Besides being tough, the rugged smartphones are usually a bit quirky and strangely designed, but the Unihertz Tank2 takes it to another level. Following the footsteps of its predecessor, the Unihertz Tank2 (8849) has kept the design of the Tank1 for the most part, but there are a few notable changes.
Remember the flashlight that shone bright from the rear panel? Well, there are now two powerful 1,200 Lumen flashlights (warm and cold camping lights) and this just barely scratches the surface. There is IR control (a very exotic, but welcomed feature that very rarely finds itself on smartphones nowadays) and we do have a projector. It’s not the first smartphone that can project the content of the display on the wall since Blackview Max 1 also decided to add this curious feature.
And, while my question would be why do we need a projector on a smartphone, the developers thought why not? It could be fun for the kids and there is a huge battery to keep the projector running for a long time. Indeed, the Unihertz Tank2 has a 15,500mAh battery which is a step down from the 22,000mAh battery of its predecessor, but I suppose still more than enough to keep most of the functions running for a long time.
Of course, we’ll test the battery life and see how many days we can get on a single charge. Besides the cool hardware features, the Unihertz Tank2 also offers some tools that can be helpful on a construction site, such as the Bubble Level, the height measurement, the Protractor or the Plumb blob. That being said, let’s check out the Unihertz Tank2 and see if all of these features have been properly implemented and whether the huge size of the smartphone is justified.
The Design and Build Quality
I know that some manufacturers have moved away from creating large flashy rugged smartphones, but just like the AGM G2 Guardian and the Horizon Pro, the Unihertz Tank2 steered in the complete opposite direction. The smartphone is huge, has lots of angles and it’s quite literally flashy thanks to the duo flashlight system. The case measures 9.4 x 6.9 x 3.3 inches (24.0 x 17.5 x 8.5cm), so it’s larger than the AGM G2 Guardian which is quite the feat considering that it barely fit into the pocket of my pants.
And the weight is also impressive. The Unihertz Tank2 weighs almost 1.2 pounds (530g), so yes, you need a very serious belt to keep your pants on. And yes, it is currently the heaviest and largest smartphone I have tested so far, outdoing the flagships from AGM. Then again, I am sure that the targeted audience doesn’t mind one bit, quite the contrary. It does make me wonder if the screen would have been a bit smaller, so that instead of a large brick, we would have a smaller brick, but I digress.
The frame of the smartphone is made of hard plastic at the top and bottom while on the sides, it does seem that we’re dealing with a metallic plate which contains all the buttons. And there are quite a few of them. On the right side, there’s the Power button which also has embedded a fingerprint sensor (it’s very accurate). Above it, there’s a removable slot for the microSD and the two SIM cards, and it does have a metallic cover as well as a silicone ring to prevent water or dust from entering the enclosure. The other side of the smartphone is home to the volume keys, the programmable button and the camping light switch (press and hold it) – all are metallic which is a very nice touch.
The programmable button functions are a bit limited and you can’t add SOS as a shortcut. Don’t worry though because if you press the Power button five times quickly, it will play a sound alarm, call emergency services, contact numbers that have been pre-added and even record an emergency video. There are some other Safety features that you can enable from the GUI, such as the alerts, the medical info and more. At the bottom, the Unihertz Tank2 has a silicone cover which, once removed, it will expose the USB-C port and the 3.5mm headphone jack.
It’s worth noting that the canal leading to the USB-C is not too narrow, allowing for most cables to easily reach it – I say this because AGM has made it difficult to use universal USB-C cables. At the top, you can see the IR sensor and next to it, there’s a fairly wide area which contains the projector lens (we’ll talk more about it in the dedicated section). Now let’s check out the rear panel.
There is a lot going on here, but what’s going to immediately stand out are the two colorful sections (yellow and orange) and they’re not just a strange design choice, no, these are the camping lights, the top displays a cold light, while the bottom one has a warmer light. The manufacturer has also included Red and Blue warning lights within these sections, so I guess you can mimic the police lights.
The speaker points outwards from the rear panel (we’ll see if it muffles the sound) and near the bottom, I noticed a sort of exhaust hole. Apparently that’s used for checking whether the smartphone is water resistant (sort of QC helper of sorts). The last section of interest is the camera area which has gained a flashlight LED (was it really needed?), so the design is slightly changed from the original Tank phone. The main camera, the wide-angle lens camera and the night vision + the IR LEDs are still there.
How rugged is the Unihertz Tank2?
