Umidigi Bison: test / review
Published on: 10-12-2020 / Modified: 12-11-2022
I started testing smartphones known to be unbreakable with the Ulefone Armor 7, I didn't expect much but I was positively surprised by the phone but also by the number of visitors for this test.
I made a second attempt with the Doogee S58 Pro and came to the same conclusion. So I let myself be tempted by the Umidigi Bison which offers a better price/performance ratio than the other two. From an aesthetic point of view, it also stands out from the other two, it has a less rough and more neat appearance.
The Umidigi brand is not very well known in Europe but this is the fourth model of this brand that I'm testing, so I'm going to see if this small Chinese manufacturer has progressed since my last test.
Manufacturer web site:
Site where I have bought the Umidigi Bison: https://www.banggood.com/custlink/mm3YFkWmjy
Structure of my testsI test the phones according to a pre-established structure (see below) to provide you with as much information as possible. Unfortunately, this takes a long time. Some tests like network performance tests take several days and for photo tests I sometimes have to wait until the weather is suitable to take pictures in good conditions. I am therefore obliged to publish the tests step by step, so I invite you to come back if the test is not complete at the time of your visit.
Price Umidigi BisonThe list below shows the prices for the Umidigi Bison from more than 50 sites around the world. If you are not satisfied with any price, you can subscribe to a price alert to be the first to be notified when the price drops.
The above links are affiliate links from companies such as Amazon, Gearbest, Aliexpress,... If you appreciate my work, I would be grateful if you could purchase these products through these links. It costs you absolutely nothing but I get a small commission that allows me to buy the material I test. Thank you very much!
Timeline28/10/2020: I order the Umidigi Bison on Banggood for 129€.
10/12/2020: after more than a month's wait, I finally get the phone and the test can start.
Why this phone?When I buy rugged smartphones I know that I always have to make sacrifices on common features such as photo quality.
With this Umidigi Bison, I was tempted because it offers performance equivalent to the Redmi Note 9 for a lower price. It uses a Sony IMX 586 sensor that has already proven itself on many other phones, I have never seen this sensor in a phone in this price range before.
I also find Umidigi's usual generosity in terms of memory, 6GB / 128 Gb for a phone under 150€ is very rare. This generosity also comes through a large 5000 mAh battery. Umidigi has always managed to stand out in both of these areas.
However, not everything is perfect at Umidigi. They have never been able to offer a phone with good photo processing, the operating system wasn't always up to scratch but I haven't tested Umidigi for almost 10 months now, so I'm curious to see if the situation has improved.
The Umidigi Bison's box is really very basic, the previous models of the brand were a little better highlighted with the packaging. It doesn't matter but the difference with the previous models is obvious.
The box contains the minimum essentials with the phone, a cable, a charger and a manual. The phone, on the other hand, made a better impression on me than the packaging. For a phone of this type, it looks less rough than the previous phones I tested.
First configurationUmidigi uses a pure Android version, which means that they have not changed the experience by adding unwanted applications. The initial configuration therefore follows exactly the same path as all phones on Android without modification.
Telephones like the Umidigi Bison are generally not very beautiful, they don't play the card of elegance and finesse. Those who buy this kind of phone probably don't pay much attention to aesthetics. However, the Umidigi Bison manages to distinguish itself by offering an elegant design for a phone of this kind. Although the phone is still a bit rough and massive, Umidigi has taken a big step towards a wider audience.
The Umidigi Bison is quite large, it is as long as a Poco F2 Pro but much thicker. This is a common point with the Ulefone Armor and the Doogee S58 Pro. The phone is actually smaller but is protected by a plastic armour to better absorb shocks. The 5000 mAh battery also plays a role in its thickness.
The Umidigi Bison has a rather peculiar configuration with a fingerprint sensor on the left side of the phone, so it is with your index finger that you will have to unlock the phone and it is better to have a big hand to reach the fingerprint sensor, it is a rather curious choice. A little below the fingerprint sensor, Umidigi has placed a button which is associated with a voice note application. It surprised me a bit at first but it's a great idea, it avoids taking notes. I'll probably have to get used to it but I've often pressed this button by accident.
On the right are the usual volume and power buttons. These buttons don't stick out much from the edge of the phone and it will take a bit of getting used to finding the buttons by touch. A little further down, Umidigi has added a button that opens the camera directly, this is also a very good idea.
At the back the phone has an almost completely smooth back, which is quite rare for this kind of phone. A speaker output is placed at the back and the photo module is at the top left with a main sensor accompanied by an ultra wide angle sensor, a depth sensor and a macro sensor. The sensor for selfie is present in the form of a notch quite visible on the screen.
