Blackview BV9000 Pro review: what a beast!


Rugged phones are a special category of smartphones built to fulfill the needs of professionals that work outdoors in harsh conditions and are in need of a capable device in their pocket. Their use has been advertised around thus making them an ideal solution for people that like outdoor sports or camping, work in harsh – mainly for mobiles – weather conditions or being in the military. Most of them are cheap when you compare them to the high end flagships but still remain expensive when compared to other Chinese smartphones in the market. A lot of OEM have entered the market at first with cheap products, later on with mobiles of higher quality and price. At this point companies are producing excellent rugged phones offering characteristics similar (or identical) to those found in flagship models. Blackview is one of these companies and they were kind enough to send us the BV9000 Pro, a powerful rugged phone with 5.7 inch 18:9 display and IP68 Certification.

Blackview BV9000 Pro Characteristics

  • OS:                 Android 7.1
  • CPU:               Helio P25 MTK6757CD 64-bit octa-core
  • GPU:               ARM Mali-880-MP2 900M
  • ROM:              128GB, Support micro TF card up to 32GB extended
  • RAM:               6GB RAM LDDR4
  • Display:           5.7″ IPS, HD+ 720X1440 pixels, 280PPI
  • Front Camera: 8.0MP
  • Back Camera: 13/5MP dual camera, 1080P video recording
  • Network:          GSM / WCDMA / FDD-LTE
  • Bands:             2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900, 3G: WCDMA:900/2100, 4G: FDD:B1/B3/B7/B8/B20
  • SIM:               2*Nano SIM Cards, Dual standby
  • Bluetooth:        4.2
  • Battery:           4180mAh (Non-removable)
  • Extras:             GPS,   G-sensor, P-sensor, L-sensor, Radio Tuner, Fast Charger 12V2A
  • Size:                16.2 X 8.1 X 1.34 cm
  • Weigh:             253g

Basic package

When you first buy the device, you will find it inside a white hard paper box with the band name, the characteristics and a “Designed in Italy, Made by Blackview” logo. The box has dimensions 19.5 X 19.5 X 4 cm and weights 675 grams. Inside you will find:

  • 1 X Blackview BV9000 Pro in Black-Grey colour
  • 1 X Power adapter (European type)
  • 1 X USB cable
  • 1 X SIM card eject tool
  • 1 X Screen protector
  • 1 X Earphone
  • 1 X Earphone cable USB C – Micro USB
  • 1 X OTG cable
  • 1 X USB C – Micro USB Adapter
  • 1 X Manual in English, Russian, Spanish, German and French
  • 1 X Safety ring

That is the most complete package you will see in the market! The earphones, the safety ring and the USB-C to microUSB adapter are usually sold as extras to increase the small profit made from smartphones these days in China. All the accessories are in white colour.

Design

The first impression we had from this mobile phone is that it could be a piece missing from… the Batmobile or a Transformers figure. Most rugged phones are usually “ugly”, leaving design in the last place of their priorities. This is NOT the case with BV9000 Pro as the phone looks quite impressive and boasts quality. I guess… the “Italian design” did its thing here and I personally like it. The materials are made to withstand and you will find polycarbonate rubber “hugging” the phone thus protecting it, especially in the corners, a part that can easily crack during accidents or accidental drops, transferring the brute force on the display, breaking it as well. For a phone shielded in rubber it has similar dimensions to a 5.5 inch phone, sized at 16.2 X 8.1 X 1.34 cm, but a bit heavier at 253 grams. The device is available in 3 different variants, black-silver, black-grey and black-gold (looks like rose-gold), but the phone we had during the test was the black-grey one and -in my opinion- possibly the best color choice out of the three.

The front has a 5.7 inch, 18:9 aspect ratio display, covered with Corning Gorilla Glass 5. An extra protective film is applied upon. The phone is not bezel-less but the screen manages to cover 90% of the front. There is no physical button in the lower bezel and a very small hole on the left side hides the microphone.

The frame is made from aluminium and magnesium and is also protected by rubber in some parts, exposing only the middle part of each side, with screws that are visible as a design aspect. It looks industrial and good indeed. The right side has four metallic buttons: volume rocker, the power/lock button and a special key. The special key can be customized from the software to do various things or do nothing. The top frame has a water resistant cover for the SIM tray and we can find a similar cover at the lower frame protecting the USB-C charging slot. Due to the width of the rubber cover the USB-C cable has a long tip, longer than usual cables – in order to reach it. In case you forgot your charger and charging cable, other USB-C charging cables won’t do the job.

The back of the phone has an industrial – military design that looks nice with screws, the camera installation and the company logo available in plain sight. The 2 main cameras are positioned vertically in the top center with the LED flash on the right side and the fingerprint sensor just below – inside a metallic octagonal installation with four visible screws on each side. It looks great. Small letters on the left side of the cameras describe the two sensors.

