Throw that pansy all-glass phone in the trash, and live a care-free life with the uber-rugged Umidigi Bison!
UMiDigi Bison Review
The Beasty Bison offers the highest level of resistance to damage: waterproof (IP68 + IP69k), dust proof, and drop proof (up to 150cm)
You can’t keep your smartphone and keys in the same pocket, or else be prepared to deal with scars that go deeper than your high school breakup. These phones also deny you the liberty to just throw it on the bed when you come home – what if it bounces off and falls on the ground?
And if it falls, well then, there is going to be a huge dent in your pocket as well as on the device – that is if you’re lucky enough for the phone to fall on its side.
This is where rugged smartphones like the UMIDIGI Bison come into the picture.
I’ve had a couple of weeks to test out the Bison and I must say that I’m impressed.
Over at Review-Hub, we have tested out our fair share of indestructible rugged smartphones, which led us to expect certain features from this subcategory – and the UMIDIGI Bison delivers on all fronts.
The phone can survive harsh weather conditions and is resistant to damage from water, dust, and accidental drops. And better yet, the specs are comparable to other non-rugged smartphones in the same price segment. Plus the icing on the cake, it’s priced super aggressively at just over $150 / £140.
Apart from the obvious rugged looks, there are plenty more bells and whistles to this unique device, which I’ll discuss in this full in-depth review of the UMIDIGI Bison Rugged Phone.
But for those of you who can’t seem to hold onto your horses, here’s a quick look at the pros and cons of the device:
- IP68, IP69K Certified (Fully Waterproof)
- MIL-STD-810G rating (Drop-tastic)
- Two Customizable Buttons
- 5000mAh battery
- 18W Fast Charging
- Gorilla Glass + Gloves Mode
- Quad Camera Setup with a 48MP Sony Main Sensor
- Competitive Pricing
- Weighs a tad over 250g
- Uses the older Helio P60 SoC
- No Wireless Charging
All-in-all, the Pros far outweigh the Cons this time around.
The massive body of the UMIDIGI Bison houses the 6.3” FHD+ IPS LCD display that has a screen resolution of 2340 x 1080. This gives us a PPI of 409, guaranteeing that you won’t be seeing any pixels.
Overall, it is a fantastic display for the price, both in terms of screen quality and size. Picking a display a bigger would make this phone unwieldy once you add on all the extra armour. And to protect the display from scratches or cracks, UMIDIGI chose a Corning Gorilla Glass covering, although there’s no mention of which generation.
Taking the Bison outside showed us that it’s not the brightest display we’ve tested here at Review Hub, but, it’s still usable outdoors just not in direct bright sunlight.
… CHUNKY BEZELS + GORILLA GLASS PROTECTION…
Not just that, but the edges of the phone boasts slightly elevated bumps which makes sure the screen doesn’t come in contact with the ground during a drop, thereby saving it from being shattered by the impact.
And with a military standard drop-rating of 1.5m, you can rest assured this is a display that isn’t going to break easily!
Screen Tech Specs:
- 6.3” FHD+ display
- 2340 x 1080 screen resolution
- 409 PPI
- Corning Gorilla Glass protection
- 19.5:9 Aspect Ratio
Design & Build Quality
The UMIDIGI Bison isn’t meant to look sleek nor slim. It has a noticeable bulk at 12.8 mm thickness, which is standard for most rugged smartphones. But at only 250g, it’s fairly pocket friendly. The weight is evenly distributed and not centred around the top or bottom, which does make it easier to handle. By the time you add a 20g case to a non-rugged smartphone, you’re in similar weight territory.
The solid polycarbonate built of the device provides an ensuring grip, so you don’t need to worry about the Bison accidental slipping out of your hand. But on the off chance that you do, it is manufactured to withstand a 1.5m drop without bruising. So unless you played on your local basketball team growing up, the Bison will survive!
Not just that, but the UMIDIGI Bison can even survive at 1.5m underwater for up to 30 mins. It is also sealed to make it dust and dirt resistant. And that’s not all! The phone is tested to withstand 100 bars of water pressure, and exposure to a high temperature of 80°C, all while staying relatively unharmed.
Now that’s rugged!
Since we are ditching the modern minimalistic design language, UMIDIGI takes an opportunistic decision in adding two extra customizable buttons – one on either side of the Bison. You can map any app or action to the buttons, which brings with it a lot of convenience opportunities.
By default, the button on the left is configured to receive incoming phone calls. Whereas, the button on the right can open the camera app and take pictures without needing you to interact with the screen. This can be extremely useful if you are interested in taking underwater pictures.
But, if you want to quickly access your favourite apps or phone features, you can program these in as well.
- 12.8mm thickness
- 250g weight
- IP68 and IP69K certified
- MIL-STD-810G rating
- Two independent customizable buttons
- Side-mounted fingerprint scanners
The UMIDIGI Bison ships with a quad-camera shooter on the back. This includes the popular 48MP snapper from Sony that is often touted as one of the best smartphone cameras in the low-to-mid-tier market.
To complement the main camera, we have a 16MP wide-angle lens that covers a 120° field of view. Other than this, there is a 5MP macro camera for taking those close-up shots, and a 5MP depth sensor to capture more details on the main lens.
On the front, the UMIDIGI Bison sports a 24MP Sony selfie camera inside the teardrop notch. It is AI-powered and can take some awesome selfies with great edge detection to help you apply those stunning bokeh filters.
As far as video capabilities are concerned, both the front and rear cameras can shoot videos at up to 1080p at 30fps. Sadly, you can’t get an option for 4k video recording, but at this price point, I’ll forgive the Bison.
