Bluboo is one of the more lesser-known manufacturers coming out of China. But that doesn't mean that they aren't putting together some fantastic smartphones. We recently took a look at the Bluboo Maya and the Bluboo X9, both of which were fantastic, low-cost smartphones. But the Bluboo Maya Max is a much different animal. It's much larger at 6-inches, and sports an aluminum build, all for under $200. Is that enough to make the Bluboo Maya Max a worthy buy for someone looking to upgrade to a fairly large smartphone? Let's find out in our full review.
Bluboo has opted to use a 6-inch 720x1280 resolution JDI IPS panel on the Maya Max. A bit low as far as resolution goes, but it will lead to some great battery life. Speaking of which, there is a 4200mAh battery inside which is non-removable. All of this is powered by the MediaTek MT6750. That's an octa-core chip featuring four 1.5GHz Cortex-A53 cores and four 1GHz Cortex-A53 cores. That is paired with the Mali-T860 GPU running at 400MHz, and 3GB of RAM. There is 32GB of storage available inside, and that is complimented by a micro SD card slot that is included in the SIM card tray. Dimensions of the Bluboo Maya Max are 81.8 x 162.2 x 9mm and it is available in gold or silver.
For optics, we have a 13-megapixel Sony IMX214 sensor on the back. This is a CMOS sensor, and can shoot in up to 1080p at 30 frames per second). Features included with this camera are autofocus, continuous shooting, digital zoom, geotagging, panorama, HDR, touch focus, face detection, white balance settings, ISO settings, Exposure compensation, self-timer and scene mode. The front-facing camera is a 8-megapixel sensor, which can record video in 720p at 30 frames per second.
Some of the sensors included here are proximity, light, accelerometer, and fingerprint (on the back). For location tracking, the Maya Max uses A-GPS and GPS. WiFi includes 802.11 b/g/n, with Bluetooth 4.0 included. There is a headphone jack, and there is a USB Type-C port for charging. However there is no NFC included. The following are the supported bands:
GSM 850, 900, 1800, 1900
CDMA 850, 2100
LTE 800, 1800, 2100, 2600
In the Box
Inside the box, Bluboo has packed the Maya Max right on top. It was face down, so the first thing I saw when I opened the box was the beautiful gold aluminum back. Below the phone sits the wall charger, USB Type-C to Type-A cable, some paperwork and a silicon case. Something you don't see everyday with smartphones. There are no headphones included in the box, but there is a SIM ejection tool, since the back isn't removable on the Maya Max, unlike the Maya. The SIM card tray is on the side of the device.
There's a lot to like when it comes to hardware on the Bluboo Maya Max. It's a big smartphone, and it is fairly heavy, but it feels nice and solid in the hand. The backside is brushed metal - and this is real metal, not plastic made to look metal - with the sides also being metal and the front being glass. It makes for a really nice looking smartphone, but that is also why the Maya Max seems to be a bit on the heavy side. One of the surprising changes that Bluboo made here, compared to its smaller brother the Maya, is the fact that it has a USB Type-C port, instead of a micro USB port. We're not complaining, as it's great to see USB-C getting more and more adoption. The bottom of the phone is where you'll find the speaker and microphone as well. Bluboo did keep a headphone jack, which is located at the top of the device.
Hardware buttons are located on the right side of the device. The power button is below the volume buttons. Now on a phone this large, button placement is key. Luckily, Bluboo did not put the buttons to high up on the side of the device. So you are able to still use them without needing to reposition your hand on the device. The left side houses that SIM card tray as well as a slider. Now this isn't an alert slider like on the OnePlus 2 and OnePlus 3. It simply mutes the phone, on paper it sounds like it does the same thing, but it doesn't. It would be nice to have the ability to change what this slider does, though.
With a 6-inch display, the Maya Max actually feels a bit small. And why is that? That's due to the small bezels all around the display. The top and bottom bezels are pretty small, of course having software buttons will help with that. And the left and right bezels are almost non-existent. Also nice to see here. Now the one issue that we have with the build on the Maya Max is the camera. It protrudes just a little bit. And as thick as this device is, you'd think that Bluboo could make it flush with the back of the device. This is going to cause some to worry about the camera getting scratched. However, during our time with the phone, it has not gotten scratched at all.
Many of you likely cringed when you read the specs of the Maya Max to find out that it sports just a 720p display. On smaller smartphones, like the Xperia X Compact, or even something closer to 5-inches, it would be okay. And that's because the pixel density would still be pretty high. But on a phone with a 6-inch display, the pixel density is pretty low, unfortunately.
