Nomu S30 review

The S30 is Nomu’s flagship Android phone

The S30 is Nomu’s flagship Android phone, a handset that matches decent speci cations with a tough titanium alloy shell and rubber protection at the corners. It’s waterproof, shockproof, dustproof and it can stand up to extreme temperatures, but is it for you?

Price

The Nomu S30 is a Chinese phone that you can purchase through Chinese sites such as GearBest, where it costs £201 in Black, as per our review model. If you’re happy to get the Silver version, this is a little cheaper at £184.

You should note that upon arrival in the UK you may be asked to pay import duty, which is calculated at 20 percent of the value on the shipping paperwork plus an admin fee of around £11. Also know that your rights when buying goods in China di er to when you are buying products in Europe.

How tough is the Nomu?

The S30 is IP68 rated, which technically means it can withstand being submerged in up to 1.5m of water for up to 30 minutes. However, the company claims it can actually handle up to 5m of water for up to two hours, and that you can take photos and videos underwater or use it with wet ngers (there’s also a glove mode).

However, we found it impossible to interact with the screen while it was wet, and upon close inspection found droplets of water – not enough to cause damage but still concerning – under the back panel strip that conceals the two SIM and microSD card slots.

Although it’s a relatively tight t, there is no rubber seal here to keep out the water. That’s also true of the Micro-USB charging port at the phone’s bottom, which uses a small rubber ap to keep things dry rather than the more attractive and less ddly approach of waterproof phones such as the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7. The latter, for example, lines the inside of the charging port with rubber and coats the metal with an anti-corrosive substance.

If Nomu really wants its S30 to be seen as a waterproof camera phone it should consider adding a dedicated camera button, since interacting with the touchscreen is impossible without rst drying it.

We like the addition of the waterproof speaker, which is found on the bottom edge and won’t re sound into a desk or the palm of your hand when placed down screen-up. This speaker is pretty loud at the best of times, with Nomu specifying the NXP SmartPA audio chip.

As well as waterproof the S30 is shockproof. During testing we launched it twice across our patio, the resulting damage was merely super cial, with a few scrapes on the carbon- bre-e ect rear and some dents and scu s on the rubber corners and plastic rim around the screen edges (see opposite image).

The screen itself, though, was absolutely ne. This is thanks to Gorilla Glass 4 screen protection, which is pretty tough but not unbreakable. Though the raised plastic rim running the circumference of the screen glass will protect it when dropped on to a at surface, you will only need to drop it to on a stone or the corner of something hard to cause it damage.

Design

It seemed a real shame to have to throw down the Nomu S30 and attempt to cause it damage, because as rugged phones go it’s really not bad looking. It has the same angular rubber corners and chunky body as other tough phones, though the front is all glass and there is none of the garish coloured rubber adorning its exterior.

In fact, the black carbon- bre-e ect rear is stylish, and the rubber is found only at the corners. The titanium-alloy frame is also visible from the sides, held together with small metal screws, which together give it a more premium look than most rugged devices.

The left side button caused us some confusion at rst. The S30 has a huge battery inside – rated at 5000mAh but in our tests we found that when switched o for a few days it wasn’t great at holding its charge. So when presented with a phone that – unknown to you – has a at battery, plus what looks to be a volume rocker and two other buttons, it can be di cult to work out how to turn it on.

For what it’s worth, the power button is the small circular button below the volume rocker on the right- hand side. The other button is an SOS button. The S30 can automatically call and send an emergency help text message to any contact you specify in the settings, though thankfully you’ll need to press and hold the button a few seconds before this will work.

If you’ve no need for the SOS button it can also be used as a shortcut key to launch an app of your choice, though oddly pressing the button won’t wake the screen. So although that app will be ready waiting for you, you’ll need to unlock the phone before you can use it.

Given the SOS button, we’re a little surprised to nd such a weak ashlight. There’s just a single-LED ash on the back of the S30, so even ashing in SOS mode it isn’t going to be easily seen.

