ulefone armor 5 review

Review: Ulefone Armor 5, Flagship Features And Rugged Body On A Budget.

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In a world of £1000 smartphones, it’s nice to sometimes come across a device that doesn’t cost a small fortune yet does come with features that those eye-catching flagships shout about. We’re talking things like dual cameras, full-screen displays, large batteries, fast charging e.t.c.

So when we came across Ulefone and it’s Armor 5 Android smartphone we were pretty gobsmacked. Not only has Ulefone managed to squeeze in most of those all-important headline features into a sub £200 smartphone, but the manufacturer has done so with a rugged twist.

First Look: Ulefone Armor 5 A Rugged Smartphone That Doesn’t Look Like A Rubber Brick
Rugged, smart and pretty cheap!

Rugged phones have been available for years already, but they generally tend to be big rubber bricks with a bright yellow finish and the same specifications that might have looked cutting-edge 5 years ago.

This is where the Ulefone Armor 5 takes a different path. Being a Chinese manufacturer, and smaller than the likes of Apple or Samsung, Ulefone is able to branch out and try new ideas on a smaller scale. The Armor 5 isn’t the first time that Ulefone has pursued the idea of a high-end, rugged phone though, but the Armor 5 is the most polished and feature packed yet.

The Phone

To make the Armor 5 attractive to tech geeks, Ulefone has equipped the phone with a powerful 8 core MediaTek MT6763 running at a cool 2.0Ghz paired with an impressive 4GB RAM and 64GB internal memory. Yes, there are phones that have more RAM and more powerful processors, but unless you’re running benchmarking apps there is a point where it’s difficult to tell the speed from one device to the next. Oh and if 64GB of storage isn’t enough for you then you do have the option to run SD cards up to 256GB in size.

ulefone armor 5 review
The Armor 5 doesn’t mind taking a dip.

If that’s not enough to excite your inner geek, then what about fast 10w charging? Ok, how about fast 10w Qi wireless charging? A huge 5000mAh battery? a fingerprint scanner? Face ID unlock? NFC? and Android 8.1? The Ulefone Armor 5 has it all plus a lot more.

Although wireless Qi charging is an option, there is also a USB Type C plug hidden beneath a water resistant door for wired charging and data transfer. And while we’re talking about plugs and ports, Ulefone has retained the 3.5mm headphone jack on its smartphone, a feature some phone makers are removing.

The features don’t end there though. Dual cameras are located on the glossy rear and include a main 13-megapixel sensor backed up by a secondary 5-megapixel snapper. These dual cameras are used to capture photos with added depth, a similar effect as you would achieve on a DSLR, and similar to the Portrait feature found on the latest iPhones.

ulefone armor 5 review
Despite the large display, the phone isn’t phablet sized.

Dual SIM support is also available on this affordable rugged phone too, but only if you choose not to use an SD card. Ulefone’s SIM tray is a hybrid tray meaning that it will either accept dual SIM cards or a single SIM plus micro SD card.

Last but not least is the huge display. Like other phone makers, Ulefone has moved to a “full display” design for the Armor 5, which basically means that most of the front of the phone is screen, not body. This also means that a larger 5.85in screen is available on a phone that measures around the same as some old school 5.5in phones. The 18.9:9 display has a resolution of 1512 x 720, not Full HD but in use, it proves to be bright and vibrant.

These are impressive specs, more so when you remember that the Ulefone Armor 5 can be found online from under £150. That’s the cost of the phone to own outright, unlocked, without a contract. Bargain!

ulefone armor 5 review
Compared to most rugged phones the Armor 5 is quite the looker.

Physically the Armor 5 isn’t the smallest, thinnest or lightest Android phone on the market, but this is due to a huge battery and the rugged nature of the device.

Ulefone claims that the Armor 5 is IP68 certified. This doesn’t mean you can go swimming with the phone, but you don’t need to worry about dropping it in a puddle or bucket of water, or for that matter, keeping it in a soggy backpack while out on a ride.

To ensure moisture doesn’t get into those delicate electronics Ulefone has added rubberised doors with seals to protect plugs and ports. The headphone jack, USB plug and SIM tray are all protected with these doors which also ensure dust and pocket lint are kept at bay too.

ulefone armor 5 review
Tough enough to ride over.

