The Ulefone Armor 5 is probably one of the most hyped outdoor smartphones in a long time. That’s not just because it’s the first smartphone of its kind that comes with a notch. The Armor 5 is about to become one of the most stylish outdoor smartphones ever. Not only the appearance is convincing, also the specs are great with the MT6763 Octa-core, 4GB RAM, wireless charging and large battery. Find out in the review how the smartphone did in our test.
Design and build quality
The first time you take it in your hand, you notice that the smartphone is quite slim for an outdoor device and looks hardly any bigger than my own smartphone with cover. It’s just a little thicker. In numbers this means 158 x 76 x 13mm and due to the large battery it is rather heavy with 235g.
The Ulefone Armor 5 has one thing in common with all outdoor smartphones and that is the sturdy frame covered with a rubberized layer. On the left and right are the metal strips, the center of which is decorated with a shiny blue stripe (in the blue version). The blue accents can also be found at the corners of the frame, the contact surface of the lock for the USB connection and the border of the IP-68 symbol. While the metal strips still convey a certain premium feeling, the blue accents look rather cheap, which would have been better omitted.
The build quality is excellent. Everything sits firmly and gap dimensions are practically non-existent. Only on the rear side, the cover around the camera creaks as soon as some pressure is exerted. With the rear, Ulefone uses a similar color effect as some of you might know from the Honor 10. In blue especially, the smartphone is a real eye-catcher. According to Ulefone, the beautiful rear is protected by a robust material that is supposed to endure bumps. In fact, it can withstand the impact of blunt objects. Sharp-edged or pointed objects nevertheless leave well visible scratches, which is a no-go for an outdoor device. What is also striking is that the display is almost flush with the frame, only the two protruding lips of the frame at the top and bottom protect the glass from damage. In fact, nothing happened to the display even after several falls, as long as it was a relatively flat floor. In real terrain, however, this might not be sufficient. Even the rear is deeper in the frame than the front. But falls from normal height on stone or asphalt did not leave any damages. According to the IP68 certification, the Ulefone Armor 5 is protected against dust, dirt and water penetration. The connections are protected by rubber covers, and they also keep their promise. A 20-minute dive did not cause any damage, but underwater the device cannot be operated.
The SIM slot, which is located on the left side of the smartphone, is also closed by a tight cover. On the right side, you find volume control (made of metal) and power button. Both are firmly attached to the case and have a good pressure point. The USB-C port is on the bottom, while the headphone jack is on the top. On the front the sensors, the front camera, a notification LED and the earpiece are located in the notch. There are no soft touch buttons to be found below the display, but the edge is somewhat wider. Instead of the notch, you could have stretched the display downwards and would have gained a lot of screen space as well. The dual camera, the dual LED flash, the fingerprint sensor and the loudspeaker are centrally located on the rear. The sound quality is quite acceptable, but the speaker is still not a highlight. Treble is okay with medium volume, mid-range is present, bass is perceptible. At full volume, the speaker doesn’t oversteer.
All in all, the Ulefone Armor 5 is one of the most beautiful outdoor devices I have ever had in my hand. It offers great build quality and stands out from the crowd. Due to the almost small dimensions for an outdoor smartphone, the device is also quite normal to use and hardly differs from other smartphones with a cover. Only the weight is higher due to the battery, but it’s bearable. The fact that the rear is not quite as stable as that of many competitors disqualifies the Armor 5 as a hardcore companion for the outdoor use. In my opinion, it’s more like a robust smartphone for everyday use.
Scope of delivery
The scope of delivery contains:
- Quick reference guide
- USB-C cable
- Screen protector
- Power plug
- OTG cable
- SIM ejection tool
- Tool for opening the SIM slot
The Ulefone Armor 5 has a 5.85″ display with a resolution of 1512 x 720 pixels. So it’s “only” an HD display with an aspect ratio of 18.9:9, on which no pixel can be seen despite the low PPI. The crooked numbers result from the notch that Ulefone gave the device. This makes it the first outdoor smartphone to follow this “trend”. The screen-to-body ratio is outstandingly good for an outdoor device. The panel processes up to 5 touch points simultaneously and reacts quickly to any input. It is protected by Gorilla Glass 4, which withstood the usual strain during the test period. Since the device has a notch, the corners are faded out black in full screen applications. Unfortunately, the black values of the display are not good enough to actually hide the corners. The notch can’t be faded out permanently either, as is the case with other models. Even if the black values weren’t convincing, the display is at least bright enough to be able to recognize a lot even in the sun. Colors are strong, but customizing the representation via MiraVision or similar is not possible.
The notch is a tiresome topic for many, so how well does Ulefone implement the use of the gained display area? In the left corner time and battery level are displayed. For the battery level there is also enough space to be displayed with percentages. Only a few symbols are displayed on the left side. So the WiFi reception is visible and the reception indicators for both SIM cards, but that’s it. Even if no second SIM card is used, Ulefone is wasting the space gained. Notifications, e.g. WhatsApp messages, are never visible. These can only be seen by pulling down the bar. For me, the notch doesn’t have any real added value, because you can only see the usual symbols in a limited way.
