Posted on

This is a review of the Ulefone Armor 3W rugged smartphone to see how suitable it is for hiking and wild camping purposes.

It has turned out to be my favourite piece of hiking gear for navigation, photography and safety in the hills. On one recent trip, I used the phone for two weeks on battery saver mode, and it still had 50% charge at the end. This makes it perfect for long distance walks and wild camping expeditions.

Update September 2020: When in full use during wild camping trips, I can usually get the Ulefone to last about two weeks before it needs recharging. That’s with it on aeroplane mode most of the time, but using the mapping, GPS and camera a lot every day.

Ulefone Armor 3W box
The Ulefone Armor 3W box shows that the phone has been designed with hikers in mind

Reasons for buying the Ulefone Armor 3W

The Ulefone Armor 3W rugged smartphone is a replacement for my trusty old Tough Phone Defender Pro, which is no longer available. I used the Defender Pro for all my GPS navigation, map reading, with Ordnance Survey mapping on the Memory-Map application. It was also used for all my photography and usual everyday phone usage over the last 3 years. I even had a photograph taken by the Defender Pro published in the TGO magazine.

However, the battery of my Defender Pro was nowhere near as good as it once was (a problem when I can’t charge it often). I had managed to break the screen, compromising its waterproof qualities, whilst on my LEJOG walk. I was happy to replace the screen and battery, but my 20 year old son talked me into buying this new phone instead. He suggested it was better – and cheaper – than the Defender Pro. I had never heard of it!

bike attachment
The Ulefone comes with a nifty attachment for the bike

This review is based on using the Ulefone Armor 3W rugged smartphone for hiking and outdoor purposes in the UK. It will not be a comprehensive tech guide to all the phone’s features (mainly because I have no idea what it all means).

First impressions

At the time of writing, Amazon is the only place you can purchase this phone in the UK. It was a lot cheaper than my old Toughphone Defender Pro.

The Ulefone Armor 3W weighs 361 grams. This is quite a weight compared to the average mobile phone, if you’re a hiker carrying all your gear. But this should be mitigated by not needing to carry an extra power pack or solar charger. You also don’t need to worry that it will go flat on your hike.

Ulefone Armor 3W phone
Ulefone Armor 3W

Using the Memory-Map application, I was able to download the OS 1/50,000 mapping for the whole of the UK in just a few minutes. It was also possible to transfer the routes I had saved on my old phone to the new phone fairly easily. This meant I could see the various walks I had tracked on my old phone. This mapping is fantastic and I just can’t live without it now. I can change my route and not have to worry about carrying the wrong maps.

A screenshot of Ordnance Survey's memory map application showing route tracking
Example of the Memory-Map application, with OS 1/50,000 and route tracking
Comparing the size of the ULefone Armor 3W, the Tough Phone Defender Pro and the Huawei Mate phones
From right to left: Ulefone Armor 3W (5.7″ screen), Tough Phone Defender Pro (5″ screen) and Huawei Mate 10 (5.9″ screen) .
A comparison of the thickness of the Ulefone Armor 3W, the Tough Phone Defender Pro and the Huawei Mate phones
The Ulefone Armor 3W is the same width as the Tough Phone Defender Pro but a little longer and thicker (same phone order as above).

Initial hill-walking test

The battery size of 10,300 mAh is more than twice the size of my old Defender Pro. This is perfect for longer walks without access to power.

The Ulefone Armor 3W phone has done everything that I needed during the hiking trips. The GPS was a lot faster than my Tough Phone. The mapping is really clear and it wasn’t affected by the damp weather either. I’m especially impressed by the quality of the pictures. I was able to download the OS 1/50,000 mapping for the whole of the UK to store and use with the GPS, so I don’t have to worry about navigation wherever I want to go in the UK. This also has great benefits when walking in cloud or if there’s no path, as I can place myself perfectly. This is especially reassuring when my family is with me, and making a wrong turn off a ridge could be life-threatening.

So thanks to my son, I’ve a better phone and saved a lot of money in the process. That’s a win-win for me and a recommendation for the Ulefone Armor 3W.

Picture taken with the phone

Picture taken with my Ulefone Armor 3W

Loading OS Mapping

Loading the OS mapping on the device was a relatively simple process. To start you need a licence from the memory-map website, of whichever OS map you want (in this case the 1:50k Great Britain map), then download the memory-map application onto your device. From here you can log into your memory-map account and load the license you’ve purchased.

