The Ulefone Power Armor 14 Pro isn’t the smartphone for everyone, but it carves out a perfect demographic for users who want an affordable, long-lasting, and durable smartphone with all of the features you’d still expect. While the display and processing power will be noticeably lacking for some, the Power Armor 14’s competitive price and near indestructibility will surely make it worth picking up for anyone looking for a more rugged phone.
- Brand: Ulefone
- CPU: MediaTek Helio G85
- Display: 6.52″
- RAM: 6GB RAM
- Storage: 128GB
- Battery: 10000mAh
- Operating System: Android
- Camera: 20MP
- Weight: 12.63 oz
- Charging: USB-C
- IP Rating: IP69K/IP68
- As durable as the name suggests
- Affordable price point
- 20MP camera that works underwater
- Battery can last days without a charge
- Below average display and processing power
- Could be too big to fit in your pocket
With a name like, “Power Armor” and a body larger than most smartphones in a protective case, it’s clear that Ulefone is catering to a utilitarian kind of smartphone buyer. The Power Armor 14 Pro has a colossal battery that will last days on a single charge, it’s essentially drop-proof, and retails for around $250. In terms of design, the Power Armor 14 Pro is about as efficient as they come, but at the cost of some features many other budget smartphones have to offer.
Size and Display
The first thing you have to mention when talking about the Power Armor 14 Pro is its monolithic size. It has a slightly larger than average screen size of 6.52 inches, but a thickness of about three times that of your average smartphone. It feels absolutely massive in your hand while still managing to fit in your front pocket. Although if you’d rather not carry it in your pocket, you can always opt for the belt strap attachment to feel a little more like Batman. In addition to the belt strap, Ulefone also includes a carabiner attachment and a screen protector.
Once you get past the sheer size of the phone, the rest of the Power Armor 14 Pro’s display will likely be what determines your feelings about it. The bevel around the screen is relatively minimal with the exception of the notch at the top for the front-facing camera.
Most notable for some though will be the 720p display powered by the Helio G85 processor. At less than full HD, the visuals of the display will feel dated to many users, but perhaps not all.
While video quality and the refresh rate of the screen suffer from the weak power of the Helio G85, it also makes it possible for Ulefone to produce an extremely pragmatic and long-lasting product. The lower processing power is likely what also keeps the price tag low. Understandably, that isn’t going to be an opportunity cost that everyone can get behind, but as a rugged phone, the Power Armor 14 Pro still has a lot of other things going for it.
It’s clear that Ulefone had something else in mind when designing the Power Armor 14 Pro. This is a rugged phone meant for someone who prioritizes functionality and longevity above all else. Thankfully, the interface of the Power Armor 14 should be familiar enough for just about anyone to have an intuitive experience.
Rather than a home button on the bottom bevel, the Power Armor 14 Pro uses gestures instead. It also features a fingerprint reader that doubles as a power button on the right side, beneath the volume buttons. The fingerprint reader can be used to unlock and wake the device as well as log into various applications, and in addition to fingerprint recognition, the front-facing camera also has an option for facial recognition unlock. On the left side of the screen, there is a multi-function button that can be programmed to do a variety of things like open your camera or take a screenshot based on a single tap, double tap, or holding the button down.
The Power Armor 14 Pro has a USB-C charging port as well as an auxiliary port for headphones. There is a single speaker on the bottom of the device that sounds a bit louder than my iPhone, but perhaps at a slightly lower quality. An ejection pin for extracting SIM cards is also included in the box to make it easy to transfer data, however, the SIM card port on the Ulefone is easy enough to access without the pin. The inclusion of this pin and having the SIM card port being so easy to access also makes the Power Armor 14 a great backup phone. Rugged phones often aren’t intended to be primary, daily-driver phones, so being able to swap back and forth so easily is much appreciated.