The disadvantage of gathering them all in a single part of the phone is that my finger touches the camera lenses when trying to locate the sensor. It takes some time to learn to search for the sensor so you should be ready to deal with some smudges on the camera lens, as it will take some time to find the correct way in order to reach the sensor. But let’s not focus on the bad side, there are advantages for those using this fingerprint sensor, as it can be used even we have wet hands!

The lower part of the back panel has the brand in a silver texture with angled lines engraved on it. Under it with small black letters one can read: Designed by Blackview Assembled in China. Blackview is a Hong Kong company and probably wants you to notice that. The brand and the logo exist on another metallic installation with no screws this time. Under it you can find the world “Waterproof” written in the rubber along with six vertical lines on the sides of it.

As everyone can expect from a truly rugged phone, the BV9000 Pro comes with full IP68 Certification, offering complete protection against dust and humidity. It can be immersed up to a maximum depth of 1.5m underwater for up to thirty minutes. The phone is also shock-proof and the screen is protected from scratches by the Corning Gorilla Glass 5. It can also withstand heat and cold in extreme conditions.

There is a lot of details and a lot of work done on the exterior of the smartphone and i can only say good words for it.

Hardware

The 5,7 inch 18:9 display is the main selling point of Blackview BV9000 Pro. It has a HD+ resolution (1440 X 720) that covers almost 90% of the front side. It can depict 16.7 million colors with a relatively poor PPI (280). However the display is bright and vivid and comes with a really high contrast. However, we have to admit that its resolution could be better – even though this isn’t one of the absolutely necessary features of a rugged phone.

This rugged smartphone comes with an MTK6757CD chipset, also known as Helio P25. It packs an 8-core processor built on the 16nm process technology. It has 4 Cortex A53 cores working at frequency of 2.6GHz and 4 similar cores working at 1.6Ghz. It is accompanied by a dual core Mali-T880 MP2 GPU working at 900MHz. The processor is found on most middle category phones and is quite reliable, having no issues. Blackview added a whooping 6GB LPDDR4X RAM and 128GB of internal storage, that can also be expanded with a maximum of 128GB microSD card.

It supports dual SIM functionality with two micro-SIMs or a micro-SIM and the aforementioned micorSD card.

It also supports 4G: FDD-LTE Band 1 (2100MHz), Band 3 (1800MHz), Band 7 (2600MHz), Band 8 (900MHz), Band 20 (800MHz), 3G: WCDMA Band 1 (2100MHz), Band 8 (900MHz) and 2G: GSM Band 2 (1900MHz), Band 3 (1800MHz), Band 5 (850MHz), Band 8 (900MHz).

The smartphone comes with a whole lot of sensors, such as NFC, Rotation Vector, Gyroscope, Geomagnetic, Proximity, Light, Gravity, Acceleration, Liner Acceleration and Direction Sensors. Bluetooth has the 4.2 Specification. Navigation supports GPS, A-GPS and Glonass, working fine with all the satellites being found fast and having a good precision.

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Compass works flawlessly as well, along with full Wifi 802.11 a/b/g/n, 2.4G/5GHz Dual-band and WiFi Hotspot support. Call quality is excellent and video calls are good without any issues.

Software

The operating system found in the smartphone is based on Android 7.1.1 but it’s not “vanilla” Android. It’s the typical Blackview – pimped ROM, that has been modified by the Chinese manufacturer in certain features.

After setting up the account – a normal procedure for all phones – the user sees a blacked out skin, with metal looking icons in all system apps. Notification screen and settings are also skinned. The black look is nice and suits the external industrial look.

Notification bar has all the available options someone could ask for. Except from the usual ones found in pure Android Nougat, one can find Eye protection – a functionality that dims the screen to filter blue light, QRcode – opens a qrcode scanner, and Screen Record – records the screen when touched, adding a red circle in the screen that has to be touched to stop the recording.

More options exist when setting up the bar: Hotspot, Invert colors, Data saver, and Cast. When the user adds Developer Options in the Notification setup the user can also see Android Easter Egg, Show layout bounds, Profile GPU rendering and Nearby (Google Play services).

Long pressing the display in the Home screen reveals the usual menu that allows access to the Wallpapers, Widgets and Settings options. Selecting the Wallpapers we see a Blackview app with options for Themes, Lock and Desktop wallpapers. Themes has only the metallic look and there is no option to download more like in Xiaomi’s MIUI.

The device has 4 soft-keys: menu, back and home, along with the special “down” arrow symbol on the left, that’s used to remove the row from the screen. This full view is useful when in need of a larger screen and a gesture from the lower bezel up brings back the row.

Inside the app launcher, you will find all the pre-installed applications from Google, along with some added from Blackview, such as Browser, a Compass, ETWS (presents alerts and has many options to show these alerts by voice, vibration and sound), a File Manager, a typical FM Radio receiver, Music, Sound Recorder, Torch and System Manager. System Manager has a menu where the user can set a Power Manager, clean Rubbish, Freeze apps, Autoboot apps, Lock apps and Auto clean. There is no bloatware, which is a nice differentiation from other Chinese ROMs.

