Unihertz Tank Review: Some smartphones are not for everybody. They are designed for a specific set of niche use cases, and of you do not fall within that demographic, such phones will not appeal to you. As a matter of fact, you are likely to find them ridiculous. The monster phone called Unihertz Tank is one such highly specialised smartphone. Let me introduce you to it.
Let me make something clear: the name is 100% appropriate. This phone is built like a tank. It is massive; it is heavily armoured, it is heavy, and it will withstand drops, heat, sand, water, and pretty much everything else that will break your regular smartphone. If you get that picture, you already can tell that this is a phone designed for outdoors usage – for campers, adventurers, explorers, field security work, field engineering, and even military use.
Once you understand the above, the Unihertz Tank will make sense to you. Otherwise, the first time you see it and pick it up, you are likely to wonder why anyone needs a tank in their hands. Let me tell you about the first time I handled it.
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Table of Contents
Unihertz Tank Review: Quick Specs
Let’s have a quick look at the phone’s specifications to see what to expect.
- 6.81-inch, 2340 × 1080 pixels, LCD IPS display with Panda Glass MN228 protection
- Water/dust resistance. Shock resistance. MIL-STD-810H military standard.
- Android 12
- 32MP selfie camera
- 108MP main camera + 20MP infrared Night Vision Camera + 2 MP macro lens, with LED light
- 22000mAh battery with 66W fast charging
- Helio G99 processor
- 8GB RAM
- 256GB internal storage
- No microSD card slot
- 3.5mm audio headset port.
Unihertz Tank Review: Quick Pros and Cons
If you do not have the time to sit through the entire Unihertz Tank review but want a quick summary of what it says, here you go:
- 4G LTE support
- Built like a tank and will take a beating.
- Water-proof. Dust-proof.
- Fantastic battery life
- 66W fast charging is a blessing.
- Useful toolkit
- The fingerprint reader is finicky.
Unihertz Tank Review: Unboxing
It arrived in a nice black box that is no bigger than the average phone box. From reading up about the specs, I already knew this guy was big, but nothing quite prepared you for seeing and handling it in the flesh. I opened the box, took the phone out, and I was still amazed. The Unihertz Tank is massive and butt heavy.
I passed it round so other members of the MobilityArena team could have a feel, and some of them uttered some u printable words, in shock. Below nis a photo of the TECNO Camon 18 Premier (which is not a small phone) with the Tank, so you can have an idea of how big the latter is.
What is in the box? The phone itself, two spare screen protectors, a user guide, a warranty guide, a USB-C cable, and a 66W charging brick. I nodded my head at that last item; with a 22,000mAh battery, it was reasonable to add that level of fast charging, otherwise it would take ages to top up the battery.
Unihertz Tank Review: Battery Life and Charging
How fast does the Unihertz Tank charge? The first time I plugged it in to charge was a disappointing experience. It took forever to charge up. I wondered what could be wrong. 66W charging shouldn’t charge that slowly. Then I remembered that I had just run a software update (the first thing I did after setting up the phone). So, I did a restart of the phone and that fixed the issue. After that, the Tank charged with a speed that I expected. For example, last night, it went from 8% to 46% in 42 minutes.
In all, the 22000mAh battery charges up in about one hour and forty-five minutes. Remember, though, that even a 30-minute charge of this battery provides the Tank with enough power to run for 2 to 3 days, depending on your usage.
I easily used the Tank on a full charge for 6 days and only plugged it back in to charge when the battery had dropped to 8%. At that point, the phone told me I still had several hours of usage left. 8% of 22000mAh is 1760mAh after all. That is more than the total battery capacity of some other phones. Oh! And the Tank is a power bank, too. I charged other devices with it.
Unihertz Tank Review: Hardware
The phone is water-proof and dust-proof. All the ports are sealed with flaps so water and dust do not get in. The phone’s edges have heavy shock-absorbing materials to break falls. The display is protected by a Gorilla Glass alternative, called Panda Glass.
There is a 32-megapixel selfie camera in front and a 108-megapixel camera at the back. There is an LED flash supporting the camera (and it has a dedicated button so you can use it to find your keys in the dark). But there is also a massive floodlight (or camping light) at the back, as well. And it is bright! Lastly, there is a 20MP infrared night vision camera for capturing photos in the dark, as well as a 2MP macro camera.
