Review: BLUBOO Edge Android Smartphone

January 18, 2017 - Written By Justin Diaz

Highlight: The BLUBOO Edge blends exceptional design with an extremely affordable cost.

BLUBOO may not be a name that most people in the U.S. are familiar with, and that’s ok as BLUBOO doesn’t generally sell phones in the U.S. That being said, it’s still possible to get your hands on devices from the Chinese brand and we have reviewed a number of them before. The latest that we’ve been able to get our hands on is the BLUBOO Edge which, very much resembles the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge in just about every way when it comes to the design aspect. Right off the bat, that seems to be a good thing for anyone who really enjoys the style of the Galaxy S7 Edge but doesn’t necessarily care for the price or the user interface. The BLUEBOO Edge, then, serves as a means to provide a style that consumers want without breaking the bank, something which is evident by the cost of the BLUBOO Edge as it comes in at around $142, which is a far cry from the price you’ll pay for the Galaxy S7 Edge. That being said, it isn’t always just about the design, and you’ll likely want to know how the BLUBOO Edge performs and functions on a daily basis, just as we were, as that’s a truly important factor in deciding on a phone that’s going to be your daily driver. The good news is that smartphones have come a long way and it’s no longer an immensely difficult or nearly impossible task to get a really good smartphone at a reasonably affordable price that doesn’t forfeit too much on the hardware and specification side of things. With that being said, let’s take a look at what the BLUBOO Edge has to offer and how it held up during our time of use.

Specs

When it comes to the specs, the BLUBOO Edge is looking pretty decent. It has a 5.5-inch display on board, with a resolution of 1280 x 720 which is HD. This is considerably less than many smartphones out there but there are certainly going to be some compromises when you have a phone at this cost. Moving on and the BLUBOO Edge also comes equipped with a MediaTek MTK6737 Quad-Core processor paired with a Mali-T720 GPU for the graphics processing, with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage, as well as a microSD card slot for expandable storage if more than 16GB is needed.

The phone is running with an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera that’s interpolated to 13-megapixels, while a front-facing camera resides at 5-megapixels and is interpolated to 8-megapixels. You’ll find a gravity sensor, a proximity sensor, a light sensor, and an accelerometer inside the device, as well as support for Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n. For connectivity to cellular networks, the BLUBOO Edge supports 2G GSM 850/900/1800/1900, 3G WCDMA 850/2100, and 4G FDD-LTE 800/1800/2100/2600. The BLUBOO Edge also carries a 2,600mAh non-removable battery and it runs on Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box.

In The Box
Like many Chinese smartphones BLUBOO packs in a little bit something extra with the Edge. Inside you’ll find the phone itself, as well as the standard wall adapter and USB charging cable, although the wall adapter is made for China so you won’t be able to use the one packaged in the box in the U.S., and will need to use its USB cable with a U.S.-compatible wall adapter. In addition to these items BLUBOO also packages a screen protector with the phone which, is already applied to the device so you don’t have to put it on yourself, and it comes with a case, which is more than what you’ll get with just about any other smartphone these days.

Hardware Design & Build

Th BLUBOO Edge may be a low-end smartphone in terms of cost and specifications used, but you would never know it by the outside of the device. It takes heavy inspiration from the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge right down to the home button with an integrated fingerprint sensor, as well as the curved-edge display. Putting the design similarities aside, the BLUBOO Edge is a pretty decent looking phone and it blends exceptional design with an extremely affordable cost. It uses a glass panel on the back with a steel frame that wraps all the way around the device with nice contoured edges and corners that make it comfortable when holding it even for extended periods of time. On the front you’ll find the home button/fingerprint sensor at the bottom, and the front-facing camera and ambient light sensors at the top. It also features extremely slim bezels on both sides of the screen which certainly add to the allure of the overall look that this phone carries, and it just goes to show that a stylish smartphone, something which was once reserved for those paying a higher premium, is now something which just about anyone is capable of getting their hands on.

On the bottom of the device you’ll find the single speaker that this phone has, along with the microUSB charging port and the 3.5mm audio port for plugging in headphones. On the top is where the SIM card slot is located and like any other smartphone which has a non-removable back you’ll need a SIM ejector tool to pop the slot out so you can insert the SIM into the phone. The up and down volume keys are situated on the left-hand side of the device while the power button is located on the right. Flipping things over to the back, BLUBOO has placed the rear-facing camera in the middle just below the top edge, and it protrudes a little bit just like it does on the Galaxy S7 Edge. The LED flash module is even located to the right of the camera sensor and there’s an integrated heart rate sensor so you can capture your heart rate at any point using the built-in app.

Display

The screen quality on the BLUBOO Edge is quite underwhelming on paper, which is to say the least a particular detail I found to be astounding when using it. While it’s certainly easy to tell that this device only has a 1280 x 720 resolution display during some points, at other times I found the screen to be quite crisp with color popping off the display rather vividly and almost forgot that I was only working with an HD display. The screen was bright enough to use in direct sunlight even without having to turn the brightness settings all the way up which was nice to see, and although black levels aren’t as deep as they would be on the Galaxy S7 Edge thanks to Samsung’s Super AMOLED panel technology, those not looking for the absolute best of the best won’t be disappointed by what they see in the BLUBOO Edge.

