The whole point of a rugged phone is to offer the consumer a durable yet well-designed device built to last. However, the steep price of the Ulefone Armor 11 might not speak to its quality and durability. Can this rugged phone hang with the competition? Find out in Android Authority’s Ulefone Armor 11 review.
See also: The best rugged phones
What you need to know about the Ulefone Armor 11
- Ulefone Armor 11 5G (8GB/256GB): $579/£499/
At $579, the Ulefone Armor 11 sits at the higher end when it comes to rugged Android devices. The device ships in only one option: 8GB of RAM with 256GB of storage, and there is no option to expand storage via a microSD card. It also only comes in black.
The particular unit I tested arrived running Android 10 with no option to update to Android 11, although Ulefone states it’s planning an upgrade for later this year. The Armor 11 currently ships with a December 5, 2020 security patch, which is a little out of date at the time of writing (July 2021).
Operating system aside, the Armor 11 features a single uncovered USB-C port, a SIM card tray on the bottom of the device, and a single firing speaker on the back. Keep in mind there is no 3.5mm headphone jack present on this phone; however, Ulefone does include a 3.5mm to USB-C dongle in the box. Lastly, the Armor 11 features a side-mounted fingerprint sensor and a smart key on opposite sides.
In the box, you get a USB-C charger, a plastic pry tool for the watertight SIM card slot, a glass screen protector, and two USB-C port watertight seals.
The Ulefone Armor 11’s 2GHz processor holds up surprisingly well against more expensive alternatives, and the real-life performance of the Armor 11 was excellent. Moving in and around the menus, different apps, and some light gaming was all very smooth. I did experience a few stutters here and there, but that was mainly in the stock launcher; switching to a third-party one solved that problem. I was particularly impressed with the gaming performance in heavier titles such as PUBG Mobile and Genshin Impact. In both games, the Armor held its own, providing an easily playable experience, with minimal lag only in very high action and demanding scenes.
The Ulefone Armor 11 packs some impressive speed for a rugged phone
Battery performance is another strength for the Armor 11. In my testing, I averaged about eight to nine hours of screen-on time. The 5,200mAh battery easily lasts two full days. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by the outstanding standby time of this device. I don’t have an exact metric for this, but the phone lost about 1% every few hours in my testing. As a result, the phone would last through the night with only about a 3% drain on the battery. Keep in mind that this great performance is largely thanks to the lower resolution display, which comes with its own issues. The Armor 11 is bundled with an 18W fast charger, and I was able to power up the phone from 0% to 100% in 90 minutes. Also, the Armor 11 supports 10W wireless charging.
What’s not so good?
While I was impressed with the performance and stellar battery life of the Armor 11, there are a fair amount of issues when it comes to this rugged phone. The Armor 11 touts a rugged design, with an IP68/IP69K water and dust resistance rating (the latter a step above the more traditional IP68 rating and the highest given to a device). It specifically protects against close-range pressure and high temperatures. Still, even with this rating, I didn’t have a lot of faith in this phone’s durability. The body is made of plastic and rubber with aluminum ridges, but they are very light and almost plastic-like. Ulefone confirmed that the display does not feature Gorilla Glass, but neglected to answer our questions regarding who manufactured the glass.
The ports on this phone feel open and not protected like on other rugged devices, such as the Doogee S96 Pro. Don’t get me wrong, the phone looks rugged, but I’m not entirely confident the device would hold up in harsh environments long term. For example, I dropped the phone onto the floor a few times, and while everything seemed to be okay, the shock almost always caused the screen to pull up an app or menu. The phone comes with a MIL-STD 810G certification, but even that didn’t give me confidence the phone would hold up (and is a step below the latest MIL-STD 810H standard).
See Also: The best waterproof phones you can buy
Also, the “watertight” SIM card slot is a little too easy to pull out with one’s finger. On other rugged devices, the SIM card slot is almost impossible to pull open without a plastic pry tool. Again, the USB-C port does not have an on-device rubber covering, which means the water seal is in the actual port. Ulefone does include some watertight seals in the box, but these are small and incredibly easy to lose. They also jut out from the port and do not sit flush. I’m afraid I can’t see actual consumers using these. Also, the back is made of a seemingly thin plastic that seems likely to crack if dropped on a hard surface. The only durable part of this phone might be the rubber sides, which are thick and absorb a fair amount of shock. The takeaway here is that this phone looks rugged but feels cheap and does not breed a lot of confidence when it comes to durability.
The display’s colors and contrast are reasonably accurate by my eye, but it exhibits some strange artifacting when moving around the OS. This can be particularly obvious while gaming, but I found it distracting when moving in between menus and scrolling through social media. It’s not terrible, but it does detract from the overall experience. Keep in mind this isn’t the only 720p display we’ve seen in a rugged phone, but for a phone this expensive it should have a better screen.
General camera performance is on par with other rugged devices, but the camera does tend to over-soften the edges of the image — and the included 20MP night vision camera is downright disappointing. The Armor 11 supports night vision video recording which is a nice extra, but both videos and photos were very soft and washed out. Also, the camera app does not give you an option to focus the camera in these modes, so you are stuck with a fixed-length focus.
Ulefone Armor 11 camera samples
You can find high-resolution versions of each image here.
Ulefone Armor 11 specs
|Ulefone Armor 11 5G|
1,560 x 720 pixels
19:9 aspect ratio
|Processor||MediaTek Dimensity 800|
|Cameras||Rear penta camera system:
– 48MP main
– 13MP ultra-wide
– 2MP macro
– 20MP IR night vision camera
– 2MP depth
18W fast charging
10W wireless charging
|IP Rating||IP68 / IP69K|
|Dimensions||163.8 x 81.6 x 14.2 mm|
– Sub6G: N1/3/5/8/20/28/38/41/77/78/79
Dual SIM: Nano-SIM + Nano-SIM
|Security||Side-mounted fingerprint scanner
Ulefone Armor 11: Should I buy it?
The Ulefone Armor 11 looks like it offers a considerable amount of features for a rugged phone. It packs a large battery, an IP68/IP69K rating, and a night vision camera, but those features don’t make up for the obvious shortcomings. If you are looking for a rugged phone that’s built to last and has moderately decent features, then the Ulefone Armor 11 isn’t it. While battery and processor performance are both stellar, the extremely cheap build quality and poor night vision camera make the phone hard to recommend. The steep $579 price doesn’t help either, and you would be better off looking at alternatives such as the Cat S62 Pro ($649) or the Doogee S96 Pro ($389). Both offer a better overall experience and cost less. Unfortunately for Ulefone, the Armor 11 is a big miss.
Ulefone Armor 11 5G