UMIDIGI Bison Review: For the Rugged Adventurous User

Throughout the years, phone brands have produced rugged phones and tried to sell them to regular consumers. The problem back then is that those phones were too big, heavy and bulky to carry. I used to have some of those rugged phones but I grew tired of carrying them. If there’s a rugged phone that an ordinary user wants, it has to be compact and not to cumbersome to carry. Looks like I found one in the form of the UMIDIGI Bison 2021. Here’s our review!

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UMIDIGI BISON 2021 REVIEW SPECS:

OS:Android 11
Processor:1.9 GHz MTK Helio P60 Octa-Core processor | MALI G72
Display: 6.3" Full HD+ 2340x1080, 19:5:9 In-Cell Display with Corning Gorilla Glass
Wireless Connections:4G, Bluetooth 4.2, 801.11 a/b/g/n/ac, NFC, A-GPS
Memory:128GB Internal Storage expandable with a Micro SD card, 6GB RAM
Connectors:Type-C USB, 3.5mm headphone jack
Cameras:48 Megapixels Sony Primary Camera f/1.79 + 16 Megapixels 120 degrees Ultra-Wide angle + 5 Megapixels Depth + 5 Megapixels Macro (Main Camera), 24 Megapixels Sony Ultra-Clear f/2.0 (Front)
SIM Card Slots:2x Nano SIM Cards required (Hybrid)
Battery:5,000 mAh
SRP:P7,490

THE UNBOXING

As always, the UMIDIGI Bison 2021 comes in a white plain box with the brand’s logo in the center.

Inside the package are the UMIDIGI Bison 2021 review unit, Type-C USB cable, USB Charger head, and User Manuals.

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THE LOOKS AND FEEL

Removing the UMIDIGI Bison 2021 from the box, I initially thought the phone was already inside a rugged case. When I found out that it was a rugged smartphone, I became really impressed of its compact form-factor. The last rugged smartphone I’ve tested was five years ago and it was big and bulky. It also requires screws and a special screwdriver to insert or remove the SIM Card. Dimensions of the Bison are measured at 162.5mm x 79.9mm x 12.8mm and weighs at 250 grams.

Found on the left side of the Bison are the SIM Card tray, fingerprint scanner, and a customizable button. What I like about its SIM Card tray is it doesn’t need a SIM Card tray ejector to remove it. Just pull it with your nails and insert or remove the SIM Cards.

On its right side are the volume controls, power button and a camera button which can also be customized for another function.

On top of the phone is the 3.5mm headphone jack.

The USB Type-C port is found at the bottom.

Unlike the previous UMIDIGI phone models we reviewed before, the Bison doesn’t have a shiny back panel. The good news is it is the most durable phone they were able to produce. It comes with IP68 and IP69K ratings which means it can withstand up to 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes and protected from dust, dirt, and sand. It can also handle thermal steam wash test, resisting high water pressure (1450 psi) and high water temperature of 80 Celsius. Lastly, the phone is drop resistant up to 1.5 meters.

Found at the back of the Bison are the camera module, speaker grille and a loop to insert a cellphone lanyard.

THE SOUND AND DISPLAY

The UMIDIGI Bison 2021’s display has a size of 6.3″ with Full HD+ resolution and a screen-to-body ratio of 19:5:9. Unlike the previous rugged phones I’ve reviewed before, the Bison doesn’t have large bezels which maximizes the screen real estate. The phone still has a teardrop notch where the 24 Megapixel selfie camera is located. The display is pretty much the same as the UMIDIGI A9 Pro we reviewed before. The good thing about it is the addition of a Gorilla Glass coating for added protection in case of accidental drops or scratches.

Sound quality is adequate and I was able to bring it inside my shower to play some tunes thanks to its IP68 rating. One thing to remember though is to avoid sprinkling water to its speaker grille or else it will make the sound muffled. The sound will be back to normal once it has already dried up.

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THE PERFORMANCE

Aside from the display, the UMIDIGI Bison 2021 also uses the same processor of the A9 Pro – a MediaTek MTK Helio P60. Here are the benchmark scores we got from our review unit:

The Bison 2021 comes with stock Android 10 though the website mentioned it already has Android 11. We are not sure if our UMIDIGI Bison review unit is upgradeable to Android 11, but we sure hope so especially for those users who bought this unit. UMIDIGI is generous enough to equip the Bison 2021 with 128GB of storage and 6GB of memory. Users can opt for a MicroSD card for additional media storage.

Since it is powered by a Helio P60 processor, gaming is very much possible with the Bison 2021. Mobile gaming for hours will not produce too much heat on the phone thanks to its built-in Liquid Cooling System 2.0 feature.

With its ruggedness, the Bison is a perfect smartphone for trekking or outdoor activities. It has built-in apps that can be pretty useful for any type of adventure you plan to do. What’s leaving me scratching my head is the lack of the Bosch Altimeter and Barometer app. UMIDIGI’s website shows a picture of its toolbox with this app, so we are wondering how come we don’t have it in our UMIDIGI Bison review unit.

THE CAMERAS

The cameras are pretty much the same as the A9 Pro’s. These are the 48 Megapixel main camera with a Sony sensor, 16 Megapixels with an ultra-wide angle lens, a 5 Megapixel Depth and 5 Megapixel Macro lens. Like the A9 Pro, UMIDIGI didn’t reveal the type of sensor they used from Sony. Nevertheless, the main camera takes good decent photos especially on a sunny day. The ultra-wide angle lens does its job well as photos did not show any distortion. Night shots are a hit and miss and sometimes though the Night mode feature can also help. Selfie photos taken by the 24 Megapixel front camera were mostly accurate and the Beauty mode was helpful in toning down the blemishes on my face.

Here are some sample photos taken by the UMIDIGI Bison 2021:

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THE BATTERY LIFE

Battery capacity of the UMIDIGI Bison is at 5,000 mAh which is now a standard for all types of smartphones. Battery life based on our usage averages around 10-12 hours. The Bison comes with an 18W fast charger to quickly juice up the phone.

DR’S CONCLUSION

The UMIDIGI Bison is the only rugged smartphone available in the Philippine market as of the moment. If there are any similar phones available, they may be already from old stocks with older versions of Android. The Bison is a very capable smartphone for outdoor treks and even for everyday use. You can’t go wrong with the Bison now with an even more affordable price tag of P7,490.

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PROS:

  • IP68/IP69K ratings
  • Not too bulky and heavy
  • Good Price

CONS:

  • Night shots are hit and miss
  • Android 10 (UMIDIGI site says it has Android 11)
  • Some of the apps are missing in the toolbox folder
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