Bluboo, a slightly unfamiliar brand in the country, is making some noise recently.
To make their voices heard, the company brought their oddly familiar-looking smartphone in the Philippines — the Bluboo S8. It’s a device that has premium looks but only stays within the budget category.
But the question is — can it survive in the already saturated market? Would the Bluboo S8 introduce its brand well in the country? Let’s figure that out in our full review.
Bluboo S8 Specs
- Android 7.0 Nougat
- Dual SIM, Dual Standby (Hybrid)
- 5.7-inch HD+ IPS display, 1440 x 720 pixel resolution, ~282ppi
- 2.5D Curved Gorilla Glass
- 1.5GHz MediaTek MT6750T octa-core processor
- 3GB RAM
- Mali-T860 GPU
- 32GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 256GB
- 8-megapixel front camera
- 13-megapixel + 3-megapixel dual rear cameras,dual-LED flash
- Fingerprint scanner
- 4G LTE, Cat. 6
- WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n
- Bluetooth 4.0
- GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
- USB Type-C
- Colors: Midnight Black, Coral Blue
- 3450mAh battery, fast-charging
Unboxing and Hands-on of Bluboo S8
Design and Build Quality
If you’ve read our first impressions article, you are aware that the Bluboo S8 is indeed a Galaxy S8 copycat. Or at least just in its looks. Right on the first look, those unfamiliar can possibly believe that this device is Samsung’s current flagship smartphone.
In the front, there’s the 5.7-inch HD+ screen with an 18:9 aspect ratio. It has impressive screen-to-body ratio thanks to its thin and curved edges.
However, this thing is only made of plastic. Good thing the type of material used replicates the look of glass, so it has the premium look to it. What’s real here are the metallic chassis that surrounds the device. This made the device look and feel high-end in the hands, with some noticeable weight to it when compared to other smartphones.
Fortunately, Bluboo didn’t go all the way and changed one of the major design flaws of the Galaxy S8. What we are talking about here is, of course, the fingerprint scanner at the back. The dual cameras are in a vertical orientation, and below them is the fingerprint sensor — just within reach of your index finger.
But on the downside, the Bluboo S8 skipped the headphone jack. Hence, we’re only seeing the USB Type-C port at the bottom, together with the mediocre-sounding loudspeakers. Thankfully, Bluboo has included a Type-C to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter on the box.
On the left side, there are the volume controls, while on the right are the lock/power button. The two buttons on the left provide decent tactility, however, the one on the right feels really mushy and cheap.
Overall, I think the Bluboo S8’s design and build is its strongest feature. Now let’s just see if the other departments follow suit.
As stated earlier, the Bluboo S8 uses a 5.7-inch HD+ IPS screen. That’s a 1440 x 720 resolution panel with a total of 282 pixels-per-inch, and a tall 18:9 aspect ratio.
It might not have the sharpest resolution of all, but it’s ample enough to populate its large screen real estate. I had no problems reading small texts, and the videos have decent detail on them. The wider screen also makes for a more immersive viewing experience and provides more room for on-screen controls in games.
Color-wise, I noticed that the panel of the Bluboo S8 looks a bit yellowish. There are also some color-shifting going on when you tilt the device. However, I doubt that most consumers would notice it. And it wouldn’t appear as a big of a deal for most people, especially those who are buying in this price range.
The Bluboo is rigged with a 1.5GHz MediaTek MT6750T octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM, Mali-T860 GPU, and 32GB of expandable storage.
The overall performance feels a bit slow, especially for an octa-core device. You can feel its weakling performance just by browsing through your Facebook or Instagram feed.
I also experienced the same when gaming. Most apps take quite a while to start, and even the start menu of every game feels sluggish. And during the gameplay itself, I have noticed a lot of frame drops when playing titles like Rules of Survival and FIFA Mobile. It does heat up a little when playing for long periods of time.
To sum it up, I think the Bluboo S8’s performance could have been better even for its budget-friendly price tag. The company can still fix things by releasing a performance optimization update, so we’re counting on that one.
Benchmark test results
Bluboo used Android 7.0 Nougat on the S8. And oddly enough, it looks like they are using the same interface found on Cherry Mobile’s CherryOS. Hence, my thoughts on its software are exactly the same as what I have said on the Flare S6.
It feels like the interface is still in its early stages and I think there’s still a lot of work to do especially on the optimization part. I do feel that the processor is a bit bogged down by the software.