Unihertz Tank Review: Software
The Tank runs Android 12 out of the box. It is mostly pure Android OS, too, but with some icons modified. The phone comes with a toolbox that includes handy utilities like a noise tester, compass, flashlight, bubble level measurement, heart rate measurement, pedometer, plumb bob, protractor (I haven’t seen a physical protractor in a decade!), speedometer, and even an underwater camera – for taking photos and recording video under water.
This monster was designed to be an all-purpose tool for getting things done, finding your way, and staying alive in the wild. For example, I took a trip by train and was able to monitor the speed of the train all through with the use of the speedometer in the toolbox. I was also able to keep my bearings right with the compass. And when doing community security monitoring in my neighbourhood, the powerful camping light on the rear of the phone (separate from the camera LED light) has been very useful. It has different modes, too, including SOS (the light flashes), Explosion flash (a strobing light), full bright, half bright, and slightly bright.
There is Google Play Store and Google Mobile Services (GMS) support. Signing into my Google account and installing and updating apps was without issues. All work fine.
Unihertz Tank Review: Fingerprint Reader
One complaint that I have about the Tank is the side-mounted fingerprint reader. It is finicky and does not register fingerprints all the time. Often, I have to apply my finger multiple times before it unlocks the screen. I have used many phones and have never had a fingerprint experience this poor. Perhaps Unihertz can fix it via a software update. Or perhaps this is not a generic issue and the reader on my unit is faulty.
Unihertz Tank Review: Network and Telephony
This is another area that the Tank shines. While out and about on trips out of town and in patchy network area, my iPhone would run into network issues, and I would be unable to use mobile data on it. Not the Tank. I made sure that both phones had a SIM card from the same network in them to test this out. When data stopped working on the iPhone, it was smooth and rock solid on the Unihertz Tank in the same location and at the same time.
Just to be double sure, I swapped the SIM cards between the two phones, and again, the Tank kept mobile data running smoothly, while connectivity on the iPhone was wacky all through. The Unihertz Tank is not just built to endure tough terrain, it is clearly also designed to hold on to and process a network signal better on the field where coverage is often patchy.
Unihertz Tank Review: Display and Multimedia
The display is sharp and bright. I have had no issues using it for reading, content creation, watching video, or viewing images. It does not have a high refresh rate, so it is only 60Hz, but that has not impacted on the viewing experience.
I wish the loudspeaker produced better quality audio. I wish it had stereo speakers, actually. The audio is not terrible; it just lacks bass and sounds quite hollow. Again, this might not be a priority for the target demographic, so maybe I am nit-picking here.
Unihertz Tank Review: Photography & Video
As a rule, a specialized smartphone of this nature almost never comes with an outstanding camera. So many resources go into optimizing the phone for its niche that photography and video recording are not priority. The cameras on the Unihertz Tank are not fantastic but they get the job done. This is particularly true for the rear camera, and less true for the selfie camera. I will share the samples so you can see for yourself.
So, what are my conclusions on the Tank’s cameras? The 108-megapixel main cam,era performs well in good lighting but struggles in the dark. The infra-red night vision camera makes up for that by capturing more details in the dark, but you lose the colour. As for the 2-megapixel macro cameras, they have always disappointed and this one does just the same. I really believe that 2MP cameras are redundant. All manufacturers should scrap them. And let me just say that the selfie camera does not encourage me to take selfies.
Like I said earlier, the cameras on a device of this kind are hardly ever the best in terms of optimisation or results. They take averaage photos, as we have seen in the case of the Tank. The really special thing here is the infra-red night vision camera.
Unihertz Tank Review: Multitasking and Performance
Performance is smooth and pleasant on the tank. Not once has it stuttered or paused or slowed down in use, and I have used it in all sorts of scenarios. I have streamed video, downloaded files, used the Web browser, managed emails, measured speed, used the floodlight, and switched between multiple tasks, without an impact on performance. This tank purrs along nicely.
Unihertz Tank Review: Should You Buy It?
The Unihertz Tank is not for you if you are the regular person who has a desk job or goes to school or works from home.
But if your vocation requires you to be away from civilization for extended periods, or to be exposed to rugged terrain and/or extreme situations, this is the smartphone that will ride with you without dying on you. You can take it camping and use it for a week on a single charge. It is a phone that you will not be afraid of dropping on the ground or in water, by mistake. And if someone tries to mug you, you can use it as a weapon, too.
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