Bluboo S1 Review
Chinese mobile brand Bluboo has finally made its way to the Philippines after its two mobile devices, the S8 and S1 were announced back in November last year. Now that you’ve seen our S8 review, we’re now going to take its beefier sibling, the S1 for a full spin. It specs look good on paper, but can it live up to its promises? Find out in our review.
Design and Construction
The Bluboo S1 is like the twin of the Doogee Mix, which took inspiration from the Xiaomi Mi Mix. If not for the Bluboo logo on its back, you would’ve mistaken this as the white variant of the Doogee Mix. Everything, from the placement of the camera and the thick bottom bezel, screams Doogee Mix.
The S1 features a 5.5-inch Full HD IPS display on the front which equates to a pixel density of 401ppi. Mounted on top is Corning Gorilla Glass 4.
Housed above are the earpiece and proximity sensor, while down below is a thick chin for the fingerprint scanner and 8MP camera located at the lower right corner. Its fingerprint scanner also acts as a home/back button (same as Meizu’s mBack feature). It’s responsive but it is ideal to just use the on-screen capacitive buttons.
Found on the left is the hybrid SIM card slot that can accommodate two nano-sized SIM cards or a microSD card in the SIM 2 slot.
On the right are the power/lock and volume buttons. They’re made of plastic but has a firm and clicky feel when pressed.
At the bottom are the loudspeaker, the USB-C port, and microphone. Like the Bluboo S8, it doesn’t have a 3.5mm audio port but comes with a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter in the package.
Looking at the back we have the dual-rear 16MP and 3MP cameras. Found beside it is the dual-LED flash.
In the hands, the Bluboo S1 feels nicer to hold thanks to its glossy yet solid plastic build. The 2.5D curved glass on the front and back bends almost seamlessly to the frame for a unibody feel. It’s a bit chunky at 7.9mm thick and has some reasonable heft, but still comfortable to hold with one hand.
Display and Multimedia
The S1 sports a 5.5-inch Full HD IPS display at 1920 x 1080 resolution which equates to 401ppi. Screen quality is decent with accurate colors and wide viewing angles. Contents are also viewable even when using the phone under sunlight. Under the display settings menu, you will find MiraVision. This feature will allow you to select picture mode from Standard, Vivid, and User Mode, depending on how you want your screen to look like. There’s also Dynamic Contrast for video enhancement and BluLight Defender for eye care.
As for its audio quality, well, it would suffice for casual listening as its loudspeaker’s bass is close to non-existent. Putting the volume at maximum level makes the song we’re playing with sounds tinny and a bit distorted. Again, the S1 lacks a 3.5mm audio port but good thing, Bluboo provided a USB Type-C to 3.5mm adapter in the package.
The S1 is equipped with dual 16MP + 3MP rear cameras with dual LED flash and an 8MP front shooters. It comes in with several modes such as FaceBeauty, Blur (artificial bokeh), Mono, Panorama, and Pro (manual). Should you want to spice up your photos, there are also 9 filters for you to choose from.
Images produced by the dual rear cameras are actually pretty good, though we noticed it kind of suffers in low-light as noise starts to appear. Daylight photos, on the other hand, are sharp, vibrant, and has good dynamic range. Its shutter-release button isn’t the fastest but it would suffice.
Selfies are decent but don’t expect much. They tend to look wash-out and overly sharp. Its FaceBeauty is quite nice as it doesn’t entirely mess up your face and keeps your features intact—it just smoothens out your skin. Like its dual rear cameras, it also suffers in low-light.
Video-wise, it can max out at 1080p, 30fps, in MP4 format. Quality is good and autofocus is stable. There’s no support for EIS or OIS, though, so expect that some clips will come off shaky.
OS, UI, Apps, and Storage
The S1 runs on Android 7.0 Nougat skinned with Bluboo’s own customization. We’re glad that it didn’t have bloatware in it. As per usual, Google apps are present such Gmail, Maps, Drive, Play Music, and the likes. There’s also no app drawer, so basically, everything is pasted on the home screen.
There’s not a lot going for it except that when you swipe left to the home screen, you’ll be greeted with the common apps you use, service apps (bank, bus stop, food, discount), and the latest news. There’s also this feature called HotKnot, which you can find under the settings menu, that allows data exchange when the screen touches another device.
Out of 64GB, there’s 50.24GB left for you to use and if this isn’t enough, you can always expand it via microSD card.
Performance and Benchmarks
Powering the S1 is MediaTek Helio P25 octa-core processor clocked at 2.5GHz, Mali-T880 GPU, 4GB LPDDR4X RAM, and 64GB storage. During our time with it, we rarely experienced lags or crashes when performing simple tasks like browsing the web, or even running multiple apps in the background. Playing graphically intensive games like Asphalt 8 and Into the Dead 2 was been okay, though we noticed few frame drops.
Warming can be felt at the upper part of the phone (near the rear cameras) but it’s not much of a concern. Its fingerprint scanner, on another note, is quite frustrating as it almost always failed to recognize our fingerprint.
Here are benchmarks scores we got:
- AnTuTu – 57,212
- 3D Mark – 659 (Sling Shot Extreme), 895 (Sling Shot)
- GeekBench – 797 (Single Core), 3,062 (Multicore)
- PCMark – 4,180 (work)
- AndroBench- 17MB/s (read), 98.35 (write)
Call, Connectivity, and Battery Life
The S1 covers basic connectivity functions such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and 4G LTE. Call quality is good as long you’re in an area with good reception—the same goes when connecting to mobile data. GPS works fine when using navigating apps such as Google Maps, and Waze.
The S1 offers 3500mAh of battery that is good to last an entire day of moderate use. But if you’re a heavy user, we highly suggest that you bring your power bank with you. Though its battery looks above average on paper, it only yielded 8 hours in our video loop test and a much lower score of 6 hours and 34 minutes in our PCMark Battery test. It supports Fast Charging and charging it from 0% to 100% took us around 2 hours.
Bluboo definitely tried to cater a smartphone packed with powerful internals you rarely find in a smartphone at an affordable price. It has a full HD IPS display, MediaTek Helio P25 SoC, 4GB RAM, and 64GB storage. If you can get past its not-so-good battery optimization and selfie camera, then the S1 may work for you.
The Bluboo S1 is priced at Php7,799, which is just Php300 more expensive than the Bluboo S8, and you’re getting more RAM and a bigger storage. Check out the listing here.
Bluboo S1 specs:
5.5-inch FHD IPS display @ 1920 x 1080 px, 401ppi
2.5D Curved Gorilla Glass 4
2.5GHz octa-core MediaTek Helio P25
4GB LPDDR4X RAM
expandable up to 256GB via microSD (uses SIM2)
16MP + 3MP dual rear cameras with dual LED flash
8MP front camera
4G LTE Cat.6
Dual SIM (hybrid), Dual standby
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n
GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
Android 7.0 Nougat
3500 mAh Li-Poly battery w/ Fast Charging
148.6 x 74.3 x 7.9 mm
What we liked:
- Premium design
- Decent cameras
- Full HD IPS display
- USB Type-C
- Affordable price
What we didn’t:
- Lacks 3.5mm audio port
- Unimpressive selfie camera
- Battery drains quite easily