List of issues with the UleFone Armor 2 camera
Although being a device with high price-performance at release time (August 2017)[note 1], the UleFone Armor 2 has a low-tier and malfunctioning camera.
The phone has the following issues with its camera:
Camera hanging bug
After too much uptime (starting at 3 days, but might not happen even 20 days of uptime), the camera viewfinder might randomly hang up seconds after launching the camera.
When exiting the camera, it might (in good case) start working normally after re-launching the camera, or (in bad case) an error message claims that connection to the camera is not possible because allegedly being accessed by another application. Android's integrated battery monitor claims the camera to be permanently active, and battery drain significantly increases in that state.
The likelihood of camera hanging appears to correlate with the number of camera launches, and appears to increase if launched from a double-press of the power button.
The technical reason for this issue is unknown. The only known way to evade that state is rebooting.
Front camera hanging
When requesting a video recording framerate on Open Camera above 30 fps, the smoother framerate will be visible in the camera viewfinder, but when hitting recording, the front camera crashes and becomes unresponsive until reboot, similar to the rear camera after too much uptime. The technical reason for this issue is unknown.
Low-tier image sensor
The rear camera of the UleFone Armor 2 utilizes the Samsung S5K3P3 image sensor, which is a low-tier image sensor with a small pixel surface size that is intended for rather slim mobile phones[note 2], and not for an outdoor mobile phone that has space for a much larger image sensor.
Noise in the image at 100% zoomed view is visible when photographed at the lowest ISO setting of 34.[note 3]
The competing Doogee S60 not only uses the vastly superior Sony IMX230 image sensor (also used in UleFone Power 5) with a larger surface size and higher resolution, but is also optically stabilized, which allows recording steady handheld video footage and prolonged handheld photography exposure times in low-light situations.
Hidden image pixel setting
The current megapixel setting is not permanently visible on the viewfinder.
If one earlier reduced the megapixel count to reduce consumption of space storage, but forgets to set it to a higher resolution for more important moments, one might accidentally capture those moments at a lower resolution.
When recording video onto a MicroSD card, the audio track contains a repeated half-second noise that repeats every few seconds.
More of this noise is hearable at higher video resolution settings due to the higher data rate, and also when recording audio using a voice recorder while another application is accessing (both reading and writing) the MicroSD card.
Moov atom saving failure
Occasionally (~1 out of 100 videos), the camera software fails saving the video file properly, resulting in a corrupted moov atom, thus an unplayable video file.
Photo during focus
The device occasionally captures a photo while focussing, resulting in a blurred photo.
No lossless digital zoom
At any video resolution, the camera offers up to 5× digital zoom. However, the digital zoom is unable to use image sensor cropping.
Using digital zoom while recording at a lower resolution than 1080p (the highest resolution) is only lossless until the innermost crop of a 1080p resolution has been reached instead of the full 16 megapixel image sensor.
This means, for example, that digital zoom at 720p video resolution is only lossless up to ×1.5, rather than ~×4.1, which would have technically been possible given the image sensor.
The same behaviour applies to the front camera.
Photos during videos have no reoslution benefit
Photos captured during video recording have the same resolution as the video itself, making the feature technically redundant.
Some other mobile phones such as Samsung Galaxy flagship phones make significant use of the photo-during-video feature. The Galaxy S5, Note 4, S6 and Note 5 for example, capture full 16 Megapixel (5232×2988) still images during 1080p video recording.
Unsolicited burst shot
Occasionally, especially shortly after launching, the camera randomly enters burst mode. Releasing the camera button does not end the burst sequence.
The only way of ending the burst sequence is tapping the virtual camera shutter button or exiting the camera application.
Although the above-average burst shot performance (~10 full-resolution photos, limited to 99 photos), the burst mode is more often annoying than useful.
Two ways of preventing an unwanted launch of burst mode is enabling HDR mode (which, however, expectedly adds shutter lag) or only using the volume keys for photography, not the dedicated physical shutter button or the virtual (on-screen) shutter button.
Burst mode is not supported on the front camera.
Low panorama resolution
Rather than using the 5376 pixels of height, the panorama mode of the UleFone Armor 2 only uses a height of around 1200 pixels when held vertically, and 848 pixels when held horizontally, making the feature nearly pointless, although better than nothing.
The only way to make somewhat useful panorama shots with the device is photographing inside the normal camera mode and stitching the individual photos together in a photo editing software.
Higher panorama resolutions may be supported by third-party (non-stock) camera software.
- Although the precluded camera software lacks slow motion video recording, 120fps can be recorded at 480p using the Open Camera application.
- One benefit of the otherwise terrible camera of the UleFone Armor 2 is its low shutter lag.
- Issues unrelated to the camera.
- The fingerprint scanner becomes unfunctional after 16 days and ~10 hours of uptime. Technical reason unknown. Only solvable with rebooting.
- Charging speed (using MediaTek PumpExpress 1.0 or manually applied elevated voltage) is only 10 Watts, unlike the advertised 18 Watts.
- However, as already mentioned, usage of the device while charging is handled like all known laptop computers handle it: By drawing additional current from the power supply instead of subtracting or (even worse) throttling charging speed. The limit at any voltage up to 14 volts (highest supported input voltage) is 1.9 Ampère. This advantageous charging behaviour is one of the device's greatest benefits.
- Non-replaceable battery (although this sadly is a normality among mobile phones since circa 2015.)
- Holding the power button for 10 seconds causes a forced power-off, which may happen accidentally when the mobile phone is in a pocket or in a phone bag.
- The touch screen can only detect up to two fingers simultaneously, while many mobile phones have been supporting the recognition of up to ten simultaneous fingers for years.
- Launching the camera with the dedicated camera shutter button (that only has one level) requires holding it for five seconds, where one second would have been more suitable.
- However, a double-press of the power button is also able to launch the camera.
- The device is equipped with a large 4700 mAh battery, spare-current fast charging (usage of spare power supply current during screen-on instead of subtracting from charging current), a robust design, a bright 1080p screen, physical shutter button, water resistance and a high-quality front camera.
- The S5K3P3 image sensor unit is poorly documented. No public specification sheet of it exists.
- The front camera is visibly far less noisy than the rear camera at the lowest light sensitivity, and also has a solid 1080p video quality.