That's not where the issues with the display end, though. There seems to be an issue with the digitizer here. It's not the fact that it doesn't recognize when you touch the device, it's where you touch the device. We've found during the review process, that you often times need to press slightly above the button you are looking to press. Making it tough to do things, like favoriting a tweet, hitting keys on the keyboard, etc. It does take a little while to get used to, although that's something that shouldn't be happening anyways.
There's no doubt that this display is not the best looking display out there, but it is pretty impressive when you think about the resolution. You don't actually see any pixels on the display, which is pretty nice to see. Additionally the panel does get pretty bright. This is great for using the device outdoors, as some smartphones are not visible under direct sunlight, but the Maya Max is more than visible. It doesn't get as dim as we'd like, so even in the dark, the display is still quite bright.
The MediaTek MT6750 is no Snapdragon 820 or even MediaTek Helio X20, but it's no slouch either. Sporting four 1.5GHz cores and four 1.0GHz cores, it's using the big.LITTLE architecture to give everyone some amazing battery life, and some great processing power. The MT6750 can feel a bit slow at times, and that's all due to the fact that it maxes out at 1.5GHz, but it's still able to handle just about everything that you throw at it.
When it comes to gameplay, the MT6750 and Mali-T860 GPU perform pretty well together. It's definitely a mid-range experience, which is what was expected anyways. But it's more than capable of playing games, even those that are a bit more graphic intensive. Although you may see some slowdowns there. With the 3GB of RAM that's included in the Maya Max, there's plenty of RAM for keeping apps open in the background, without the system needing to redraw them when you go back to them. Which is also a good thing. While 4GB of RAM would have been preferred, 3GB is still plenty with Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
Bluboo has the fingerprint sensor on the back of the device here, just below the camera. And that's the issue. It's just below the camera which means it's pretty far up on the back of the device - which is a pretty large device as it is. Making it a bit tough to be able to pick up the phone and unlock it with the fingerprint sensor. It's possible, but it can take a bit of getting used to and repositioning how you hold the phone.
More important than the placement of the fingerprint sensor is how accurate it is, and how fast it is. Its accuracy is pretty decent. There were a few times where it didn't recognize my finger, but that wasn't too often. The speed was decent. It wasn't as fast as say the Galaxy S7 or Nexus 6P, but then again you're also paying a whole lot more for those smartphones than the Maya Max. It's usable, for sure. It's also important to note here that this is running Marshmallow. That means that the fingerprint sensor is supported for doing things like logging into apps and authorizing payments for apps and games in Google Play - unfortunately there is no NFC included, which means no Android Pay.
Phone Calls & Network
As you could likely tell from the bands listed in the specs section, the Bluboo Maya Max will not work on Sprint or Verizon and is pretty limited on AT&T and T-Mobile. It will support 2G/EDGE and some 3G networks, but as for 4G LTE, you're out of luck. Having said that, we did still use the device on T-Mobile's network. We did indeed get 2G only, which was a bit sad - considering how slow 2G is in today's world. But it worked just fine. Phone calls were pretty good as well. No dropped calls on our end. But remember that there is no VoLTE, HD Voice or Advanced Calling, as all of that is done through the carrier, and this is not a carrier-branded smartphone.
The Bluboo Maya Max performed pretty well in its benchmarks. Obviously, it didn't score anything similar to the Galaxy S7, Meizu MX6 or anything else that's a flagship smartphone. But it did score relatively similar to the Moto G4 Play and other mid-rangers. In 3D Mark, it scored 384, which is pretty low, but still usable for playing games. With Geekbench 4, it scored 600 in single-core and 2371 in multi-core. With AnTuTu, it scored 42,154, which was low enough to put it at the very bottom of the rankings (important to remember that most of the devices in the rankings are flagships like the Xiaomi Mi 4S, LG V10, Nexus 6 and others. You can see the complete results from each benchmark in the gallery below.
With a 4200mAh battery inside, battery life expectations were pretty high. And the Bluboo Maya Max definitely lived up to those expectations. We were unable to kill the battery in one day. It typically took two full days or more. It's pretty incredible. On PC Mark, it scored the second highest time we've ever seen. The only other one to score a higher time was the Oukitel K6000 Pro, at 15 hours and 37 minutes. While the Bluboo Maya Max scored 13 hours and 9 minutes.
That's pretty impressive, but what about daily usage? Well, you could likely get at least 6 hours of on-screen time in a single cycle. This includes watching YouTube, playing games, and doing the usual browsing on Twitter and such. It's pretty impressive to say the least. Definitely expected though, given the large battery and the low-resolution display as well as the low-powered processor inside.
There is quick charge here, it's just not Qualcomm's Quick Charge. Which means it'll charge quicker than a conventional charger would charge it. But it's still a bit slow in our experience. It took quite a while to charge up from around 15%. Of course, this is a much larger battery so that does need to be taken into account here. But if you charge it overnight, then you should be fine, and have a full battery when you wake up in the morning. Especially since you likely won't be almost empty when you go to bed each night.
