Bluboo has been in the competitive smartphone market for a long time. They were around back when Zopo was first gaining prominence, but they never managed to impress us or catch out attention, and slowly disappeared into the ocean of obscure smartphone manufacturers. Recently however, they’ve managed to make a resurgence with their brand new and cheaper smartphones.
Amongst the new models they had to offer were the Bluboo C100, X550 and X6, the latter of which we will be taking a look at today. Back when Bluboo X6, many people pointed out that the design of the phone was extremely similar to the (at the time) newly launched Ecoo E04 Aurora, and that the X6 was basically just a low-end budget version of the Aurora. Does this hold true? Read on to find out.
Bluboo X6 Review: Specifications
- 5.5-inch IPS display, 960 x 540 pixels @ 200+ppi
- MediaTek MTK6732 1.5GHz quad-core Cortex-A53, 64-bit CPU
- ARM Mali-T760 GPU
- 1GB RAM, 8GB internal storage, up to 64GB external storage
- 8MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
- 3000mAh battery
- GPS, microUSB 2.0, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth
- GSM; 3G: 900/2100 MHz; 4G LTE: 800/1800/2100/2600 MHz
- Android Kitkat 4.4.4, ships with Google Play
- 156.7 x 77.5 x 9.3mm, 160g
- Dual-SIM (micro SIM and normal SIM),
- Black screen gestures, Fingerprint scanner, Dual LED flash
Bluboo X6 Review: Unboxing
The Bluboo comes in an expensive looking dark blue box with the Bluboo logo in the center. The back lists the specifications of the phone. It certainly looks more premium then the price you’re paying would suggest. The box feels solid and rigid, and should keep the phone safe during shipping.
Inside the box, there’s the wall plug, the USB charging cable, a screen protector and the device itself (wrapped in some plastic to keep it safe). The phone also comes pre-installed with an extra screen protector. There’s also a free circle flip case which shows a clock when it’s closed, and a pair of cheapo earphones that sound like rubbish.
Overall, the box itself is definitely sturdy enough to protect the phone from harm and the design isn’t garishly cheap or too lazy. Thumbs up to Bluboo on packaging their products, they’ve done a pretty good job.
Bluboo X6 Review: Design
I’m not going to mince words here, the Bluboo X6 is literally the exact same thing as the Ecoo E04 Aurora in terms of build and design. Holding both of them in my hand, I couldn’t tell the difference. The rear covers for the Ecoo even fit the Bluboo perfectly, and vice versa. How does it look as a standalone device though?
The Bluboo X6 has a design that looks familiar, but it feels different compared to other similar devices. While the front of the device clearly takes some cues from Samsung, the rear and sides of the device are drastically different compared to anything else on sale.
The rear has a faux carbon fiber finish which looks great in black or white, and attracts no fingerprints or smudges. There’s a small spot for Bluboo logo, the dual flash and the 8MP camera with a simple red ring around it. A faux metal frame goes around the phone and keeps everything in place. On the top of the phone, there’s the microUSB port on the right side and the headphone jack on the left. The right side of the phone holds the power button with the volume rockers right below it, which is a slightly odd choice. The left side of the device is left bare while the bottom holds two speaker holes, but unfortunately only the left one actually produces any sound.
The front of the device is dominated by the qHD IPS display, but more on that later. Above that there’s a 5MP camera next to some sensors and the in-call speaker. Below the display is the physical home button that houses the fingerprint sensor, along with the capacitive back and menu buttons flanking it. The top and bottom bezels make the phone longer than it needs to be, and while the side bezels look thin, the display has thick black borders that make the bezels much thicker.
Removing the rear reveals the phone the phone’s battery, SIM card slots and microSD card slot. There are a lot of screws holding the back of the phone together, and it looks reassuring to see so many screws holding your device together.
The design is really quite unique. While some may disagree with me, I really like the how the phone looks compared to other phones like the JiaYu S3 and Mlais M52. The rear looks more like a nice skin than an actual rear cover and while the frame isn’t metal, it still looks attractive. The black borders around the display are really the only blemish on what is a wonderful design. Kudos to Bluboo on the design (or Ecoo), but the borders need to go.
Bluboo X6 Review: Build
The Bluboo X6 is honestly one of the more comfortable and grippy phones I’ve used recently. This is mainly thanks to the finishing on the rear which helps make the phone a lot more comfortable than it would have been with a glossy finish. It also doesn’t feel oily or slippery, a far cry from the glass reared flagships of today. The glass panel on the front unfortunately attracts fingerprints like a moth to fire.