System and performance
Ulefone installed a MediaTek MT6763 Octa-Core (Helio P23) in the Armor 5, which is divided into two clusters, clocking with 4 x 1.5GHz and 4 x 2GHz. It is supported by a Mali-G71 GPU and 4GB RAM. It’s speed is about 5GB/s. The 64GB storage offers space for the data. With 167 or 138 MB/s reading/writing speed, the storage is not outstandingly fast, but sufficient. If the storage is not sufficient for you, you can expand it with a Micro-SD card, but you have to do without the Dual-SIM function.Antutu Result Geekbench Multi Result 3D Mark Result
In terms of performance, the Armor 5 cuts a good figure. The processor is strong enough for common tasks and even more demanding 3D games can be played smoothly. Also the RAM is big enough to run some apps in the background.
The Ulefone Armor 5 runs with Stock Android 8.1. Thus, there is no unnecessary launcher and the system reacts fast. Since the Ulefone phone uses on-screen buttons, you can swap the position of the back and option buttons. The system comes without bloatware and also free of malware, as the scan of Malewarebytes shows. In terms of special functions, you don’t have to do without anything. 3-finger screenshot, additional functions via the fingerprint sensor and more are available. Unlocking via Face-Unlock can be used as well and works excellently, no matter whether the face was read in with or without glasses. On the other hand, it can also be deceived with a picture. By the way, the Armor 5 only has Widevine Security Level 3, so Full-HD streaming via Netflix and Amazon is not possible. But it’s not necessary with a display of this size!
The rear camera is a dual camera with 16MP+5MP resolution. The second sensor serves for the separation of foreground and background and provides for the so-called bokeh effect. For once, isn’t this a dummy? The pictures of the main camera are only okay for my taste. The colors are mostly not real and especially green is often overemphasized. In HDR mode, it usually looks better. Overall, the shutter release time and focus are fast, but in HDR mode the former is clearly too slow and you actually have to hold the phone on a subject for quite some time. Close-ups are convincing with the Armor 5, whereas landscape shots, for example, have some problems with both blur and grain. Nevertheless, the Armor 5 can be used for one or two snapshots, but in this price segment other smartphones get significantly better results regarding the image quality. Even if the second sensor is actually responsible for bokeh shots, the Ulefone still only lays a circular veil over the subject and does not really separate the foreground from the background. And even if the effect disappears when the second lens is covered, it seems as if only a sensor is attached that simply fades out the software effect as long as the lens is covered. So it’s just a dummy again!
The front camera has a 13MP resolution and is a pure disappointment for me. Selfies don’t really succeed somehow and often get blurred, the pictures look faded and even more grainy. Some cheap mobile phones could do that at least as badly.
When it comes to the camera, the Armor 5 couldn’t convince me. For one or two snapshots it is okay, but the smartphone doesn’t take really great pictures. The pretence of a second camera sensor and the extremely bad front camera contribute to a negative image. So the Ulefone Armor 5 clearly concentrates on other strengths.
The supreme discipline of outdoor smartphones is definitely the connectivity part in the review. Ulefone Armor 5 is no exception. The reception during the test period was always great and stable. In the Ulefone can accommodate two Nano-SIM cards or a SIM card and a Micro-SD card. It is therefore a hybrid slot in which the Dual-SIM function has to be sacrificed for storage expansion. The call quality is also good, both on my side and on the receiver side.
2G GSM: 1900/1800/850/900(B2/3/5/8)
3G WCDMA: 2100/850/900(B1/5/8)
4G FDD-LTE: 2100/1800/2600/900/800(B1/3/7/8/20)
The WiFi module, which supports both 2.4 and 5GHz and uses with the standards a/b/g/n, provides the Internet connection at home. Bluetooth 4.0 is available as well, which communicates reliably with my headset as well as with my hands-free kit. Additionally there is also NFC and at the latest here Ulefone’s choice of the rear side material becomes clear.
Otherwise, the Armor 5 relies on a lot of sensors, which is typical for an outdoor smartphone. A gyroscope is a must, of course, and a compass is also available. Proximity, acceleration and brightness sensors are available as always and also work perfectly. The supreme discipline of an outdoor device, the GPS, is mastered with flying colors. It quickly establishes a connection to the satellites within a moment and also navigates perfectly in big cities.
The fingerprint sensor on the rear unlocks the smartphone reliably and also very quickly. Unfortunately, this either seems to be very hypersensitive with our device or it is a general error. So it happened to me in 90% of the cases that the device couldn’t be unlocked after it was taken out of the pocket because I made supposedly already too many attempts. An activation through the trouser pocket with my leg is unlikely and even when I took it out, I was careful not to touch the sensor. In conclusion: yes, it unlocks quickly, but it overreacts, so that it was hardly usable for me.
In the Armor 5, a 5000mAh battery provides the necessary energy to last for a long time. I can confirm the charge insofar as the control measurements of the battery were always between 4500 and 4650mAh. In the benchmark, however, the battery runs out of breath significantly too fast, which is why the smartphone only lasted 7h 45. When I think of other smartphones I have used so far, like the Infinix Zero 5 Pro that with its 4350mAh lasts 13 hours, it’s comparatively weak.Battery lifetime Result Unit: hours
With the Armor 5, you can always get beyond one day of use in reality, even power users, but it often does not survive the second day without a power outlet. With such a capacity, this is simply unacceptable in my eyes and a clear shortcoming. Here, the system must be readjusted again, because the Ulefone somewhere burns energy unnecessarily. To recharge, the device also needs almost 3 hours to all abundance, quick charging is different. But the Ulefone supports wireless charging with up to 10W.