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In the last reviews, Blackview always offered smartphones with solid hardware and software at a good price. Blackview S6 aims at this target group and fulfills these requirements at first sight. The name Blackview has nothing to do with the old cousin by Samsung. Blackview S6 is brand new, but is beaten by the old flagship in terms of performance. Instead, Blackview S6 is supposed to score with a big 18:9 display, a big battery, and a dual-camera on the rear.
In the following review, you’ll find out how much you really get for this price, how Blackview S6 does compared to the competition, where the weak spots are and what has been surprising.
Blackview S6 resembles iPhone 8 in terms of design. Many Chinese manufacturers copy this design and mix it with their own elements. The edges on the frame and on the display glass are completely rounded. Power button and volume control are on the right side and consist of metal, just like the frame. Build quality is excellent and there are no gaps. Blackview S6’s dimensions are 155 x 73 x 9.5mm and are slightly below average. Considering the size, the device gets a quite big battery with 4180mAh. The weight of 215g is not very light, but it lies well in the hand.
Because of the removable rear made of plastic, the phone is also not slippery. If you remove the rear and hope for a replaceable battery, you’ll remain disappointed: the big metal plate is a sign that the battery cannot be removed. However, the battery is surrounded by several screws, which indicates that it could may be replaced with a little effort. Looking away from the battery, you notice the first highlight: 3 separate card slots. Two of them are supposed to be for the Nano SIM cards, while the third is designed for a Micro-SD card. The SD card slot was necessary, as Blackview S6 only offers 16GB of internal storage. Without the third slot, you could never use a second SIM card.
The plastic rear is designed to look like carbon and contains a pattern of rectangles and squares. The fingerprint scanner is located in the upper third and can be reached very well. In 9/10 attempts it unlocks the device reliable from stand-by, which takes about slightly more than one second. If the lock screen is already activated, it unlocks the device instantly. In the upper left corner, you find the (fake) dual-camera, which is flanked by a double LED flash (not two-colored). In the lower right third, you find a hole for the speaker, which emits the sound to the rear. At the bottom, you find 2 grilles, which look like further speakers, but they have no function, but only a visual purpose. The microphone is located at the bottom to the left. Those missing a Micro-USB port will find it at the top, which is where you also find the headphone connection.
The front is mostly covered by the 5.7-inch 18:9 display. There are no soft touch or hardware buttons, the phone is operated via on-screen buttons instead. The earpiece can be found above the display. To the right and left of the screen, you’ll find the selfie camera and a brightness as well as proximity sensor. There is also a notification LED which only shines in blue.
The number of sensors is limited, but that is not a weak point considering the price range. Blackview S6 has a perfect build quality. The only minor niggles are the plastic rear and the use of a Micro-USB instead of Type-C connection. Since other smartphones in higher price segments often also rely on Micro-USB, this is not a disadvantage. You can also get over the material of the rear, as the manufacturer placed the SIM tray beneath the rear and thus eliminated further niggles in build quality. As a bonus, you get the possibility to use 2 SIM cards and a Micro-SD.
Inside the white box, besides the smartphone, you’ll find:
Blackview offers a 5.7-inch IPS display with 18:9 format. The display has an HD resolution of 1440 x 720, resulting in a pixel density of 282ppi.
Contents are sharp and even small fonts are displayed sharp enough. However, singles pixels are visible when looking closely.
Thanks to the bis dimensions of the smartphone, it has a screen-to-body ratio of 80%, after subtracting the area of the on-screen buttons, 74% are usable. Blackview is one of the few manufacturers that do not advertise their smartphone with an edgeless design, which is completely true. This frankness is very positive. At the top and bottom, the bezel is 11mm, at the sides, you have 3mm.
The image has a slight blue cast in the standard setting, but you can adjust that by using MiraVision. To be precise, it is enough to change the setting from standard to the lively mode and the blue cast is almost completely gone. If you prefer warmer colors, you can customize them with LiveDisplay. The adaptive brightness regulates brightness according to the surrounding quite fast. The highest brightness setting was also sufficient to read contents in bright sunlight. The lowest brightness setting, on the other hand, was nicely dimmed, which is useful especially in the evening.
