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Ulefone Armor 22: Affordable Rugged Phone Review

Although alternative designs boast superior processors, increased memory, and extended battery life, this particular model scales down these aspects to offer a cost-effective solution that seamlessly merges functionality with outstanding features.

Pros:

  • Cost-effective
  • Impressive specifications
  • Exceptional camera sensors
  • Rapid 33W charging

Cons:

  • Limited to 4G connectivity
  • Restricted to 2K video recording
Ulefone Armor 22: Affordable Rugged Phone Review

ULEFONE ARMOR 22: QUICK OVERVIEW

In the ever-evolving world of rugged smartphones, a noticeable divergence has emerged. On one path, we have robust devices boasting substantial batteries, while the other leads to sleeker alternatives like the Ulefone Armor 22, prioritizing practicality over Tesla-like battery endurance.

Design and Build

Available in black or black with subtle green accents, the Armor 22 embraces the quintessential rugged phone aesthetics. Robust metal edges with a tactile isometric relief and angular corners create a distinctive look. Key buttons are conveniently located, with the power and volume rockers on the right and a customizable button and SIM card slot on the left, ensuring a seamless transition for most users.

Versatility and Connectivity

What sets the Armor 22 apart is its inclusion of a 3.5mm audio jack and a SIM tray accommodating two Nano SIMs and a MicroSD card, eliminating the need to make a difficult choice between them.

Camera Innovations

A noteworthy departure is observed in the camera department, featuring dual 64MB sensors on the rear – one serving as the primary lens and the other as a night vision sensor. Notably, Ulefone employs the new SONY IMX686 sensor, yielding impressive results.

Processing Power

While prioritizing camera excellence, Ulefone opted for the MediaTek Helio G96, a slight step below the widely favored G99 chip in terms of processing power.

The Ulefone Armor 22 combines a sleek design with practical ruggedness, catering to users facing challenging environments, be it rain or desert dust. Remarkably, this well-crafted device comes at an affordable price, making it an enticing choice for those seeking reliability.

ULEFONE ARMOR 22: PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

  • Price: Starting at $220
  • Availability: Currently in stock
  • Purchase Options: Direct from Ulefone or leading online retailers, including Amazon and AliExpress.

The Armor 22 offers a choice of two colors and two memory sizes, 128GB and 256GB. Prices fluctuate widely based on the purchasing platform, with AliExpress offering the most economical but lengthier shipping times.

Buying directly from Ulefone, the smaller storage variant is priced at $220, while the larger one costs $240. It’s worth noting that Ulefone does not currently ship this phone to Europe.

On Amazon.com, the 128GB model retails for $270, and the 256GB version for $290. Additionally, there is a $50 coupon available, making the price difference quite minimal. Thus, opting for the 128GB model is advisable only for those on a strict budget.

Given its specifications, the Armor 22 presents an exceptional array of features at a reasonable price point.

Value Rating: 5/5

ULEFONE ARMOR 22: SPECS

ULEFONE ARMOR 22: SPECS

ItemSpecification
CPUMediaTek Helio G96, Octa Core, 2.05 GHz, 6nm, 4G
GPUARM Mali-G57 MC2
RAM8GB LPDDR4X
Storage256GB UFS 2.2
Screen6.58-inch FHD+ 120Hz
Resolution1080×2408
SIMDual Nano SIM + MicroSD
Weight324g
Dimensions176.8 x 84.9 x 15mm
Rugged SpecIP68/IP69K, MIL-STD-810G, standard 60529
Rear Cameras64MP SONY IMX686 Primary, 64MP OV64B Nightvision
Front Camera8MP OV8856 Sensor
NetworkingWiFi 5, Bluetooth 5.2
OSAndroid 13
Battery6600mAh (Max charge 33W – 11V 3A)
ULEFONE ARMOR 22: DESIGN

ULEFONE ARMOR 22: DESIGN

The Armor 22 retains a touch of sci-fi style, with isometric patterning for improved grip, yet it’s not unattractive. An octagonal camera cluster on the back prevents flat-lying but explains the absence of wireless charging.

This phone excels in functionality, with easily located metal buttons, a large and bright screen, a top-mounted audio jack and IR blaster, and a versatile SIM card tray accommodating dual Nano SIMs and a MicroSD card. Weighing just 324g, it’s remarkably light among rugged phones.