A touch frame encircles the body of the phone to ward of knock and drops, while that large screen boasts Corning Gorilla Glass 4. A high-end glass designed specifically to survive the riggers a mobile phone endures on a daily basis.

In Use

We handed the Ulefone Armor 5 to Ross, a person who is well known in the office for breaking everything and anything that he handles. The Armor 5 actually came at the perfect time for Ross, as he had just completely destroyed his iPhone.

ulefone armor 5 review
Ross remains happy with the Ulefone.

After 2 months of daily use, Ross still hasn’t managed to destroy the Ulefone Armor 5. The phone is still in good condition despite being dropped, used for riding and hiking, plus the occasional bath in a dirty puddle. So the question to “is it rugged?” Is “Yes, so rugged it is certified Ross proof”.

As a smartphone, the Armor 5 has managed to impress us too. Performance is what we have come to expect from a modern smartphone, and the fact that there wasn’t a noticeable performance difference between this £150 smartphone and an iPhone was a real eye-opener.

ulefone armor 5 review
The rugged design is really well suited to mountain biking.

The dual camera set up on the rear does manage to snap some good photos, and the extra camera adds that depth of field, but lighting has a real impact on the photos shot. In good natural light, you can shoot some stunners, but low-light performance isn’t on par with the latest generation of phones.

One issue we did uncover was the camera apps continued use of the built-in watermark feature. Even with the watermark option turned off, the Armor 5 sometimes still adds a watermark to certain photos. Hopefully, this will be remedied with future over the air software updates.

ulefone armor 5 review
The Android operating system runs smoothly on the 8-core chipset.

Out of the box, battery life was a little inconsistent but it has now settled and seems to confirm the claimed battery specification of 5000mAh. Depending on how the phone is used a full day takes up around 50% of battery power, this is with LTE, WIFI and GPS left on, so in theory 2 full days on a single charge should be possible.

As for the rest of the phone, well it all worked as it should. 4G LTE network support is spot on and we had no issues with signal quality, data connection or call quality.

The Android operating system runs smoothly and bug-free, well expect the watermark issue, and it was easier to switch from iOS to Android than Ross was expecting.

Camera samples

The dual camera Armor 5 can take some quite nice photos.
Rugged enough for riding with the kids.
Ah, remember summer?
Deep blue plus sky blue.
Sunrise or sunset?

3 things we loved

  • Rugged, water resistant.
  • Photo quality is good under correct light conditions.
  • Unfussy, easy to use.

3 things we didn’t like

  • Random watermarks on photos.
  • Low light performance could be improved.
  • Inconsistent battery life

Conclusion

The Ulefone Armor 5 is amazing value for money. When you look at all the features it has to offer, the large display, good camera, battery life, and rugged body, there is no other phone on the market that can come close to it.

ulefone armor 5 review
Taking a bath.

Sure there are lots of phones that are water resistant and have good battery life and even better cameras, but they all cost significantly more.

If you’re after a budget smartphone to keep you connected, then we certainly rate the Armor 5, on the other hand, if you already own an expensive smartphone we would still suggest you look at one for use simply for mountain biking and save your flagship handset for Sunday best.

Review Info

Brand: Ulefone
Product: Armor 5
From: Ulefone
Price: From £150
Tested: by Ross for 2 months

Comments (5)

    Looks good, but the £90 ebay link is for the X model. Sad face

    We’ve passed that on to Skimlinks who make that automatic widget for us.

    Mine turned up yesterday 🙂 Loving it so far

    My wife and I bought a pair when the first review came on ST, and been pleased to bits with them. Not had an issue with battery life, getting an average of two to three days with average use.
    Work at a scrapyard so having a tough phone is handy let alone when riding.
    For the price they can not find any faults and a lot better than the Samsung A3 and A5 we were using.

    Sounds great but where do you get one? £230 on Amazon. Loads of Ulefone models on eBay, where it looks like the 5 is £134 but frankly it’s kind of hard to figure out exactly what’s on offer.

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