The viewing angle stability could have been better. Losses in brightness and colour fastness occur with strong upward and downward tendencies. This will hardly affect the user himself. But if you show a video or pictures in the group more often, you have to expect that the colleagues at the edge of the group will perceive the picture very darkly.
The screen is nicely protected from scratches, as our test with a knife showed. If the manufacturer used Gorilla Glass remains unknown. The finger also runs quite smoothly over the screen. In fact, also fingerprints were kept within limits, we certainly had displays that attracted them much more. The touchscreen registers 5 points of contact, which is quite alright, and operating the phone was always possible. All inputs were put into practice fast and precisely.
Due to the low price, Blackview had to make cuts in some areas of S6. One of them is the processor. The phone houses a MediaTek MT6737 with 4 cores clocking at 1.35GHz. The boost makes 1.5GHz possible. This is sufficient for S6 with Android and simple apps. As they only used a rather weak processor, they also used only an HD display instead of a full-HD screen, which would have consumed more power. The processor was manufactured in the old 28nm process. Modern processes enable more performance at the same power consumption or less energy consumption at the same performance. Nevertheless, the CPU with its Cortex-A53 cores does quite a nice job in the benchmarks and reaches 39,000 points in the new Antutu 7.0.
The graphics unit, a Mali-T720, clocks at 600MHz and is suitable for less demanding games. Playing Asphalt 8, you should reduce the graphics settings to medium or low, as otherwise, you won’t have a fluent image. Watching videos on YouTube, we get mixed results. With 720p, the frame rates are stable at 30FPS, at 60FPS the image starts jerking at irregular intervals.
S6 only offers a small RAM of 2GB, of which about 900MB are available. Actually, the already small RAM could have been used better to capacity. Nobody needs RAM that is never used. With a lot of multitasking, when I switched from one game to another, the system also used 1.4GB.
Speaking of multitasking: navigating the system and scrolling down on websites happens fast enough. When opening apps, it takes one or the other second until the apps start. Once the apps are opened, changing between them happens pleasantly quickly. You have to deal with only 16GB of internal storage for all apps and system if you do not use a Micro-SD card for storage expansion. The system occupies about 2GB.
Curiously, S6 had quite a lot problems with the Chrome browser. In general, it worked well, but even with a good WiFi connection loading websites with several images took longer than usual. The pre-installed browser app was a lot faster and had a nice speed. S6 always stayed pleasantly cool while using benchmarks and demanding apps. Heat development was only perceptible at the upper third. During charging, the battery got a bit warm.
Blackview S6 provides an almost unchanged Android 7.0 Nougat system. Only the quick launch toolbar and the standard apps have been visually adapted. In the settings, there are many possibilities to use gesture features.
With one swipe in front of the display, you can leaf through various menus and the gallery. The fingerprint scanner can also be used as a trigger to take photos, which is quite useful. Drawing letters on the deactivated display worked as well, but not as we thought. For instance, when drawing the letter “O” to open the camera, I had to wait several seconds. When the smartphone registered the gesture, the “O” appeared on the screen in green. After that, it tried to open the camera app, but the lock screen prevented it from doing so. Thus, this feature is useless. OnePlus also offers this type of symbol control, the camera opens and you actually can take photos. For seeing the photos in the gallery then, you have to enter the PIN.
Another feature to mention is DuraSpeed, which is an app also available in the app store. The app is designed for systems with a MediaTek processor and helps to provide an additional amount of power for the app running in the foreground. This is achieved by delaying or even deactivating background processes. In theory, this is a nice idea. Blackview integrates this app directly into the system.
However, using the app, the phone did not get higher scores in the benchmarks. An advantage (or disadvantage) of the app is that notifications of messenger apps like Whatsapp or Telegram are not displayed during a currently used game.
On the other hand, multitasking then has some problems. Opened apps are removed from the RAM after a short time, which leads to longer load times when changing apps. At the same time, you get a slightly better battery life, which is however barely noticeable. In the Play Store, you can uninstall DuraSpeed, too, but it stays in the settings.