LEDs aren’t really the Nomu’s thing, and you’ll nd there’s no noti cation light either.

Something missing from this phone is a ngerprint scanner. That’s not unusual for a rugged phone, though increasingly it will be considered odd by many Android users. If you want to lock the screen you can do so
via a pattern, PIN, password or use voice unlock.

So while the S30 is better-looking than most Android smartphones, there’s no escaping the fact this phone is very large and very heavy, measuring 162x83x13.35mm and weighing 260g. Part of the reason for the extra weight is the aforementioned huge battery, while the extreme size comes down to the 5.5in full-HD screen. This is a very large panel for a rugged phone – the more glass the more chance of them getting broken, of course.

As you would expect there is a lot of space around the screen, helping to ensure any damage at the edges is kept away from the display. These bezels are even chunkier at the top and bottom, and not helped by the touch buttons under the display that could have easily been placed on top of it. Worse, these buttons are overly sensitive, and we kept accidentally pressing them.

All that extra space adds up to a phone screen that’s 5.5in on the diagonal sitting in a body that’s 6.5in on the diagonal. As you can imagine you’ll need big hands to manage this one, and we found nothing in the settings that could ease screen management – the Nomu S30 runs a near-vanilla version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

That the screen is so large is not necessarily a complaint, of course. Having a need for a tough smartphone does not automatically rule you out from enjoying luxuries such as videos and gaming that work better with more space in which to play, as we’ll discover in a moment core performance from the S30 is pretty good too.

Nomu has tted a 5.5in Sharp IPS panel, which has a sharp full-HD resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. As we have come to expect from IPS the colours are very realistic and viewing angles strong. We also found the S30 su ciently bright for use in all conditions, making that screen a de nite point in its favour.

Performance

In the past buying a rugged phone has so often meant compromising on performance, but not here. The S30 is not the fastest phone money can buy, but with the Helio P10 chip inside it o ers decent mid-range performance that should suit all but the most demanding of users.

The Helio P10, also known as MediaTek’s MTK6755, is here clocked at 2GHz and has integrated ARM Mali-T860MP2 graphics running at 700MHz. This chip is paired with a very healthy 4GB of RAM, though you should note this memory is of the slower LPDDR3 variety than the LPDDR4 we so often see in agships.

There’s also a decent amount of internal storage, at 64GB, and you can bolster this with support for microSD. Unfortunately, the S30 can accommodate cards only up to 32GB in capacity, but in total that’s a not-insigni cant 96GB, and we especially like the fact this dual-SIM phone doesn’t force you to choose between adding a second SIM or removable memory.

All in all that’s some pretty decent core hardware for a £200 tough phone, and it shows in our testing.

In real-world use we found no sign of lag in navigating menus and launching apps, and the S30 performed admirably in our benchmarks, with a similar performance to devices such as the Meizu M3 Max and Ulefone Future.

In Geekbench 4 we recorded 705 points single-core, and 2,851 in multi-core mode. We also ran the Nomu through AnTuTu 6, and recorded 51,827 points.

For graphics testing we use GFXBench, and in the T-Rex component the S30 managed a playable 17fps. In the more intensive tests it scored 7fps in Manhattan, 5fps in Manhattan 3.1, and 3fps in Car Chase.

The JetStream JavaScript benchmark also clocked the Nomu S30 at a pretty average 26.085.

Battery performance is where the Nomu S30 really excels, as you might expect given the 5000mAh battery inside. You should easily get two days’ use from this smartphone, and more depending on your usage.

Nomu says the S30 can endure 30 hours of talk time and 70 days on standby. In our testing we found the battery struggled to hold its charge through extended periods switched o , though this may be an issue unique to our review sample.

Unsurprisingly there’s no support for wireless charging, but the S30 does support fast charging. PumpExpress 3.0 can o ers charging speeds up to 45 percent faster than traditional chargers, allowing you to obtain four hours of talk time from a ve-minute charge.

