Filed under: Technology
This is a direct sequel to my previous overview of the CAT S22 Flip.
UPDATE 10/20/23: About 90% of this review applies to their new phone, Jelly Star. I'll add a section to the bottom of this review talking about the differences at a later date, since it doesn't merit a new review or anything.
Well, as it turns out, I began to detest my CAT S22 Flip the longer I had to use it. While at the time I DID appreciate it for getting me off the phone, it ended up getting me off the phone so much that I just wasn't answering calls or anything. Considering you still had to use the touchscreen more than the hardware buttons to navigate, plus the fact that my keypad was failing, I decided I might as well switch to another lowkey brand. This time, Unihertz!
Unihertz is a phone company I've been interested in for a while. Ever since I saw their Titan series of phones that have a Blackberry-esque keyboard, I fell in love and wanted one really badly. However, for reasons we'll explore a bit later, I ended up settling on the Jelly 2. It's a real tiny little phone that fits in the palm of your hand. It fits perfectly in my little baby hands!
Because this phone is basically just a regular smartphone but tiny, I'll probably forgo using as much detail as I gave in the CAT phone review. I don't need to explain to you how to setup a T9 keyboard or anything this time around...
Also keep in mind - this is specifically about the Jelly 2, not the Jelly 2E. The Jelly 2E runs Android 12 and doesn't have NFC support, and there's probably who knows how many other differences between the two phones.
The Jelly 2 is so tiny, about the size of a credit card. The other thing you'll notice is that it's a bit thick... about (insert cm) thick. Some people find this to be a problem, but I feel like if you've got a phone this time, I dont mind it being a slight bit chunky. The general design of this thing is very playful - it's a very curved, round phone and the backplate is a sort of shiny turquoise. And that is the ONLY color this comes in. So yeah, you'll get a ton of fingerprints on this thing if you don't use a case.
The phone's screen is about 3 inches diagonally, and is surrouded by bezels similar to an iPod touch. You've got the navigation buttons on the bottom and, at the top, there's the camera and phone receiver. On the back, there's this like... panel going down the middle that has (from top-to-bottom) the camera, flashlight, and a fingerprint reader. Some people say the fingerprint reader sucks, I say it works better than my old Galaxy Note 9's ever did. Between the "panel" and the vertical Unihertz logo is the NFC touchpoint.
As for stuff on the sides... on the bottom of the of the phone you've got the speaker and microphone, of course. At the top, you have the headphone jack (yippee!!) and what I think is an IR sensor. On the right side of the phone, you've got two buttons - the power button and a configurable button. Right underneath is the SIM card tray, and underneath that is the USB-C port. The volume button is on the left side.
Like before, the camera quality isn't that great. The camera preview is also a bit slow, so the screen appears quite blurry, but usually your photos come out a lot better than what the preview shows you. Still not saying much though. However, if you manage to download GCam to replace that native camera app, you'll get a decent enough improvement to photo quality.
Phone calls & audio quality
The call quality on this thing is fine, I don't have too much to talk about on that front. As for the audio itself, the quality is also good enough for phone speakers, but it doesn't really get as loud as you might hope it would. If there's a moderate amount of background noise or you're outside, you're probably gonna have a hard time hearing what's coming out of the speakers.
Do note though - this really only applies to the SPEAKER. For the phone's receiver, I think the volume gets as loud as you need it to.
Software & compatibility
Luckily, the Jelly 2 actually runs on Android 11 instead of any stripped down Android versions. Now, some people have spoken about the fact that they've had issues with Android 11 - I think this MIGHT have something to do with the phone shipping with Android 10, but don't quote me on that. Personally I haven't had any problems with the OS itself, thank god!
Similarly to the CAT S22 Flip, this screen's extremely small resolution does end up causing some issues with some apps. I don't know what exactly these apps are doing to cause such weird structuring, but sometimes a "Continue" or "Next" button for certain apps just might not exist. Sometimes text and graphics will get cut off to where you can't look at them or finish reading. You can find a workaround on occasion (I did for the Steam app) but others will render apps unusable. A weird example is how I could use Duolingo, but any time there was a question where you had to select the words in the correct order, the app would just autofill the answer. However, most apps are fine so it's not really a big deal. This is more a developer issue than an issue with the phone.
As for performance, this thing runs GREAT. The phone doesn't take forever to start up, navigation is as snappy as you'd hope, and every single app I've tried would load up within a couple seconds with no issue. I did try a couple games on this, and they ran SHOCKINGLY fine. Again, your only problem might be precision considering how tiny everything on the screen is. If you've also got baby hands, it's fine, but maybe stick to playing Genshin on your computer.
Even so, I think the Jelly 2 is probably pushing itself a bit hard, because I find this thing can get pretty hot. Apparently it runs on a rather old chipset, which still is pretty impressive considering how smooth everything is.
The only other issue I found with the phone had to do with notifications. Obviously I know when someone is calling me, but sometimes I just don't get notifications if I haven't unlocked my phone in a while. This leads to me opening up my phone and getting bombarded with 20 different text notifications all at once. Sometimes I also run into issues with apps not properly running in the background, like Syncthing. I'm not sure if this is just my fault or what, but I figured I'd mention it.
Common phone features
- As mentioned before, this phone does have NFC support! It's a bit finicky, though, so you'll probably end up pressing the whole back of your phone against the NFC sensor - but I personally have had to just press the phone screen against it instead.
- The camera app doesn't natively scan QR codes. Bummer.
- The phone is officially compatible with the T-Mobile and Verizon networks. Unihertz says it won't work on AT&T because it's not on their whitelist, but many AT&T users have made it work, albeit with some extra steps.
- You can unlock your phone with a pattern, PIN, password, fingerprint, and facial recognition.
- Battery life is okay enough - you probably don't have to worry about it discharging during the day, but it'll usually be at around 5% by nighttime.
- You can charge the phone through USB-C and wireless methods like Qi.
- 128GB built-in storage, with room for a microSD card inthe SIM card tray.
- GPS tracking can be kind of iffy. Sometimes it might think you're on a different road than the one you're actually driving on.
The Jelly 2 is honestly a MUCH better phone than I had expected going in, and I am still very happy with it's performance going on half a year now. I can't stress enough how much of a game-changer this is for me - a palm-sized phone that I don't have to hold with two hands that I can easily slip into my pocket or the little side pouch on a backpack. And it's fully-featured and runs just fine!
It has a few downsides, but not enough to kill it for me. Like I said, the GPS tracking can be a bit inaccurate at times, and I usually get this when a lot of streets are close together. The battery life is a bit of a pain, but as long as you're more digiligent about charging your phone than I am, it's fine. But still, the elephant in the room... As much as I love it, I think I can only recommend it in good conscience to people who ALSO have small hands or have good enough sight they don't feel like they'd have to squint at the screen on this thing. If you're curious - just hold a credit card or something and really ask yourself - is this a good enough size for a phone for ME?
That said though, I do love the Jelly 2 and heavily suggest checking it out if it interests you. You can get it for $199 through Unihertz's website.