Ulefone Power 2 Android Smartphone Review

April 18, 2017 - Written By Justin Diaz

Ulefone isn’t typically well-known in the U.S. but they’re a recognizable brand in China and are a fairly popular one at that. Over the last week or so we’ve been able to spend some time with one of their latest offerings called the Power 2, which has the name it does due to its large battery capacity. While the battery life is certainly one of the Power 2’s most attractive features as it lasts for quite some time on a single charge, it still has other decent specifications that are worth considering, like 4GB of RAM, Android Nougat software, and a fingerprint sensor for unlocking the device. As for the rest of the specs we’ll get into those below. Let’s take a look at what the device has to offer and see how it stacks up.

Specs

The Power 2 doesn’t have the most advanced specifications but it certainly has a decent list of hardware specs that most average users would be happy to have in a device. It comes equipped with a 5.5-inch Full HD screen with 401 ppi and gorilla Glass 3 for protection, and it’s powered by a MediaTek MT6750T processor, which comes paired with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage space. It has Android 7.0 Nougat on board and it uses a 6050mAh battery which means it will be getting quite a bit of use during the day and you won’t have to worry about plugging it in. I’m a pretty heavy user of my mobile devices and I wasn’t able to kill the battery very easily, which is a good thing since I use my phone for nearly everything. Having a big battery does have some drawbacks though, as it weighs 210 grams and it’s a pretty thick phone. For the cameras Ulefone has used a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera with auto HDR and an f/2.2 aperture, as well as LED flash, and over on the front the phone has an 8-megapixel sensor for selfies and video chat. It’s also worth noting that Ulefone is using software that interpolates the 13-megapixel images to 16-megapixels. On the front it has a fingerprint sensor that also doubles as a home button which you can actually click, and Ulefone is boasting the fingerprint sensor has a response rate of 0.15 seconds, though we’ll get into our experience with the fingerprint sensor a bit later. It supports Dual SIM, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, and 2.4GHz as well as 5GHz for connectivity.

In The Box

Most companies don’t pack a whole lot of extras into their smartphone packaging these days, and Ulefone isn’t too much different here as inside the box you’ll find the phone itself on top, and under the device there’s a quick start guide, the SIM ejector tool, the wall adapter, and a Micro USB cable, which is mostly what you get from just about any other manufacturer. Although, Ulefone does include an OTG cable which is nice. It’s also worth noting that opening the box is a nice experience too as Ulefone has used a little pull tab on the side that when pulled slides the inner box out to reveal the phone.

Hardware & Design

Ulefone’s design of the Power 2 is admittedly chunky here, and this is to make room for the massive battery that’s inside of it. Sitting at 6050mAh in capacity the Power 2 is going to be much thicker than most people are probably used to these days as phones seem to be getting thinner with display sizes growing in size. That being said, the size of the phone and its thickness isn’t too bad and a fair majority of users will probably be fine with it. When it comes to the hardware, there is a fingerprint sensor and home button on the front of the device, along with a front-facing camera and the ambient light sensors in the top bezels. The volume rocker and power button are on the right side and have a nice tactile feel to them without being hard to press, while the SIM tray is on the left, and up top you’ll see a 3.5mm audio port with a Micro USB charging port on the bottom along with the phone’s one and only speaker. Over on the back the rear-facing camera sits up top in the middle with a Dual LED flash just below the camera sensor.

The device comes in three different colors, Black, Grey, and Gold, and we have the Grey color here. Overall the design of the phone is not the slickest, but it doesn’t look too bad and the design is obviously not the focal point, and having said that there are also plenty of devices that are worse looking than the Power 2. When it comes down to it the weight feels good, and when holding it in the hand the phone feels quite comfortable. The body itself feels like it’s made of a nice durable plastic but the phone doesn’t look ruggedized at all which is good if you don’t care for rugged looking devices, but still want something that likely won’t get all banged up or cracked due to the use of glass. So while the Power 2 doesn’t look as premium as some other phones out there, it’ll hold up nicely it seems. All that aside, the phone body isn’t actually made of plastic. It’s made of metal and if you look close enough you can see this by the sheen of the chamfered edges. The fact that it also doesn’t really feel too much like metal is kind of nice.

