While we've never reviewed a Blackview phone before, we have reviewed the Blackview Hero 1 Action Camera which received some pretty high praise from our staff, mixing a great price with some excellent build quality for an all-around wonderful experience. The Blackview Omega Pro sets out to be a device much of the same caliber which comes in sporting a combination of clean style and design with capable specifications and hardware all at an affordable cost. The question is whether or not that low cost will ultimately lead to an overall worse experience as low cost sometimes means compromises have to be made. At $149, the Blackview Omega Pro is gunning for the low-end tier in the smartphone market, and although it comes with a design heavily inspired by the likes of the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s, it's design is pleasing and some of the specifications on offer are on par with more expensive handsets. Will the Blackview Omega Pro have what it takes to capture the attention of consumers looking for a less expensive device? Let's take a look.
When it comes to specifications, Blackview has packed the Omega Pro with some decent hardware, but it's important to also know that this isn't going to be the absolute best hardware on the market. Having said that, the Blackview Omega Pro is well equipped to handle the needs of the average user. It comes sporting a 5-inch HD IPS display with a resolution of 720 x 1280, protected by Gorilla Glass 3. It comes with 3GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage that's expandable via the microSD card slot, and it's powered by a MediaTek MT6753 64-bit Octa-Core processor with 8 ARM Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 1.5GHz as well as an ARM Mali-T720 MP3 GPU with 3 cores clocked at 700 MHz. It's also got a non-removable 2400mAh battery on the inside to keep the device going. For the cameras, Blackview has outfitted the Omega Pro with a 13MP rear-facing camera with LED flash, f/2.0 aperture, and a 2MP front-facing camera. It comes running Android 5.1 Lollipop and weighs 150g, with dimensions of 71.4 x 143.5 x 7.8mm.
In The Box
In the box is a pretty simple setup from Blackview, as it seems to be the common theme with phones and just about any manufacturer these days. While the Omega Pro does come with a pre-installed screen protector, something that a lot of the Chinese OEMs appear to include with their devices, there are a few other things included which you don't see from a lot of OEMs these days. You'll find the standard extras like the charger and the USB cable, but Blackview has also packed in an additional albeit short USB, as well as a pair of earbuds which adds to the overall value you get for the price of this phone.
At $149, there has to be some corners cut somewhere, and the display is one of those areas here. It comes in at 720p (or HD if you prefer) and while it might not satisfy the person who is used to having devices with Full HD or QHD screens, the resolution is not too bad at all and is more than passable for everyday use. Color accuracy is not the best and blacks could be a little deeper, and some of the icons as well as colors elsewhere looked a little more faded than on some other devices, but it's possible it was more noticeable to me personally as I am used to looking at the vibrant Full HD display on the Xperia Z3 and QHD screens from devices like the Galaxy S6. Despite not making the colors pop off the screen, the quality is decent and especially for under $150 it's kind of impressive to see how nice of a display you can have for so little money.
Just a few years ago devices under $100 would offer up screens that were far less accurate with color while also looking generally bad in quality. Thanks to the rise of many Chinese OEMs all looking to break into the market, and many hardware manufacturers making quality parts less expensive, it's now possible to pick up a phone with a decent screen without having to shell out a lot of cash. Once again, this is not the best screen out there by any means, but it's also not too bad either, and even for someone who is used to screens of a higher resolution, this is more than easy to work with day in and day out. As for responsiveness, multitouch worked just fine and I didn't seem to have any issues with the screen registering my taps or swipes, all in all it functioned very well and there was nothing negative about the experience in this area.
Hardware & Build
Despite having some lower-end specs within the device, the build quality and feel of the Omega Pro is actually quite superb. The body is made up of the glass front and back, all held together by a chamfered metal frame surrounding the edges of the phone. It has a nice weight to it and feels good while holding it, and although not everyone cares for a device with a glass back due to the slippery feeling, I never once felt like the device was too slippery to hold on to. In fact, it felt a little less slippery than the Xperia Z3 which more or less has the body build in terms of materials used. On the right side of the device you'll find the SIM tray and microSD card slot, while both the volume rocker and power button are on the left side. When it comes to the build this was my only complaint as I am right handed and I'm used to having these buttons on the right to press with my thumbs. Having said that, the buttons have a nice tactile feel to them and a good responsiveness.
On the bottom of the device you'll find the microUSB charging port and the mic that picks up your voice, while on the top you simply have the 3.5mm audio port. On the front of the device there's the front-facing camera along with the earpiece up towards the top of the display, while towards the bottom you'll find a series of soft keys that Blackview has decided to use instead of on-screen navigation buttons. Flipping the phone over to the back there's the rear-facing camera and LED flash in the top left corner, with a single audio speaker in the bottom left corner.