The only drawback is the numerous rubber plugs that make the Armor 22 waterproof, which may lose effectiveness over time. On the positive side, the USB-C port plug is securely held with a screw, suggesting replaceability, although Ulefone doesn’t list it as an accessory.

Design Rating: 4/5

ULEFONE ARMOR 22: HARDWARE

In a market saturated with the MediaTek Helio G99, encountering the G96 inside the Armor 22 was unexpected.

The G96, unveiled in June 2021, relies on a less advanced 12nm process compared to the G99’s 6nm process, which arrived eleven months later.

While the G96 operates at a slightly lower clock speed (2.05GHz versus the G99’s 2.2GHz), it lags by around 10% in terms of performance and is notably less power-efficient due to its older fabrication process (around 25% less efficient). This has implications for battery life.

The Armor 22 sports 8GB of RAM, even though the G96 can handle up to 10 GB. Although it lacks a feature mapping storage as RAM, 8GB suffices for most tasks.

The unique camera options set this phone apart, which we’ll delve into shortly. It’s worth noting that the G96 supports GSM, 2G, 3G, and 4G but lacks 5G support.

Hardware Rating: 4/5

ULEFONE ARMOR 22: CAMERAS

ULEFONE ARMOR 22: CAMERAS

The Ulefone Armor 22 boasts a unique camera setup:

  • Rear Cameras: 64MP SONY IMX686, 64MP Omnivision OV64B Night Vision
  • Front Camera: 8MP Omnivision OV8856

Traditionally, three-camera clusters include a primary sensor, night vision, and a macro option. However, the Armor 22 takes a different approach. It equips the 64MP SONY IMX686 with a set of six lens optics for close-up work and adds a dedicated 64MP sensor for night vision, the OmniVision OV64B.

The IMX686 features a larger sensor area, resulting in superior low-light performance and reduced grain, thanks to pixel-binning. The default image resolution is 16MP, but it can capture 64MP shots when needed.

In Night Vision mode, full 64MP quality is retained without pixel binning.

Both sensors deliver exceptional photographic results, particularly the IMX686.

However, there’s a letdown in video recording. Despite the 64MP capability, the camera app limits video to 2K at 30fps, falling short of the sensor’s 4K at 60fps rating.

The 8MP OV8856 front sensor offers 1080p video capture, which suffices for most users.

Notably, the Armor 22 lacks Widevine L1 encryption, limiting video streaming quality to 480p on major streaming services.

Camera Assessment: The cameras shine with photography but have limitations in video recording and streaming quality.

ULEFONE ARMOR 22: PERFORMANCE

The Armor 22 delivers satisfactory performance:

  • Benchmarks showcase its capabilities.
  • Slightly lags behind G99-powered devices.
  • Adequate for everyday tasks and light gaming, though not a powerhouse.
  • 6600mAh battery, while decent, falls short compared to some rugged phone competitors.
  • Efficient battery usage, with 33W fast charging for speedy replenishment.
  • Unfortunately, no wireless charging option is available.

Performance Assessment: The Armor 22 offers decent performance but doesn’t match the prowess of Dimensity or Snapdragon SoCs.

ULEFONE ARMOR 22: VERDICT

Leaving aside cost-cutting measures like the G96 SoC, the Armor 22 offers exceptional value for its price. A solid screen, impressive camera sensors, and decent battery life make it a compelling choice for outdoor adventures or on construction sites.

While lacking 5G and 4K video, such omissions are common in this price range. Notably, the phone’s practicality stands out. Unlike bulky, brick-like phones, it’s pocket-friendly for a day’s work.

For those seeking a rugged, no-nonsense design capable of handling tough conditions, capturing quality photos, and ensuring global functionality, the Armor 22 is worth considering.

SHOULD I BUY A ULEFONE ARMOR 22?

AttributesNotes
ValueA great phone for a modest price (5/5)
DesignExcept for the camera cluster, it boasts a thoughtful design (4/5)
HardwarePowered by the G96, not the G99, which is a slight drawback (4/5)
CameraDual 64MP rear cameras, but 4K video recording is not supported (4.5/5)
PerformanceSlightly slower than G99 devices, but user experience remains fine (3.5/5)
OverallOffers more than expected for its price (4.5/5)

Buy it if:

  • You need a rugged phone for outdoor use.
  • Photography is a priority with excellent 64MP sensors.

Don’t buy it if:

  • 5G support is a requirement.
  • You require 4K video capture; this phone offers up to 1440p resolution.

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