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For the price, you could certainly do worse than the Blackview S8. If you're looking for a solid phone that won't break the bank, this is one to have on your short list.
What if we told you that there was a phone out there that promised Galaxy features at a price tag that’s a fraction of the size? It sounds too good to be true, but that’s exactly what the Blackview S8 promises. It comes with a similarly-sized screen, good enough hardware, and all the other goodies you’d expect – but it costs around $160.
Does it all come together to create a smartphone that’s worth buying, or does the low cost equate to cutting corners? Read the review to find out.
- Color: Black, blue, and gold
- Price: $157
- Dimensions: 6.06 x 2.83 x 0.33 inches
- Weight: 191g
- Processor: MTK6750T 1.5GHz Octa Core
- RAM: 4GB
- Storage: 64GB (expandable with microSD slot)
- Screen: 5.7 inch/1440 x 720
- Cameras: Dual Rear Cameras + Dual Front Camera (Rear: 13.0MP + 0.3MP, Front: 8PM + 0.3MP)
- Battery: 3180mAh
- Operating System: Android 7.0
- Extras: Dual sim container supports both micro and nano cards
A big thing you need to make sure of is that your network will work with this phone. It’s unlocked for worldwide usage, but you do need to make sure the bands your company uses are available.
For example, I have AT&T, and the only supported option is on the 2G spectrum, and there’s no signal for that spectrum at my home. That means I can only connect to Wi-Fi. You’ll need to check your carrier’s coverage maps to see if you’ll be able to get signal where you are.
Here are the cellular bands supported by the Blackview S8:
- 2G: GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz
- 3G: WCDMA 900/2100MHz
- 4G: FDD-LTE 800/900/1800/2100/2600MHz
In The Box
In spite of being an incredibly cheap phone, Blackview manages to really step things up in terms of what comes in the box. First and foremost, there’s the phone itself. From there, you’ll find the USB-C charging cable and the power brick (you’ll need to choose your location when you buy to make sure you get the correct adapter).
Just about every adapter you could ever need is included — there’s one for USB-C to micro USB, USB-C to standard USB, and USB-C to 3.5mm (as there’s no headphone jack built-in). If there’s something you want to plug into your S8, you should be able to do it.
Taking the value a step further, there’s actually a basic silicone case included in the box along with a screen protector. Blackview even included a little ring that helps you hold the phone or keep it propped up. When you spend upwards of $800 on a phone, you don’t even expect to get that many accessories!
First, let’s take a look at the physical design of the device itself. As we mentioned above, the screen is 5.7-inches, and it features a nearly edge-to-edge design with an 18:9 aspect ratio. There’s very little bezel around the screen.
On the left and right, it goes just short of the edge. On the top, there’s a bit of area without screen to make room for the dual selfie cameras, the speaker, and the front-facing flash. There’s also room on the bottom of the phone to keep things looking symmetrical. In all, the device has a 90% screen to body ratio, so you’re go be looking at mostly screen all the time.
While we’re on the subject of speakers, the main speakers are situated on the bottom of the phone right next to USB-C port. Sound quality is decent, and comparable to other mid-range smartphones. It won’t blow you away, but realistically, what smartphone speakers actually impress?
There are no buttons on the front of the device, which seems to be the way most smartphones are going. A simple swipe up from the bottom of the screen reveals the back and home buttons. Coming from the iPhone 7 as my daily device, this was a bit of an adjustment for me, but once I got used to it, it became second nature.
Moving onto the back of the phone, you’ll find the dual 13MP cameras placed vertically on the top, with the flash flanking them. Right below that is the fingerprint sensor, which worked extremely well in our testing. I found that placing my finger on the back of the phone came naturally for me, and required almost no adjustment.
The bottom of the phone is pretty much empty, save for the Blackview logo.
The volume and power buttons are location on the right side of the device, and left side is empty. The top of the phone is where you’ll find the sim slot, which supports both dual and nano sims. The micro-SD card occupies one of these SIM slots however, so you won’t be able to use them simultaneously.
From a hardware perspective, nothing about the Blackview S8 really stands out, but that doesn’t make it any less of a good-looking phone. Everything feels solid and well-built, and it has all the key design elements you’d expect from a solid Android smartphone. To put it simply, it doesn’t look or feel like a phone that only costs $160, but that’s just what it is!
To test the performance of the phone, we generally look at three things: actually using the phone, Geekbench, and AnTuTu. The benchmark software lets us get a relative feel of how the device performs in a variety of situations. But at the end of the day, those numbers only tell part of the story, and that’s why we put every phone through its paces in normal usage situations.