While screen clarity was decent enough, and there didn’t seem to be any issues with things like light bleed or burnt images, I did seem to have some trouble with response time every so often. This is due to the digitizer used and although it wasn’t happening every single time I went to interact with it, it was often enough that it was extremely noticeable and would cause me to have to attempt at tapping on the same thing two or even three times on more than one occasion before I ended up getting into the menus or apps that I was attempting to use. This was only a minor inconvenience but one which could make a bigger difference to some users and it unfortunately places doubt on whether or not it would get worse over time as the phone gets older. Other than this one particular issue, I didn’t have any other problems with the screen. Also an interesting point of note, is that even though this is called the BLUBOO Edge and it has a very similar design style to the Galaxy S7 Edge, the curved-edge screen is not as pronounced here, and the edges don’t actually function so the Edge part of the name is simply all about aesthetics. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the phone does look nice and this includes the use of the curved edges, but it could easily fool some consumers into thinking this was a function of the device if they don’t look too carefully.

Performance

With a MediaTek MTK6737 processor inside and only 2GB of RAM at its disposal, I wasn’t expecting any sort of miracle with the performance of this device, and although I did get better performance out of the phone than what I was expecting, it’s not hard to tell that there is a difference between the BLUBOO Edge and something that will cost even just $100 more. While the performance issues didn’t surface most of the time the phone was being used, I did see a noticeable lag once in a while that would cause the phone to just hang in a certain spot after touching an app icon or attempting to scroll through the settings menu. Since this only happened every so often this was again just a minor issue, but it’s one that made the phone feel a little less capable than it would have it weren’t an issue that was present at all. That being said, this is something that is unfortunately that is going to be a problem from time to time with phones in this price range.

The good news, though, is that gaming performance was mostly ok, and this is something that probably wouldn’t be expected if you noticed the lag problem first. Although it’s entirely possible that performance in such games as Modern Combat 5 could be attributed to the great optimization of the game’s software that was put in place by the development team, the phone also likely has at least something to do with how smooth things felt. It wasn’t as good of an experience as playing a game on a high-end device, but with a big 5.5-inch screen and a quad-core CPU inside, those looking to play games on a device like the BLUBOO Edge won’t be too disappointed with the results, if they’re even disappointed at all. Overall performance on the phone was decent and it felt above what I was expecting to get when I powered it on to use it for the first time.

Fingerprint Sensor

Fingerprint sensors are becoming increasingly more common these days and even phones below the price point of $200 can have one integrated into the device. While some phones place the fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone, BLUBOO has integrated it into the home button on the front, and while I personally prefer to have the fingerprint sensor on the back like on my Google Pixel, as it simply plays into the way I hold the phone, having the sensor on the front can also have its advantages if you’re constantly using the phone with both hands as the sensor is right where your thumbs will be. This made it easy to access the sensor and use it to unlock the device, and I had absolutely no issues setting up my fingerprint to be used. Surprisingly, I had almost no problems using it either, as the fingerprint sensor only missed one of my authorization attempts. It’s pretty accurate for an entry-level phone and perhaps the only complaint with it might be the speed at which it unlocks. While accuracy is certainly present here, the time it takes to unlock the device with the fingerprint sensor both from a sleeping screen and from the lock screen was just a little bit slower than it is on any other phone I’ve personally ever used that had this feature. That said, many consumers might not ever notice the slight decrease in unlock speed, and if you’re more concerned with the accuracy, then you’ll be happy with the results that BLUBOO has managed to achieve.

Wireless Connectivity

As this is an unlocked Chinese device, there are some networks which aren’t going to work. You can’t use it with Verizon or Sprint, but any GSM carrier service should work just fine, such as T-Mobile or AT&T. I personally use Project Fi, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to check out the call quality of the phone over the network, but the BLUBOO Edge does support both 2G and 3G networks for T-Mobile and AT&T, so if you have either of those carriers the phone should work just fine. The only downside is that network speeds will be limited to 3G at a maximum as the 4G LTE bands that the Edge supports are not the same ones used in the U.S. You can find all of the network connectivity support below.
2G: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
3G: 850/900/1900/2100
4G LTE: 800/1800/2100/2600

Sound Quality

The BLUBOO Edge has one single speaker and it’s located on the bottom of the device. This immediately led me to think that I wasn’t going to have a pleasant experience with audio on this device for every situation, such as playing games, but this actually didn’t turn out to be much of an issue for me as the speaker is placed to the right of the charging port so it was not as easy to cover up with the palm of my hand when turning the phone to the side to play games or hold the device when watching videos. The sound was a little bit better when listening to music as the phone would lay flat either on the face or on its back and the speaker remains uncovered and unimpeded. There shouldn’t be any misconceptions, though. The BLUBOO Edge is still an entry-level device and there’s only so much you’re going to be able to get out of a phone like this when it comes to quality. The sound on the BLUBOO Edge is going to feel lacking if you’re an audiophile, however, the sound will be more than passable for anyone who just wants something that works and sounds decent.