However, I would have appreciated seeing an option that allows capturing videos at 60fps at a lower resolution, but sadly that too is not possible.
Now, with that being said, if you can live with a max camera resolution of 1080p and a max frame rate of 30fps, then there isn’t much to complain about. The autofocus in the Bison is pretty good. But, the sheer lack of any sort of image or video stabilization means the videos are going to be shaky if you don’t have steady hands.
In that case, you might want to try mounting the Umidigi Bison to a gimbal like the Hohem iSteady.
- 48MP Sony primary camera
- 16MP ultra wide-angle camera, with 120° Field of View
- 5MP depth camera
- 5MP macro camera, 2.5cm macro distance
Front Camera (Selfie time):
- 24MP Sony ultra-clear front camera with F/2.0 aperture
Under the hood, the UMIDIGI Bison is powered by the Mediatek Helio P60 SoC (System on Chip) which is currently over two years old. So why did UMIDIGI choose to go with such an old chipset?
Well, first of all, an older processor is significantly cheaper than the latest models. But more importantly, the Helio P60 still offers solid performance. It can help you get through your day to day tasks easily and will only show it’s age if you’re a AAA mobile gamer. Even more so when you consider that it ships with a bloat-free stock version of Android 10 out of the box.
And being backed by the Mali G72 GPU, you can expect decent gaming as well. The high-speed 6GB of RAM also helps in making the user experience fast and snappy. I was able to get away with playing PUBG with smooth frame rates on the Bison, albeit at low-medium graphic settings.
Also, you don’t need to worry about the phone getting overheated. UMIDIGI has made great use of the extra internal space and included a dedicated cooling system. In my time with the device, I rarely found it to warm up over 40°C.
Overall, the performance that you get with Helio P60, especially at the $150 price tag, is totally recommendable.
Performance Specs CPU: Mediatek Helio P60 CPU with the Mali G72 GPU
RAM: 6GB LPDDR4X dual-channel
Storage: 128GB UFS 2.1 ROM
The Umidigi Bison is powered by healthy 5000mAh battery that can easily give you a full-day of battery backup with moderate to heavy usage. Casual users can potentially stretch it to 1.5 days.
This is perfect when you are considering that the phone is targeted at travellers and adventurers who won’t get the chance to charge their phone twice or thrice a day. Also, when they do come around to charge the Bison, it charges back up in a jiffy, thanks to the 18W fast charger bundled inside the box.
With a weight of 250g though, it’s have been nice if UMIDIGI had squeezed in a little more juice and pushed the Bison to 6000mAh like many of its competitors.
- 5000mAh Battery
- 18W Fast Charging
The UMIDIGI Bison is a 4G VoLTE compatible smartphone that can take in two 4G enabled sims at the same time. However, because of the hybrid sim slot, you will need to choose whether you want to have two sims or a single sim paired with an external MicroSD card for expanding the onboard memory.
Besides network connectivity, the device supports dual-band WiFi operating in the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz (for better indoor coverage). Whereas, to let you connect with your wireless accessories (like headphones), you only get access to Bluetooth 4.2, which is a bit outdated in my opinion.
In terms of ports, I am really glad that they have kept the 3.5mm headphone jack, which most modern smartphones are ditching. However, similar to modern smartphones, you do get the USB Type-C port.
As such, the UMIDIGI Bison barely leaves any room for complaint as far as port availability is concerned.
Finally coming to the sensors, it seems that UMIDIGI decided to cram in every possible sensor we have come to expect from a smartphone including a proximity sensor, accelerometer, ambient light sensor, gyroscope, which are a staple with most smartphones these days.
NFC is also included which is somewhat rare in this price bracket. However, having the barometer and the electronic compass is really unique, and are thoughtful inclusions that travellers and trekkers will really appreciate.
Face ID Unlock & Fingerprint Unlock
The UMIDIGI Bison allows you to unlock the device both using face unlock and the more mask-wearing-pandemic-friendly fingerprint scanner.
Also, unlike the traditional front or back placement of the fingerprint reader, the BISON goes for the modern style of placing the sensor on the side. I feel this is excellent as it saves the cost of an in-display fingerprint reader, but also doesn’t force you to lift up the phone off your desk to unlock it.
UK Network Support: Full Support – for all providers.
US Network Support: 4G (Verizon Full | Others Partial) 3G Full
WiFi: Dual-Band WiFi (2.4G|5G)
Headphone: 3.5mm Headphone Jack
SIM Support: 4G nano sims. Both slots support 4G VoLTE.
GPS Module: GPS, GLONASS, and GALILEO
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.2 (Supports Bluetooth HID a.k.a. Human Interface Devices)
USB: USB Type-C
UMIDIGI Bison – The Verdict
If you are in the market for a rugged smartphone then the UMIDIGI Bison is definitely worth your consideration. It comes loaded with tons of awesome features and the price to performance ratio is spot on.
It boasts a decent display paired with a big battery and a certified rugged build that won’t fall prey to regular wear and tear. Other than this, the camera system is a nice bonus, and the performance is as you would expect considering the $150 price point.
I think UMiDigi made the right choice, that is choosing better camera hardware over a top-end mobile CPU.
If you’re looking for a feature-rich rugged phone to head out on your next adventures with – the UMIDigi Bison has your back!
Do we recommend the UMiDigi Bison? If tough & rugged credentials with a capable camera system are your top concern? Then this phone is a great choice.
What’s in the box?
Inside the box, you’re getting the fast charger, Type-C Cable, quick-start guide & SIM Pin.
UMiDigi Bison – Full Tech Specs