Era of Huge Batteries – Bluboo X550 – Review

Poor battery life has once again been thwarted by a Chinese OEM, and this time it’s Bluboo with their X550, running on a 5350 mAh battery. I used the device as a gaming device, and it certainly does not disappoint. However, there are pros and cons, which we will be looking at.

Aesthetics

The X550 is slightly thicker than the iPhone

The X550 is slightly thicker than the iPhone

The device certainly looks really nice, despite it being completely plastic and being slightly thicker than the flagships out there now in the market. Even with the free silicone case that was provided, the device still felt alright. Placing the device in your pockets can get a little warm though, as the device is in fact pretty thick.

Looking at the front of the device, the bezels of the device are equal on all sides. This makes the device look a lot more appealing. The earpiece, light and proximity sensors, alongside the camera are also placed vertically centered on the top of the device. Likewise, the capacitive buttons are also placed vertically centered at the bottom of the device. However, the buttons do not light up, and as a user who has gotten used to the back button being on the right side, the arrangement was a little confusing to use initially.

One-sided 'dual' speakers - symmetrical purposes?

One-sided ‘dual’ speakers – symmetrical purposes?

At the rear of the device, there are two speaker grids, despite there only being one speaker (and one hole for that speaker on the silicone case). It is not known whether Bluboo did this for symmetry purposes, but it does seem like the cast. The rear camera is also centered, and bulging out slightly. However, the silicone case does a good job of preventing the bulge from being really visible.

The charging port and 3.5mm audio jack are at the top of the device, something I personally prefer, as I will be able to use the device while charging. The volume rockers and power button are on the right side of the device, which I have no problems with at all, despite having gotten used to a number of button arrangements.

The only downside to the looks is that there seems to be a manufacturing defect on my device, causing slight grains of what seems to be dust to be visible on the display, although it is not very visible.

Battery

Battery settings page bug

Battery settings page bug

The battery is definitely the highlight of the X550, with the battery lasting me at least 2 days, even with heavy gaming and usage throughout the day. This seems to be also because the processor is a MT6735P clocked at 1GHz. With light usage, the device could potentially reach up to 3 days of battery life before needing a recharge. The software also seems to be optimized for the battery life as well, although there is a bug which prevents previous battery levels from being shown on the battery settings page.

Charging the device takes a pretty short time too. About 2 hours can almost allow the device to gain a full charge using the quick charge adapter, thanks to MediaTek’s PumpExpress technology. PumpExpress is similar to Qualcomm’s Quick Charge, except it is used on MediaTek smartphones instead. This is extremely useful, as the device does have a huge battery, and it would take overnight or even longer to bring a full charge from 0%, as evident in the THL 5000 I’ve owned previously. Unfortunately, wireless charging solutions are not supported on this device.

Camera

The OmniVision sensor on the X550 certainly does not disappoint. Photos taken are clear, and despite being interpolated from 8 megapixels to 13 megapixels, they still look okay. The auto focus is also pretty fast, in fact way faster than my Ulefone Be Touch 2, which carries a Sony IMX214 sensor. However, like most other OmniVision sensors, the photos seem to be a little discoloured, with there being a pinkish ring near the outer parts of the photo, especially visible in low-light settings.

Noise removal seems to be a little more optimized on the Bluboo X550 too, as the low-light noise is a lot more smoothened out.

Camera samples:

Connectivity

3G works great on the Bluboo X550 here in Singapore, but fret not, as the Bluboo X550 also comes with World Mode LTE supposedly allows international users to use 4G LTE as well. Unfortunately, I could not test the 4G LTE connectivity, as the SIM card inserted does not support 4G LTE.

WiFi reception is better than average, and download/upload speeds are fine too, with download and upload speeds both going up to 2MB/s, and higher. Unfortunately, 5G WiFi networks are not supported.

The X550 also supports HotKnot, a file transfer service offered by MediaTek which uses the screen to beam files. It is in fact a personal favorite of mine, as large file transfer is also supported by this, whereas on NFC it may fail on some devices.

No screen mirroring?!

No screen mirroring?!

Screen mirroring is something that is missing on the X550, and it was surprising when I tried to mirror the device’s screen onto a Mi Box, but couldn’t find any ‘Cast screen’ option at all. This was unexpected, as the device would make good as a gaming device for the mid-range games.

The GPS doesn’t seem to be performing well, although it does pick up satellites, albeit at a relatively slow pace. GLONASS is not supported.

Performance

The device, despite its 1 GHz processor does not disappoint when it comes to performance. 2D rhythm games work just fine, and the UI is not laggy at all. There is no touch delay, which means typing quickly also works fine too, and reaction games can be played without any problems. For minor tasks like texting and browsing the web, the device performs well. The device overall also seems snappier than my Ulefone Be Touch 2, which has been plagued with numerous lag spikes recently.

3D games could be a problem on the X550, as its dual-core T720 GPU does not perform well on 3D graphics. The device scored the lowest on the 3DMark Slingshot benchmark when tested against the Be Touch 2, Nexus 5, and Nexus 4. Playing certain 3D games can also make the games feel extremely laggy.

The device does not throttle the CPU when the battery is low, and that is something Bluboo has done right. Well the device does have a large battery, so that is pretty much not needed.

Software

The Bluboo X550 runs Android 5.1 (a real one this time) right out of the box, and looks almost completely like stock Android.

What is this abomination?!

What is this abomination?!

That is, until the lockscreen shows up. Bluboo has implemented their own take on the Android lockscreen, and unlike the fingerprint lockscreen on the Be Touch 2 and Elephone P7000, the Bluboo’s is kind of stock, yet a little off. The lockscreen consists of the usual icons at the bottom, except this time the dialer shortcut is on the right, and the camera shortcut is gone. In the dialer shortcut’s place is a messaging shortcut instead. Instead of the typical swiping-up-to-unlock, Bluboo has made it such that you’ll need to drag the Bluboo icon to the unlock icon. This is really unnecessary, as it makes unlocking the device a lot harder. Personally, I am not a fan of it.

EDIT: The lockscreen can be changed back to the AOSP lockscreen via a build.prop edit.

Aside from that, a couple of other apps were included too. Taking out all the usual stock MediaTek apps, these are the apps that were included:

  • BLEManager – new MediaTek Bluetooth Low Energy manager
  • Direct – allows the use of gestures to perform actions
  • Wake gestures – off-screen gestures

It is not known why these were not integrated into the Settings app, but it could be an Android related issue, as most other devices with similar chipsets also include these apps in their ROMs. No Bluboo apps were included. Wireless updates are also available, although it is not known when Bluboo will release a new OTA update for the device.

Rooting the device is simple too. You’ll simply have to download KingRoot, then grab SuperSU-Me and run the ‘supersu me’ process to obtain full SuperSU root. It will take less than 5 minutes to get the device fully rooted.

Overall

I will continue using the Bluboo X550 as my gaming device, as it certainly does serve its purpose as one. It is definitely snappier than my Be Touch 2, and when time comes I may even consider switching over to the Bluboo X550. However, as a heavy gamer, the Bluboo X550’s processor may not pack enough power for the upcoming titles that require a lot of processing power.

But I concur, the Bluboo X550 is an impressive device with a really nice design. If you’re going for extreme battery life at a low price, I will highly recommend the Bluboo X550.

You can check out the device at Coolicool’s page here.