Rugged usually means poor performance with a premium tacked on for a big rubber case. The Black BV8000 Pro costs just $250, has good performance, massive battery life, and took a beating in our durability tests.
Deliberate or not, modern smartphones are getting more fragile every year. They’re so thin you can bend them just by sitting down. Edge to edge glass screens make even the smallest of drops fatal. If you’re sick of such precious devices, consider something rugged instead, specifically designed to take a beating. Blackview has just the one for you: the BV8000 Pro, for a not unreasonable sum of $250. Is it worth it? Read on to find out, and enter to win a new Blackview BV8000 Pro!
Ruggedised phones aren’t like those you’ll find on the high street, or something you pull out down the pub to show off to your mates. They’re designed for function over form. Most people would turn their nose up and call the design ugly. This isn’t therefore, a mass market device.
However, for some of us, the ruggedised look is actually quite appealing. I also find myself increasingly drawn toward more durable devices, instead of investing an absurd of money in the latest flagship device, only to then cover it in the most horrible looking rubberised case I can find anyway, and agonise over the slightest of scratches devaluing it.
I don’t need really a phone that can withstand being flung into a pool – I can’t remember the last time I went swimming, and I stay well away from the sea. I’m not likely to fling it off a second storey balcony. I might drop it in a raised bed or sand pit, but that’s about the extent of it. Still, I love the rugged look of the Blackview BV8000 Pro, and I’m comforted by the fact it’s unlikely to break no matter what I throw at it (or what I throw it at).
The BV8000 Pro is chunky, and predominantly made of a tough rubbery plastic. Two strips of metal cover the left and right sides, and another metal plate sits on the back, covering the dual nano-SIM and micro-SD tray. They supply a small + screwdriver to open that. A Torx screwdriver can be used to remove everything else, should the need arise, though that’s not included.
A thick 1cm or so of bezel surrounds the 5″ screen, and there’s various textures thoughout. It’s a bit all over the place with no single defining characteristic, but aesthetically, it works for me.
Oddly, the ports aren’t covered by any rubber flaps. While Blackview might have been able to prevent water getting further into the device through the ports, it does mean you’ll need to thoroughly dry the charging port before attempting to charge again.
Blackview have also added a couple of useful buttons too for outdoorsy types. In addition to the usual volume rocker and power buttons, you’ll find a dedicated camera button, and well as a configurable PTT/SOS alarm button.
Another quirky design element: the fingerprint sensor is on the right hand edge of the phone, midway between the power and camera button. It takes some getting used to, but it feels a lot more natural than putting it on the back of the phone.
My only minor gripe with the overall design is that the volume buttons aren’t as tight as they could be, and rattle ever so slightly.
Blackview BV8000 Pro Specifications
- 5″ Full HD screen, Gorilla glass 3
- MTK6757 Octacore CPU
- 6 GB RAM
- 64 GB storage, expandable via micro-SD
- 16 MP rear camera, 8MP front camera
- 4180 mAh battery
- USB-C fast charging
- Android 7.0, custom skin
- Dual nano-SIM slots
- Dimensions: 15.3 x 8 x 1.26 cm
- Weight: 239 g
- NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, Wireless up to AC, 4G LTE (U.S. readers should check your network frequencies)
As well as the standard charger with USB-C cable, you’ll find an OTG cable adaptor, a USB-C to micro-USB adaptor, and a spare screen protector (it comes with one already installed, though ours had a small air bubble in the top right).
One notable omission is the lack of wireless charging. Given the number of other features which feel a bit like you’ve got the entire kitchen sink here, I can only assume there’s a durability reason why wireless charging wasn’t included too.
Performance Testing and Field Use
Unlike the Blackview A9 Pro I tested out last month, the BV8000 Pro always felt snappy, even using the default skin. Text entry was sharp, and apps loaded and responded well. Antutu scored the device at around 65000, while Geekbench weighed in at 800 single core CPU, 3850 multicore, and 2800 GPU compute. These are all good numbers, but not quite as good as the Doogee Mix (which was $50 cheaper) – on paper at least. Anecdotally, the interface on the Doogee Mix felt a lot slower than this.
It’s clear there’s been few compromises made on overall performance in order to justify the ruggedisation.
The side-mounted fingerprint sensor also felt responsive, with a very low rate of recognition failure.
Curiously, a single press on the Push-To-Talk (PTT) button attempts to launch an app that isn’t included out of the box. Apparently compatible with a range of PTT apps, the official video guides to previous models refer to an app called Zello. It’s a shame we can’t configure it to something more common, like WeChat or Discord, but I suppose as long as you all agree to use Zello, it might work for you. A single button to send a voice message to a favorite contact would be cool. As it is, it’s not really walkie-talkie feature given its reliance on mobile data. You’re still going to want a pair of actual walkie talkies if you’re out in woods and can’t get a cell signal.