The Unihertz Tank2 is big and heavy, but is it actually tough enough to survive harsh conditions? Let’s just start with the most important aspect: will the screen survive if you drop the phone? The Tank2 does have a huge display (6.81″) which is not really ideal on a rugged smartphone, but the developers were careful enough to add a substantial lip around the screen. And, while it does not have Gorilla Glass protection, there is Panda MN228 Glass (same as on the original Tank) to prevent the display from shattering.
Of course, the screen is the most vulnerable part and will remain so unless we return back to plastic screens. The rest of the case can handle any type of shocks and I am fairly sure that the Unihertz Tank2 can be used as a self defense weapon (blind them with the bright light and then smack ’em in the head). Jokes aside, the smartphone has passed some MIL-STD-810G tests; the manufacturer hasn’t mentioned which in a clear manner, just that the phone survived mechanical shocks, high temperature and humidity.
But, just like the monocular thermal camera on the G2 Guardian, is the projector a vulnerable part? I imagine that it isn’t much so than the suite of cameras on the back panel. I won’t deny that it does take a bit from the overall ruggedness, but we do get some cool features in return. It’s also worth mentioning the IP68 and IP69K ratings which means that dust will not enter the enclosure and it’s not just water resistant, you can actually swim with the smartphone – there is an actual Underwater Camera app where the display is turned off, so you need to rely on the physical buttons to operate the device, which makes sense.
The Unihertz Tank2 has a 6.81-inch TFT IPS display with a resolution of 2460x1080p and a pixel density of 396ppi which is fine for the size of the screen. You won’t see any pixels, don’t worry. What was interesting to see was that the smartphone apparently supports 120Hz refresh rate, but does it truly? I have switched to 120Hz from the Settings, but it doesn’t seem to have made a difference.
I even restarted the phone, but what confirmed my suspicion was the Display Checker app which showed 60Hz despite the setting – there’s even an adaptive mode which also doesn’t seem to work. So yeah, at least at the moment, the display goes up to only 60Hz. Now let’s talk about the image quality. I initially thought that it’s about the same as on the AGM flagships, but it’s actually closer to the H5 Pro. The black levels, although acceptable, were not very deep, especially when ramping up the brightness.
The color tone is a bit warm, so the white has a very slight red tone. Now let’s talk about the brightness – you do have adaptive mode available and it works well. At the highest level, the display should be visible when it’s sunny outdoors, but if you’re on the beach, it may be necessary to find some shade to read your messages, especially since the coating is a bit reflective.
Then again, it’s nothing that the dark mode won’t fix, at least to a certain point. I am not sure what’s the deal with the refresh rate, so in case it’s a software issue (like a pending firmware to enable it), I will update the article with the new info.
How accurate is the fingerprint sensor?
After the AGM Horizon Pro experience, I am wary of the fingerprint sensor on rugged smartphones, but they have improved it on the G2 Guardian and it seems that the Unihertz Tank2 has a similar type of sensor embedded within the Power button. As for its accuracy, it’s good and it very rarely fails – like one time in 7 or even less, so it’s a decent fingerprint sensor. If you’re wearing gloves and can’t operate the display or the sensor, then you can rely on face detection.
The Internal Hardware and Performance
The Unihertz Tank2 is equipped with an eight-core ARMv8 processor (six-core at 2GHz and dual-core at 2.2GHz) – the SoC is MediaTek Helio G99 (MT6789) and the Mali-G57 MC2 GPU. The MT6789 seems to be a bit better than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 and it should be enough to handle 1080p gaming really well, but we will see the synthetic benchmarks results.
Also, know that the smartphone is equipped with 22GB of RAM (12GB + an additional 10GB RAM) which is more than what I have in all my laptops (not the PC which has 32GB, but damn close). So multitasking and any other extensive app should be handled with ease – I only experienced some stutters when running the benchmarks, since I could barely open any other app.
That being said, I first ran the Geekbench 6 and, as you can see Single-Core Score is 731 (a bit above the Realme 7 Pro), while the Multi-Core Score is 1972 for the CPU test (slightly below Nokia 9). The GPU benchmark produced a score of 1304, which is just below the score of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 10.5.
Moving forward, I ran the GFXBench suite of tests (which took a while to conclude) and, as can be seen from the screenshots, the Unihertz Tank2’s score is somewhere underneath the Samsung Galaxy S7, but above the iPad Pro – a slightly better score than the AGM H5 Pro. Some interesting results were from 1080p Aztec Ruins OpenGL which showed that the average FPS was 16, while the Car Chase test also showed approx 15FPS.