The Umidigi Bison therefore differs positively from the Ulefone and Doogee with some good ideas and a more neat appearance.
The information below comes from the Device Info HW application. The application provides detailed technical information about the tested phone.
CPU / GPU Performance
The Umidigi Bison is equipped with a Mediatek Helio P60 processor. Umidigi is obviously recycling as this processor was already used in the Umidigi F1, I have more recently tested the Oukitel C21 which uses the same processor. The Mediatek Helio P60 is an entry-level processor that allows you to use the phone comfortably for most everyday tasks. It is not designed to play big games.
For the graphics part, the Umidigi is equipped with an ARM Mali G72 graphics processor that is also found in many other Umidigi models, such as the Samsung Galaxy A50, the Oppo A9 or the Oukitel C21. This is also an entry-level processor that does a good job for everyday tasks.
Benchmark Antutu/3DMarkWith an entry-level CPU and GPU, you should not expect a big score on Antutu. I got a score of 172448 points on Antutu v8, this ranks the Umidigi Bison slightly below a Redmi Note 9 for a slightly lower price. The Umidigi Bison therefore offers a good price/performance ratio.
To test the performance in game, I download the mobile PUBG game and evaluate the in-game experience, graphics level and depth of vision. This game is quite demanding and should help you evaluating the performance of a phone.
The Umidigi Bison is not a gaming phone, but it offers sufficient performance to play most mobile games. PUBG Mobile works without any problems, the gaming experience is completely correct. On the video you can see quite clearly that the textures load at the last moment and that the depth of vision is not very important but this does not spoil the gaming experience.
Network performanceUmidigi has always been generous in frequency coverage and this is also the case for this Umidigi Bison. It supports 22 frequencies in 4G, which is quite rare!
Signal 4G (before december 2020)
The ability to pick up the network correctly is an essential element for a phone but it is only very rarely measured. To measure a phone's ability to pick up the network, I perform a large number of measurements on the same cells to be able to compare phones under similar conditions. The signal is measured in dBm, a value of -90dBm indicates a worse signal than -70dBm. These measurements are therefore taken under real conditions and not in a laboratory, they are not scientific but give a good indication of performance.
Signal 4G (from December 2020)
I decided to change the methodology for measuring the network because I noticed that the configuration of the mobile network changes over time. This makes it more difficult to compare phones because the conditions are no longer exactly the same.
To overcome this problem, I set up a device that captures 24 hours a day about ten parameters from the mobile network (ex: cell id, rssi, rsrq, snr, frequency,...). I then place the phone next to the device for 24 to 48 hours taking the same measurements so that I can compare them.
Overview of the phones tested with this methodology
This Umidigi Bison is not the first Umidigi I have tested and the other models have never shone in terms of network sensitivity. In the 4G performance ranking, Umidigi's were generally in the bottom positions.
Is this still the case with this model? No, Umidigi has really improved a lot. I still don't have many measurements with my new test protocol, but Umidigi is not at the bottom of the ranking.
I have made more than 2300 measurements where the average signal deviated by 3.75 dBa from the reference, the difference between the minimum and maximum was above average. This shows that this phone is more sensitive to network fluctuations.
The graph shows the measurements taken by the reference device and the Umidigi, the signal level should be the highest. The Umidigi never exceeds the reference but the deviation is within the good average of my measurements.
To test the download speed, I have identified some 4G cells offering good performance where I test all my devices several times to see what download and upload speed they can achieve.
Wifi performanceTo test a phone's ability to receive the network properly, I take measurements near my router and then remotely (and always at the same place). This gives me an average in dBm where a value of -90 dBm indicates poorer performance than a value at -30 dBm.
I measured a -25 dBm signal near the router and a -75 dBm signal at a distance. The Umidigi is in the middle range for the measurement close to the router. For the remote measurement it is at the bottom of the ranking, so the distance will play an important role in the signal quality.
To test the speed in Wifi, I connect to my router in 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz (if available) and use the Ookla application to measure the speed.
To test the quality of the GPS signal I use the Offline Maps application and I make the same train trip in pedestrian mode. Why? In pedestrian mode, the GPS does not artificially correct the signal to stick to the road, it has no markings, so you can see the actual position. I then use an application to measure the accuracy of the signal.
The Umidigi Bison is equipped with a Mediatek processor, which often results in good gps performance. I measured an accuracy level of 2 metres, which is not the best score I've ever achieved but it's still a good score.