There’s some other semi-useful apps that come pre-installed, like an outdoor toolkit that uses various sensors, an earthquake warning system, and an SOS alarm that’s activated by holding down the dedicated PTT button. Despite the number of pre-installed apps, it doesn’t feel bloated.
Battery Life and Charging
Using the supplied USB-C charging adaptor – 18w, or 9v 2a – the fastest we could get was about 4 hours from 0 to 100% charged (although it only took an hour to get to 40%). That sounds slow, but bear in mind, it’s a overly large 4180 mAh battery that we’re filling up here.
To test out the discharge, we ran a full brightness, full volume streaming video test over Wi-Fi. It lasted an impressive 8.5 hours. In practical use, the device is probably going to last you the whole weekend camping trip. I should also note, the speakers are very loud, probably because they’re also designed to act as an emergency signal.
Will It Blend? (Just Kidding)
But how rugged is the BV8000 Pro exactly? We put that to the test, but first, I should note: I really don’t enjoy these kinding testing procedures. Intentionally damaging an expensive gadget is absolutely not something I condone. I’ve done this because as a reviewer, if a company claims their device is rugged, I’m here to confirm or deny that claim. Please don’t dignify the idiots on YouTube who buy a brand new high end handset then proceed to destroy it because lol whatever. It’s a disgusting waste of our natural resources.
With that in mind, let’s see just how rugged the BV8000 Pro is. Text descriptions of these tests are fairly boring though, if you haven’t already, scroll up to watch them in the review video in glorious slow motion.
The first number in the IP68 rating, 6, means “dust tight”. Dust should not be able to enter the device at all, nor interfere with its operation. That’s the highest level of dust protection you can get. I tested this by dumping a bucket of fine dry soil and stones over it.
This is however arguably the easiest test. Most modern smartphones should be able to withstand this, and the only real issues arise when trying to clean it afterwards – you’d likely find particles have made their way into the speaker grills and various ports, then you’d create water damage when trying to wash those out.
The second number in an IP rating, 8 in this case, is for liquids. A rating of 8 should be able to withstand depths of past 1m for around 30 minutes. The only level higher than 8 is the ability to withstand a very high pressure stream, like a jet washer.
I don’t have anything particularly deep to test it, but I did throw into a water tank multiple times, at force, and finally at a height of about 2m. When Kannon tried this on the previous Blackview BV7000, he found a small amount of water made its way behind the screen, though with no apparent loss of function.
It’s worth noting that an IP68 rating isn’t actually uncommon in many smartphones, either. The Samsung Galaxy S8 is IP68 rated, for instance, while the iPhone 7 is IP67 rated, meaning it should still withstand shallow water for 30 minutes, just not deeper. However, those claims are usually quite optimistic, and they won’t stand up to repeating batterings or in combination with other factors (like being dropped from height into a pool). The speakers in particular will suffer lasting damage with only a small amount of water.
The results? Apart from muffled speaker sounds until it dried (and was then perfectly fine), nothing at all. There was no screen damage, no delamination, and no lasting audio degradation.
Finally, I tried a drop test, as this was the most likely to do serious damage. Blackview themselves claimed to have tested to 30 meters, at which point the power button became stuck, but was easily repaired. I’m not going quite as far, but from the upstairs window onto the slate patio sounded quite reasonable, at a high of about 5m.
After a few drops, everything seemed fine apart from superficial scuffing of the plastic, so I kept going. After some more forceful drops (screen side toward the paving), there was no noticeable screen damage, but ours also developed a power button issue at some point. On closer inspection, it appeared the metal surrounding the power button had forced it to stay pressed, causing the phone to constantly restart. We managed to fix it by removing the plate (using a Torx T5 bit, not included), and hammering the plate a little to remove the dent. Though functional, the tactile “clickiness” never returned to the button, so there was likely some damage to the internal microswitch.
Still, it was actually working… so I decided to keep going. As a bonus test, I drove my little van over it, on a gravel drive. Back and forth, quite a few times. This kind of extreme pressure is the most likely to kill a phone, particularly when combined with sharp gravel underneath.
This time, we caused fairly fairly irreparable damage in the form of large structural dent on one side of the phone, and a very small chip on one side of the screen.
However, everything did appear to still be functional, and the visible screen area was unharmed.
I’m honestly impressed with how well it held up. Dust and water is relatively easy to withstand, but the kind of drop test and vehicular carnage we subjected it to would have left any flagship handset shattered and unusable after a single drop.
— Rick C (@tacalert1) July 14, 2017
Should You Buy the Blackview BV8000 Pro?
If you’re sick of having to encase your $800 smartphone in a thick rubber skin anyway, it might be worth considering something more durable in the first place.
Of course, you should be treating everything you own with a reasonable amount of care, but sometimes accidents just happen. Maybe you’re prone to dropping your phone in the toilet, or maybe you work outdoors in the rain a lot. Maybe you’re just really clumsy. Either way, a rugged phone might be for you, and right now, the Blackview BV8000 Pro is a great choice at a reasonable price.