Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra review

Stay in contact, whatever the location or conditions

Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra review
(Image: © Alastair Jennings)

TechRadar Verdict

The Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra offers two-way satellite messaging, 120W charging, an all-scenario imaging system with a 50MP ultra-large lens, and a Dimensity 8020 5G chipset, making it a rugged, high-performance smartphone for all conditions.


  • +

    Two-way Satellite Messaging

  • +

    120W Flash Charging

  • +

    50MP Ultra-large Lens


  • -

    Heavy and bulky

  • -

    Non-removable battery

  • -

    Limited colour options

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Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra: 30-second review

The Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra is designed to be used where other phones might fail and has been tailored for extreme conditions. 

What marks the Armor 23 out against some of the best rugged phones we've tested is that the physical hardware has been matched with robust connection options. This includes an innovative two-way satellite messaging option that will enable you to remain connected even in remote areas. Working or trekking to remote locations can take time. So, with this phone, everything has been designed to enable the phone to work longer between charges with a 5280mAh battery that guarantees extended usage with up to 240 hours of standby time and 24 hours of talk time.

The phone's camera system is another feature that instantly stands out with a 50MP ultra-large lens, 50MP ultra-wide camera, 64MP night vision camera, and a 3.2X optical zoom telephoto lens. This range of camera options enables you to capture stunning images in any environment, from daylight landscapes to low-light scenarios. Additionally, if you need to make a video call or join a meeting, then the 50MP front camera is perfect for high-quality video.

Being designed for outdoor life, durability is a key feature of the Armor 23 Ultra, which boasts an IP68/IP69K rating and MIL-STD-810H certification. These ratings highlight that the phone can withstand water, dust, high pressure, and temperature extremes. As part of the phone's robust design, the screen is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, an option that is again renowned for its durability.

Some of the phone's more unique features include a customizable orange button that can be programmed to enable quick access to apps, activate the torch, take screenshots, or access other apps and features. Then there's the red SOS button on top, which can provide immediate access to a 24/7 international response centre for emergency assistance via satellite. However, a subscription is required to access the service.

The Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra is a phone that has been finely tuned for those who work or explore away from populated locations where the environment can be harsh and phone connectivity weak. This phone will not only survive these environments but also enable you to keep connected to the rest of the world even when all other signals and connections drop.

Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra: Price & availability

Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra review

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)
  • How much does it cost? Starting from $529?
  • When is it out? Available now
  • Where can you get it? You can get it directly from https://www.ulefone.com/a/pf_preview?id=836697a8-e7ea-41b5-8ba7-1a4a31b240e0.

The Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra is available for purchase in Elite Black or Umbra Orange and can be ordered directly from Ulefone's official website - you can see the latest pricing and purchasing options by clicking here.

  • Value: 4 / 5

Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra: Specifications

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Model:Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra
CPU:MediaTek Dimensity 8020 (MT6891) with Octa-Core (4× Cortex-A78 + 4× Cortex-A55), up to 2.6GHz
GPU:Arm Mali-G77
RAM:12GB LPDDR4X (up to 24GB with Virtual Memory Expansion)
Storage:512GB UFS 3.1, expandable via microSD up to 2TB
Screen:6.78 inches FHD+ LCD, 120Hz refresh rate, Corning Gorilla Glass Victus protection.
Ports:USB Type-C, USB 3.1 Gen 1
Networking:Dual 5G (SA/NSA), WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC with Google Pay, GPS (L1+L5), GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou, QZSS, NavIC
Camera:Rear: Quad setup - 50MP Main (Samsung GN1), 50MP Ultra Wide, 64MP Night Vision, 3.2X Optical Zoom Telephoto   Front: 50MP Selfie Camera
OS:Android 13
Biometrics:Fingerprint access
PSU:Not specified
Dimensions:177.4 mm (H) x 81.5 mm (W) x 12.75 mm (D)
Battery:5280mAh capacity, up to 240 hours standby time, up to 24 hours talk time, 120W Flash Charging.
Weight:332 grams

Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra: Design

Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra review

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

The first thing that strikes you about the Ultra 23 is the size and weight; this is by no means a slimline smartphone, yet considering the conditions and intended user base, that bulk instantly makes sense.

Available in two colour combinations, Elite Black or Umbra Orange, the first makes sense if you like your outdoor phone to be discreet and unassuming. The second, which is a slightly subdued orange, adds a bit of style but isn't overly garish. That hint of colour also gets covered as soon as you place a protective case over the device.

When it comes to size, the phone on its own measures 177.4 mm (H) x 81.5 mm (W) x 12.75 mm (D) and weighs 332 grams. While this is relatively small compared to many of the larger-scale phones on the market at present, there is a moderate difference in scale between this and an iPhone 15 Pro.

The aesthetics of the phone are decidedly rugged. However, Ulefone has held back on the usual structural, industrial design, which is common with this style of device, and gone for something a little more stylish with the carbon fibre effect back and tough structural design. Compared with other smartphones of this type, the Armor 23 is extremely reserved in its appearance.

