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This is a review of the Ulefone Armor 3W to see how suitable it is for hiking and wild camping purposes. It turned out to be my favourite piece of hiking gear for navigation, photography and safety in the hills. I used the phone for 2 weeks on battery saver mode and still had 50% charge. Perfect for long distance walks and wild camping expeditions.

The Ulefone Armor 3W rugged smartphone is a replacement for my trusty old Tough Phone Defender Pro, which is no longer available. I used it 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) and 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!

This review is based on using the Ulefone Armor 3W rugged smartphone for hiking and outdoor purposes in the UK, and will not be a comprehensive tech guide to all the phone’s features. I’ve added Ordnance Survey mapping on the Memory-Map application.

First impressions

At the time of writing, Amazon is the only place you can purchase this phone in the UK. I paid £269.99, which is a lot cheaper than the Toughphone Defender Pro.

The Ulefone Armor 3W weighs 361 grams – 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, solar charger or 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, so 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

I’ve currently had the phone for 9 days and the charge is still above 60%, even after 3 days wild camping in Cumbria without a signal. I had even left the phone searching for a signal the whole time, but I did have the phone on power saving mode. The battery size of 10,300 mAh is more than twice the size of my old Defender Pro, which is perfect for longer walks without access to power.

The Ulefone Armor 3W phone has done everything that I needed during the hike and the GPS was a lot faster than my Tough Phone. It wasn’t affected by the damp weather either and it’s been taking great 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 is 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 when 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. I will update this review as I use the phone more and learn more about what it can do.

An example of the quality of photographs taken with the Ulefone Armor 3W (taken on a Cumbria wild camping trip)
Picture taken with the phone during our Cumbria wild camping trip

Specifications

I am going to pretend that I know what all of these things mean.

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’m looking forward to testing it extensively on my Scottish National Trail and Skye Trail walks in April and May this year.

Post updated: 18th February 2020

Disclosure: this review contains some Amazon affiliate links. This means I receive a small payment for any purchases made as a result of clicking on the link, at no additional cost to you. These payments help to finance the costs of the site and have not influenced my review of the product.

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