Ulefone at MWC: doing what others don’t

Dominik Bärlocher
Zurich, on 01.03.2018
Translation: Eva Francis
Trade fairs such as the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona are a great opportunity to take a look at more than the usual flagship phones. Small manufacturers often have surprising products, which reminds you that they’re not as small after all; they’re just unknown to the Swiss market. Ulefone is a prime example of this.

The ad banners next to the Chinese manufacturer’s booth make you smile. Featuring classic hyperbole, they say «Super Battery» and «The most screen phone». Right, sure.

But video producer Stephanie Tresch and I weren’t laughing for long; when we got to the Ulefone booth in hall 7, two phones captured our attention. We were so impressed that we spontaneously decided to get the camera and microphone running and film a short sequence about this phone. Just when we wanted to start filming, a lady with weird eyebrows that run parallel to the floor interrupted us and started talking about the device.

The one feature she didn’t mention

She’s decided to present the Ulefone T2 Pro to us. This delicate device is Ulefone’s flagship – and deservedly so, as it ticks all the flagship boxes.

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  • It’s thin
  • It has virtually no bezels
  • It’s extremely lightweight

Somehow Ulefone has managed to build a 5000 mAh battery into such a thin, light smartphone. With a screen aspect ratio of 19:9, the T2 Pro has a screen diagonal of 6.7 inches, i. e. 17.01 cm. It features 8 GB RAM, 128 GB internal memory and fantastic cameras: A 21 and a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera and – yes, it’s a dual camera setup – a 16-megapixel front-facing camera. Ulefone has managed to do something that even big brands can't do: The Ulefone T2 Pro runs on Android Oreo 8.1 and is powered by a Mediatek Helio P70 octo-core system-on-chip. This is likely to be the first flagship smartphone that’s equipped with the P70.

This sounds great, right? The eyebrow lady explains all of this in broken English and smiles a lot.

What she doesn’t mention is that the T2 Pro has a fingerprint sensor underneath the screen. Probably no coincidence; after our shoot, we find out that the device we saw was a demo version and is equipped with a demo software. This demo software has a bug; a major bug. As this phone is almost bezel-free, it may easily happen that you accidentally push a button or start an app just by grabbing the phone. This may lead to confusing instructions to your phone and result in a flickering screen that switches from home to apps within seconds.

«Fingerprint scanner doesn't work,» she says.

Too bad.

Well, this isn’t the only thing that’s not working. I’ve never held such a delicate smartphone in my hands. If you’re going to use it on a daily basis, it’s sure to get damaged. In fact, from three phones that I saw at the Ulefone booth, all three had a damaged back cover. The main issue of this phone seems to be how fragile it is. Almost the entire surface of the phone is covered by the screen, leaving no space for a puffer zone or protective mechanism.

Probably the largest battery ever

Ulefone’s other flagship is the Power 5. It also runs on Android 8.1 and boasts great specs. But it’s heavy, bulky and made to withstand a good deal of wear and tear. It’s made of rubber, metal, visible screws and a bit of screen.

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What Ulefone’s Power series is famous for is its battery.

The Ulefone Power 5 is equipped with a 13000 mAh battery. The demo device at the booth has a battery level of 20 percent; this corresponds to two days of battery life.

Ule-who?

Ulefone isn’t a famous brand. What many know is that it’s a Chinese brand that makes rather decent phones. But who are the people behind Ulefone?

These people, as it seems.

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Is this the Ulefone team?

This picture is taken from Ulefone’s official website and comes with the slogan «We are here for you». I’d like to know who’s making this promise. A YouTuber seemed to have had the same idea and visited Ulefone in China. Their official channel features this video that provides a glimpse behind the Ulefone scenes.

Take a look at the Ulefone factory in Shenzhen:

Who exactly is behind the brand Ulefone, what the company aims are and whether they have an update policy – all this is nowhere to be found.

In short: Ulefone is a somewhat mysterious brand that produces rather decent phones. It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on this Chinese manufacturer.

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Dominik Bärlocher
Dominik Bärlocher
Senior Editor, Zurich
Journalist. Author. Hacker. A storyteller searching for boundaries, secrets and taboos – putting the world to paper. Not because I can but because I can’t not.

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