As you'd expect with a phone designed for the outdoors and adventure, the rugged design is certified with IP68/IP69K and MIL-STD-810H, highlighting that it can withstand most conditions, including being submerged in water. Interestingly, the USB Type-C port used for charging is exposed with no rubber cover, yet despite this, the device is still fully waterproof.

Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra review

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

The Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra is waterproof and rated IP68, which means it can withstand being submerged in up to 2 meters of water for up to 30 minutes. In addition to this, it's rated IP69K, highlighting its resistance to high-pressure and high-temperature water jets. It also meets MIL-STD-810H standards for durability.

The front of the phone features a large 6.78-inch FHD+ LCD with a 120Hz refresh rate. Again, reinforcing the device's rugged nature, the screen features Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, which is renowned for its durability.

Alongside the standard phone design, there are a few nice additions. The first is the side-mounted fingerprint sensor that powers on and unlocks the phone with a single touch.

An unusual design feature but core to Armor 23's USP is the red SOS button, which is designed for emergency situations. When pressed, it enables you to quickly contact a dedicated 24/7 international response centre for emergency assistance via satellite. More on that in the features section.

Alongside the red SOS button is an orange side button that is a customizable key. This button can be customized in whatever way you want, so you can launch apps, activate the torch, which is handy, take screenshots, and perform multiple other functions.

  • Design: 4 / 5

Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra: Features

  • All-scenario imaging system with a 50MP ultra-large lens
  • Android 13

The Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra has been designed to not only be tough and usable in all sorts of conditions but also in places where other mobiles would fail to get a connection. What marks this phone out is the dual connectivity feature that enables it to connect to standard networks and WiFi but also to satellite communications when needed.

The phone features the Bullitt Satellite Messenger app, which enables the phone to send and receive messages even when there is no cellular or WiFi connection. A subscription to this service is, of course, needed. Still, the cost of the basic package is around $9/£9 a month, making it relatively inexpensive and a great asset to hikers, cyclists, emergency services, or anyone who finds themselves off the beaten track.

To complement this connectivity, there's a red SOS button at the top of the phone. This can be used to contact a 24/7 emergency hotdesk if you find yourself in trouble. This feature works only if you have a subscription to the service, and you can purchase an SOS-only package, which starts at $5/£5 a month. To activate this, you just hold down the button for five seconds, which boots up the Bullitt app, and then hold the onscreen button.

The more common use of satellite connections is to send messages. This again works through the Bullitt app and requires a more expensive connection fee. Unlike most contracts these days, the satellite messages are limited to 80 on the base subscription, rising to 300 for the $29/£29 a month option. Once subscribed, you can then use the app to communicate through the two-way satellite messaging service.

Another essential feature for anyone working or using the phone away from civilization is the 5280mAh battery, which enables up to 240 hours of standby and 24 hours of talk time.

While cutting-edge processing power isn't at the heart of this smartphone, it still puts in a decent performance with the processing power coming from a MediaTek Dimensity 8020, Octa-Core up to 2.6GHz CPU supported by an Arm Mali-G77 GPU. Due to the nature of the phone, storage is a major feature with 512GB UFS 3.1, which is expandable up to 2TB with a microSD card that goes into the same slot as the SIM card. There's also 12GB LPDDR4X RAM, which is expandable up to 24GB with Virtual Memory Expansion.

A feature that will appeal to adventurers, hikers, and cyclists as well as industry professionals is the large display, which has a 6.78-inch FHD+ LCD and 120Hz refresh rate. This display not only makes it easy to navigate maps and review documents but also to compose and capture images.

Imaging is a big feature of the phone, with four lenses on the back for the four main cameras. These include the 50MP Main, 50MP Ultra Wide, 64MP Night Vision, and 3.2X Optical Zoom Telephoto. On the front, for video calls, is a 50MP selfie camera.

As previously covered, the phone is IP68/IP69K and MIL-STD-810H certified with Gorilla Glass, tough exterior casing with an optional additional case, all supporting the rugged design and use of the phone.

When it comes to connectivity, aside from the headline satellite abilities, you also have the option for high-speed dual 5G, WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC with Google Pay, and multiple navigation systems.

Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra review

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)
  • Features: 4.5 / 5

Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra: Performance

Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra review

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)
  • Excellent processing power
  • Plenty of storage options
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Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra Benchmarks
3DMark:Wild Life:4255
Row 1 - Cell 0 Slingshot:8434
Row 2 - Cell 0 Steel Nomad Light:439
GeekBench 6:Single core:983
Row 4 - Cell 0 Multi-core:3356
Row 5 - Cell 0 Compute:4319

The Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra has been designed for anyone who needs a phone that will work in environments that would usually break other smartphones. As such, it prioritizes the rugged toughness of features over performance.