Battery rangeThe Umidigi Bison has a 5000 mAh battery and with this kind of capacity you can normally last for several days. However, this battery is not very efficient because for almost the same battery capacity, the Redmi Note 9 lasts about 100 minutes longer at 100% brightness and saves 400 minutes with a display at 50% brightness. It is mainly the very bright screen of the Umidigi that explains this difference.
Charging speed is also below average, it took me 238 minutes to charge the battery whereas with the Redmi Note 9 it took me 162 minutes.
Photo camera testTo test the quality of photos produced by a phone, I do a technical test (resolution, sharpness, chromatic aberration,...) in studio (identical conditions) to evaluate the technical part objectively. From the second half of 2020, I built my own laboratory to take completely objective technical measurements. I then take pictures in real conditions to see how the camera performs. I then evaluate these photos according to my criteria but I publish the photos so that you can evaluate the result according to your criteria.
HardwareThe Umidigi Bison is equipped with a Sony IMX 586 main sensor. This sensor is used in many mid to high-end phones such as the OnePlus 8T which costs more than 400€.
Umidigi has always used good sensors but has always spoilt the quality of its sensors with poor image processing. The Bison Umidigi makes improvements where other Umidigi's had weaknesses, so I'm curious to see what the photo test will reveal.
I tried to install Gcam on this phone but the application crashes as soon as it is launched.
The default photo application of Umidigi Bison does not offer many possibilities, which has the advantage of making it easier to use. In addition to the usual photo and video modes, it is also possible to use portrait and night mode. The setting possibilities are limited, the photo mode only gives access to one sensor with the possibility of using HDR.
Photo test / studio
The studio test is going to be very quick because the Umidigi Bison doesn't offer many adjustment possibilities, so I'm only going to take two pictures with the main sensor. The main sensor is a Sony sensor and this type of sensor generally does well in the studio. This can be verified once again with this Umidigi because the photo is well exposed, the colours are correctly saturated and the sharpness is good. The depth of field looks quite small though as I usually manage to see a larger part of the car in the sharpness area. The quality of this photo is equivalent to what I got with mid-range phones.
Photo test / sunny
Umidigi has a long tradition of failure in photo processing. I have tested the Umidigi F1, Umidigi F2 and the Umidigi S3 Pro. These 3 phones used a good photo sensor but with poor image processing which ruined the quality of the photo. The colour temperature was too hot and each photo was too reddish. Is this still the case with the Umidigi Bison? Yes, but the situation has improved a lot. The HDR mode helps to alleviate the problem, the use of the night mode in full daylight can under certain conditions also produce good photos.
The photos produced by the Umidigi Bison are probably not comparable to what a mid-range phone can produce (e.g. Poco X3) but it does produce better photos than the other robust smartphones I have tested. The colour temperature is a bit too high, the sharpness is sometimes a bit forced to the point of losing detail and the colours could be more saturated but for less than 150€, the result is quite acceptable. I also notice irregular areas of blur that should not be present. It's as if the sharpening treatment didn't manage to treat the whole photo.
All this may seem a bit theoretical, so I will use a photo taken in the same place and at the same time with a Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro. The comparison is not very honest as this phone costs more than 500€ but it gives a better understanding of what is missing from the Umidigi.
You will probably find a lot of sites that will criticize the quality of the photo but it is like comparing the top speed of a Dacia and a Porsche, it makes no sense and a Dacia is probably enough for most people. To sum up, I would say that it is possible to get better photos but in this price range and especially for this type of phone (robust phone), the Umidigi does a good job.
Photo test / cloudy
Test photo / night
The Umidigi has a night mode that will combine several photos into one to produce a brighter picture. I always come back with the price argument but it is also true here because a phone with a night mode for less than 150€ is quite rare. Thanks to the night mode, the Umidigi will allow you to take night photos without too much difficulty, you obviously need a minimum of light as on the photos I took for this test. Here too the colours are a little too warm but this problem is less visible than for daytime photos. Some photos also show a lot of digital noise.
The recomposition of the photos sometimes works correctly, sometimes not. Here also I notice blurred areas that cannot come from the optical block, these blurred areas are not always in the same place, they are therefore the result of image processing.
So this Umidigi is not the phone of the century for night photos but in this price range it does rather well.
The Umidigi does not have video stabilisation, so it is not very shock resistant, even when walking. When I saw the videos again, I felt like an elephant walking in a forest.
Video normale conditions
The Umidigi is capable of filming in 1080p and for static scenes like this it produces an acceptable result for this range of phones. Sharpness is sometimes a bit forced, the colours are too warm and transitions from light to dark areas occur in jerks.
