network that are using devices not on their approved list, unlike AT&T.

    So unless they change their approach, the phone should continue to work for some time since it seems to actually be using VoLTE...

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    Quote Originally Posted by mizwiz View Post
    I had the exact Sonim XP3 (Sprint) you have. I upgraded from a Doro cell on Consumer Cellular (AT&T SIM) to this Sonim and it worked. But as 3G began to degrade, so did the Sonim. I now realize it was using 3G only. I called the manufacturer and they swore it was 4G (yeah, right). I tried to get CC to send me a TMobile SIM thinking that would solve things. They said it was labeled as a 3G and they could do nothing to activate it. Several times I checked the phone and called CC to make sure VoLTE was turned on (it was).
    I'm pretty sure it does have VoLTE (of some sort), but I think you need a firmware update to activate it; I did. My phone initially had 3A.0.2-04-8.1.0-29.24.03 , and later had 3A.0.4-05-8.1.0-29.47.00, but I think upgrading to 3A.0.5-05-8.1.0-29.70.00 was the big difference. (However this is all complicated by the fact that I only had an AT&T sim to test with when I did both those upgrades). For a few weeks, I had US Mobile service on the phone with a VoLTE icon in the status bar.

    Quote Originally Posted by mizwiz View Post
    No other IMEI checker identified this cell as passing. Well, Mint said it passed but I didn't believe it.
    Hmmm... I tried the Mint compatibility checker, and it said not-compatible for my phone. I would have seriously considered switching (pending reading some customer reviews of Mint) if it passed the compability checker, as I would have interpreted that as a promise of (some degree of) support.

    Oh, and the Mint compatibility checker labels it a "Sonim XP3 Enduro", which is a 2G candybar phone from 14 years ago. Thanks, Sonim for recycling model numbers (okay, yeah, this one's technically a XP3800) and making this that much more confusing!

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    Starting yesterday, this phone (with the US Mobile simcard I've been using in it successfully for about a month) now does not connect any more, displaying "No Service".

    Since previous tech-support conversations with US Mobile went along the lines of "What's your IMEI? Oh. that's not compatible. Goodbye", I'm not looking forward to trying to fix this.

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    I'm also wondering if I'd have better luck using a Verizon (or Verizon MVNO) simcard in this phone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bsammon View Post
    Starting yesterday, this phone (with the US Mobile simcard I've been using in it successfully for about a month) now does not connect any more, displaying "No Service".
    Okay, false alarm. I monkeyed around with some of the settings, and now it's back up. This suggests that the connection problem was the result of previous settings-monkeying on my part. I need to start keeping a log of my settings-monkeying.

    I don't exactly remember the session of settings-monkeying that caused the problem, but I suspect it may have been in response to a transient/temporary network outage (i.e. in attempting to fix a temporary network outage, I made it more permanent-ish)

  12. #12
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    I didn't try a firmware update. I just gave up on this Sonim XP3 Enduro (Mint's finder said this for me too). I chose the Sonim because my father needed a cell that has alot of speaking since he's blind. The Sonim worked well for that.

    My father now has a MiniVision2 from Raz Mobility (for blind people) on Mint Mobile. Working well and now I don't have to mess with this situation.

    Sent from my moto g(7) power using HoFo mobile app

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