Next are the Display, Notifications, Sound, Apps, Storage, Battery and Memory. Blackview has added some touches here. Sound has an audio enhancement option that can boost the speaker volume. Battery has a Standby intelligent power saving along with Performance and power saving options. The latter has Sports and Normal mode.  Memory has a Background auto clean memory option that cleans up the memory a few seconds after the display turns off.

There are also a lot of gesture, usability options such as:

  • Gesture – has a single option to double click the power button to open the camera
  • Full Screen mode – selects the applications the can open in full screen
  • SOS call – has settings for a SOS function as to activate calls/sms/flash for help
  • Gesture motion – it enables multiple operations using gestures on the display
  • Gesture Unlock – similar option to the above
  • One-handed mode – enables a smaller UI by sliding sideways on the bottom of the screen
  • Fast Capture – uses the volume buttons to fast capture screenshots or video
  • Split Screen – a help screen on how to enable split screen on Nougat
  • QRCode Scan – a simple barcode scanner
  • Smart Key – provides options for the Special Key by using one, double and long press. The options are No operation, Off screen snapshot, Start Sound recording, Open flashlight, Screenshots, Open PPT and Open SOS. (A reminder here: don’t set it as an alarm when in house, office or public transportation – alarms are not funny for most people).

My impressions are excellent from using the software. It is fast, it can handle multitasking and I just loved all the options provided by the BV9000 Pro. Well done Blackview!

Camera

The monstrous BV9000 Pro has a really decent camera, one that allows for impressive photos during daylight, really adequate shots during night and the same goes for the videos (recorded in 3gp format).

The double camera setup in the back consists of a 13MP, OV13855 main shooter and a 5MP S5K5E2 secondary telephoto lens specially-tuned for low-light conditions in a mode Blackview calls “Super Night Shooting”. The main camera has f / 2.0 aperture and the secondary f / 2.2. A dual LED flash helps in low light shots. The selfie shooter has a resolution of 8MP (Sony IMX219 or Samsung S5K4H8) having an aperture of f /2.2.

The camera application is feature rich. It provides Video, Photo, Aperture, Beauty, Pan(orama), Mono(chrome) and Pro mode. It is slow when you want to move from mode to mode but if you manage to get over this drawback, it does a proper job.

Each mode has its own settings. For example, if you want to shoot video, there are options for Scene mode (night, sunset, portrait, night portrait, etc), Video quality (set as FHD but 4K also exists), location, shutter sound etc.

I used the aperture mode a lot. Most budget smartphones with a double camera setup create a bokeh effect using the software and blurring the background around the main object. The aperture mode here does a real job focusing and blurring the background having a setting to open-close the camera’s aperture. I really enjoyed it and is one of the best portrait/bokeh setups I have seen. Pro mode has options to alter the white balance, ISO, focus and light. People that like to take manual pictures will appreciate the setup.

Photo mode has also a filter selection like Sepia, Mon, Negative, and a typical HDR mode.

Selfies have only Video, Photo, Beauty and Mono modes. The main object here is well presented but the surroundings look like it is wider and closer to the screen. It is like looking at a mirror whose angles are closer to you shaped like the inside of a spoon. The image is clear but my head looked very small over a huge chest. Some people might like this setup, but I am not one of them.

Battery

BV 9000 Pro packs a Li-Pol, non-removable, 4180 mAh battery. It is a standard battery these days for a 5.5-6 inch display smartphone, and it can surely last more than 24 hours, even if you’re a heavy duty user. If you decide to go easy on the device, then you might get up to 2 days of usage before the battery level reaches 0%.

There’s no need to feel bad about it however, as the device comes with 12V/2A fast charging charger, that is able to charge the phone in -roughly- one hour, heating up at the same time the back panel of the device.

Using the OTG cable you can also charge any other electronic device something very helpful when you are working or having fun outdoors.

Conclusion

This is an excellent rugged phone that offers great protection, a nice modern-looking display, equipped with a good set of cameras. The processor, the 6GB RAM and 128GB of ROM offer a smooth everyday experience without any issues in multitasking or heavy gaming. Battery is good and the huge internal storage offers many choices in time spending when no WiFi or data connection exists.

I enjoyed the many features of the UI, especially the camera application. Don’t forget that it’s a true rugged smartphone, offering an FM radio, a compass, GPS navigation, an alarm receiver and an alarm sender. It comes pre-installed with all the necessary “goodies” from Google and Blackview has added anything missing like an extra browser, a file manager, a more versatile music player, a system manager application etc.

I have to admit that Blackview’s flagship model provides almost everything one would expect from a mid-range, rugged smartphone – giving a lot of credits to its durability, IP68 certification and sturdiness!

If you need a rugged phone that has the full pack, then BV 9000 Pro is your choice.

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