Bluboo is a smartphone manufacturer from Shenzen, China, which hasn't made huge waves due to a somewhat reserved marketing campaign. Since it almost only focus on entry tier devices, a more natural marketing campaign doesn't work out in its favor either. However, I was contacted by Bluboo a couple of weeks ago with an invitation to try out the Xtouch -- a smartphone which did receive some waves of attention in the Chinese smartphone circles -- and decided to take them up on it.
The Xtouch is surprisingly lightweight for what appears would be a much heavier phone. At the top of the front of the phone is a speaker with a very overt drilled grill covering it, with a proximity sensor to the right of it, and the front-facing camera to the right of that. It has the standard three-button cluster at the bottom of the smartphone, with the 'home' button being a physical button that doubles as a fingerprint scanner. It's flanked by the two capacitive 'back' and 'overview' buttons to either side. The buttons on either side are illuminated with a soft blue LED for those who are fans of backlit smartphone buttons.
Moving to the left side of the phone is the SIM-card and micro-SD tray. Unlike most mid-tier-and-above dual-SIM phones which allow you to use both two SIM cards and an SD-card, the Xtouch makes you pick between them for one of the slots. Over on the right side of the phone is the volume rocker and power button. Taking a look at the top side of the phone we see the 3.5mm headphone port. The bottom of the phone has two loudspeaker grills flanking the micro-USB port, and to the right of that, we find a small port for the microphone.
Over on the back side of the phone, we find the Sony IMX214 13 MP camera at the top center, followed by two white LEDs just below it. About four-fifths of the way down we find Bluboo's logo branding. The non-removable rear cover of the phone has some sort of 'diamond' design which the company boasted was 3D printed. It's difficult to put into words as to how the design looks, so you can check out this video or refer to the images scattered throughout this review.
The Bluboo Xtouch has a 1080p 5" display which would measure in around 440ppi. For whatever reason, however, CPU-Z reports the display at being 5.48" with only 403dpi. Regardless, the 1080p display has worked it's way into the budget-side of smartphones and is becoming significantly more common over 720p panels.
The downside of the 1080p panel is the battery life hit that's taken, especially with the lower capacity battery found in the Xtouch.
Bluboo has implemented MediaTek's "MiraVision" tech, which dynamically adjusts the contrast and brightness of the display based on the content being shown, and it instantly makes any panel I've seen use this tech appear significantly better, and the Xtouch is no exception.
The build quality of this phone has some issues. First of all, the diamond rear cover scratches way too easily for a non-replaceable (or removable) back cover. From just normal use over the last few weeks, the phone has taken several light scratches in the back, and I imagine it'd only get worse for someone who wasn't taking care of it as much as I was.
The physical "on/off" button under the volume rocker doesn't seem to be sitting correctly and sort of shakes when pressed lightly on either end of it. This doesn't affect its function, but it is an issue that should've been picked up in Q/C.
Lastly, the removable SIM-card tray doesn't sit flush against the back and sticks out just a fraction of a millimeter. Other people have considered this to be a feature that allows you to open the tray with your nails rather than using a pin, but when trying this I found it to be fairly difficult and the aluminum tray actually bent ever so slightly by the force of my nail. Given that, I'm going to assume it wasn't intentionally sticking out, and again something that should have been caught in Q/C.