Display

Once you’ve seen a Full HD display on a smartphone in varying sizes and a number of times in the same 5.5-inches like what we have here on the Power 2, they sort of start to look pretty much the same as device technology has come quite a long ways in terms of display quality. That being said you can still tell that it’s a Full HD display but this isn’t really a bad thing. The clarity of the screen is pretty decent and visuals are nice and sharp, and the viewing angles are good even in direct light. Blacks aren’t too deep and colors are not as saturated as you’ll find on an AMOLED or Super AMOLED screen, but the colors are still vivid and bright and this is not a factor that users will be disappointed by.

Touch responsiveness of the screen was great and we never really noticed any issues with it not recognizing touch or lagging after a touch interaction. This is mostly because of the digitizer here, which is kind of a surprise as phones that come in the on the lower end also tend to have lower quality digitizers, but that isn’t the case here. The display also never felt too cool or too warm when it comes to the temperature, but it does come with a feature for enabling the blue light filter if you want to use the device at night or in darker situations so the light of the screen isn’t as harsh on your eyes, which is a feature that is native to Android Nougat. In the long run the display used on the Power 2 is a decent display and we found no real issues with it.

Performance

Considering this is a MediaTek processor the performance isn’t going to be as nice as it is on something with a top-end CPU, but it was also no slouch. The performance is actually pretty good and this comes across nicely while gaming. During our time of use we tested the Power 2 with Gameloft’s latest offering, N.O.V.A Legacy, which is still the same game as the original title but with remastered graphics. The game played fairly well and I didn’t notice any lag at all which is great, though it should be noted that this won’t be the most demanding game out there when it comes to visuals. It is however pretty graphically intense so it’s a great example of showing the kind of performance capability it has.

Although there were no performance issues while gaming, this doesn’t mean there were no performance issues at all. At least a few different times during the past week we noticed some lag in the general use just flipping around menus and such. When unlocking the phone by simply sliding up on the display and entering our pattern unlock, the phone wouldn’t immediately open and more than a few apps had issues with opening immediately as well. This lag wasn’t constant and it wasn’t persistent as we were able to just close out the apps and retry for a better result, but this was an issue that did happen a few times which means it could likely happen again in the future, and that’s a little bit troubling as well as annoying if you’re used to having devices that don’t have these kinds of problems. We’re not too sure if this is due to the software update that hit the device right after we got it, as we did receive new software and we installed it before actually checking out the device, but the lag issues were noticeable and it’s likely that a majority of consumers would notice them as well.

Fingerprint Sensor

As described earlier Ulefone has boasted that the fingerprint sensor is fast, and it is. Whenever we used it as the unlock method it did work rather quickly but it did still feel a little bit slower than 0.15 seconds. It’s not as fast as the Pixel or other devices which are more high-end than the Power 2, which is where it’s possible to tell the difference in quality between the sensor that is used on this phone compared to other devices. That being said, the fingerprint sensor does still work pretty quickly and more importantly, it just worked. There was one or two times where it had some trouble recognizing my thumbprint, but every single other time things went off without a hitch. Those using the fingerprint sensor as their main form of unlocking the device won’t be disappointed as it performs its duties as intended. The only downside to the fingerprint sensor on this device is that it can only be used for unlocking the phone due to the lack of NFC in the Power 2. This is of course no reflection on the fingerprint sensor itself, merely an observation about its lack of another feature. I am also not personally fond of the fingerprint sensor being on the front as part of the home button, but its placement is purely a personal taste thing as I prefer them to be on the back due them being easier for me to use. This again is not a reflection of how the fingerprint sensor works as it still works great even with it being on the front.

