Elephone Soldier Review - Attractive exterior, outdated interior

We've got another rugged phone, this time with Elephone Soldier. We looked at what the Elephone mobile does with the 2K display, water, dust and shock resistance. This device is the manufacturer's first and only rugged mobile phone.

In early July, we came to Cubot Quest, a cost-effective, entry-level survival phone, which, despite some flaws, passed our test well.

The Elephone Soldier in our test is one grade higher, in the mid-range, where the market for similarly designed phones is already explicitly covered.

Elephone Soldier - Review

Introduction

After the makers of Oukitel, Ulefone, Blackview, Homtom and Cubot, Elephone has also entered the rugged phone business, which looks like a good investment. Smaller Chinese brands soon realized that besides the more cost-effective mobile phone manufacturers, such as Xiaomi, Huawei and other famous manufacturers, it is increasingly difficult to kick the ball. Therefore, they are looking for solutions that will make them stand out from the vast array of mobile phones. In fact, waterproof phones are a rarity for the time being, and those who want to buy such a phone will be the first to come across these smaller brands.

The Elephone Soldier is priced at $189, so it competes in the mid-range. There are few similar products in this price range, just the Ulefone Armor 6e and the HOMTOM Zoji Z9. You might also want to check out the Ulefone Armor 6 or Oukitel WP2 mobiles, which are already well over $200.

We purchased the Elephone Soldier from the GearBest store, which is currently available for sale for $189.99:

ELEPHONE SOLDIER
GearBest promotion

Design

Elephone's first IP68-protected mobile phone came in a clean, simple black box. The front shows only the manufacturer's logo, while the back shows the main features of the device.

Elephone Soldier box

Elephone Soldier - Box 2

When you open the box, you will immediately find your mobile phone in a thin plastic bag. The screen protector was pre-glued, so we don't have to worry about installing it anymore. Further examining the contents of the box we find an 18W wall adapter, a Micro USB cable, a SIM card needle and a brief English description. In the latter, you can read the main features of the device and find out which of the many buttons is for what.

Elephone Soldier - Add ons

Elephone Soldier - Quick Start Guide

The phone we tested came in black with a red rubber band on the side and gray plastic on the bottom.
Like a rugged phone, the casing is extremely strong, and the edges are thicker for greater security, which makes the whole product appear wider.
 
The front panel features a 5.5-inch QHD (1440x2560 pixels) IPS display with outstanding pixel density in this category. Although, in my opinion, anyone who buys this kind of phone won't do it because of the high-resolution screen. But the idea is to be praised by the manufacturer.
Above the display are the speaker, the 16-megapixel front-facing camera, the proximity sensor, and the notification LED, while the bottom has three capacitive function buttons with backlight.

 Elephone Soldier - Front  Elephone Soldier - Back

The back cover was also interesting from Elephone designers. At the top of the case, on a rectangular metal plate, is the 21-megapixel camera and LED flash.
 
The speaker, which has the right volume but has a mid-range sound quality, surprisingly sits next to the back camera. As a result, placing the phone on a desk or bed will reduce the volume.
 
On the right side of the metal sheet was a so-called "Intercom expansion interface", which I didn't know what it was about. Neither the official site nor any other reviews have found out what to plug in, but I have a guess that nothing. The disassembling videos revealed that there was no wire connected to this section when the back panel was removed.
Another interesting place is the red SOS button, which pushes the LED under the camera to blink at regular intervals. Those who know the Morse signs may soon realize that the word "SOS" may not be pronounced with light signals. Placement is not very fortunate, especially for those who are already used to using the backprint fingerprint reader. It is true that we will not turn on the blinking, as the touch is slight, but it can be disturbing.
 
At the bottom of the back, there is also a traditional manual compass, which in my opinion has become quite bazaar. But there will surely be someone who makes this device special.

  Elephone Soldier - Back camera  Elephone Soldier - Compass

We also get quite a few buttons on the side: on the left, a function key, which can be held down to load the so called "Outdoor Tools" applications. Unfortunately, this button cannot be programmed to launch another application. On this page you will also find the SIM card slot, which you can access after opening the rubber cover.
 
On the right are the power and volume buttons, as well as the fingerprint reader, which worked surprisingly accurately and quickly. This is where the flashlight switch came from. This powerful LED lamp is located on the top of the unit. For me it has a surprisingly bright light. To switch on, press and hold for at least 2-3 seconds.

Elephone Soldier - Left Side

Elephone Soldier - Right Side

The Micro USB and 3.5mm jack connectors on the underside also feature a rubber cover to protect against dirt and water. On top of the flashlight mentioned above, you will find a handy hook.

  Elephone Soldier - Bottom  Elephone Soldier - Bottom 2  
  Elephone Soldier - Up
  Elephone Soldier - Flashlight

Hardware

We could see that the Elephone Soldier looks completely okay. One or two buttons have been placed in an unusual place, which is learnable, and fortunately they have no effect on the operation of the device.
 
Hardware can be an even more important factor. Although the Elephone Soldier was reasonably fast on the general tests, there was no glitch, the Android 8 system ran smoothly, but we can't be completely satisfied.
 
