Bluboo S8 Review
Bluboo made a surprising official entry into the Philippine market early this year with the arrival of its S8 and S1 smartphones. Both devices pack quite the specs at a sub-10k price tag. What we’re taking a look at here is the Bluboo S8, the company’s first local entry into the 18:9 display ratio market. So, does it have what it takes to topple down its competitors? Let’s find out in our full review.
Design and Construction
The first thing you’ll notice about the Bluboo S8 is its design. The name alone says it all as it looks very similar to the Samsung Galaxy S8 or even the LG G6. Design-wise, it looks good. Even though it imitates the Galaxy S8 and G6, the feel and specs are totally different.
Up front is a 5.7-inch IPS display with a 1440 x 720 resolution which equates to 282ppi, and an 18:9 aspect ratio. Placed above it is the earpiece, sensors, notification light, and 8MP front camera. Since it uses on-screen navigation buttons, the bottom part doesn’t have capacitive keys. Covering the entire front is a 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 4.
Looking to the right, we have the power/lock button, while on the right are the volume buttons. The buttons are metallic, firm, with good tactile feedback.
Right up top are the microphone and a hybrid SIM slot that can accommodate nano-sized SIM cards or a microSD card at the SIM 2 slot.
Down at the bottom are the USB-C port, the main microphone, and the loudspeaker. It doesn’t have a 3.5mm audio port but comes with a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter in the package.
Flip it on its back and you will see the dual-rear cameras consisting of a 13MP main and 3MP secondary, the dual-LED flash, and the fingerprint scanner. The placement reminds us of the Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018). The back panel, on the other hand, is made of plastic but the glossy finish and metallic paint job give an impression that it is glass. On the downside, though, the finish is a fingerprint and smudge magnet.
In the hands, the Bluboo S8 is easy to hold thanks to its narrow body and curved front and back panels. It’s also premium thanks to its metal frame but it’s too thick and hefty than we prefer. If ever we drop this phone, we’re pretty confident that it’s going to break the display or receive a huge dent. Good thing it comes with a jelly case and screen protector in the package.
Display and Multimedia
The phone’s display uses an IPS panel with HD resolution. Icons are crisp and clear and the screen has relatively good color reproduction, accuracy, and viewing angles. Although good in its own right, the display’s resolution is not for everyone, especially those who are already accustomed to higher resolution screens. In fact, the moment we fired up the device we immediately noticed its resolution. Brightness is high enough for outdoor use. Either way, it’s a good display for anyone looking to use it for casual video and movie viewing.
Audio, on the other hand, is not too shabby but not overly impressive either. It can get pretty loud while maintaining clarity and the Mids and Highs are good but Lows are non-existent. Sadly, Bluboo did not include any earphones in the package and users would have to rely on the included USB Type-C to 3.5mm if they wish to plug in their own set as the phone has no built-in audio port. In any case, it’s a good performing speaker with enough power to fill a small room.
Moving on to photography, the Bluboo S8 is equipped with a dual 13MP + 3MP rear setup and a single 8MP front. The rear duo has your usual camera features like SloMo, Panorama, Time-lapse, HDR, Beauty options, Bokeh, 9 filters and even an option to add watermarks. Noticeably absent though is a Pro or Manual mode. As for the front camera, you have Time-lapse, a set of beauty options, 9 filters, watermark, and beauty video. Apart from all these, the camera also has an age prediction feature via facial recognition. It’s not that accurate though but is still a fun addition.
Another thing to take note of is that the camera UI has its own brightness setting. We noticed this when the UI showed a darker image than what was produced.
As for quality, images produced by the 13MP + 3MP pair are good as long as shots are taken in well-lit conditions. Photos have good quality, colors, and sharpness. The bokeh feature is also impressive, as you can freely adjust the background blur, although it does look too eerily artificial at times. Once we move on to low-light shots, however, it becomes an entirely different story as the cameras struggle to even provide a usable image. The LED flash too, provides little to assist in these situations.
The front 8MP shooter, on the other hand, is just a decent performer. Shots taken in bright areas are average at best, as images have a bit of grain and noise and detail is a bit off. The beauty settings are quite nice though, as it allows multiple levels of adjustment, and it doesn’t make you look too artificial. Do try to find the perfect balance, as maxing it out would make you look weird. Sadly, just like with the rear cameras, the front shooter struggles in low-light situations and the lack of additional light to support it, such as a front LED flash or screen flash is also disappointing.
Videos max out at 1080p, 30fps, in MP4 format. Quality is average and autofocus is stable. It’s nothing to brag about but it gets the job done. Watch the sample video below.
