Blackview A8 MAX review


Blackview is a well established Chinese brand, even though it’s quite often flying under the radar of customer recognition . Anonymous review of an older Blackview A8 on a comparison website in for of: “I’m satisfied with the device but I don’t know what to expect” pretty much sums it up. So, this owner rated the device with only 60% rating. And that’s it. A brand with a low price simply doesn’t inspire confidence very often and I must admit I was also skeptical. The more I was surprised when I unpacked it and actually started using it.

Blackview A8 Max definitely deserves our attention for its price and build quality. Some established brands are not afraid to ask for even twice as much money offering much worse quality. This device doesn’t simply look like the low-end the price would suggest.

ABOUT THE BLACKVIEW BRAND

The Blackview brand has been on the market since 2013 and the company’s philosophy still stays the same – good quality for a low price. After the Asian market success, the company went global. Their website is filled with PR glorifications and self-serving flattery so not much to learn there.

What really irritates me with the PR materials are the doctored fake pictures showing the phone as a true “bezel-less” one. And as a reply to a customer pointing out the obvious disparity Blackview managed to come with a really hillarious reasoning stating that the next model will really have such non-existent bezels. Safe to say even that did not happen with the new A8 Max…

BLACKVIEW A8 MAX SPECIFICATIONS

quad-core Mediatek MT6737 processor, clocked at 1.3 GHz
RAM 2 GB
ROM 16 GB
3000 mAh battery
8 MPix rear camera Sony IMX219 with LED flash
5 MPix front camera
dual SIM (2x micro SIM)
LTE frequencies on bands 1/3/7/8/20
Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Color variants: silver, white, gold (our sample piece)
dimensions: 154.3 x 78 x 8.9mm
weight: 186 g

PACKAGING

Inside the package there is all we need to properly use the device. A well cut silicon case protecting the phone without obstructing your finger controls around the edges and also sufficiently protecting the lens of the camera.. Headphones with handsfree, which are considerably better than those offered for example by the iNew company . Thanks to their plugs they fit in your ears more comfortably. There is also an English manual with pictures of how to use the phone and the basics of Android. Then there is a USB cable, a spare screen protector (one is already applied on the display) and a charger with very low 1A current.

DESIGN AND BUILD

Luckily Max in the name has nothing to do with the actual size. It’s a normal 5,5-inch phone so 0,5 inch bigger screen than the A8 model. The available color variants are gold (our sample piece), white and silver. Bezels are definitely not so narrow as shown in the ads and I think Blackview doesn’t have to lie, because It’s a low-end device and actually looking really good. The first thing you can notice is a metal frame which gives it a really elegant look and overally strenghtening the build. You can feel slight gaps and inconsistencies in the frame build, but to be fair the same thing can be said for example about Huawei P8 Lite which is twice as expensive. If you decide to use the phone without a case it will eventually suffer some scratches on the frame here and there in time, but thanks to the metal build it will still look better than worn-out plastic shell. The buttons are also metallic and they have good grip and sensitive press. The power button has a smooth texture on it so it’s easy to find it even blindly.

If you decide to use the silicon case the buttons will be harder to press. Nevertheless, the case protects the phone perfectly and because it slightly overlaps the edges you don’t have to be afraid to put the phone face down. And the lens of the camera is also well protected as mentioned before.

The 5,5” display in the front is probably without any protective glass. There is a screen protector already applied, but it could have been slightly wider. The capacitative buttons are not backlit and the notification LED is missing. Once again just saving money on the wrong things. The headphone speaker is recessed into the glass panel so it’s a dust catcher . One microphone on the chin as usual, the secondary one is missing. At the top there is an audio 3,5 mm jack and a micro USB port.

Back side top left there is an 8Mpix Sony IMX219 camera sensor interpolated to 13MPix with a single LED flash. The lens is slightly protruding and the glass is lined by a metallic rim, cheers for that Blackview!!! The speaker grille is at the bottom of the back.

The flexible plastic back cover fits well , just at the top there is a slight gap between the ports. But that’s just me being a nagger. Removing the cover you get access to two micro SIM card slots and a a micro SD card slot. The removable battery has a 3000 mAh capacity.

PERFORMANCE

The new 64bit quad-core Mediatek MT6737 processor clocked at 1,3 GHz promises increased performance and energy saving in comparison with the older MT6735, which has been installed in quite some cheaper devices lately. In the Antutu test we’ve got similar results like the MT6735 equipped phones reaching almost 30000 points.

That’s a $200 phone’s result roughly two years ago. But it is true that viewing epub documents was significantly faster than with other cheap ,,machines”. And that’s what counts. Comparing sythetic test results is a one thing, but real life performance is another especially when we fill it with our favorite apps already.

2GB of RAM is enough for the budget device so you don’t need any additional cleaners and just let the Android do its job. 16GB of internal memory is also enough for a normal user and with the possibility of an SD card expansion you don’t have to be worried where to store your photos, videos and additional data of installed apps.

Of course, you can forget about the demanding 3D games. Watching videos, viewing photos, videos, working with documents, browsing the internet, it all works perfectly. And it can handle some games quite well too, Asphalt 8 was running without lags.

