Chinese manufacturer Blackview has slowly been building a reputation in the ruggedised smartphone market thanks to a solid line-up that includes the BV6000 and the BV7000 Pro (which is on the left in the below image) both of which performed admirably during our respective reviews.
The latest addition to this family is the BV8000 Pro which was first demoed at MWC in Barcelona last February. It is an evolution of the two aforementioned smartphones and there’s a BV9000 Pro already in the pipeline, although it is unclear whether that next handset will be an evolution or a radically different model.
Online Chinese retailer, Aliexpress, sent us the review sample and sells the Blackview BV8000 Pro for £207 ($ 260). Note that while this price includes delivery, it is exclusive of any taxes that may be levied by HMRC or the courier companies on behalf of the vendor. Want to buy tech from online Chinese retailers? Read this first.
The first thing that caught our attention was the fact that this IP68-rated rugged smartphone doesn’t have any protective covers for its connectors – both the USB Type-C port (at the top) and the audio jack (at the bottom) are devoid of any rubber flap.
Somehow, Blackview has managed to make them impermeable although extra care has to be taken to ensure that there’s no liquid in the mix when connecting external peripherals like the charger or headphones. Blackview has issued a statement asking users to use a hair dryer to blow-dry ports that have been soaked in water before inserting the charger.
The IP68 certification means that no dust can penetrate the chassis and the smartphone can stay in more than 1m of water for at least 30 minutes.
There’s a fingerprint reader on the side as well as the power button, a non-configurable push-to-talk button (that doubles as an SOS one), dedicated photo button (which is a tad redundant as you can start the camera app by double-pressing the power button) and a volume rocker.
The BV8000 Pro is available in grey, silver or gold, and is closer in design to the BV6000 (far right in the below pic) than the BV7000 Pro (on the left), so much so that one can argue that the design of the latter feels more rounded and modern than that of the BV8000.
The navigation buttons are still present while the phone itself feels weighty and larger than its predecessor. At 155 x 79 x 14mm and 240g, it is chunky but bear in mind that it won’t need a case as it is more solidly built than most smartphones on the market.
Blackview has gone in all guns blazing with the BV8000 Pro, opting for the MTK6757 (otherwise known as the Helio P20) System-on-a-Chip from Mediatek, the same silicon that powers the UMI Plus E. That is an eight-core Cortex-A53 CPU, clocked at up to 2.3GHz, with an ARM Mali T-880 MP2 GPU clocked at 900MHz.
Samsung provides the memory (6GB LPDDR4) and the storage (64GB) as well as the camera optics (S5K4H8 and S5K3P3) which are 8-megapixel and 16-megapixel sensors respectively, located at the front and the back of the smartphone.
The display, a Sharp IGZO one, is a 5-inch Full HD affair covered with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 – it is suitably bright for an IPS display, especially in bright sunlight.
Wireless connectivity consists of 802.11ac Wi-Fi, GPS/Glonass/Beidou, Bluetooth, Cat 6 LTE (300Mbps download/50Mbps upload) with Band 20, NFC (finally!). There are also dual SIM trays both capable of supporting 4G, plus an extra slot for a microSD card; you won’t be able to use all three at the same time. You will need to remove four screws and a flap located at the back in order to access these.
A 4,180mAh battery powers the handset, one that is fed by an 18W (9V, 2A) charger. Other than the latter, the BV8000 Pro comes with a pair of earphones, screwdrivers (and screws), an OTG cable plus the obligatory USB Type-C cable.
The combination of rubber (texturised at the back) and dark grey metal works nicely, although we’ve come across smartphones that are more comfortable to hold. The display is surrounded by a thick bezel (9mm at its thinnest point) and there’s also a status light.
The phone runs its own customised version of Android 7.0 Nougat and comes with an unusual array of applications (Earthquake Tsunami Warning System, Sound Meter, Heart Rate, Alarm and so forth) but no PTT software.
As expected, when it came to performance levels everything ran smoothly, not that we taxed the BV8000 Pro in any meaningful way. Antutu benchmark hit 64,219 which is around half what the LG G5 or the Moto Z achieved. That’s mildly disappointing for this handset, though.
Its 3D score of 11,062 can best be described as mid-level – you shouldn’t have any issue running games bar the more graphics-heavy taxing titles.
In terms of design, the BV8000 Pro is a step backwards compared to the BV7000 Pro as the IP68 logo got slapped on the front (but not Blackview’s own logo), while the general feel of the phone is less aspirational and more utilitarian.
Two more facts blot the phone’s appeal: Blackview’s latest flagship is far more expensive than its predecessor (by about 50%) and its water resistance doesn’t extend to ports (as we mentioned, you still need to dry them).
Don’t get us wrong, the BV8000 Pro is still a great rugged smartphone and hits the right notes with a blend of top-notch components, a relatively affordable price tag and a nice list of apps, many of which will suit professionals.
The BV7000 Pro, however, appears to be a more balanced smartphone with a much cheaper price tag, not to mention proper flaps to keep any liquids out of the ports – but it does have a slower processor.
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