The 10-core Helio X25 underneath the back cover is already quite outdated, with the MediaTek processor first appearing in the market in 2016. However, we do not need to describe the performance of the Elephone. It is about the same level as the Helio P23 in Ulefone Armor 5, but weaker than the Helio P60 in Ulefone Armor 6, or the more recent Helio P70 system chips in the higher speed Armor 6e.
But despite the great graphics performance, when the overall power consumption is high, and as a result of gaming or more computationally demanding tasks, the device warms up fairly quickly.
 
Along with MediaTek SoC, it comes with 4GB of memory and 128GB of internal storage, which can be doubled with a MicroSD card inserted into the SIM card slot.
 
You can read the hardware knowledge, more detailed test scores and results in the following screenshots:

Elephone Soldier Antutu    Elephone Soldier GeekBench

    

    

Software

The Elephone Soldier was released last year, unfortunately at that time the Android 9 operating system was not widespread, so it received the one earlier Android 8.

  

      

The basic theme comes with a black background and metallic-looking icons that perfectly match the look of the device. In addition to standard start-up applications, the manufacturer also installed a package called OutdoorTool. It includes a compass, a magnifying glass, a flashlight, a noise meter, an angle meter, a spirit level and a vertical meter.
 
It is incomprehensible to me that barometer, humidity, and temperature sensors cannot be accessed by any installed application, and if we are curious about these values, we must install an external program from the Play Store.
 
The music player, messaging, phonebook, clock are the same as the basic Android applications. An FM radio is also available, though you will need a wired headset to use it.
 
Unfortunately, I also found some software flaws: the Elephone Soldier came on the market last year, and a year has passed since. Well, the developers of the Elephone software couldn't work very hard during this time, since the last update was available in February 2019, but the last Android 8 update package was installed in August 2018.

    

Unfortunately, smaller manufacturers are far below the larger companies in terms of support. Nor is it hoped that Soldier will receive an Android 9 or Android 10 update in the future.
 
With 4GB of internal memory, the system is seamless and switches quickly between applications. You can run programs with a larger breath in the background without closing them.

Communications

Wireless standards support the Soldier phone quite well: thanks to the Helio X25 system chip, we get dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, global 4G LTE support, including 800MHz (B20) frequency. The device uses LTE Cat 6 standard for data communication, which means that up to 300 Mbit/s download and 50 Mbit/s upload speeds can be measured while browsing the Internet.
 
In addition, there is also an NFC chip that can be used primarily for mobile payments, but also for transferring other data and photos.


The thick, rugged housing is definitely an asset in terms of impact and water resistance. Well, in terms of positioning, it looks exactly the other way round. Positioning based on GPS and Glonass satellites is a bit slow, and I experienced slightly weaker than average signaling.

Camera

We don't get too much camera lenses this time, which of course shouldn't be a problem. On the front we get a 16 megapixel selfie camera, while on the back we get a single 21 megapixel Sony IMX220 sensor. Elephone is proud to announce that it has real-time HDR support and is capable of producing 4K images. Well, the former is not true, as every time I tried to use the camera, unfortunately, turning on HDR did not get better, but worse, and it took at least 2-3 seconds to take a picture.
 
4K images are true, although this tag is not used for images, as almost all today's mobiles are capable of taking photos of this resolution (~ 12 megapixels). In Video mode, however, you cannot select 4K resolution, and even the maximum quality of FullHD movies is below average.
 
For those who like to take a lot of photos, I can't really recommend the mobile, the pictures taken are often colorless, blurry, it is difficult to find the focus, and during the day, the lighter details often burn out. At full size, a few more photos on the screen seem acceptable, but as we get a little closer to the details, we unfortunately have to realize that something is wrong here.
 
I've included a few sample pictures that show the camera's capabilities:

Elephone Soldier - Photos sample

Elephone Soldier - Photo Sample

Elephone Soldier - Photo Sample

Battery

Underneath the back of the Elephone Soldier is a large 5000mAh battery, which you might think is capable of super battery life. Well, we have to be disappointed with this, as, as I mentioned, the Helio X25 is a fairly old processor whose consumption is even less optimized than newer MediaTek solutions. As a result, continuous Wi-Fi video streaming takes only 8-9 hours per charge. That's little, as the recently tested Helio P22 Cubot Quest phone, with its 4000mAh battery, had just over 11 hours on a charge under similar conditions.
 
Luckily, charging won't be a problem as the included 18W quick charger recharges the power source to 100% in a fairly short time. As a negative, I would mention the charger connector as I do not understand why the manufacturer does not use a USB Type-C connector for a phone released in 2018.

Summary

The Elephone Soldier caused me mixed emotions, as there are excellent points for the mobile, but there are plenty of annoying bugs that can be lived with, of course, but in a more thoughtful design, could have been eliminated.
 
Positive highlights are the smooth system, good performance and large storage space. Naturally I would mention the excellent assembly, the robust housing, the IP68 protection, the NFC support and the nice, attractive appearance with the QHD resolution display.
The downside is the outdated MediaTek processor choice, a weak camera that leaves a deep impression on battery life and phone overheating.
 
In any case, Elephone's first try in the IP68 phone market hasn't gone wrong, with its affordable price that will surely be picked by many. However, the manufacturer could make even more success by changing some things in the next version. With a stronger, more up-to-date processor, Type-C connector, even a lower resolution display, more memory would be one of the best deals on mid-range rugged phones.
 
Unfortunately, Elephone Soldier was not available in too many stores, you can find the current stock available and current prices on our site:

ELEPHONE SOLDIER
Where to buy Elephone Soldier
Prices, specifications, photos
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