While the Android smartphone market is dominated by brands like Samsung, OnePlus, Xiaomi and Motorola, when it comes to tough, rugged smartphones, I keep coming back to a brand called Ulefone.
I tested the new one Ulefone Power Armor 14 Pro (yes, what a mouthful) and it more than lived up to my expectations.
A few things stand out about the Power Armor 14 Pro. First, it is huge and sturdy, weighing in at 358g. It’s a lot heavier than the iPhone 13 Pro Max that weighs only 240 grams.
The screen is large and of decent quality, and the 720 x 1600 resolution is a good fit for this type of phone.
The sturdy, rubberized, robust shell offers decent protection against drops and bumps. I’ve dropped this device countless times, both accidentally and on purpose — and it still looks and works perfectly.
Since I’m in the UK and it’s summer, I’ve had plenty of time to test the water resistance. It appears to meet its IP68/IP68K rating for water and dust protection and its MIL-STD-810G certification for drops up to 1.5 meters and in harsh environments.
This is a great phone for people who spend their time in the rain and mud and outdoors.
The rear cameras are pretty good too, with the 20-megapixel Sony main camera capable of outputting photos at 3840×5120 pixels and video at 1920×1080 pixels at up to 30fps.
The images and video I took are more than adequate for social media or anything where you don’t want to do a lot of post-processing of the image. I especially like the macro camera, which can get up close to capture an amazing amount of detail.
One thing I wish Ulefone (along with a slew of other smartphone makers) would stop is trying to pass stock footage as sample photos. Fast reverse image search with TinEye shows all photos that used to be stock images.
This is disappointing and trusting, and I call on all phone manufacturers to stop doing this.
The battery is a monster and is more than enough to keep the handset going all day long no matter how hard you use it. And with both wireless and USB-C charging options, it’s easy to top up the Power Armor 14 Pro.
I’ve tested the port with a variety of cables and they seem to work just fine, but the rugged port may be too restrictive for some accessories like docks, so be aware of this limitation (a limitation that is becoming all too common for ruggedized Android smartphones†
One limitation to keep in mind is carrier support. The handset supports GSM WCDMA and LTE and will work with carriers such as T-Mobile. However, it does not support AT&T or CDMA providers.
Let’s get to the price.
At $269.99, the Ulefone Power Armor 14 Pro represents a lot of smartphone for the money.
Sure, you’re buying a device that’s built to a low spec, and the screen, cameras and processor emphasize this, but you’re still getting a handset that’s not only super rugged, but offers really good performance. In fact, I just looked up the price of this unit, and I’m quite surprised that it comes under $300. The fit and finish and feel of this phone are better than I would expect from a handset under $300.
In general I like the Ulefone Power Armor 14 Pro† Sure, you won’t get the very latest here, but as a rugged phone built to survive harsh environments (and heavier users) and carry on, it’s a winner.