Sound

With one single speaker at play the sound quality on the Ulefone Power 2 was decent but not great. As is typically the case with some of these lower-end devices the audio performance is not likely to be of the best quality and while this is the case with the Power 2 it doesn’t mean that it’s terrible. It actually wasn’t too bad when listening to music through the speaker on the phone, though when given the opportunity I would use headphones instead as they were capable of putting out better sound, and audio quality makes a big difference if you listen to music often or play mobile games. The downside here is that playing mobile games or watching videos is simply easier without having to plug something in, but in doing so you forfeit a little bit of audio quality and that is something that you unfortunately have to deal with on the Power 2. This might not be too noticeable for those who don’t pay attention to audio performance much or really care about the audio quality on their device, but for those who are used to high-quality speakers, headphones and other types of audio, the sound on the Power 2 may feel just a tiny bit lacking.

Phone Calls & Network

Usually with an unlocked smartphone even if it’s an international device like the Power 2, usability in the U.S. is still possible, but restricted to the 3G as many times the 4G LTE bands don’t match up. In this particular case the Power 2 doesn’t appear to have compatibility with any of the U.S. networks with either 3G or 4G. I personally use Project Fi so the phone wouldn’t recognize my SIM card, which shouldn’t be too shocking as Fi only works with a handful of phones, but using the device with T-Mobile or AT&T would usually work with a phone like this. That being said, as stated the 3G and 4G bands which the Power 2 supports are not bands used by any of the four major wireless carriers in the U.S. You can see the supported network bands and frequencies below.

2G GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 (Bands 5,8,3,2)
3G WCDMA: 2100/900 (Bands 1,8)
4G FDD-LTE: 2100/1800/2600/900/800 (Bands 1,3,7,8,20)

Benchmarks

During our time of use the Power 2 actually performed ok and better than we might have expected, and it actually performed better in the benchmark tests than we expected as well, but it was still low when it came to the scores if you compare it to most other devices. As with every one of our phone reviews we put the device through AnTuTu, Geekbench 4, and 3DMark benchmarks for testing the computing power and the graphics power of the device. If you’re interested in seeing the results of the benchmarks then you can see them down below in the gallery.

Battery Life

With a name like the Power 2 you might expect the battery life to be out of this world, at least when compared to most devices, and if that’s what you were expecting you were right. The battery life on the Power 2 is quite impressive and was able to last a long time during the day without little to no worry about ever running out of battery before I was ready to toss the device on a charger and juice it back up. Standby time on the Power 2 was exceptionally long-lasting and I was able to leave it alone for a couple of days without issue in the beginning of the first week of use. As for screen-on time, on average I was able to get at least 9 hours of use which included some mobile games, browsing through social feeds, browsing the web, and occasionally reading and responding to all my emails that come in.

Suffice it to say there were no issues with keeping the device on throughout the day, and screen-on time usually didn’t add up to a total of nine hours each day, it was actually closer to 4 or so for me personally and during our time with the Power 2 I rarely dropped by more than 15%-20% by the end of the day. This mostly matched up with the screen-on time that was listed after a battery test using PCMark, which had the Power 2 sitting at closer to 11 hours of screen-on time. You can view the results of that battery test in the screenshots below.

Software

Right from the start we were working with Android 7.0 Nougat which is to say the least, a nice thing to see on device that comes in at the low-end as they usually have an older version of Android. Luckily Ulefone had an update ready to go for the device before we even turned it on so the Android version was up to date from the start. Like we said, this was a great benefit as it means that we were able to use the goodies that Android Nougat is known for. As for the software experience when it comes to design, there are some tweaks and adjustments that Ulefone has made to the power 2, such as with the stock icons, and the overall color scheme of the interface which is draped in black pretty much in any area of the device. That being said, for the most part this is still stock Android when it comes to overall functionality, although, again Ulefone has implemented a few tiny adjustments to give the user some extra stuff to work with so things felt a little bit enhanced. What this broke down to was a nice little way to get rid of the navigation buttons down at the bottom so that you could have more screen space on the display.