But for its looks and features, the interface does fine. Swiping down from the home screen reveals all the shortcut controls while swiping up reveals the quick search bar. The app drawer was also removed, so all your apps are laid out on the desktop.
Moreover, the keyboard is easy to type on, the settings menu is relatively tidy, and the lock screen looks pretty minimalistic.
Overall, I don’t have any major complaints with its software. Or at least, nothing that a software update can’t fix, which we can only hope that Bluboo would deliver over time.
See also: Cherry Mobile Flare S6 Review
With the Bluboo S8, you’re only getting a fingerprint scanner at the back. No fancy facial recognition feature, an omission that’s not surprising for its price.
The fingerprint scanner of the Bluboo S8 works well, but it’s definitely not the best. It has a success rate of detecting my fingerprint of around 80% which means there are some occasions where you have to punch in your finger twice, or you’re just better off using the lock screen passcode.
The Bluboo S8 has an unsurprisingly disappointing set of cameras. At the back, it boasts a combination of 13-megapixel + 3-megapixel shooters, while in front there’s an 8-megapixel sensor for taking selfies.
If you’re wondering why the secondary rear sensor is only 3-megapixel, it is because it is only being used for the Bokeh mode feature. This camera is responsible for analyzing depth, which theoretically should provide a better depth-of-field effect.
Judging by the samples below, you can tell that it’s not that effective. There are times where the shallow depth-of-field effect looks believable, but often times it just looks awful.
But leaving the secondary camera behind, the 13-megapixel sensor can take decent pictures. For as long as you’re shooting at really good lighting, it can capture images with good contrast, slightly dull saturation, and decent dynamic range. It might not take the best photos, but then again, compromises are needed to be made to accommodate the price.
Probably my main complaint about the Bluboo S8 is its low-light shooting capability. If you’re planning shooting indoors or in an underground parking lot just forget about it. As you can see in the images below, it looked like we were shooting in a pitch black room.
On the other hand, the 8-megapixel front camera is serviceable. The colors and contrast are acceptable, the details are a little soft but forgivable.
Plus, the camera app of the Bluboo S8 also has the FaceCute and Beauty Mode. The former offers Snapchat-like face filters, while the latter is a feature that we are all familiar with — a camera software that automatically enhances the face of the user.
Bluboo covered all the necessary means of connectivity with the S8. It has 4G LTE, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, and USB Type-C connectivity.
I didn’t experience any problems with all of its antennas other than the Bluetooth.
Most of the time, I use my smartphone to play music on Spotify and stream it on an external Bluetooth speaker. In my case, the smartphone is about 7 to 8 feet between the soundbar (Sembrandt SB750). And for some reason, the connection has already crapped out from that distance.
So I was left with no choice but to bring the device closer to the external sound output, which is an inconvenience on my part. But if you’re using it on, say, a wireless headphone, you’d be fine since it will be in close proximity.
Bluboo equipped the S8 with a 3,450mAh battery, which is quite chunky for an HD+ device and an octa-core processor. However, its performance is still nothing to brag about.
We did run PCMark’s battery test (WiFi On, Brightness, Volume at 50%) and it had a screen-on time of 5 hours and 55 mins — almost 6hrs of continued simulated use.
For a perspective, most devices that we have reviewed had an average score of 6 hours. The really impressive ones are able to hit around 8 hours to 9 hours.
Deciding which smartphone to get with less than Php8,000 in your pocket is a difficult task, especially today when there are tons of options out there. While it is good to have a lot to choose from, picking the best one is also really hard.
Ideally, for this price range, you’d want a no-nonsense, straightforward smartphone — something that covers the essentials of good performance and decent battery life. And if that’s the basis, it’s something that the Bluboo S8 can’t completely deliver.
However, being on a budget doesn’t mean that you should be rocking a hideous-looking smartphone. And with the Bluboo S8’s good design, plus that all-screen HD+ display — it feels like you’re holding a flagship device in the hands.
To sum it up, if overall performance is what you’re after, then you might want to skip this one. But if you want a smartphone to flash around, there’s nothing like the Bluboo S8 out there.
Pricing and availability of the Bluboo S8
As of writing, the Bluboo S8 retails for a price of Php7,299. Bluboo hasn’t penetrated the physical stores yet, so your best chance of getting one is through their Lazada online store. Check out the listing here.
- Elegant design
- Decent display
- Underwhelming performance
- Average camera
- No headphone jack