The phone feels solid in the hand, and the frame feels nice and rigid. The device doesn’t feel as if it’s going to bend anytime soon. The volume rocker is nice and clicky, while the power button unfortunately a lot more mushy and unsatisfying to use. The home button on the front is lovely to press, and provides tactile feedback similar to what you would get from any high-end Samsung phone. The capacitive buttons light up as they normally would.
The removable rear cover is slightly flimsy, but once it’s on the phone, it feels fine. The device takes the cake in build quality as well. While it’s no Samsung Galaxy S6 or Xiaomi Mi Note, it still feels like a well built piece of kit. The power button will is honestly a minor niggle, and isn’t much of a problem. Some users have reported that their power buttons work and feel fine, so I’m hoping that this case is only exclusive to me.
Bluboo X6 Review: Display
The 5.5-inch display on the Bluboo is it’s Achilles Heel. It’s an IPS unit with a full qHD resolution. Colours are vibrant, but not over saturated. Colour reproduction is decent, and the viewing angles are good considering the price of the device. Black levels aren’t deep, but they’re more than what you would expect from a $190 phone. The phone’s resolution however, is a train wreck. A simple flat circle Music icon looks incredibly jagged. Text looks jagged and blocky. You can literally see separate pixels sometimes. This all results in what is a pretty disappointing viewing experience.
The display’s brightness is also a bit of an issue to me. The maximum brightness is not as high as some other Chinese phones like the OnePlus One and Redmi Note 4G, while the minimum brightness is not really dark enough either. It’s still going to blind you when you turn it on in the dark. The maximum brightness in particular is an issue to me since Malaysia is a country where the sun shines extremely bright all day. With phones like the Redmi Note 4G I can still see what’s going on, but it’s close to impossible on the Bluboo.
If the sun doesn’t shine too bright where you live or you live someplace where the weather is predominantly cloudy, then it should be fine for you. The quality of the panel itself is decent, but the resolution really kills it for me.
Bluboo X6 Review: Performance
The brain of the X6 is the MediaTek MT6732, and it’s one of the best MediaTek chipset so far. It has an quad-core Cortex-A53 based processor clocked at 1.5GHz, along with a Mali-T760 GPU. This is the first MTK6732 phone I’ve used for more than a week, and I’m really impressed by the amount of value MediaTek has managed to pack into this chipset. I can clearly see why this is the popular choice for most Chinese OEMs.
The Cortex-A53 is ARM’s power efficient variant of it’s first bunch of 64-bit processors. The MTK6732 has four of these clocked at 1.5GHz. MediaTek says that the MT6732 chip is two times faster than it’s earlier Cortex-A7 based processors (like the MTK6582), but with 30% less battery consumption.
The UI on the Bluboo is fast. It’s very smooth, and it’s also extremely rapid. Swiping through screens feels as if the entire device was set to fast forward. Opening apps is faster than ever before, games are handled incredibly well and performance in general has never been better on an MTK phone.
The phone is no slouch in the gaming department. The Mali-T760 GPU runs everything buttery smooth, be it simple games like Angry Birds and Temple Run or graphically intensive games like The Bard’s Tale and N.O.V.A. 3. Things did get pretty hot after a while, but it was never unbearable.
Multitasking is another area where this phone shines through. Even though it only has 1GB of RAM, the phone never slows down at all. Everything is kept at a rapid pace, and the device manages to handle multiple RAM consuming apps like Facebook, Chrome and Twitter without breaking a single sweat.
The device is a champ at performance. Nothing I threw at it managed to slow it down, thanks in part to that qHD display. If you’re looking for a relatively cheap device for running intensive apps, this is the phone fits the bill.
Bluboo X6 Review: Battery
Battery life on the Bluboo X6 was fairly bad, but after a couple of updates the phone lasts me well over a day. You’ll probably be able get through your day with enough juice and then some. Here are my findings.
- With light usage of making and answering calls, Wi-fi and messaging with Whatsapp, I got 47 hours.
- On moderate usage including 4G LTE for 1 hour 30 minutes, gaming for 1 hour, using powerful social apps like Facebook and Twitter for 1 hour 30 minutes and all of the above, the device lasted 13 hours.
With intensive usage including full on 4G LTE, 2 hours of gaming and all of the above, the phone lasted me 5 hours.
- On a non stop gaming test, the phone lasted me 5 hours and 10 minutes.
- On standby, the phone lost a 1% of battery in 2 hours on airplane mode and 3% an hour on standard mode.
The phone charges from 0% to 100% in slightly over 2 hours.
As you can see, the battery life is good. This is thanks to the low resolution display and the power efficient MTK6732 processor.
Bluboo X6 Review: Audio
The phone has a pair of speaker holes at the bottom, but only the right hole actually has a speaker in it while the left is only for show. Sound quality is unfortunately rather poor, with music sounding rather muddy and cluttered, and there’s also a lot of distortion at higher volumes. There’s barely in any clarity, and bass is practically non-existent. Not only that, but the speaker is a mono speaker. And that wouldn’t have been such a problem if they didn’t try to mislead you with two separate speaker holes.
