Is this the best rugged smartphone money can buy? BV8000 Pro is built to take a pounding, and shoot underwater
Chinese-made, US$300 BV 8000 Pro is designed to survive a drop undamaged, does everything you need pretty well and operates in up to 1.5 metres of water, making it an ideal second smartphone for beach and outdoors
Gadget geeks are a superficial bunch. How else can we explain our unquenchable thirst for handsets that are curvier, slimmer, and “glassier” than previous versions, despite knowing full well those attributes also make them more fragile?
The Samsung Galaxy S8 may look stunning, with its edge-to-edge screen and curved glass back, but it’s almost certainly more prone to cracking from a drop than the plasticky Galaxy S5 with chunky bezels.
Smartphone maker Blackview, based in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, is banking on there still being consumers out there who value durability above all else with its new device, the BV8000 Pro.
Design and hardware
With a thick bumper on each end of the device and a black kevlar back that looks like it came from Batman’s costume, there’s no mistaking the intent of the BV8000 Pro’s design – to survive drops. The metal frames on the left and right side and over the 16-megapixel camera add additional structural support and give the handset a satisfying heft. This much protection adds quite a bit of bulk to what is a small-screen device (5 inches), but the fit in the hand is still comfortable.
Watch the BV8000 Pro survive being dropped
The standard volume rocker and power buttons are present on the side, as is a fast and accurate fingerprint reader and an additional camera shutter button that will come in handy, as explained later.
The device runs a mid-tier processor in the Meditek 6757, with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage and room for additional storage via SD card. Unlike most other phones – and this is a welcome change – the SD card slot does not occupy the same space as the secondary SIM slot, which means this is that rare phone which allows you to use two SIM cards along with an SD card simultaneously.
Software and features
The BV8000 Pro is rated IP68, which means it is dust- and sand-resistant and can be submerged in water as deep as 1.5 metres for up to 30 minutes without damage.
Watch Ben Sin test the phone under water
In my testing, the phone was fully functional when completely underwater. I could take photos and videos (thanks to the hardware shutter button), and even play videos. I’m not much of a beach person, but this phone is perfect for that.
The Android 7.0 software here is heavily skinned, with a dated skeuomorphic look that goes against the flat aesthetic of both Apple and Google’s mobile OS.
In line with the outdoorsy nature of the phone, Blackview designed a “Toolbox” app that can perform a variety of useful tricks, such as measuring heart rate (there is a heart rate sensor on the back of the device next to the camera); altitude; sound (in decibels). There’s also a built-in digital compass and protractor.
Performance and battery life
The 6GB of RAM ensures speedy performance despite the just-average MediaTek processor. Going on social media won’t be a problem at all, but when I played heavy games they took noticeably longer to load than on some other devices.
The 16-megapixel camera also suffers in low light, but takes solid photos when lighting is good. Battery life is excellent, as to be expected from phones of this ilk. The 4,180 mAh cell battery can go a full day easily.
The device’s rugged build ensures a phone that won’t break if you drop it accidentally, and its IP68 rating means you can take this with you for a swim. It is, however, a bit too bulky (it’s 13mm thick and weighs 233 grams) for a daily driver, and the performance suffers if you try too hard.
But, given it is priced at just HK$2,400, the BV8000 Pro is worth considering as a secondary device that one takes when off to the Tai Tam Mound waterfall in Hong Kong or on a beach holiday in Phuket.
The key specs
Dimensions: 156mm x 79mm x 13mm
Weight: 233 grams
Display: 5 inches
OS version reviewed: Android 7.0
Processor: Mediatek 6757
Cameras: 16-megapixel with f/2.0 aperture and 8-megapixel front-facing camera
Memory: 64GB ROM/6GB RAM