Connectivity

We touched upon the fact this is a dual-SIM phone earlier, which is something very common in the Chinese market. The S30 will accept two Micro-SIM cards, and it will then operate in dual-standby mode. This means both SIMs are active at all times, able to send and receive calls and texts, but only one can be used for data and, naturally, you can receive only one call at a time.

The Nomu S30 o ers 4G LTE Cat 6 connectivity, and in the UK it supports all three 4G bands – 800-, 2100- and 2600MHz. If you reside elsewhere, check out how to tell whether a phone is supported by your network.

The connectivity speci cations are standard-fare, with dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, GPS, A-GPS and GLONASS, and OTG. The phone also features a 3.5mm headphone jack and a Micro-USB port for charging and data transfer.

Cameras

The S30 might not be top of your list for devices on which to take beautiful photo masterpieces, but whether you’re using it at work or during extreme sports you will likely nd many occasions in which it becomes useful.

We have to say we’re not massively impressed with the phone in the photography department, but even if it isn’t the best in the business it still does a better job than many phone cameras.

At the rear you’ll nd a Sony IMX214 camera, which supports phase-detection autofocus and has a f/2.0 aperture. The camera also supports 1080p video recording, and it paired with a single-LED ash that makes the Nomu no good for night-time photography.

Contrary to what we were expecting, the autofocus is very slow, which makes the issue even more obvious in our HDR shot. On the plus side, we found the colours very true. The Sony IMX214 is a 13Mp camera, but by default in the S30 it has been interpolated to 16.4Mp. You can switch this back to 13Mp in the camera settings, but as we take all our test shots in ‘out of the box’ fashion we did not. It’s a similar deal with the front-facing sel e camera, which is rated at 5Mp but boosted to 8Mp in the software. The preinstalled camera app is basic, o ering Panorama and Picture in Picture modes, HDR, a selection of real-time lters and a 40-shot burst mode. There is no Beauty mode even for the sel e camera.

Software

The S30 runs a vanilla version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box. Oddly, when we signed into our Google account we received a noti cation from Google asking whether we had just signed into a Cat S30 phone, though the two are di erent.

Almost everything looks and acts the way you would expect in standard Marshmallow, though there are a few additions to the Settings menu. The most notable of which is controls for the SOS button we covered earlier in this review, but you’ll also nd some gestures.

These include options to wake the screen with a double-tap, and non-customisable quick launch controls for the camera and calculator, which can be accessed by drawing either a C or a V onscreen in standby mode. Though these are not customisable, you can set your own actions for the letters E, M, O, S, W and Z. We don’t know what happened to the rest of the alphabet. Also here are the ability to take three- nger screenshots, or to open the recent apps menu by sliding three fingers up the screen. You can also ip to mute.

Verdict

The Nomu S30 passed our durability tests with only super cial damage. It has a large, bright screen, and decent performance for most users, but falls down on its camera quality, size and weight.

Specifications

5.5in full-HD (1920×1080) Sharp IPS display with Gorilla Glass 4

Android 6.0 Marshmallow n IP68 waterproo ng
Shockproof case
SOS button

2GHz MediaTek Helio P10 (MTK6755) octa-core chip n 700MHz ARM Mali T860MP2 GPU
4GB LPDDR3 RAM
64GB storage, microSD support up to 32GB

dual-SIM dual-standby (2x Micro-SIM)
4G FDD-LTE Cat 6 800/900/1800/2100/2600MHz n dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 4.0
GPS
A-GPS
GLONASS
NFC
OTG
3.5mm headphone jack
13Mp Sony IMX214 f/2.0 rear camera
5Mp front camera (software boost to 8Mp)
5000mAh non-removable lithium-polymer battery , claimed battery life 30 hours talk time, 70 days standby n PumpExpress 3.0 Quick Charge
Micro-USB
162x83x13.35mm

260g

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