First, AnTuTu gives the Blackview S8 a 40925. Here’s the breakdown for individual categories:
- 3D: 6633
- UX: 16025
- CPU: 14099
- RAM: 4168
To put that score into perspective, some other popular phones have the following scores:
- iPhone 8: 212175
- OnePlus 5: 181047
- Samsung Note 8: 178079
- Sony Xperia XZ Premium: 170641
- Galaxy S8: 205284
Obviously, those phones are quite a bit more expensive than the S8, but it gives you an idea of the difference in power between this and some of the most popular “mainstream” phones out there.
Over on the Geekbench side, the Single-Core score is 611, and the Multi-Core score is 2619. That’s right where we’d expect the numbers to be for a budget smartphone.
To help interpret those numbers, the results are on par with the Asus Nexus 7 and the Samsung Galaxy S5 in single-core performance, and a Samsung Galaxy S5 Plus in terms of multi-core speed. Basically, you’re looking at the same level of processing power as a top-of-the-line phone from 3 or 4 years ago, which isn’t bad for the price.
Now, these numbers don’t necessarily mean it runs at the same speed as a phone from 3 years ago, because it does come with more RAM, and the silky-smooth performance of Android 7.0. Processor speed certainly helps dictate how fast a phone runs, but it’s far from the only factor.
In terms of using the phone on a day-to-day basis, I found that the Blackview S8 performs quite well. For the most part, apps opened quickly, and once they were open, they ran smoothly. There were a couple of instances where things took a few seconds longer to load than I might have expected, but it was never a long enough wait that I felt like the phone was hanging up or needing a restart.
However, the camera does take a little too long to load for my liking. If something happens and you only have a few seconds to capture the moment, this might not be the phone you want to have in your pocket, because the chance may well be over by the time it loads up. This is a bit of disappointment, but it’s not an uncommon place for cheaper phones to experience slowdown. The high-quality sensors push that fairly limited processor to the limit.
As for gaming, the latest 3D games most definitely chug along in terms of framerate, with some seeing drops that are borderline unplayable at times. Your more basic puzzle games run flawlessly, but if you’re looking for a phone that can be your catch-all mobile gaming device, you’re probably going to need to spend a bit more on high-end phone.
The Blackview S8 is running Android 7.0 with a custom skin. It doesn’t look much different from the unmodified version of 7.0, which is good for anyone looking to experience stock Android.
Blackview originally promised that Android 8.1 would be available by the end of the year,but as of this writing, that update hasn’t made way to the device.
We tested the battery life in the most functional way possible — we booted up 10 hours of the Narwhal song and let it go to work with the volume set to 50% and the screen brightness turned all the way up.
Sadly, the Blackview S8 didn’t make it through all 10 hours of “Narwhals Narwhals swimming in the ocean,” but it did manage to run nonstop for just over 7.5 hours, which is just about a full workday. Of course, in an average workday, you’re not going to sit there watching a YouTube video constantly (or maybe you will, we’re not here to judge), and in our testing, we found that the device just about makes it through the day with normal usage.
The best word to describe the battery life of the Blackview S8 is adequate. It’s not one of those phones where you can use it all day without worrying about topping off, but it also won’t die in your pocket if you’re a fairly modest smartphone user.
The cameras on the Blackview S8 are decent, but photos taken with them certainly won’t knock your socks off by any means. As mentioned in the specs, there are dual rear cameras with the primary being 13MP and the secondary being 0.3MP. On the front, Blackview also includes dual cameras, only it’s an 8MP and 0.3MP sensor there.
Because of processing power, looking at the screen while taking a photo appears a little choppy, which could make it a bit harder to capture subjects in motion.
The camera includes photo, video, bokeh, beauty, and panorama modes. Honestly, I can’t quite figure out what the beauty mode is actually doing — I took photos with the slider all the way up and all the way down, and both selfies look the same to me. The bokeh mode does add a nice blur effect to your photos, but it doesn’t quite replicate the look of actual depth of field.
When taking the a selfie, there is a flash on the front of the camera, but it’s way too harsh to actually be useful. If you’re trying to get a photo of yourself, the last thing you want is an incredibly focused and bright light, so you’ll be better off taking your selfies in a lit room. That said, the 8MP sensor on the front does take solid photos, making this a decent choice for selfie addicts.
All in all, I’d say the cameras on the S8 are decent, but when you consider just how cheap the phone is, they move up to good. After all, you can’t expect top-of-the-line cameras from a cheap phone!
Should You Buy The Blackview S8?
Now, we come to the big question: should you buy the Blackview S8? If you’re on a budget and you’re looking for a solid smartphone, this is definitely one to consider. While my expectations weren’t overly high going into using a $160 phone, I must say the S8 exceeded them.
It does have some flaws, but for the price, the pros outweigh the cons and then some. Just make sure your network is supported, because there’s nothing worse than popping in your SIM card only to find you don’t get service!