|Operating System||Android 5.1|
|CPU||MTK6753 64bit, octa core, 1.3GHz|
|Screen type||IPS, Capacitive touch screen|
|Screen size||5.0 inch|
|Screen resolution||1920x1080 pixels|
|Screen color||16000K colors|
|Wireless connectiveity||GSM, 3G, 4G, GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth|
|Frequency||2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
3G: WCDMA 850/900/2100MHz
4G: FDD LTE: 800/1800/2100/2600MHz
|WiFi||802.11b/g/n wireless internet|
|GPS||Yes, also includes A-GPS|
|Back camera||13.0MP SONY IMX214 back camera with flashlight and auto focus|
|SIM card slot||Dual micro, Dual SIM, Dual standby|
|TF card slot||Yes|
|Micro USB slot||Yes|
|Audio output||3.5mm audio out port|
English, Bahasa Indonesia, Bahasa Melayu, Cestina, Dansk, Deutsch, Espanol, Filipino, French, Hrvatski, Italiano, Latviesu, Lietuviu, Magyar, Nederlands, Norsk, Polish, Portuguese, Romana, Slovencina, Suomi, Svenska, Tieng viet, Turkish, Greek, Bulgarian, Russian, Ukrainian, Hebrew, Arabic, Thai, Khmer, Korean, Simplified/Traditional Chinese
|Sensor||Gravity sensor, Light sensor, Proximity sensor|
|Additional features||4G, 3G, WIFI, GPS, FM, Bluetooth, Ebook, Email,Messaging, wallpapers, calendar, calculator,clock, camera, tethering & portable hotspo,Touch ID, etc|
|Standby time||About 2~3 days|
|Charger||USB, travel charger|
|Dimension & Weight (Main Product)|
|1 × Phone|
|1 × USB cable|
|1 × User manual|
This is where things start to really go sour: although the Xtouch has the MT6753, which can be taken as a 1.3 Ghz version of the MT6752, the phone needs significant firmware improvements. Lots of system screens are laggy, such as the notifications menu or the app switcher. It's not laggy in the sense that it skips a frame here and there, on the contrary, things like the notification menu operate at something like six or seven frames per second. It's clearly a firmware issue and it really, really needs to be fixed.
One of the things Bluboo touted was the speed at which the fingerprint scanner would read a user's fingerprint and unlock the screen in comparison to other products like the iPhone, but with this bug there is a literal one-to-two second delay purely from the lag. It's crazy, and also concerning.
This issue continues onto benchmarks where the device performs horribly in comparison to what it should be getting, which is a much better score. Nevertheless, the benchmarks are available below:
The Bluboo Xtouch has the overwhelmingly popular Sony IMX214 which has almost become a staple for the 2014-2015 Chinese smartphone world, and has been found in almost every Chinese phone I've reviewed. The camera performs reasonably well in conditions with strong light, but begins to fall apart in low-light conditions. It's not all as bad as I'm making it out to be, but this is an area where the brands more familiar in the West have really improved in over the last couple of years. It's still nothing like a DSLR, but products like the iPhone or the LG G4 are now putting out superb photos in low-light conditions which the Bluboo Xtouch can't really come close to.
Discussing battery use isn't always straight forward, but if you're someone who listens to music while commuting to school or work, have various push notification services like WhatsApp or Twitter enabled, and spend an hour or so playing games, then you'll have about 10% at the end of the day. The battery on the phone is an "all day" battery, but it's not an "all day... and a half" battery at all. Out of all of the phones I've reviewed so far, the Bluboo Xtouch has possibly the most idle battery consumption I've seen.
However, the company has MediaTek's Pump Express tech fairly well implemented. For those out of the loop, it's basically MediaTek's answer to Qualcomm's QuickCharge 2.0. Charging the phone +30% can be done in 20 minutes or so, which somewhat negates the effects of this.
Unfortunately the battery isn't removable.
The Bluboo Xtouch is a good attempt at doing something atypical by Bluboo, but the device appears to have been rushed out the door without enough Q/C -- both on the software and physical parts of the device. While the former can be fixed with device updates, and my conversations with people at the company have me confident that will eventually happen, it's poor form to release fundamentally buggy ROMs like this.
That aside, it's an interesting release but strangely priced. Running about $170, it lacks what you'd expect from the price range -- at least a well-polished firmware or some closer Q/C.
I look forward to Bluboo's future product lineup, and hope it can improve its devices in the future. But for today, I'll have to give the Bluboo Xtouch a 6.5/10, which could potentially become a 7.5/10 if the company gets its software right.
A big thank you to our friends at Bluboo and Gearbest who supplied the phone for this review. If you are interested in picking one of these up, Gearbest has the Bluboo Xtouch available for sale at $179.99 with free shipping.