OS, UI, Apps, and Storage
The device is powered by Android 7.0 Nougat with Bluboo’s own personal touch. The launcher uses home screens instead of an app drawer to house your apps, similar to what we’ve seen with Apple and Huawei devices. If you’re not too fond of this kind of setup, you can simply download a replacement launcher from the Play Store.
The phone has a few bloatware apps which are 9apps, Speedup, UC Browser, and UC News. It is also riddled with Bluboo’s own set of system apps, most of which you might not even have a use for, such as 360 security, Freezer, Clone, QuickTouch (much like Apple’s AssistiveTouch), Super AppLock, FreeShare, Anti-theft, and Kika Keyboard. With the addition of Google’s Homebrew apps users are left with about 23.7GB out of the initial 32GB.
Apart from BesLoudness sound enhancement and Android Nougat’s native features, the phone doesn’t have anything particularly flashy like a set of different gestures but users still have a few options they can tinker with under Accessibility in the settings menu.
Performance and Benchmarks
Powering the Bluboo S8 is MediaTek’s MT6750T octa-core processor, Mali’s T860 GPU, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB of internal storage. Mundane phone operations like home screen navigation, texting, and browsing are fast with minimal lag, although we did experience a few app crashes every now and then, including the settings menu. Multi-tasking is possible, thanks to the 3GB RAM. Heavier tasks though like gaming and other graphically intensive activities will bring the device to its knees. Check out its benchmark scores below.
- AnTuTu – 41,594
- PCMark – 3,370 (Work 2.0)
- Sling Shot – 545
- GeekBench – 612 (Single-Core), 2,689 (Multi-Core)
- Vellamo – 1,847 (Multicore), 1,055 (Metal), 2,700 (Chrome)
- AndroBench – 188.9 MB/s (Read), 103.6 MB/s (Write)
As for gaming, light to moderate games such as Candy Crush, Zombie Tsunami, Vain Glory, and Mobile legends are playable with enjoyable framerates and a bit of lag here and there. Heavier games though, like Iron Blade: Medieval RPG and Asphalt: Airborne suffers from frame drops and pushes the device a bit. Heat can be felt during prolonged heavy sessions, particularly near the rear cameras area. It’s not that alarming but in any case, do take breaks in between gaming sessions or heavy tasks.
Call, Connectivity, and Battery Life
The Bluboo S8 covers basic connectivity pretty well as it’s equipped with Wi-Fi, LTE, Bluetooth, and USB OTG. Call quality, signal reception, as well as GPS, are good and accurate. We’ve lost the 3.5mm audio port here but at least Bluboo included a USB Type-C to 3.5mm port in the package. Storage expansion might also prove to be troublesome since users would have to sacrifice the second SIM slot.
The device carries with it a 3,450mAh battery, which is quite standard nowadays. It’s enough to provide users with about a day of light to moderate usage. Heavier tasks, on the other hand, would require the phone to be plugged in at least once in order to last the day. However, the phone’s battery life didn’t receive any high numbers during our standard 1080p video loop test (Airplane mode with brightness at 50% and volume at 0%) and PC Mark battery tests as it only lasted about 10 Hours and 10 Minutes on loop and got a rating of 8 Hours and 4 Minutes from PC Mark. Oddly enough, even with the supposed fast charging feature, the S8 took about 2 hours to 2 Hours and 15 Minutes to go from 0%-100%.
Bluboo definitely did try to usher its products in a price range that is slowly getting crowded, but sadly the S8 doesn’t bring with it anything striking to stand out from the crowd. While it does have the design cues and feel of some of the market’s prominent flagships, its performance leaves something to be desired. What the company does offer is a device with a premium feel, USB Type-C connectivity, and an overall average performance at a sub-10k price. At a price of Php 7,499, other competitors, including their very own S1 which is just a few hundred pesos more, might offer better performance and features.
Bluboo S8 specs:
5.7-inch 18:9 HD IPS display @ 1440 x 720px, 282ppi
2.5D Curved Gorilla Glass 4
1.5GHz Octa-core Mediatek MT6750T
32GB internal storage
expandable up to 256GB via microSD
13MP + 3MP AF Dual rear cameras w/ 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
3450mAh Li-Poly battery w/ fast charging
What we like:
- Premium design
- Above average display
- Respectable battery life
- Good speakers
- USB Type-C
What we didn’t like:
- Poor low-light camera performance
- Fingerprint and smudge magnet
- Bulky and heavy
- No 3.5mm audio port
- 720p resolution display