Nomu S50 Pro review

Nomu has been making rugged handsets in Shenzhen since 2007 and lists almost every country you can think of as a market. The US and UK, are conspicuous by their absence from the list, but there’s nothing to stop you importing Nomu’s products from Hong Kong.

The Nomu S50 Pro is the brand’s latest and most tempting tough phone. It looks the part in high visibility orange livery and a polycarbonate and aluminium body and it is packed with features that will appeal to anyone who works outside or gives their phone a tough time.

The Nomu S50 Pro is part of the surprisingly vibrant budget rugged smartphone category. It has been designed from the ground up to withstand water, dust and drops, so it’s tougher than any old phone in a protective case.

In addition to the 18:9 5.75-inch display, the Nomu S50 Pro offers a dual SIM card slot, cameras front and rear, a USB-C port for rapid data transfer and fast charging and a fingerprint reader.  

Design

To become a rugged IP-69 phone, means putting on a certain amount of bulk to keep the internal components free of dust and moisture and to protect the precious screen from damage. The Nomu S50 Pro does this using an aluminium body that is further protected by a polycarbonate shell, which adds less bulk than the equivalent removable phone case and being designed from the ground up to resist the knocks, makes it inherently stronger.

A lip of orange plastic surrounds the Gorilla glass, which is just enough to stop the screen making contact with the surface when you place it face down on the ground. It feels less bulky than the Blackview BV5800 Pro, but also a little less well protected.

The three physical buttons, power, volume rocker and function button, are all metal and six metal engineering screws around the edge of the phone, hold the metal side panels in place. Rubber seals cover the three ports which hide the USB-C and headphone sockets and the dual SIM slot. This SIM tray can also hold a microSD card but in that case, there’s only room for one SIM card. 

A tiny microphone and speaker are located at the bottom of the handset and the back camera, torch and fingerprint reader are recessed in the textured rear panel.  

The Nomu S50 Pro looks rugged without looking ridiculous and comes in a choice of plain black, or high-visibility orange, as seen here. 

Specifications and features

We’ve seen a raft of budget rugged phones shipping from China recently and they tend to slot into one of two price points, either around $200 (£150), or $250 (£200). In each category, their specifications are broadly the same. Most of them go for the increasingly popular 18:9 aspect ratio display, which we think is a good choice because you can wrap a gloved hand around it more easily than a 16:9 screen.

The resolution here is not Full HD, but 1,140 x 720 is good enough and the 5.72-inch touchscreen is both bright and sensitive to gesture control. 

The Nomu S50 Pro is slightly disappointing in that it is based around the same ARM processor as the $200 (£150) Poptel P10 and its bench test results lag behind the $280 (£215) Doogee S70 with its faster Helio P23 CPU. At 4GB, it has less RAM than the Doogee too.

In all other respects, it keeps up with the other $250 (£200) rivals with a USB-C port for rapid battery recharging and data transfer, dual SIM card slots, a microSD slot and a fingerprint reader. Sadly, it doesn’t offer wireless charging, which we found particularly useful with the Ulefone Armor 5 and Doggee S70. 

The battery is fairly large and with 5,000mAh, you can expect to use it heavily all day and night without it running flat. Both the front and back cameras have reasonably large sensors for detailed photography and video calls and naturally, it is running the latest version of Android 8.1 Oreo.