Energizer HardCase H500S Review: Tough outside, but slow inside

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There is a new smartphone brand that landed locally recently, and it’s a name that you’re pretty familiar with – Energizer. Yes the company that specialises in batteries and other power accessories has turned its attention to mobile devices, and in particular rugged ones.

With a few options released in other regions across the globe, the first one to pass our review desk is the Energizer HardCase H500S. This device is not one of Energizer’s flagships, but rather a mid-range offering that is trying to distinguish itself in an already saturated market.

So is its rugged design enough to separate the Energizer HardCase H500S from the competition?

Let’s find out.

A little lacklustre

The first thing you notice after powering up the H500S is the old Android operating system it is running. Nougat 7.0 to be more precise, which is by no means ancient, but with most new mid-range devices serving Android Oreo or better, the H500S feels a little off the pace.

To be fair though, it is likely due to the fact that the device was first unveiled in other regions in February 2018. The user interface and navigation is also solid enough, and something that Android fans should be pleased by, with skinned versions of the OS not always going down a treat.

The fact that the H500S was released a little over 18 months ago is also to account for the internal specifications which, although solid enough, are not up to snuff with other mid-range devices in the same price range.

To that end there’s a quad-core Mediatek MT6737 chipset doing the heavy lifting, with 3GB RAM and 16GB internal storage added to the mix. For the latter a microSD slot is available for up to 64GB if needed.

That mix feels a little sluggish in hand, and multitasking can prove slow at times. You get what you pay for in the mid-range market, but even by that standard some investigating on your part will certainly identify a few faster alternative phones.

This sluggishness was matched by the benchmarking ran on the Energizer HardCase H500S, with it managing a score of 33 035 in AnTuTu, where it was only capable of beating one percent of the devices tested on the mobile benchmark.

If you’re looking for a workhorse then, at least when it comes to processor performance, this Energizer phone does not fit the bill.

Tough cookie

So on the processor side of things the H500S is not going to turn many heads, but let’s shift focus to what Energizer has entered the South African market for, to make more rugged phone options available.

On that front this device is certainly above average, with an IP68-rated water, shock and dust-proofeness. If you’re wanting to see how the H500S copes with the wet stuff, it can muster up to 30 minutes in 1.2 metre deep water, although we did not put that aspect of the phone to the test. The drop-proofness is good for up to one metre high, and the dust-resistance pretty much speaks for itself – it is dust resistant.

To ensure that the H500S is robust enough to match what the manufacturer says, a hardened plastic body is present, with resealable covers handling all of the ports. Speaking of that as a little side note, the dual SIM-supporting tray is perhaps the most difficult to access I’ve ever encountered, and nearly cost me a bit of my nail.

All of this is here to ensure the H500S does not allow anything untoward from damaging the device.

The 5″ display is also Gorilla Glass 3 rated, which means scratches don’t effect it much. Sticking with the screen it delivers HD visuals (720×1280), so things are bright and detailed enough, but Full HD would have helped to up the viewing experience a couple of notches.

Final verdict

There’s a lot to like about the Energizer HardCase H500S. The rugged design is not too intrusive, and the 3 000mAh battery onboard sips power steadily throughout the day to offer a full day’s use with little fuss. Add to this a relatively wallet-friendly price tag of R3 999 (depending on the retailer) and the H500S certainly makes the case for being for handy secondary device.

If you want it to be your primary phone though, it simply is not packing enough power to get the job done, especially if you plan to keep a new device for the next two years or more. As such, for a little extra money, you can pick up another mid-range phone that will stand you in better stead.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Editor of Hypertext. Covers smartphones, IoT, 5G, cloud computing and a few things in between. Also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games when not taking the hatchet to stories.