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Ulefone's Power Armor 14 Pro is a super tough, no frills, sub-$300 phone

If you're looking for a ruggedized Android smartphone that won't break the bank, this is worth a look.

While the Android smartphone market is dominated by brands such as Samsung, OnePlus, Xiaomi and Motorola, when it comes to tough, rugged smartphones, I keep coming back to a brand called Ulefone.

I've been testing the new Ulefone Power Armor 14 Pro (yes, what a mouthful) and it more than lives up to my expectations.

Ulefone Power Armor 14 Pro

First, let's get the tech specs out of the way.

  • Processor: MediaTek Helio G85, 2.0GHz octa-core
  • Screen: 6.52-inch HD+ display, 720 x 1600 resolution
  • System: Android 12
  • Camera: 20MP Sony camera + 2MP macro camera + 2MP depth sensor + 16MP front camera
  • Storage: 6GB RAM + 128GB ROM (supports up to 1TB microSD card)
  • Battery: 10000mAh, supports 15W wireless charging (Qi standard) and fast charging, USB-C, 9V/2A
  • Cellular: 3G/4G with dual nano-SIM card
  • GPS: GPS + GLONASS + BeiDou + Galileo support
  • Biometrics: Face unlock and fingerprint ID
  • VoLTE: Hardware support (depending on carrier support)
  • Size/weight: 175.6x82.5x17.2 mm, 358g

It comes with an applied tempered glass screen protector, a spare screen protector, a decent charge cable, and a SIM tray eject tool.

A few things stand out about the Power Armor 14 Pro. First, it's huge and chunky, weighing in at 358 g. It's a fair bit heftier than the iPhone 13 Pro Max that only weighs 240 g.

Big and chunky!

Big and chunky!

The screen is big and of decent quality, and the 720 x 1600 resolution suits this type of phone fine.

The chunky, rubberized, rugged shell offers decent protection against drops and bumps. I've dropped this handset numerous times, both accidentally and on purpose -- and it still looks and works perfectly.

Also, being in the UK, and with it being summer, I've had plenty of time to test the waterproofing. It seems to live up to its IP68/IP68K water and dust protection rating, and its MIL-STD-810G certification in drops from up to 1.5 meters and harsh environments.

The  Ulefone Power Armor 14 Pro happy in the rain

The  Ulefone Power Armor 14 Pro happy in the rain

And water!

And water!

This is a great phone for people who spend their time in the rain and mud and outdoors.

The rear cameras are also pretty good, with the 20-megapixel main Sony camera capable of outputting photos at 3840x5120 pixels and video at 1920x1080 pixels at up to 30fps.

The images and video I've taken are more than adequate for social media or anything where you're not going to want to do a lot of post-processing on the image. I especially like the macro camera, which can get in close to capture an amazing amount of detail.

One thing I wish Ulefone (along with a load of other smartphone makers) would stop doing is trying to pass stock imagery off as examples photos. A quick reverse image search with TinEye shows all the photos used to be stock imagery.

This is disappointing and erodes trust, and I call on all handset makers to stop doing this.

Genuine photo from the main camera (scaled down to 25%)

Genuine photo from the main camera (scaled down to 25%)

Genuine photo from the macro camera

Genuine photo from the macro camera

The battery is a monster and is more than enough to keep the handset going all day long, no matter how hard you're using 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 it seems to accommodate them fine, but the ruggedized port might be too restrictive for some accessories such as docks, so be aware of this limitation (a limitation that's becoming all too common for ruggedized Android smartphones).

One limitation to bear 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 carriers.

Let's come 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 been built to a low spec, and the display, cameras, and processor highlight this, but you're still getting a handset that is not only super-rugged but also offers really good performance. In fact, I only just looked up the price of this handset just now, and I'm quite surprised that it comes in at under $300. The fit and finish and feel of this phone are better than I'd expect from a sub-$300 handset.

Excellent fit and finish

Excellent fit and finish

The  Ulefone Power Armor 14 Pro in its natural habitat

The  Ulefone Power Armor 14 Pro in its natural habitat

Overall, I like the Ulefone Power Armor 14 Pro. Sure, you're not getting cutting edge here, but as a rugged phone built to survive harsh environments (and harsher users) and keep on going, it's a winner.

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