Video low light
Night video is not of very good quality, which is rarely the case in this price range. The Umidigi can't focus properly even if I don't move very fast. There is also a delay in the display because the phone can't process the video stream fast enough.
Audio qualityTo test the quality of the phone's audio output, I connect the device's audio output to a measuring tool, then play sounds on all frequencies and measure the differences between the original sound and the sound produced by the phone. In this way I measure the phone's ability to correctly reproduce all sounds.
This test is intended to test the device's ability to correctly reproduce all frequencies. The white line in the middle of the graph is the ideal situation and the other colors come from tests on different phones. A deviation from the reference line indicates a deviation from the ideal situation. To see good sound at all frequencies, it is therefore necessary to get as close as possible to the reference line.
This graph shows that the Umidigi Bison is capable of reproducing most frequencies quite accurately, its performance is very similar to Redmi Note 9. The difference becomes more pronounced in the high frequencies but the difference is negligible especially in this price range.
This test is designed to test a phone's ability to play sounds at different volume levels. Here too, the phones must be as close as possible to the reference.
The Umidigi Bison delivers a powerful and well-controlled sound because even at maximum volume, the level of distortion is very low. I'm positively surprised because this type of phone is not usually very sharp and yet this Umidigi Bison is capable of producing a powerful sound while maintaining a good level of quality. Umidigi has made great progress!
This test aims to identify if the device under test is able to reproduce sounds without too much noise. A high score indicates a low parasite rate, a lower score indicates a higher presence of parasites.
I haven't seen any interference problems and I have to admit that I didn't expect such good results from a robust phone. The other phones I have tested do not sound as good.
Screen qualityTo test the screen, I use a colorimetric probe that measures the color accuracy of a screen, as well as other parameters to see if a screen is able to correctly reproduce an image. I also test the brightness level to determine if the screen will be able to display an image in full sunlight.
The Umidigi Bison offers a 6.3-inch screen with a resolution of 1080x2340. For a phone of this type, it is rare to have such a large screen size and especially with such a good resolution. Just for that alone, the Umidigi stands out from its competitors, but it doesn't stop there. I got a colour difference of 4.7E, it's certainly not perfect but you have to keep in mind that this is a robust phone sold for less than 150€. The price/quality ratio is therefore rather good.
Brightness / Contrast
From the first use of this phone I noticed that the brightness of the screen was important and the test with my probe confirms this. I measured a brightness of 598 cd/m², this is one of the most powerful screens I have ever tested and as this phone is intended for outdoor use, such brightness will allow it to be used in full sunlight.
BiometryThe Umidigi is equipped with a fingerprint reader on the left side of the phone, I had not yet tested a phone with this type of configuration. To be able to use it you need to be able to pass a finger from the right hand to the left of the phone, you need a large hand. I have the impression that this fingerprint reader was designed for left-handed people.
In absolute terms this reader works well but its accessibility is not very good.
This phone runs pure Android 10, which means that Umidigi has not added any unwanted applications (bloatware) and the menus/functionalities are the same as those on other phones running Android 10 without overlay.
Encoutered bugsNot yet available / tested
Accessories Umidigi Bison
Compare Umidigi Bison with the others
Test / Review conclusion
When I bought my first rugged phone, I figured that my test was not going to interest anyone because the target audience was too small. I was surprised by the success of this test, so I continued to test this kind of TV but always with the feeling that there was something missing from these phones.
I tested other Umidigi phones before testing this model and there again I was still missing something. It was with this Umidigi Bison that the change finally came. It's the first rugged smartphone that has everything a normal phone can offer without any real constraint related to its ruggedness. Umidigi has also progressed by offering a complete phone for a very affordable price. In the end, this Umidigi Bison is the best rugged phone I have ever tested.
The Umidigi Bison has a much neater appearance than the other phones of this type that I have tested, it is aimed at a wider audience. Most of the usual weaknesses of Umidigi have also been fixed (e.g. network sensitivity or operating system bugs).
The format of the phone is still quite imposing, it takes some getting used to, I often pressed buttons by mistake because the placement is not always judicious. The screen occupies an interesting surface where Ulefone or Doogee had made many sacrifices. The battery is solid, the performances are sufficient, the sound with headphones is excellent, the sensitivity to the 4G network is good, the wifi speed is excellent.
Of course everything is not perfect yet but for a purchase price of 130€ you won't find many competitors.
- good battery life (although it could be more efficient)
- very bright screen and good colorimetry
- sound with headphones
- 4G network sensitivity
- finish / solidity
- photo/video processing
- wifi signal sensitivity
- energy-hungry screen
- loudspeaker sound
- button placement
Alternatives to this product