Friends of custom ROMS will be happy that Blackview does not complicates unlocking the bootloader – a small sideswipe at Xiaomi – it is unlocked via an option in the developer settings. However, it is doubtful if there will be a fan base around S6, which will use modified operating systems. In terms of this matter, the MediaTek processor already creates some problems. At least there are no problems if you want to use an own Recovery or an adjusted OS.
The topic “fake dual-cams” doesn’t get past S6. According to the manufacturer, it offers an 8MP (f/2.0 aperture) and a 0.3MP camera, but only the former is actually used. A possible bokeh-effect is only created by the software. The cameras are the biggest weak spot, as the quality varies from quite alright to completely useless. There is only an electronic image stabilizer (EIS) available, which worked neither with video recordings nor with photos.
In daylight and in good light conditions, you can take a quite nice picture. The autofocus only works mediocre, trigger time, on the other hand, is short. Taking a backlit photo is a bad idea, as it increases the overexposure of the images.
The HDR mode, which normally secures a better distribution of the light, only increases the pictures’ brightness and is mostly useless. If a photo turned out well, you still have blurred areas towards the edges.
For photos in low light or at night, you don’t even have to pull out the S6, as the quality would be awful. The selfie cam only has 2.4MP, an aperture is no stated. You notice the small number of megapixels in the quality of the pictures. Selfies only turn out well in good light conditions. The pictures are not rich in details and the image is also constantly overexposed. With videos, it is quite the same. Overexposure is not as strong as with images, but because of the missing image stabilizer, it is difficult to take a decent recording.
Also when considering the price, the camera is still quite bad. Instead of providing a dummy dual-camera, the manufacturer should have invested the money in the main camera.
In terms of connectivity, Blackview S6 does a great job. Besides 2.4GHz networks for WiFi, the phone also supports 5GHz networks, although without .ac standard. It also supports Band 20. The reception was a bit worse compared to other more expensive devices, but it was still good. WiFi had a good reception and throughput was sufficiently fast as well. You can insert 2 separate SIM cards in S6 and simultaneously use the Micro-SD card slot. The SD card can have a capacity of up to 128GB. Bluetooth 4.1 is supported, and there were never any crashes, the connection always remained stable over several meters. The GPS module worked well and with a precision of 4-5 meters. Navigation was possible after a short phase of locating.
Telephoning worked perfectly and the interlocutors could understand each other very well. Even the speakerphone worked nicely.
Normally, smartphones do not have the best speakers. Often the depth of the bass is missing or they sound tinny. Blackview S6 surprised us positively here. Although the sound isn’t one of the best, the phone scores in this category. The heights and middle frequencies are better than expected and sound quite nice for this price segment. However, bass is simply not there. At full volume, the speaker oversteers quite strongly. The smartphone is suitable for listening to some music and watching a YouTube video, and does a better job than other competitors of higher price ranges.
If possible, use the headphone connection. At full volume, you notice the missing bass and the heights are superimposed. One level below, this effect does not occur anymore. Some details are absorbed, but all in all, the headphone jack does a good job. The audio codec doesn’t support Flac data.
The phone provides the necessary standard sensors: fingerprint scanner, light sensor, proximity sensor and acceleration sensor.
Recently, many manufacturers produced big battery smartphones. Also Blackview followed that hype and launched one big battery smartphone after the other. 6000mAh, 8000mAh, and 10,000mAh were not enough, and Blackview tried everything to increase the battery life. S6, on the other hand, features a normal-sized battery (4180mAh). The battery is not small, as most of the flagships of big companies provide 3000-4000mAh batteries. S6 places in the upper mid range with its battery life.
Battery lifetime Result Unit: hours
In the PCMark Work test, the phone lasted for 6 1/2 hours. Power users have to charge S6 after one day of use. Those often using games, taking photos or surfing the internet can get a screen-on time of 4-5 hours. With moderate use, the smartphone can also last for a weekend. An HD YouTube video with medium brightness consumed 13% of the battery in 1 hour, which is not awesome, but not bad either.