As mentioned already, the Bluboo Maya Max is running on Android 6.0 Marshmallow and has the May 1st, 2016 security patch. It is a bit behind, in regards to security patches, but it does patch the majority of the flaws found in Android 6.0, which is definitely good. This could also be indicative of how often Bluboo will update the Maya Max, unfortunately. If you're looking for constant updates, you probably won't get them with the Maya Max.
Bluboo is using a mostly stock appearance on the Maya Max here. Which is similar to their other smartphones. The one major difference here is in the launcher. There's no app drawer, so all of your apps are on your home screen. Something that is very popular in Asia, and where the Maya Max is only sold in Asia, it makes sense as to why this is there. Of course, if you do opt to bring the Maya Max over to Europe or even the US, you can get an app drawer by installing a third-party launcher like Action Launcher, Nova Launcher or one of the many others that are available. Given the large screen, we would have expected to be able to fit more apps on each screen. As it sits, the only configuration is 4x5, allowing just twenty apps per page. And if you install a lot of apps, then you're going to have a ton of pages on your Maya Max.
The notification shade is very much like stock Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The only change is the addition of a couple of tiles. Which include the audio profiles and hotknot tiles. Otherwise, it'll be just like using a Nexus. There's nothing else that's different from stock Android. Something that may be a bit surprising, considering this phone hails out of China - a land where many smartphones are skinned heavily to look like iOS - but it's definitely appreciated. With the MediaTek MT6750 processor and 3GB of RAM, Android runs pretty smoothly on the Maya Max. Part of that is likely due to the fact that Google has been making Android less and less resource intensive. Allowing smartphones with lower specs to still run nice and smooth. Of course, 3GB of RAM is a nice addition, especially for those that use a lot of apps daily.
Sony's IMX214 sensor is here on the backside of the Maya Max for taking pictures, and it's decent. It's nothing to brag about really, but it is good enough to grab those shots you want to take. The camera app itself is not stock Android, but it is still pretty minimal. There are just three modes here, your regular automatic mode, picture-in-picture and the panorama mode. By default, the camera will use all 13-megapixels in a 4:3 aspect ratio. If you want something a bit more wide-screen, or 16:9, you'll have to drop to 12-megapixels, which still isn't that bad really. All of the pictures we took in this review are in a 4:3 aspect ratio, using the full 13-megapixels.
Another interesting default setting is the GPS Location, it's set to off. This is nice for those that don't want the camera to add your GPS all the time, and if you do want it to, you can easily flip the switch back on. There are different scenes available for the camera, as well as white balance adjustments. There's still no manual mode, unfortunately. That's something that would definitely make camera enthusiasts pretty happy. We do have HDR though, but no Auto-HDR. HDR is a great feature to have on, but just remember that it is going to take a bit longer to actually snap the picture.
Speaking of pictures, the Maya Max actually takes some decent ones. They aren't mind-blowing or anything, but the camera will definitely get the job done. If you're looking to capture something that's moving, the Maya Max is not the one you'll want to use. It doesn't have a super fast shutter, it's still fairly fast, but not fast enough. Given the right lighting though, the Maya Max can definitely provide some great looking photos. I took a few at BD's Mongolian BBQ last week, and the lighting was okay, not that great, but the pictures did come out pretty decent. There's one, in the Flickr gallery below, at the table where there was a light in front of me and you can see that it blew out the background a tiny bit, but still came out pretty good. There is some noise in there though, unfortunately, but that's going to be a bit unavoidable.
Slider (it doesn't appear to really work all that well)
The Bluboo Maya Max is a big phone. A really big phone. We've seen some that are bigger - Lenovo has a couple 7-inch smartphones, although those should be called tablets - but the Maya Max is probably one of the better big phones, that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Their are some issues with the Maya Max, like the touchscreen issues we outlined earlier, and the fact that the battery does indeed take a long time to charge. But that battery does last quite a long time. Something that many big phones like the Maya Max have in common - and a big reason why a lot of people love these bigger smartphones.
Should you buy the Bluboo Maya Max?
If you're in Asia or even Europe, the Maya Max is a great smartphone to pick up. Especially if you're looking for a large smartphone running Android Marshmallow. Just keep in mind that it is not a high-end smartphone, even if the aluminum build makes you think it is. So you aren't going to have that amazing power that something like the Galaxy S7, LG G5 or HTC 10 will have. And you may have issues with the display, like we did on our review unit (hopefully that is only on our unit and not every unit). Nonetheless, this is a great smartphone to pick up. Having the larger display for games is definitely nice.