An impressive full HD screen coupled with a huge battery in a tough metal body is almost enough to excuse the disastrous button configuration and lack of outdoor-specific features.
Large four-day battery
USB-C with 9V/2A fast charging
Face ID unlock
Large Full HD screen
Illogical button assignment
Heavy and awkward to use
Poor sound quality
No outdoor features/software
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Online Chinese retailer, Gearbest, sent us the sample and sells the Vernee V2 Pro for £237 (around $305) at the time of writing. Note that, while this price includes delivery, it is exclusive of any taxes that may be levied by HMRC or the courier companies on behalf of the vendor. Want to buy tech from online Chinese retailers? Read this first.
Rugged phones and elegant edge-to-edge displays used to be mutually exclusive, but with the Vernee V2 Pro, you can finally have both. The expansive 5.99-inch screen has a very slight Samsung-style curve at the edges and is protected by a slim, but strong magnalium bezel. Strong enough for the Chinese manufacturer to promise six-sided drop resistance. However, Vernee doesn’t actually say from what height.
There is no doubting that the V2 Pro packs a lot of features for a phone costing only around £240 and when you add an IP68 rating, you have a tempting proposition for anyone who relies heavily on their phone while working outdoors.
The battery is unusually large at 6.2Ah, which means you can keep working for around four days of regular use without recharging. It’s faster than your typical tough phone too and has the latest version Android (Oreo) on board.
The sleek Vernee V2 Pro doesn’t look like a rugged phone from the front at all, but that tough magnalium case is apparently enough to earn an IP68 certificate. That means it can survive 1.5-meters under water for two hours, is impervious to dust, and work in temperatures ranging from -30 to 60-degrees Centigrade. Vernee says it is also drop resistant on all sides, though there is no certificate for that. It is definitely available in red, or black, as seen here though.
The distinctively dimpled back panel is textured to enhance your grip and Vernee claims the material also repels dirt, although as you can see in the photo, we managed to find some that stuck. It certainly makes it easier to hold and so does the 18:9 ratio screen. A six-inch phone in 16:9 ratio would be harder to reach your fingers around. Also on the back are a dual-lens camera, LED flash/torch, a fingerprint reader and a heart rate monitor. This last is a welcome addition for an action phone and it works well.
There is only one socket at the side because the type C USB port works for sharing data, recharging and also as a headphone port. A USB-C to minijack adapter is included. This versatile port also allows for fast 9V/2A charging, which almost makes up for the fact that the Vernee V2 Pro does not support wireless charging.
There are only three buttons on the Vernee V2 Pro, an on/off button (of course), a volume rocker (naturally) and a button that takes a screenshot (why?). We can only assume that this is a mistake that somehow made it all the way to production, because there are so many things that third button could have been: a camera shutter button perhaps, or PTT (push to talk), or an emergency SOS sender, or a torch app. When you’re working outside there are plenty of functions that you’d love to access without having to take off your gloves and navigate an onscreen menu, but taking a screenshot is NOT one of them. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that this button is on a hair trigger and you can’t help but press it almost every time you hold the handset, so by the end of the review we had to delete hundreds of accidental screenshots. All that’s needed is a firmware update, or an app to reassign this rogue function button, but at the time of review, there was no solution.
Here are the full specs of the Vernee V2 Pro:
CPU: Helio P23 MTK6763
GPU: Mali G71
Screen size: 5.9-inch
Resolution: 2160 x 1080
Dimensions: 164 x 79 x 12mm
Rear camera: 16MP + 5MP
Front camera: 8MP + 5MP
OS: Android 8.1.0
The Vernee V2 Pro ticks most of the boxes on our feature list for a rugged phone and its technical specifications trump most of the other models in this category. The screen is a luxurious six inches across (or as near as makes no difference) and its Full HD, unlike the Blackview BV5800, which is only HD. The main camera is 21MP with a 5MP companion lens for getting that bokeh effect. Sadly there’s no optical zoom.
In addition to the biometric fingerprint reader, you can also sign in with Face ID, which is less secure, but preferable when you’ve got your hands full. The SIM card tray will actually hold two nano SIMs and a TF card, which could expand the phone’s memory by128GB.
The processor is a modest Helio P23, but teamed with a generous 6GB of RAM and 64GB of ROM, it produced respectable results in our processing bench tests. It is certainly powerful enough to run Android Oreo 8.1 smoothly and drive apps that make good use of the phone’s compass, pedometer and gyroscope.
At 6200 mAh the battery is both big and clever. It makes the Vernee V2 Pro feel as heavy as two Samsung Galaxy S9s, but it makes it last for 35 days in standby. Curiously, the specifications are in some key cases slightly lower than those of the Vernee Active, which was launched first, even though this model is more expensive. It means that the slightly larger battery and screen are what you are paying for here.
Jim is a seasoned expert when it comes to testing tech. From playing a prototype PlayStation One to meeting a man called Steve about a new kind of phone in 2007, he’s always hunting the next big thing at the bleeding edge of the electronics industry. After editing the tech section of Wired UK magazine, he is currently specialising in IT and voyaging in his VW camper van.