The Manhattan and T-Rex tests were the most favorable and overall, it shows that you should be able to play most mobile games at a decent frame rate.
Lastly, I ran the 3DMark benchmark and specifically the Slingshot test: the score was 3527 which apparently places the Tank2 somewhere near the iPhone 12 Pro Max, which is not bad, I guess. But let’s see how the smartphone behaves with some actual games. I first installed the game that plays itself, Asphalt 9 and, as expected, it worked well – no stutters or freezes.
I dislike mobile games with a passion, so I quickly installed Steam Link to stream some games from my PC and, to my shame, I still haven’t installed anything else than Tomb Raider. So check out a minute of the character moving around the forest aimlessly – you really need a controller since it’s not a pleasant experience to use the screen. The point that I am trying to make is that you can play games on the Unihertz Tank2 without experiencing any type of issues.
The Software and Support
The smartphone uses Android 13 which is excellent, but let’s check out its one-year old predecessor, has it transition to the newer Android version? No. Well, as I anticipated, you’re not going to see an upgrade to the the latest Android version, so the Tank2 will most likely remain on Android 13 indefinitely. That being said, the Android is pretty much stock, but there are a few apps which are actually useful, so I won’t classify them as bloating.
There’s the Underwater Camera and ZazaRemote for IR remote controls. And there’s also the Toolbox suite of apps which contain various useful software, such as the height measurement app, the Plumb blob, the Protractor, the Pressure measurement and more. They’re apps useful for construction workers and for people that go on camping, the two main targeted audiences. The Projector also has a dedicated option in the Settings area, as well as in the Quick access menu (slide from the top to access it).
And this is yet another rugged smartphone that lacks an Always-on display function. I get it that it will cut some percents from the battery, but just let it be an option that the user can enable, I mean this is Android, not iOS. There are some very annoying issues though. First, I was not asked what browser I wanted to use, so Google Chrome by default – let’s curb Alphabet’s dream at a browser monopoly.
And second, where is the Back button? I navigated the web a bit and there was no Back button. I have not seen it on any app, so maybe I am missing something obvious, but I could not see the Button anywhere.
The Unihertz Tank2 has a 108-megapixel main camera and a 16-megapixel wide-angle lens on the rear side and I would love to add some other info, such as the aperture, but the manufacturer did not make it available. In any case, I did take a few photos outdoors with lots of sun with a focus on macro and, as you can see, the autofocus is done well and the amount of detail is definitely impressive, especially on the strawberry photo.
Next, I took a shot of the sky and, while it’s not overblown, the trees lose a bit of detail. Lastly, I took an indoor photo in the afternoon and the huge sensor does make it worth its money since there is little noise and the overall everything in the photo is clear and detailed.
Next, I decided to capture a video and I was not very impressed. It’s not bad or anything, just that the cars and other objects in the distance seem to be less detailed. Plus, the digital stabilization is not very present and, as you can see from the video, it’s a bit shaky. Nothing a gimbal can’t fix, just be aware of the thickness of the smartphone since not all gimbals are going to be suitable for it.
We’re not done because the Unihertz Tank2 has a 64-megapixel night vision camera along with four IR LEDs, a system rivaling security cameras and an upgrade over what the Tank offered last year.
And yes, the Unihertz Tank2 does behave in a similar manner to the night vision security cameras, offering a black and white view of your surroundings.
I have added a couple of photos to get an idea about how far it can ‘see’ and you’re going to be able to clearly check about 200 feet in front of you. And obviously it can see farther, but there is a loss in quality and clarity, as expected.
Although a projector is not the main feature I have in mind when thinking about rugged smartphones, 8849 decided to add it to the Unihertz Tank2. And considering that people who go camping may want to have a source of entertainment, then why not have the phone project a larger image, playing a movie or a video for more than one person to see. The projector relies on the laser technology, it has a low brightness, reaching only 40 Lumen, but then again, it’s a smartphone, not an Epson or XGIMI projector.
SOFTWARE & UPDATES7.0/10
- Rugged exterior
- Dual camping lights
- Long battery life
- Useful construction-related software tools
- Although the refresh rate can go up to 60Hz, the software shows that there is support for 120Hz, which isn't true at the moment
- Stuck at Android 13
- No Back button in the software
- Its size can be seen as a minus for some people
Mark is a graduate in Computer Science, having gathered valuable experience over the years working in IT as a programmer. Mark is also the main tech writer for MBReviews.com, covering not only his passion, the networking devices, but also other cool electronic gadgets that you may find useful for your every day life.