Battery and Performance
The 10,000mAh battery is the real flagship feature of the Power Armor 14 Pro. This is likely the culprit behind the phone’s gargantuan size, and what sets it apart from pretty much any other rugged phone in this price range. Playing games and streaming video content, even for hours on end, will barely put a dent in this thing’s battery life. Leaving it idle, even for days on end, will only take off a few measly percentage points. On top of all of that, it recharges incredibly quickly and can be charged wirelessly.
As mentioned, the Power Armor 14 Pro is powered by the Helio G85 processor, and as a result, it only has a 60hz refresh rate and less than full HD display of 720p. The lower refresh rate made it seem like scrolling through webpages or messages could only operate at a few set speeds rather than smoothly and seamlessly matching your finger. On the other hand, the refresh rate while playing games or running other apps was far less noticeable.
Apart from the crazy long battery life, the durability of the Power Armor 14 Pro is what really makes the device live up to its namesake. The Power Armor 14 Pro is rated IP69K/IP68 for waterproofing, dust ingress protection, and drop resistance. On Ulefone’s website and YouTube channel, it has several videos demonstrating just how rugged this phone can be. The developers are willing to toss the phone down a flight of stairs and even run it over with a car, so my own durability tests almost feel redundant.
Just by looking at the phone, it probably comes as no surprise that it can easily survive an accidental drop from waist or chest height. I’ve been intentionally dropping mine all over the place while I’ve had it, and there aren’t even any real scuff marks to speak of. The Power Armor 14 Pro seems as perennial in its damage resistance as it does in its battery life.
The main camera on the Power Armor 14 Pro is a 20MP f/1.8 26mm wide lens, capable of capturing some great quality photos that won’t disappoint when lighting conditions are optimal—but nothing beyond what you’d expect. Here are a few shots from the front and back-facing camera:
Video modes are nothing spectacular either, recording at an entirely average maximum of 1080p 30fps. That’s fine for documenting issues during fieldwork, of course.
You’ll find additional camera modes for time-lapse and gifs, as well as a panorama and a macro lens. Below are two macro photos that really show the disparity in lighting for smartphone photography. In the first macro picture, I happened to stumble upon a very photogenic and cooperative ant in the afternoon when the sun was shining brightly. The next macro photo I took was of a flower, so I had all the time in the world, but it was later in the day with less natural light.
Also, a panoramic photo for good measure:
Unfortunately, Ulefone decided to have the Power Armor 14 Pro watermark your photos by default, which cheapens the quality of the photos even more. You can of course disable this, but it would be nice to not have to by default.
Perhaps the saving grace that will make this camera worthwhile is the fact that it is waterproof. Plenty of phones these days offer a little water resistance, but the Power Armor 14 Pro has no issue being completely submerged underwater for at least several minutes at a time. I took mine to a pool on a hot summer day, and had an absolute blast using it to record videos and take selfies underwater. Most of the time after recording something or taking a picture, I’d still be in the water to review what I had just captured. The Power Armor 14 showed absolutely no issues with water, and has me hopeful for a future where we will one day be able to push friends into pools again.
Is This Your Next Rugged Phone?
Rugged phones and budget smartphones obviously aren’t for everybody. The newest and shiniest tech products will always have mass appeal, but Ulefone seems to have discovered the perfect niche. It’s a safe assumption that in 2022 most consumers will be unsatisfied with a smartphone processor that can only handle a 60Hz refresh rate and 720p display. But what about the perfectly reasonable desire to get a smartphone that won’t have to be replaced for the foreseeable future?
It can make and receive texts and calls, has an industry standard camera, and is reliable in both durability and battery life. That checks about every box it needs to while only being a couple hundred dollars.
The Power Armor 14 Pro is a no nonsense utility phone that does exactly what it needs to for a competitive price. The long-lasting battery life is only outmatched by the lifecycle of the device itself which feels virtually indestructible in the palm of your hand. If your priorities for a smartphone are affordability and reliability, then Ulefone has the perfect rugged phone for you.