DISPLAY

Five and half inch scren is a norm these days and the IPS panel with HD resolution is nothing out of the ordinary. Viewing angles are satisfying and colors are slightly colder than AMOLED displays. It would be beneficial to make the minimum brightness level a bit lower for more comfortable usage at night. The display has a modern 2.5D curved glass.Screen-to-body ratio is about 70% and the bezels are not dramatically big. You just need to keep in mind the price tag of the device.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

There was a normal screen protector applied by the manufacturer, but it doesn’t cover the whole screen. A millimeter more to the sides would be nice.

In the settings, we can find the MiraVision technology for improving the image quality. It allows you to change the color temperature and contrast.

Digitizer works reliably, the phone reacted properly for every touch control with appropriate
slight vibrating feedback. Waking up by double tapping also works well, but this function is balanced out by the increased battery usage.

SYSTEM

Inside the phone is a new, basically clean Android in 6.0 (64bit) version. The native launcher (Launcher 3) comes with no-App Drawer design, but you can easily install something else. Except three apps, which can be easily uninstalled, the phone is not clogged with additional bloatware. Using the phone is a pretty smooth experience and i haven’t encountered any freezes or random restarts during the testing.

All the basic apps worked without any problems. The phone didn’t slow down even after I installed a few apps of my own. And as I mentioned before I was very pleasantly surprised with the speed of the epub reader. The new processor with a better graphic chip has proved its worth after all. When you slide down twice the notification bar, it will show the Bluetooth on/off button, Wi-Fii, GPS etc. The screen cannot be adjusted by the user.

screenshot_20161009-181618

During my testing a new firmware update became available so it’s a good sign that Blackview are active in the care about the already released products.

You can also find some extra functions in the setting like one-handed controls making the dial smaller and more accesible or smart gestures allowing the user variety of actions ranging from taking a screenshot, waking the phone or starting some individual app. But of course coming with a cost of increased battery drain.

The phone also supports scheduling automatic turning on and off.

BATTERY LIFE

Compared to the previous A8 model the A8 Max’s battery is bigger, which is always a good thing. Even though there are bigger battery phones at the market, the 3000 mAh capacity is sufficient for this phone to last two days of light usage on a charge (two days with 4 hours SOT). If you are pushing it hard then it will last only for a day.

Charging the phone with the 1A charger is really taking an annoying amount of time. Second cycle of charging took a record time of 7 hours. The charging wasn’t linear, while the first 1/3 of the battery was charged during 2 hours the last 4 percent took an hour. This should eventually settle in when battery gets properly formatted and according to the manual charging shouldn’t take longer than five hours.

CONNECTIVITY

Classic BT (v 4.1) and Wi-Fi connections did not encounter any problems with signal strength and sensitivity like other phones do and I connected the phone with my Pebble Steel smartwatch without any issues. Internet speed didn’t disappoint either even in the worse LTE coverage area. Supported LTE bands 1/3/7/8/20 are a nice bonus, because still not all chinese phones have them all covered.

GPS is mixed bag, first fix (without using data) took almost a minute, but subsequent ones caught on in just few seconds. But the amount of visible satellites is not on par with some other phones.. The precision wasn’t bad and I would not be afraid of leaving the country with this phone as a navigational tool for a couple of days. Geocaching could be fun with Blackview A8 Max.

Calls – the main function of every phone went flawlessly with enough signal strength. Call quality is adequate and the other side didn’t report any problems. Seems like the growing pains of Chinese phones with bad microphones and GPS are gone forever.

CAMERA

Our old friend Sony IMX219 with its 8 Mpx resolution (interpolated to 13 Mpx) is not a miraculous sensor and especially in low light conditions the pictures are full of noise. Feels a bit like journey to the past. In sunny conditions the result can be satisfying, but during these autumn days it will be not so great. The LED flash will be also more useful as a flashlight rather than to illuminate the scene because it’s giving the pictures a blue hue.

Default camera app can be opened directly from the lockscreen and it offers all the usual effects and filters. Teenage owners will appreciate the acne removing function (frankly I could not test this on my own). Or you for example use the “V” gesture to activate the self shutter if you don’t like the timer . It worked quite well. What surprised me (and I hope it wasn’t just by chance) was HDR function. Either by chance or a good constellation of reflective surfaces the pictures were pretty good.

The video quality is just up to today´s standards. In other words it’s rubbish just like with some other, often more expensive phones.

SOUND

It’s cool to discover after unboxing that the manufacturer added headphones with HF and even with silicon earbuds. Don’t expect anything special though. The sound is clean but the device has no additional audio chip for improving the output. The sound from the speaker is flat and it could be a bit more louder for sure. And with the headphones it’s not getting much better. But for some non- demanding listening to the radio(the phone has FM radio) or HF chat with a friend the headphones are alright.

ALTERNATIVES

For the same price you can take a look at Oukitel U7 Plus with similar specifications, but with a fingerprint scanner and smaller battery. I would maybe aslo consider slightly more expensive Homtom HT17 Pro with the same fingerprint scanner too but equipped with a faster charging.

CONCLUSION

All things considered the phone has a nice design thanks to the metal frame and the 2.5D curved display. Good build quality,smooth Android 6.0 experience, reasonable GPS and numerous LTE bands are a plus. You will get some extra accessories to the phone and that´s all for a good price. Cons are for sure the extremely long charging time and a bigger weight of the phone. Nonetheless considering the price/performance ratio it is a good phone to choose.

We would like to thank the Blackview company for providing the review sample.

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