With headphones, it’s a similar story. I tested the X6 with three earphones and a pair of studio headphones, so I’ll break this down into four segments.
- Cheapo Chinese OEM earphones – Absolutely horrible. Music is completely destroyed. It was a painful experience.
- Mi Earphones 2.1 – With these, the sound is barely enjoyable. There’s enough clarity to distinguish different sounds, the bass is actually there, and you can actually tell you’re listening to music. These are the bare minimum for listening to music on the Aurora.
- Superlux HD-381F – It’s a similar case to the Mi Earphones, except these sound flatter, and have less bass. The soundstaging is slightly better with these though.
- Superlux HD-681 EVO – These are the only headphones that make the sound decent. Clarity is fine, bass is decent, soundstaging is good and you can actually enjoy your music.
Overall, I’d say that listening to music on the X6 is a bad experience. If you’re planning to buy this phone, then definitely get a separate device for your music or use a high quality pair of headphones. You may say I’m being a bit too harsh, but audio quality is an important thing in a smartphone to me, hence why I love Vivo phones so much.
The in-call speaker is gets loud, and it’s pretty easy to hear the other person when you’re in a bustling shopping mall with many people around you.
Bluboo X6 Review: Hardware
The Bluboo X6 is a dual SIM phone that offers quad-band GSM, which means 2G will work just about anywhere in the world; dual-band 3G, on 900 and 2100MHz; and quad-band 4G LTE on 800/1800/2100 and 2600MHz. The 3G and 4G will work in lots of countries around the world, especially in Europe and Asia. In the USA you will get 2G coverage, but that’s about it.
GPS performance is fairly unreliable, especially when compared to other phones running on the MTK6732 processor. The device can get a lock outside in around 20 – 30 seconds, but it’s pretty much impossible to get a lock indoors. The lock is also not very stable or accurate, and is quite slow to update on Google Maps. GPS test tells me the precision is over 20 feet, so that might explain why this happens.
The reception for network reception is quite good, and I never got cut off during any calls. In the middle of a mall, I managed to get HSPA+ speeds, which is the standard for most phones that I’ve used.
Bluboo X6 Review: Camera
The Bluboo X6 comes with an 8MP rear camera and a 5MP front camera. The quality of the images snapped were decent. The camera app is the standard vanilla AOSP camera app. There’s a bunch of different modes to choose from like Panorama and HDR, and you can also change things like white balance, exposure and sharpness in the settings. There aren’t any filters, but you can always install a third-party camera app for those.
Pictures snapped with the 8MP camera look good on the screen, and the camera punches well above its price tag. Images aren’t very detailed when you zoom in, but at this price the camera performance is considerably stellar.
Low light performance is average for the Chinese smartphone where the noise starts to creep in and graininess is prevalent.
Here are some sample shots for you to judge:
Bluboo X6 Review: UI
The Bluboo runs a very stock version of Android 4.4.4, with the only modifications being the addition of a few interchangeable set of icons, though none of them are really all that great. There’s not much bloatware outside of the gestures application and fingerprint sensor set-up app. Google apps were all already pre-installed.
There were a bunch of gestures like double-tap to wake and black screen gestures, but I ended up turning all of them off because they were far too intrusive and sensitive. My phone would turn on in my pocket and start heating up, and it was really quite annoying.
The fingerprint scanner is incorporated into the home button and the software allows you to set the screen to unlock the screen with any one of your fingers. You can also set your fingers as shortcuts to different applications, like the calculator or Gmail app. Unfortunately, you can’t lock apps with your fingerprint, so functionality is limited to what I’ve just said. The app is basic and easy to understand, so even Android novices should be able to figure it out without much trouble.
The fingerprint sensor itself is actually pretty accurate. It can only read your fingerprint from one angle, but it manages to get the fingerprint right most of the time. Unless my fingers were particularly smudgy, the phone would unlock just fine. I only disabled the feature because swiping my finger over the power button every time I unlocked the phone started becoming pretty monotonous.
Bluboo X6 Review: Conclusion
So, how do I feel about the Bluboo X6? I feel it’s It’s a good performer,but the display’s resolution at 5.5-inches is a real deal breaker. qHD basically means you can’t enjoy any HD content. There are also other things like the terrible audio performance and unreliable GPS which also keep this phone from reaching what it could have achieved.
On the bright side, the fingerprint sensor works well and the performance is amazing considering the price tag. If you really want a phone that can handle any games or apps without burning a hole in your pocket, then I’d say go for it.