Ulefone Armor 15 review: It boasts built-in wireless earbuds and not much else

It gets the job done, but you can find better options for the same price.

Ulefone Armor 15 back panel
(Image: © Jay Bonggolto / Android Central)

Android Central Verdict

On paper, the Ulefone Armor 15 performs admirably. The large 6,600mAh battery pushes through a full day of heavy use. However, the Mediatek Helio G35 chipset and mediocre screen detract from the experience.

Pros

  • +

    Still image capture is decent

  • +

    Built-in wireless earbuds

  • +

    Dedicated photo capture button

  • +

    Sturdy design

Cons

  • -

    Mediocre 720 x 1440 resolution

  • -

    Chipset is dated

  • -

    No 4K video recording

  • -

    No 5G support

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The whole point of rugged phones is to provide users with capable hardware that doesn't need babysitting. However, Ulefone does things a bit differently with the Armor 15 by including a pair of built-in wireless earbuds.

Ulefone is known for its affordable rugged phones with distinctive designs. While many of its models are designed to fit almost any budget, the Armor series is the brand's most successful line, combining high durability with a massive battery.

On paper, the Ulefone Armor 15 is ideal for adventurers, but how does it fare in the real world? This review will attempt to provide an answer to that question.

Ulefone Armor 15: Price and availability

Ulefone Armor 15 screen

(Image credit: Jay Bonggolto / Android Central)

The Ulefone Armor 15 retails for $300 globally. Fortunately, it is being discounted at the moment, meaning you can snag a unit for only $260. It is available to purchase in North America and Europe.

If you want to add an extra layer of protection for the device, the protective case plus the phone will set you back $284.98 in total. That said, you may hardly need to grab the case given the phone's durable design.

Ulefone Armor 15: What I like

Ulefone Armor 15 back panel

(Image credit: Jay Bonggolto / Android Central)

The Ulefone Armor 15’s camera surprisingly holds up well against more expensive alternatives, and the phone takes decent photos, unlike some of the best rugged phones I've reviewed in the past.

Ulefone replaced the Armor 15's primary shooter on the back with a Sony IMX363 sensor, rather than the dated Sony IMX350 found in previous Armor series models. The sensor is supplemented by a Samsung S5K3M3 sensor for the wide-angle camera, and while their performance isn't spectacular, the photos in most of my shots look good.

Close-up shots have a good background blur and clean edges, unlike most rugged phones. Ulefone has clearly made the most of its macro sensor, and for the first time in a long time, I've found this type of sensor useful. As long as there is adequate lighting, the front camera takes good photos for a rugged phone.

Ulefone Armor 15 sample photos

Ulefone didn't forget to include a dedicated photo button on the phone's right side, just below the power button. It is not a common feature in rugged smartphones, so Ulefone deserves credit for making the effort. And it serves its purpose, allowing you to launch the camera with a single press no matter which screen you're on.

The Ulefone Armor 15 captures some decent photos for a rugged phone.

The battery is another strength of the Armor 15. On a typical day, I averaged about eight hours of screen-on time. This accounted for the time spent on social media scrolling, Google Chrome browsing, an hour of Netflix shows, some TikTok videos, and light games. The phone quickly pushes through two full days away from a charger, with a little juice left to spare for the next morning. This obviously owes to the lower resolution screen (which unfortunately comes with its own share of compromises).

However, it’s worth mentioning that the 6,600mAh battery is a downgrade from the 10,000mAh unit found in the previous-generation Ulefone Armor 14 Pro. The charging time usually lasts an hour, bringing the phone’s battery from zero to 100% thanks to the included 18W charger.

I’m also impressed by how Ulefone pulled off a unique design that doesn’t compromise the durability of the Armor 15. The phone touts a rugged design with an IP68/IP69K rating for water and dust resistance. Perhaps even without this rating, I would still have a lot of faith in this device’s strength. The body is made of aluminum ridges with rubberized corners and a built-in bumper to protect it from accidental (or even intentional) drops.

The phone also has a MIL-STD 810G certification, which means it can hold up in harsh environments. The takeaway here is that the Armor 15 inspires a lot of confidence regarding durability.

As for the phone's highlight, the built-in wireless earbuds are hidden beneath two weather-resistant rubber flaps at the top. Surprisingly, the sound quality is on par with cheap earphones, although it’s nothing to write home about. You’d be left wanting more if you’re a fan of active noise cancellation or high-fidelity audio. That said, the rubber ear tips help to minimize background noise in most situations but are not powerful enough to drown out crowd noise.