As such, when we look at the performance of the phone, the robustness needs to be balanced with the actual processing power, as this is a phone that puts more weight on working in any environment than being able to play games in the middle of a forest.

The phone was tested across the New Forest to assess durability, dust and water resistance, and the satellite connection.

Starting with the physical performance of the phone, being dropped and thrown around did little to affect the phone other than a few marks and some premature ageing of the aesthetics. Pushed through dust, dropped on tracks, and thrown into undergrowth, the phone continued to work without issue. The main test came with the phone being submerged in water, where, again, there was little effect on the phone, although the touch screen, like most phones of this type, is not designed to work underwater.

A nice feature here is the ability to use the customizable button to power on the underwater camera and then the upvolume button to take pictures. Double-pressing the customizable button then opens whichever other app you have assigned it to. It's all very neat and easy.

The next option is satellite messaging using the Bullitt app, which is again easy to use once you have a subscription to the service. However, this will set you back £9 a month, and you are tied into a year-long contract with no trial version. For most people, the £5/$5 subscription for the SOS feature will be the most beneficial. Once subscribed and the messaging application is opened, you can then send messages to standard cellular messaging services. As ever with satellite phones, you need to be in sight of the satellites, and a clear sky is needed in most cases to get that service with this phone. Once connected, the small satellite icon appears to confirm that you're connected.

It's a nice feature, but it really is there as a backup for when all other services fail.

Another major feature of the phone is the camera array, with four cameras designed to suit all sorts of environments. The camera is unbranded, so there are no big tie-ins with the camera industry. Still, the quality of the options and image quality is surprisingly good. The switch between cameras is semi-automatic, or you can use the zoom touch button on the screen to switch to the telephoto. Overall, image quality could be better, not quite up to the latest high-end phones, but enough to qualify for a decent result that will be of good enough quality and resolution for most business users, as well as capturing scenes on your adventures.

The onboard camera app is limited when it comes to creative control. However, it does feature some film options, which are fun. If you want to get more involved, there is a Pro mode with manual focus that enables some really nice background blur. So, while the camera is relatively advanced compared with the top-end phones, it still offers quality and adjustability that will satisfy most users.

Finally, looking at the benchmark results, we can see that they highlight a decent performance overall. The 3DMark Wild Life graphics score of 4255 shows that the phone can handle graphically intensive applications well, ensuring smooth playback for gaming and video. The Slingshot score of 8434 also highlights that the phone can run demanding apps such as Lightroom easily, as well as all of the Google Docs applications. Checking out the GeekBench 6 tests, the multi-core score of 3356 and single-core score of 983 show a good balance for multitasking and single-threaded performance, which is ideal for productivity with Google apps and photo editing. The GPU score of 4319 further boosts the overall performance and ensures that the quality of the camera and the files it captures can be adequately handled by the phone.

Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra review

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)
  • Performance: 4 / 5

Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra: Final verdict

The Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra is a go-anywhere phone that offers plenty of unique features that make it stand out from the mainstream of tough phones. The primary difference is the satellite support with the optional Bullitt subscription options that will enable you to keep in contact even when cellular and WiFi networks are out of sight.

The camera is also a decent feature, not just your usual generic option, but something that provides plenty of scope and the ability to get creative. Coupled with a decent photo app, you can have lots of fun. The standard camera app isn't bad, and with the Pro feature, you can adjust the settings to capture some superb images with decent sharpness fall-off for portraits if you want it.

Aimed at outdoor users, the Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra ticks almost every box, with the durability impressing through the tests. While the phone is relatively large and weighty, knowing that it will stand up to the elements and will enable you to keep in touch when all other signals fail makes it worth carrying the small additional bulk that it'll add to a pack.

Overall, this is an outstanding outdoor smartphone with plenty of features and durability that will appeal to services and anyone working or having fun off the beaten track.

Should you buy a Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra?

Swipe to scroll horizontally
ValueExcellent features for a competitive price4 / 5
DesignRugged yet stylish; designed for harsh environments.4 / 5
FeaturesInnovative satellite messaging and comprehensive camera system.4.5 / 5
PerformanceStrong multitasking and graphical capabilities.4 / 5
OverallReliable and feature-packed rugged smartphone. 4 / 5

Ulefone Armor 23 Ultra review

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

Buy it if...

You need reliable connectivity

Ideal for those who need dependable communication even in remote areas, thanks to its two-way satellite messaging feature.

You demand durability

Perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and professionals who need a phone that can withstand harsh conditions with its IP68/IP69K rating and MIL-STD-810H certification.

Don't buy it if...

You prefer lightweight phones

If you prioritize a slim and lightweight device, the Armor 23 Ultra’s bulk may not suit your needs.

You don't need a rugged phone

If you rarely find yourself in extreme conditions, a lighter, less rugged smartphone might be more appropriate.

For more durable devices, we've tested and reviewed the best rugged tablets, the best rugged laptops, and the best rugged hard drives