I’ve recently had a run of interesting devices land on my desk for review. The latest would have to be the Unihertz Jelly 2 SE. This small, and I mean small, Android phone has piqued my curiosity on multiple levels in the three weeks I’ve used it. Are these points mostly positive or negative? Let’s find out in this full review of the Jelly 2 SE.
My immediate response to the Jelly 2 SE is it has a very pebble design. So much so, that I couldn’t help but pull out my old Palm Pre. This small smartphone is rounded on every portion that sits in your hand and really feels great to hold.
The second is it’s TINY!! Like physically smaller than any other device I have in my home short of another webOS device, the HP Veer. Yep, that’s two Palm/webOS references, and we may not be done. This 3-inch display lends to a tiny footprint, for good or bad.
With these references, I also couldn’t help but really want a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. One of the awesome things about the Palm series was that you didn’t have to sacrifice screen interactions every time you needed to type. The display was dedicated to just the content. With Unihertz’s lineup including the BlackBerry-inspired Titan series showing hardware keyboards, I’d love a generation of Jelly sliders.
Set at the bottom of the display are dedicated capacitive touch buttons. This controls the good ole Back, Home, and Multitasking buttons from more tactile times. It’s an interesting touch to add physical keys, but it works with the small form factor. Having a bit of chin for these buttons is much better than taking up limited screen real estate.
To the right side of the Jelly 2 SE are the power button, dedicated custom action button, SIM tray, and USB-C charging port. The opposite side houses just the volume rockers. The top of the Jelly 2 SE holds a 3.5mm headphone jack and IR sensor for controlling home devices like a TV or fan.
The customizable action button is a neat addition. This can be altered in Settings to perform an action like Flashlight or Assistant or launch your favorite apps. I’ve got it set to pull down the notification shade just because I think that one is fun.
Around the back are the camera housing and a capacitive fingerprint scanner. For such a small package, Unihertz crammed a surprising amount of hardware. Internally, the unit is powered by a MediaTek A20 CPU, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of eMMC storage, and a 2000mAh battery pack.
This has been a mixed bag in my time with the Jelly 2 SE. It’s refreshing to have a phone that I’ve literally lost in my pocket or backpack. The pebble-like phone really can be taken with you and forgotten. Need to place a call or answer a quick text, then it’s there. You even have the phone apps that you’ve come accustomed to.
The size does force your muscle memory to take a step back. The small form factor makes more intensive tasks like checking emails, scrolling Facebook/Instagram, or checking the news a bit more challenging. It’s not impossible like another recent review, but it will make you consciously question whether you are doing it out of necessity or just habit.
Where it does differ from the similarly targeted Punkt phone is that it does still run every Android app you can download from the Play Store. I found still having my commute options like Android Auto with its accessorial options for navigation and audio apps, a much easier selling point for a larger majority of buyers.
Speaking of Android Auto, despite the engineering feat of its internals, the Jelly 2 SE still struggles with lag. While this isn’t exclusive to the Jelly, and it takes a ton of resources to run Android Auto, I thought it worth a mention. Especially when using wireless connections, you may find the interface takes some time to catch up on your stereo while the Jelly 2 SE pushes thru the transitions.
The sluggish performance can be seen in normal interactions with the phone as well. The tiny Jelly 2 SE packs a little punch when it comes to processing. You will have to wait for some apps to load, the phone to completely unlock, or the camera to focus.
Let’s be honest. The camera on the Jelly 2 SE isn’t great. If you’re coming from a high-end Android device, this may be a deal breaker. This is probably somewhere in the neighborhood of like a Moto G Play from a few years back in quality.
The camera app is a pretty stock experience similar to Nokia, Moto, and Pixels. The results can be OK in good lighting and little motion. As soon as either of those elements breaks down, so do the results. Honestly, at the $160 price tag, I’m perfectly fine with this not being a top shooter. The whole idea is to enjoy life at the moment, not snap tons of photos.
Battery life is just enough as well. The small 2000mAh would be terrible inside any other Android device. You’d be looking for an outlet at lunch. However, I was able to just sneak out a full day in most instances while testing the Unihertz Jelly 2 SE. I did have some days where I pushed it with several hours attached to Bluetooth devices and had to get out my charger before I would normally call it a night.
Speaking of charging. This has been a mixed bag. I’ve found using a charger is not universal with the Jelly 2 SE. I have multiple Anker chargers and cables that the Jelly simply refused to recognize. My running theory established in my testing is that if the charger pushes more than 5 volts, the unit doesn’t allow it to charge.
Unihertz has built a unique, small Android phone with the Jelly 2 SE. It’s a simple way to put it, but it’s true. You have to be completely aware of that and the limited experience it creates when taking the shot to purchase the Jelly.
Despite all that, I do think there’s a market for it and certain users will want this phone. If you believe you’re one of those people, hit the links below to snag one for yourself. The $160 price also makes this an interesting second device that maybe isn’t your daily driver.
Purchase the Jelly 2 SE from Unihertz
Purchase the Jelly 2 SE from Amazon