Performance & Memory
With an octa-core processor and 3GB of RAM on board, as well as Android Lollipop which makes better use of the memory and processor at hand, the performance of the Blackview Omega Pro was better than I had expected. Multi-tasking with more than a few apps open never really seemed to slow the phone down at all and I was able to move freely between open apps like Chrome, Facebook, YouTube, Spotify and others with no issue. It has plenty of RAM on board to handle the tasks I threw at it, and if anything the only place it felt a little bit lacking was when playing games.
To test the performance for the Omega Pro I downloaded and played Gods of Rome, a new visually intensive fighter from Gameloft that carries plenty of special effects and top-notch visuals. While the game never felt like it was lagging all that much, the GPU on board didn't exactly provide the best of the best visuals, and this is another area where there had to be some corners cut to keep the cost low on the phone. Even with this though the phone still performed fine during gameplay and the graphics didn't look terrible. Those wanting a device with the best graphical performance should look elsewhere, but if your main concern is that the device performs up to par as far as function goes, the Omega Pro seems to do just that.
With the specs on offer you wouldn't expect the phone to come through with high scores in the benchmark tests, and it doesn't. It's important to remember though that the benchmarks don't mean everything and they aren't 100% evident of how the phone will perform during real-world use, as was the case for me. With just about every single device we review we run them through AnTuTu, Geekbench 3, and finally 3DMark for graphics. With each test it ended up with fairly low scores compared to other current devices, so basing the performance on the benchmarks alone it wouldn't look as if the device was very capable of handling intensive use. However, as described above the phone performed just fine during my time with it. If you're interested in the scores you can check out the screenshots below.
Phone Calls & Network
As with any smartphone, one of the most important things if not the most important thing about the device should be how the calls and network perform when using the device. It is after all, a phone. When it comes to the network, I used the device with T-Mobile and the coverage in my area is just fine for the most part when it comes to voice. The only issue that arose for me personally here was when trying to use data on the network, as the Blackview Omega Pro does not support the 4G LTE bands that T-Mobile uses. This unfortunately limited me to using 3G when not connected to WiFi for data, which is quite a bit slower.
As for phone calls, T-Mobile's 3G network performs just fine and calls seem to come through nice and clear. The earpiece delivered a clear sound making it easy for me to hear people on the other end of the call, and the mic was able to pick up my voice just fine as well, only having an issue with one person that I talked to, mentioning that I sounded a little bit muffled. I also never had any issue keeping connected to the 3G network and didn't experience any dropped calls, so overall the call quality was a pretty great experience. With all of the things that smartphones are capable of these days, it was good to see that Blackview hasn't lost sight that phone calls and voice quality and performance are still an important factor to focus on.
With a 2400mAh battery inside I wasn't expecting the battery life to be very extensive on the Omega Pro, and while it was by no means earth shattering or anything to write home about, it was capable of lasting me through the day without any problems. I did however find that I was only able to get through a full day's worth of work and then had to immediately throw it on the charger afterward if I wanted to continue using it the rest of the evening, as it would usually end up at around 10-20% on average. I was able to get about 3-3 ½ hours of screen on time with it, which included mixed use of streaming music, occasional Facebook browsing, a little bit of gaming and shooting text messages back and forth. The battery was certainly capable of getting me through most of the day, however a full 24-hour day is not something the Omega Pro can deliver, so if you're used to extremely long battery life then you may want to consider picking up a battery pack along with this device as you'll most likely need it.
Sound quality on any device is an important factor to me personally as I tend to listen to a lot of music and play a lot of games, and audio is paramount to getting the most immersive and enjoyable experience out of a game. While the audio on the Omega Pro was decent most of the time, this was an area where it fell a little short for me as it sounded less clear than other products I had recently used or reviewed. Sound doesn't get too distorted when I turn up the volume which was a plus, but overall clarity was just not there. It doesn't help things that the phone is only equipped with a single speaker, not to mention its placement can cause the sound to be muffled depending on how you're either holding it or how you set it down.
Since the speaker is located on the back of the device, I was forced to set the phone face down when streaming music if wanted the best possible audio quality from it. While this wasn't really a major issue it quickly became an annoyance as I am used to just double tapping the display on my main device to wake the screen and manage the music, which I couldn't do here since I had to physically pick up the phone. It also became somewhat muffled when playing any game in landscape mode as my hand would rest over the speaker. This could be fixed a little bit by simply flipping the device around but it didn't help much. Overall the sound quality on the Omega Pro was average, but the experience could be better if the speaker was located elsewhere.
