back to article The Unihertz Atom XL: An iPhone SE-sized rugged phone that's also a walkie-talkie

Oh, how we'd love to be a fly on the wall at the offices of Chinese phone maker Unihertz. The company has a reputation for producing incredibly niche phones that cater to demographics that are otherwise ignored by most others. Take the Unihertz Titan, for example, which was a rugged homage to the Blackberry Passport. And there …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Titan sounded interesting till I found out how big it is. Compared to the Passport it's enormous.

    The Atom XL seems to fall between far too many stools. If it has a big battery, why the dim screen? That alone disqualifies it from the most obvious use case.

  2. Sam Jelfs

    I know a few trail runners that have the Atom, and must say I'm tempted by the Atom XL. Having a phone that I don't have to worry about, can use as a back-up GPS should my others fail, and is fairly cheap certainly appeals. The larger screen size, which whilst it comes with a physical size / weight cost, would make it easier to use, especially with cold tired hands.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "And for those who aren't working in rough-and-tumble industries”

    S&M acrobats are a pretty niche market for ruggedized phones.

  4. Chris G

    Must try harder

    Unihertz ' offering seems a little overpriced and underwhelming compared to a number of of the Chinese tough phone makers such as Ulefone or Qubot, there are others but I can't remember the names offhand .

    I have had a Ulefone Armor 2 for three years 6GB RAM 64GB ROM 5200mAh battery 13MP main camera 8MP secondary, PTT etc , 3 yrs old and as good as when I bought it and that's was two years working in construction sites until I retired. The later offerings from the two I mentioned are way better and still surprisingly low priced with excellent customer reviews. My wife is currently looking at buying one, as, like many people has often broken screens and other bits by dropping plus swims often in the summer and these take a pretty goo pic under water.

  5. IGotOut Silver badge


    I know London is on a different planet when it comes to over pricing to the gullable but fuck me.

    "... we can imagine the Unihertz Atom acting as a burner phone for festivals and the like, where you wouldn't feel comfortable taking your pricey blower.'

    £200 to £350 for a disposable phone? Holy shit!

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: WTF?

      Nah, this, at £13 is a disposable mobile phone. Probably has enough battery to last a whole festival without charging too.


      1. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: WTF?

        I know somebody who I think gave one of those to their child as their first phone. Sadly it didn't have T9 input and as a result was really hard to text on.

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: WTF?

          The first phones my children - when they moved to secondary school - had were Nokia 113 and Nokia 216. Both have T9, but neither child used it, preferring old-school typing.

          The owner of the 113 moved on to a Moto G5 a couple of years ago. The owner of the 216 is still using it and will probably continue to use it for at least another year or two.

          We've also had a couple of Samsung 550 rugged phones, both of which are still in use, though one has been handed-down in favour of an original Moto G(!) and the other will probably be replaced with a smartphone within the next couple of months.


    2. MatthewHughes

      Re: WTF?

      I'm from Liverpool. ;)

      1. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: WTF?

        "I'm from Liverpool. ;)"

        Ahhh so the phone belongs to someone else then?


  6. Jabba

    DMR ?

    You'll need a licence for this. Amateur radio licence would be fine. Should work well with my repeater as its tier 2.

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: DMR ?

      I assumed it was working in the licence-free 446MHz band, similar to PMR. We use several PMR radios when out-and-about. Haven't really investigated DMR, but the Tier III trunked version sounds very interesting... as does dPMR which I hadn't heard of before. How many standards do we need?


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: DMR ?

        Tier III is really cool but you can only use it if you are a big business with a suitable infrastructure for it.

        Not even ham radio amateurs have set up such an infrastructure. If it was possible it would have been done, I'm sure. For Tier II there's a massive network linked all over the world ( ). And there's some local ones as well like the Phoenix network of the UK.

        And you'll need a license anyway. Even though you could technically use the 446 or dPMR band, this is only allowed with devices built and certified specifically for that. Part of that requirement is a fixed (nonremovable) antenna which the Atom doesn't have. And the regular 446 band only allows analog modulation anyway. dPMR would be an option but like I said not legally as this device is not certified for that.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: DMR ?

      That depends on the frequency you use. I'd imagine they lock it to the license-free bands in the country of purchase which occur within that range. Europe has channels around 446 MHz, most of the Americas have 462/467 MHz, Australia has 477 MHz, and lots of other countries decided it would be useful to have some license-free channels but what would be really nice is if they chose their channels and restrictions so they would be entirely different from everybody else's channels. While some regulators might argue that mere possession of a device capable of using those channels requires purchasers to get a license, I doubt they'll care much or enforce that unless people are using them to transmit where they are not permitted to do so.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: DMR ?

        No, Unihertz have said they're not locking it to any frequencies on the kickstarter comments. I spoke to them about it as I was planning to buy one (I'm an amateur radio operator so I wouldn't want it locked).

        However I decided against it in the end. I'm not doing so much with DMR and usually use dedicated radios anyway, and it's only a so-so phone. And the software for DMR usually leaves a lot to be desired in these Chinese phones. So I decided not to bet on it :)

        PS: I do have a Unihertz Jelly which is really nice for what it is, but part of what's so nice was the price of $69 in the kickstarter at the time.

  7. aks

    Looks very like the CAT phones my son prefers. I'm sure he hammers in nails with it.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have an Atom - Cant wait for my XL... :-D

    I was originally drawn by the Jelly but the Atom has been a great little phone for a year as a device i usually just tether other devices to but suffered from the rubber peeling issue within about 6 months which was disappointing.

    The XL is gonna feel huge compared to that but should provide a few less usability issues and a more rounded experience without having to lug a 6 inch slab of glass round. I already had a separate IR blaster for my Atom, having one built into the XL was the seal on the deal and I managed to pick up one of the early bird deals for $239 - at that price it is semi disposable and compared to the Atom actually a lot less of a niche phone.

  9. the Jim bloke
    Thumb Down

    Outdoors phone with display you cant read outdoors

    If the display is hard to read in England, what would it be like someplace that gets actual sunlight?

  10. PeterM42
    Thumb Up

    Got a Unihertz Jelly Pro

    GREAT little phone - I mean LITTLE!!!!

    If only I could get a SMALL fine-point dibber to help with typing..........

  11. CR

    so...ulefone 3wt, with 10300 mah?

    i have one. yes, it's that big. yes, it's rechargeable at 7-8 days. yes, it has some problems.

  12. Tarototh

    Taking a dig at a tiny corner of the phone which has a wrist loop connector (it isn't even the wrist strap... just a place to include a strap for those who want it.. why would that earn your scorn?).. Ever leaned out from a boat/train/bridge railing to take a picture? A high balcony/roof? You get that tingly nervous feeling that if you make one tiny slip, you will drop your phone 30 floors INTO OBLIVION.. and I make many slips fumbling for the various focus and modes on my touch screen. I have found that a phone on a wrist strap is INVALUABLE. This also applies to when I attend Comic Con or concerts or other crowded events when I'm taking pics but also in need of quickly unhanding my phone every few seconds (yes, having it dangle from my wrist is acceptably uncool for me as I work from kiosk to kiosk, literally in a shoulder to shoulder crowd situation, with swag bags hanging from my shoulders and people jostling at all angles). Please think of many use cases before making judgments about how uncool a simple piece of plastic is.

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. corrin

    I've got this phone

    Overall I'm pretty happy with it.

    Decent battery, nice and small, reasonably modern software and hardware.

    The only issues I've had are: BT4.2 rather than 5.0 means the range is annoying, and the phone is so thick that it doesn't fit in most holders.

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