An important point to note is that initially the mapping will be only accessible when you’re connected to the internet, you have to choose to download the mapping for offline use in the memory-map application.

Specifications

Android 9.0 Operating System

6GB RAM (Helio P70 octa-core processor) and 64GB internal storage

21MP (back) and 8MP (front) Sony Camera

5.7 inch Full HD+ (1080 x 2160 resolution) screen

Dual Sim/NFC/Wireless Charging

GPS: Glonass and Beidou positioning

Battery: 10,300 mAh with 1,300 hours standby time and 66 hours talk time

Conclusion

The Ulefone Armor 3W is now my favourite piece of hiking gear. It does everything my old phone did and has a much longer battery life, I’ve managed to go a whole month without needing to recharge it and like my old phone, it’ll give me the confidence to do expeditions like my LEJOG and 3 Peaks walk. I also tested it extensively on my Dover to Cape Wrath and Skye Trail walks in 2020.

Wildwalkinguk is a blog run by myself and my wife in our spare time, and we pay for its running costs ourselves. We do have some Amazon affiliate links and adverts on the site. If you click on these adverts or links and buy what you need (it doesn’t have to be the item we’ve linked to), the company will pay a small commission to us. This money goes towards the costs of hosting the blog. We would be extremely grateful if you could consider using our links when you next need to buy something from our advertisers. Alternatively, you can buy us a coffee here. Thank you so much for your support. Mark and Emma.

8 Replies to “Ulefone Armor 3W smartphone review”

  1. Hey, found your blog whilst searching for reviews on this phone and am now eagerly reading your LEJOG adventures 🙂 Did you find the GPS quite accurate on this phone? I did purchase it in the end but the GPS had me several metres away, facing the wrong way, and the drift made it look like I was running in circles ?

    1. Hi Claire. I’ve found the phone and mapping to be very accurate and rarely us maps these days, I totally trust it. Sorry to hear you’re having trouble, I’ve no ideas to help..
      Glad you’re enjoying the Lejog, I can’t wait to do another one. Loved it.

      1. I think I had a duff unit, when I made a phone call the screen went totally black and I couldn’t do anything with it, not even hang up if it went to voicemail. Never mind hey 🙂 Maybe I’ll try another one from another supplier.
        With regards to wild camping, do you always ask permission or do you generally roll with the “pitch late, leave early, LNT” philosphy?

        1. Hi Claire. I don’t like to disturb people late at night and rarely know who owns the land, so usually don’t ask, so camp as it gets dark and leave as it gets light. Land owners never know I’ve been there. I stick to my wild camping rules and am really careful not to disturb anyone in any way. That way I’ve spent 100’s off nights wild camping without a single problem. Legally if you are asked to move on, you must do so. Respect the land owners and you shouldn’t have a problem. Thanks for your message.

    2. Hallo Ik heb de Armor 3 ook een dik half jaar nu. Geweldige phone tot nu toe. Vooral het waterdichte en de batterij. Ik borstel hem elke avond met water en zeep schoon. Vaak vet en modder aan mijn handen. Echt top phone. Luidsprekers aan de voorkant. Ideaal voor fiets navigatie. Heb wel een bootloop gehad. Heb ik gefixt. En de proximity sensor of de software heeft een bug. Bij bellen gaat niet altijd het scherm uit. Dan”druk” je met gezicht op mic button. Dat is opletten. Gr Pieter

      1. A translation of the above: Hello I have also had the Armor 3 for more than six months now. Great phone so far. Especially the waterproof and battery. I brush it clean with soap and water every night. Often grease and mud on my hands. Really top phone. Speakers at the front. Ideal for bicycle navigation. Did a boat run. I fixed. And the proximity sensor or the software has a bug. When calling, the screen does not always go out. Then you “press” with your face on the mic button. That is paying attention. Gr Pieter

  2. Is there much non google stuff on the phone that can’t be removed? I find it very annoying to have a Samsung and Android version of a browser and email reader for example. I am currently using a Nokia which uses Andoid One which has no bloatwear.

    1. Hi Keith
      Mostly everything can be turned off. The battery has been lasting 10 to 20 days during my recent wild camping trip, that’s with a lot of camera, GPS and mapping use. So I’m happy enough.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *