Unihertz Jelly 2.0 review: Tiny Android 10 smartphone packs a punch

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A couple of years ago I tested Unihertz's tiny Atom rugged phone and found it useful for fly fishing, running, and camping. Unihertz launched its original Jelly phone in 2017 and three years later is rolling out a new Kickstarter campaign for the Jelly 2.0.

For the past couple of weeks I have been carrying the Jelly 2.0, much to the amusement of my family who has watched me carrying and using a phone that fits in the palm of my hand. It has a display that is 51% larger than the first Jelly with improved cameras, rear fingerprint sensor, and double the battery life of the first model.

Also: Unihertz Atom hands-on: Rugged tiny 4G smartphone keeps you connected in the field for less than $300

Specifications

  • Processor: MediaTek Helio P60 octa-core 2.0 GHz
  • Display: 3.0 inch 854x480 pixels resolution TFT LCD, Gorilla Glass
  • Operating system: Android 10, confirmed update to Android 11 will be provided
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 128GB internal storage with microSD support
  • Cameras: 16-megapixel rear camera and 8-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Wireless technology: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, GPS/BEIDOU/GLONASS, FM radio, infrared
  • Sensors: Fingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity, ambient light, barometer, and compass
  • Battery: 2,000mAh non-removable
  • Dimensions: 95 x 49 x 16.5mm and 108 grams

Hardware

This new Jelly 2.0 smartphone isn't released yet, with the Kickstarter campaign just kicking off today. Super early bird pricing starts at just $129.

This early evaluation unit arrived in a plain white box. While I never saw the original Jelly smartphone, I did test out the tiny Unihertz Atom rugged relative of that phone. The Jelly 2.0 is tiny and the height just about matches the width of the palm of my hand.

It's a rather attractive phone with glossy dark blue finish, although the sides and back are serious fingerprint magnets.

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Starting at the front, we have the three-inch LCD screen, which is 51% larger than the first Jelly display. Colors look great on the display and text is crisp and clear. I was very surprised to see how readable this tiny display is and I never had a problem reading content on the display.

The headset speaker and front facing camera are above the display. Below the viewable screen we see a circle in the senter with two dots on either side, indicating where the haptic buttons are for back, home, and the task switcher. Obviously, the phone is very easy to manipulate with a single hand thanks to its size and the responsive display.

A standard 3.5mm headset jack is found on the top across from an IR port. There is software included on the phone so you can manipulate remote controls for various electronic products. The mono speaker fires out of the bottom. The volume button is positioned on the upper left side. A power button and customizable red key are located on the upper right side. There is a utility to custom a press and a press and hold of this button. The SIM/microSD card tray is also on the right side and this long tray extends most of the way across the phone width. An uncovered open USB-C port for charging and USB OTG is found near the bottom of the right side.

The 16 megapixel camera is found centered at the top of the back with a flash below the camera. A round fingerprint sensor is positioned in line with the camera and flash further down near the center of the back. It is located to support easy placement of a forefinger when you hold the phone.

The cameras performed fine with timelapse, video, photo, and manual modes available. There is no portrait mode support and the photos don't have advanced creative elements. The phone is not designed for stunning photography, but when you are out and about it will help you capture your surroundings.

The primary reason to buy this phone is extreme portability. With a 2,000 mAh battery, you are not going to go more than a full day with this phone. In my experience, I was able to get into the afternoon with the Jelly 2.0 but I use my phones heavily so it had to be topped up and thankfully incorporates USB-C as the charging standard.

Also: Unihertz Titan first impressions: Big, rugged, long-lasting, QWERTY Android phone

Software

The Jelly 2.0 launches with Android 10 out of the box and the test unit I have came with the April 5, 2020 security update. Unihertz stated that the Android 11 update will be provided on this phone in the future.

The phone runs a stock version of Android with a home page experience like the iPhone where you can only put app shortcuts in folders, but all appear across various home pages. The Google Discover page is available when you swipe all the way from left to right to the first panel, much like a Pixel phone.

In addition to the Google basics such as calculator, calendar, camera, Chrome, Gmail, Maps, Messages, and more, you get a few apps from Unihertz. These include a file manager, FM radio, IR remote control app, music player, NoteBook, sound recorder, and Toolbox.

The Toolbox is full of useful utilities that enhance the functionality of the phone. The tools in the Toolbox include a sound meter, compass, flashlight, bubble level, picture hanger tool, heart rate monitor, height measuring utility, magnifier, pedometer, speedometer, alarm, plumb bob, and protractor. It's cool to see the camera used with some of these tools to provide an augmented reality experience that provides you with a device for accurate measurements.

The home screen supports common app widgets too so you can customize your Android experience. The Quick Controls section from the notification shade can also be customized to your personal preferences.

Also: Unihertz Atom XL hands-on: Four-inch display, 48MP camera, and DMR support for less than $330

Daily usage experiences

The Unihertz Jelly 2.0 is available to order now on Kickstarter with some early special prices still available.

After using phones with displays approaching seven inches, I admit it was tough to use a three-inch display for serious work. The phone does well with basic communications and phone calls sounded just fine.

The Jelly 2.0 is a perfect phone for the regular use of Google Assistant to help perform tasks you might normally perform with your finger. Gboard is the default keyboard and the targets do well even with a small display. However, voice entry may be the preferred option with such a small keyboard.

It is a great phone to take running and with many watches not supporting GPS, such as the Fitbit Versa 2 or new Polar Unite, GPS and music served up from the Jelly 2.0 is something to consider. It's a solid emergency phone, as long as you keep a battery pack around to top off the small capacity battery for extended use.

Unihertz responded to feedback from original Jelly phone owners with the Jelly 2.0 and is releasing another solid, affordable Android phone targeted towards specific use cases. Unihertz has had four very successful Kickstarter campaigns and this one is sure to follow as people look to more affordable communication solutions.

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