This is doable by tapping the little down arrow button that sits next to the back back key, and to bring the nav bars back up you simply have to slide up on the screen from the bottom edge where the nav keys usually are when they aren’t hidden. Ulefone has also inserted quite a few gesture controls all of which can be found in the settings menu. This includes the standard gesture features you’d see on quite a few other devices like the gesture unlocks, which allow you to draw on screen to unlock the device and immediately launch into a corresponding application. These gesture unlocks are configured by default but you can also change them up if you prefer to have different apps set to each gesture letter. What is a bit different that you don’t see in a lot of phones is a feature that Ulefone has implemented called One Hand Float View. What this does is allow you to access a floating dock that branches out from the bottom right corner if the feature is enabled. To open it you simply slide your finger up from the bottom right corner in an arcing motion which opens the wheel where you’ll be able to get to a few different menu options like the toolbox, recently used apps, and the float view home. You’ll also find gestures like double tap to wake the screen and the ability to answer incoming phone calls by picking the phone up off the surface it’s sitting on. Other than the gestures mostly everything else is a feature you’ll find in stock Android devices, though it will certainly look a little bit different.

Camera

Unfortunately, the camera has to be what is probably the worst part of the device. While it does have a sensor with a lot of pixels, more megapixels don’t make a great image, and that is clear upon using the camera on the Power 2. Often times I ran into problems with it catching just the right moment even if there was only a little movement. While in most cases you wouldn’t be using this device for shooting moving subjects, it wasn’t even capable of picking up subjects with the slightest of movements without having a ton of blur and that was a little disappointing, though it’s to be expected as the phone does come in at a pretty low price point. Pictures also came out grainy more times than not with a fair amount of noise when taking shots inside that weren’t as well-lit. We’re not talking completely dark rooms, just rooms with a dimmer light setting.

It wasn’t all bad though. When the lighting was perfect or at the least very good, pictures came out ok and that will probably be just fine for some users. For the passionate photographer though who wants a quick alternative to a professional camera when they don’t have one on them, this is not the phone for that purpose. Although there are some extra options when it comes to the camera software it lacks a pro or manual mode which means you have almost no control over various elements of the shot. You can adjust a few things, like exposure, white balance, and the ISO, but that’s it. You do however have a couple of different color effects you can apply to images before the shot such as mono, sepia, negative, aqua, blackboard, and whiteboard. You also have HDR and panorama shooting modes just in case you want to use those. For the most part, the camera is bland and leaves little to be desired for those who are more used to a top-quality camera experience from their smartphones. For anyone who just wants a camera that can take an ok picture so long as the lighting conditions are good, this will do just fine.

The Good

Excellent battery life

Decent design

Metal body

Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box.

April 5th, 2017 Security Patch

Fast fingerprint Sensor

Good screen

Quite a few different gesture features

The Bad

Camera is not very good

Slight lag issues once in a while, though not often enough to be a huge problem

No USB Type-C

No NFC for mobile payments

Audio quality could be better

Only one speaker

Not compatible with U.S. networks

Wrap up

Ulefone may not be a well-known brand in the U.S., but they certainly are a well-known brand in China and for good reason. The Power 2 is a pretty decent device all things considered and it comes with many features that would be fairly suitable for the majority of average users. It has a fingerprint sensor for unlocking the device which makes getting into it just a little quicker and it comes with Android Nougat straight away, or at least that was our experience with the device as the update for Nougat was already available the first time the phone was turned on, and this update includes the most up to date Android Security Patch too. It has a fairly premium feel with the metal used for the body, and it has a big screen that is decent quality for media and games. That said there are some pitfalls. The camera is not great and there is only one speaker which contributes to the mediocre audio quality, and once in a while we had an issue with lag as the phone would hang a bit when trying to open up certain apps.

Should you buy the Ulefone Power 2?

That all depends on where you live and what you want or need in a device. If you live in the U.S., the Power 2 won’t do you much good as it doesn’t seem to be compatible with U.S. network frequencies. If you live elsewhere though, like in Asia or Europe, and you want a phone with a fairly good sized screen and amazing battery life, you could do a whole lot worse than the Power 2. Overall it’s a good device with a few shortcomings, but not bad especially for the cost which is under $200, making it a decent value.

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