Software & UI
For the most part, the software on the Blackview Omega Pro looks and feels like stock Android. Blackview does have a slight touch of their own software inside and some parts of the user interface are different from what you might find on a Nexus device, but most everything else from the settings screen to the notification shade look just like any stock Android product save for some of the icons. The only place you'll notice where things look different is on the recents screen (which you have to long press the home button to get to) and that's basically it. As far as software goes, this is Android 5.1 Lollipop so it feels and functions no different than any other stock Lollipop device, albeit with the few touches from Blackview I mentioned earlier.
Just like with the Bluboo Xtouch, the Blackview Omega Pro features the Hotknot functionality which allows users to share files and media by touching the two displays together which I was surprised to find as the two phones are from different companies. The Omega Pro also features a three-finger gesture for taking screenshots, which I found to be extremely useful if enabled as it's much simpler than pressing the hardware keys as standard for screenshot images. You'll also find a handful of pre-installed apps from Blackview like Xender and the X launcher which is more of Blackview's UI skin as opposed to using the stock Lollipop UI. There's also a backup and restore app as well as a flashlight app, an FM radio, and a File Manager app, all which were preloaded by Blackview as part of their software experience, but other than that everything is pretty standard.
Despite having some less than spectacular performance in the sound and battery life departments, the camera quality on the Blackview Omega Pro was much better than I expected it to be. Color reproduction was pretty good with images never really looking too washed out or over/under exposed, and most of the time pictures came out looking pretty good. The camera sensor on board is a 13MP sensor but diving into the camera settings you can set the image quality to come out as 16MP or 18MP, which is the software side of things doing its magic with the images after the sensor is done doing its job. The camera app is nothing special in the UI department, but there is a good number of options for anyone who plans on taking pictures with this phone, with four easily accessible modes from the left edge including normal, panorama, live photo mode, and motion tracking mode.
By going into the camera settings you can access things like white balance and adjust the ISO if you need to let in more or less light, and there are a few other nifty features like zero shutter delay, anti-shake, and gesture shot which allows the camera to detect someone holding up a peace sign before it snaps off the image. There is also a menu you can access from the expandable panel that pops up from the bottom of the camera app, which holds a number of different filters you can place over your images before you take them including mono, sepia, negative, whiteboard, posterize, blackboard and a few others. When taking pictures the camera seemed to process them rather quickly allowing me to get back to another shot and there was almost no lag time between images. This made it much easier to get the shots I wanted without feeling like I might miss the moment I was trying to capture. Overall the camera experience was pretty good although it's quite obvious that it isn't the best mobile camera on the market, but it does deliver pretty good camera performance for coming in under $150. If you're a seasoned photographer this camera likely won't cut it for you, but for most it will do the job just fine and then some.
Pretty decent camera experience
Performance was great overall
UI is nice and clean and mostly stock Android which made it feel familiar and easy to use
Great build quality
Call quality was good
Physical buttons were nice and tactile when pressed
Battery life was average at best
Sound quality is hampered due to speaker placement
No 4G LTE support for T-Mobile
Soft keys felt less responsive than on screen navigation buttons would have been
Power button and volume rocker on the left side made hitting them less convenient
When it comes right down to it, the Blackview Omega Pro is a pretty good device for the cost. At just $149, you really don't have much to complain about as you're not shelling out a lot of money. Having said that there is a lot to love about the Omega Pro that would make almost anyone appreciate this as their daily driver. It has a great design and looks sleek, camera performance and image quality is pretty good, device performance is pretty good, and call quality had no issues. The software is even stock so it'll be simple to use for anyone who has ever owned or touched a stock Android device. The phone of course, does come with a few caveats like the sound quality and battery life, but those things can be dealt with on a daily basis. The sound is passable with a couple of workarounds, and the battery can be extended by picking up a battery pack which shouldn't be an issue for most thanks to all the money saved on this device cost.
Should you pick up the Omega Pro from Blackview?
That depends on a few things. The Omega Pro does not support 4G LTE from T-Mobile or other GSM carriers here in the U.S., so if you can forfeit that along with a lower quality of sound and battery life, then it's difficult to pass up what's on offer for just $149. If you want a higher performing phone with better graphics quality, better battery life, and top-notch sound, you'll need to look elsewhere and be prepared to spend a little more. In the end, the Blackview Omega Pro is a well-rounded phone with a small price tag that is quite suitable for everyday use.