Benchmarks
While the BLUBOO Edge isn’t the most powerful smartphone out on the market it’s more than capable of handling your everyday tasks and it got us through the day with ease. We ran it through the same benchmarks that we put every device through which is 3D Mark, Geekbench 4, and AnTuTu. It received some pretty low scores which suggests that the BLUBOO Edge is a phone that can’t handle things like multitasking, but it’s also important to remember that benchmarks are just benchmarks and aren’t exactly what you will get with real-world use. You can see the results of each benchmark in the screenshots below.

Battery Life
With a 2600mAh battery inside and a 5.5-inch display, I thought that the battery was going to last little bit less time than what I got out of it. Of course, it certainly helped to have a screen that was only HD resolution. If this was a 5.5-inch display that had Full HD or Quad HD resolution the battery may very well have lasted even less time. During my time of use with this phone I was getting just over 4 hours of screen on time, although I didn’t generally use the phone for four straight hours, so the battery was easily able to last me through the day. I never once had to charge it until I was ready to go to sleep which was a big plus. It’s also important to note that I don’t typically turn my screen brightness all the way up as it usually sits at about 50% or less, and if you’re someone who puts their brightness all the way to the top than your mileage may vary here.

Software

The software experience here is really not a whole lot different from a lot of other Chinese smartphones out there. The user interface appears very similar to other devices we’ve reviewed in the past, and like many of the Android devices that come out of China the BLUBOO Edge doesn’t have an app drawer so everything is just laid out for you on additional home screens as you install more applications. This might not be to everyone’s liking, but the good news is that the BLUBOO Edge does come with the Play Store pre-installed, so you can simply install a third-party home launcher and have the app drawer back if you prefer, as well as a fair bit of customization to go with it. In regards to the rest of the software, the settings menu looks fairly close to stock.

There are some additional software features included here that you won’t find as standard on many Android smartphones. BLUBOO has included a Turbo Download option which can be enabled from the settings, and while you can increasingly find this in more and more Chinese devices as well as some of Samsung’s own smartphones and tablets, it’s not a common feature that all brands are using, although it probably should be. One feature which is easy to miss if you’re not looking for it is the ability to swipe right on the main homescreen page, and after doing so you’ll be taken to a screen that shows your most commonly used applications. There are also some shortcut buttons to a few different services, like Bank, Bus Stop, Food, and Discount which basically use your location to find those particular places nearby, and below these is a news feed with links to news articles for various topics from business, to technology, to sports, to world.

Camera

Armed with an 8-megapixel camera on the back, the BLUBOO Edge actually pushes out some pretty decent photos. This is helped in part due to the software that BLUBOO is using for the camera to push the photos to 13-megapixel quality and although it isn’t going to be a drastic change, it certainly helps some of the pictures come out with better quality than they would have without it. That being said the camera does have its drawbacks. The quality of images is absolutely terrible in lower light situations. Not only are the pictures grainy, but it’s harder to make out smaller details, this seemed to be more apparent with low-light situations inside, though, and less of an issue outside when it was starting to get dark. The good thing is that in the right light the pictures can come out decent especially considering the cost of this phone. Another unfortunate aspect however is that the shutter is much slower at completing the picture after tapping on the shutter button than I’d like. If you’re in a situation where you need to get the right shot and get it quickly, there’s no guaranteeing that you won’t miss the shot you want or need due to the shutter, and that’s a shame for the times that the images would actually come out pretty good for the hardware that’s been used here.

The software experience within the camera app is about the same as many of the other Chinese smartphones that run Android. You have a few additional camera modes alongside some basic camera options and settings. There are three actual camera modes including face beauty detection, your standard camera mode, and panorama. If you tap on the settings button you’ll find a slew of other options, like the color effect you can apply to your pictures before they’re taken, and you can change it so that your photos come out with a mono, sepia, negative, blackboard, or aqua effect. You can also modify things like the exposure and white balance, and you can alter the scene mode with options for auto, night, sunset, party, portrait, landscape, night portrait, theatre, beach, and others. Overall the camera software experience isn’t going to wow you but it has what you need to grab a decent photo.

The Good

Good battery life

Screen clarity was decent

Great looking hardware design

Decent picture quality overall

Accurate fingerprint sensor

The Bad

Awful low-light picture quality

Some issues with lag

Inconsistent accuracy with the digitizer

No 4G in the U.S.

Conclusion

When it comes down to it you have a few options when looking for a new smartphone, and you’re usually left trying to decide whether to compromise on quality or style or both, if it means that you’ll be able to save some money. While the BLUBOO Edge does seem to make some sacrifices here and there, none of these were so drastic that it tainted the entire experience of using the phone.

Should you buy the BLUBOO Edge?

That depends on what you want out of a device. If you most certainly need to have 4G LTE network speeds, then this is not the phone for you. If you don’t mind not having support for 4G, there are a handful of likeable qualities about the BLUBOO Edge, such as the great design, the camera, the audio quality, and the battery life, and it won’t cost you a whole lot to grab one as they’re available for around $142.

Buy the BLUBOO Edge