The earbuds’ design is pretty average by my standards, but they fit comfortably in my ears and get the job done. I also never had to worry about its battery, seeing as it often charges once inside the charging case inside the phone. The battery life is commendable as well, considering that it’s only an accessory to a budget rugged phone. In my experience, the earbuds lasted an average of six hours of music playback at 80% volume.

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CategoryUlefone Armor 15
Operating SystemAndroid 12
Display5.45 inches, 720 x 1440 pixels
ProcessorMediaTek Helio G35
Memory6GB
Storage128GB
Rear Camera 112MP (wide), f/1.8
Rear Camera 213MP (ultrawide), f/2.4
Front Camera16MP (wide), f/2.4
SecurityFingerprint sensor (side-mounted), face unlock
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, NFC, Bluetooth 5.0
PortsUSB Type-C 2.0
Battery6600mAh
Charging18W wired
ProtectionIP68, IP69K, MIL-STD-810G
Dimensions170.2 x 79.6 x 18.2 mm
Weight346g

Ulefone Armor 15: What I don't like

Ulefone Armor 15 display

(Image credit: Jay Bonggolto / Android Central)

The Ulefone Armor 15's middling processor was a major letdown, ruining my overall experience. The moment I got my hands on the phone, it was clear that the performance was deficient in every way. I had to put up with frequent stutters, freezes, and bumpy interfaces. It's just something I'm not used to, especially after reviewing rugged phones from Blackview and AGM in the past.

The poor performance means a rough experience moving around different apps and games. Switching to a different launcher did not help either, contrary to what I expected when I installed the Nova launcher. I was especially dissatisfied with the phone's gaming performance in titles like PUBG Mobile. The Armor 15 struggled to keep up throughout the game, and there was frequent lag here and there, especially in graphically intensive scenes.

The middling processor and underwhelming screen ruin the fun.

There’s no support for 4K video recording as well, although this isn’t a common feature for rugged phones. The camera is limited to 1080p video recording at 30 frames per second. There’s also an odd sharpening in videos that I recorded with the Armor 15. The phone's camera lacks the quick autofocus capability you'd expect from a phone in this price range, making it one of your last choices when looking for a handset to shoot videos with.

The colors and contrast on the display are other drawbacks if you’re used to an AMOLED display with higher resolutions. That is because the Ulefone Armor 15 sports only an HD screen with less accurate colors by my standards. This is all the more evident when viewing photos in my gallery or watching YouTube videos, for example, which detract from the overall experience. For a rugged phone at this price point, I expected a higher-resolution display.

Ulefone Armor 15: Competition

AGM H5 Pro facedown in hand

(Image credit: Jay Bonggolto / Android Central)

The Ulefone Armor 15 has quite a number of competitors from our list of the top rugged phones. And of those options, I’d go for the Blackview BL8800 Pro, which offers many more features and a snappy processor. For $400, it touts thermal imaging and a brighter display than the Armor 15. It also has an impressive endurance and a remappable side button. If you need a specific feature like a thermal camera, the BL8800 Pro could serve you better.

You may also consider the AGM H5 Pro if you want a handset with perhaps the loudest speaker ever at 109dB. It has a 6.52-inch LCD display and is powered by a faster MediaTek Helio G85 SoC. Plus, it has a beefier battery and offers a stock Android experience if you hate bloatware. For consumers looking for a phone with IR night vision, the AGM H5 Pro is also right up their alley.

Otherwise, the best rival to the Armor 15 may be another device with a higher-resolution display and a snappier chipset.

Ulefone Armor 15: Should you buy it?

Ulefone Armor 15 in hand

(Image credit: Jay Bonggolto / Android Central)

You should buy it if...

  • You want a rugged phone that can capture decent photos.
  • You like a phone with built-in wireless earbuds.
  • You want a rugged phone that really looks like it can withstand extreme environments.

You should not buy it if...

  • You're used to high-resolution displays.
  • You hate slow performance and a mediocre chipset.
  • You want a phone with 4K video recording capability.

The Ulefone Armor 15 has a good number of features for a rugged phone, with the built-in wireless earbuds being the standout. It also has a large battery and an IP68/IP69K rating, but these features are insufficient to compensate for the phone's shortcomings. Although rugged phones don't typically have the most vivid screens, the HD screen, and slow performance ruin the fun.

If you're looking for a rugged phone with good features, the Ulefone Armor 15 should be on your short list. While the screen and processor performance are both disappointing, the phone's extremely sturdy build quality and decent main camera make it easy to recommend.