Bluboo Xtouch review

The Xtouch is Bluboo's 2015 flagship smartphone, and marketed as 'Probably the best 5in Android phone so far'. It's certainly got a fair amount of style for a budget Android phone, but we see how it fares in other areas in our Bluboo Xtouch review. Also see: Best budget phones 2015.

Bluboo Xtouch review: Price and UK availability

The Bluboo Xtouch is available from various Chinese online retailers, including Geekbuying, which is currently charging £123.71 for the Xtouch. Bear in mind that although the site offers free worldwide shipping, when buying a phone from China you may be forced to pay import duty when it arrives in the UK. Read our advice on buying grey-market tech before you buy.

Bluboo Xtouch review: Design and build

The Xtouch stands out in a sea of plain-black Android slabs with its dark blue (almost black) mirror-finish 3D rear design and visual thickness of just 5.5mm (in reality it's a still-very-slim-for-a-budget-phone 7.5mm). Bluboo has built the Xtouch around a CNC nano-molded metal frame, which not only adds strength but a premium feel to this relatively cheap handset. Also see: Best Android phones 2015.

The rear finish is something you'll love or hate. We find it attractive, but less so the fingerprints to which it is prone, and its style statement is somewhat undone by the plastic SIM tray that sits on the phone's left edge (right when viewed from the rear). Also see: Best MiFi 2016.

Bluboo Xtouch review

This is a clever contraption, housing two Micro-SIM cards and a microSD card (up to 64GB) in a tray the same size as those used for just the two SIMs alone. It features a pin hole that can be used in the usual manner to pop out the tray, but the tray also has a ridged edge that enables you to pull it out with a fingernail. It's convenient, but its design means the tray is visible from the rear, and it just doesn't have the same premium feel as the rest of the phone.

That aside, there's little we can fault in the Xtouch's design. Bluboo has fitted a 5in full-HD IPS display that features 2.5D curved glass. Similarly curved edges at the rear make this 5in smartphone feel great in the hand, making the transition between metal and glass feel less noticeable as you run a finger around the edge. Also see: Best Chinese phones 2015.

What's more, for the money the screen is sufficiently bright and very clear, with a high pixel density of 441ppi. Viewing angles, as ever with IPS tech, are excellent, and colours are vibrant. The left- and right bezels are pleasingly slim, and the screen-to-body ratio is high in this 71x7.5x143mm smartphone.

Bluboo Xtouch review

Something that is a given only in Chinese smartphones at this price point is the fingerprint scanner built into the physical home button, which sits in a central position below the screen with back and options software buttons to either side. The home button is recessed (which we like, since it feels less vulnerable than those that stick out), and easily distinguished by its rim as you run a finger across the display. 

The Bluboo Xtouch recognises touch- rather than swipe-based input, as seen on Apple's iPhones and Samsung's more recent Galaxy smartphones. We find this works much better, and you're far more likely to take advantage of the feature as a result. A benefit of building this functionality into the home button is you can wake and unlock the screen with a single press.

Bluboo has built into the Xtouch a Smart Audio chip, and speaker grilles are found on the bottom edge rather than rear of the handset, with the result being much better audio quality than we're used to hearing from cheap Android phones. You can also take advantage of an FM radio when you plug in a pair of speakers, although none is provided in the box.

In terms of other buttons and ports everything is where you expect to find it, with a Micro-USB charging port on the bottom, a headphone jack on the top, and power and a volume rocker high up on the right edge. Although the aforementioned SIM tray is plasticky, these buttons are metal and in keeping with the Xtouch's overall design. Also see: Best smartphones 2015.

Bluboo Xtouch review

Bluboo Xtouch review: Hardware and performance

When Bluboo refers to its Xtouch as 'Probably the best 5in Android phone so far', we're pretty sure it is looking at the overall package - this certainly isn't the fastest Android phone we've seen, and despite the 3GB of RAM that sounds great on paper, the 1.3GHz MediaTek MTK6753 octa-core processor is by no means a powerhouse.

But the Xtouch is more than capable for daily use by most users, and few will find it sluggish with ordinary tasks. In fact, navigating menus is very quick, and the only task that took more than a second to complete was launching the Camera app.

It's worth remembering also that this is a £123 smartphone, and you're never going to find performance to match £600 flagships. That said, it's more than a rival to the OnePlus X in raw processing speed and web performance, if not graphics, and its AnTuTu 48,133-point score in our tests was a lot higher than we expected (much higher, for example, than that of the UMI Iron Pro with which it shares a matching spec).

Bluboo Xtouch review

We also ran the Bluboo Xtouch through some of our other benchmarks and recorded 2691 points in Geekbench 3.0 multi-core, 1297ms in SunSpider (using Chrome), and scores of 12- and 4fps in GFXBench 3's T-Rex and Manhattan components respectively. You can see how the Bluboo compares to other smartphones we've recently tested in our article What's the fastest smartphone?

Storage is absolutely fantastic at this price point, with a generous 32GB built-in and room for up to an additional 64GB via microSD card. At this price in the UK you'd be lucky to get 16GB, and would more likely be looking at 8GB. Also see: How to add storage to Android.

The battery is non-removable, which is a shame, but can fast charge for up to an hour's talk time in 10 minutes. Bluboo specifies a 3050mAh battery, which even for the heaviest users should be good for a full working day away from the mains (and if not you can add a power bank).

Bluboo Xtouch review: Connectivity

The Bluboo Xtouch doesn't support NFC (MediaTek's HotKnot is supported), but it has all other connectivity aspects well covered. There's the latest dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS with GLONASS. 

When buying a phone from abroad you have to make certain it will operate on your home network. Usually we'd advise you to check our advice on how to tell whether a phone is supported by your network, but Bluboo's Xtouch supports Cat 4 4G LTE on all three bands used in the UK - 3, 7 and 20.

Even better, the Xtouch is a dual-SIM smartphone (dual-standby), which means you can manage two phone numbers from a single smartphone. For more information on what this means read our buying advice on dual-SIM phones.

Bluboo Xtouch review

Bluboo Xtouch review: Cameras

Bluboo has fitted the Xtouch with a 13Mp (boosted to 16Mp), f/2.0 Sony IMX214 rear camera with a dual-LED flash, and an 8Mp OV f/2.0 selfie camera at the front. It's the same setup we saw on the UMI Iron Pro, and even the Camera app has the same basic options.

It was a fairly windy day when we took our test shots (both UMI and Bluboo photos were taken at the same time), which makes HDR photography difficult and, as you can see below, has resulted in some blurring, but on the whole say we'd say the Xtouch's HDR results were better than those of the UMI, and that it had a tendency to oversharpen rather than soften images.

When you zoom in on individual bricks or road signs it's quite clear detail is lacking, but for the money we think the camera is quite decent. The 8Mp front camera is also very generous at this price point. 

See our test shots with auto and HDR settings below. Also see: Best phone camera 2016.

Bluboo Xtouch review

Bluboo Xtouch review

Bluboo Xtouch review: Software

The Xtouch runs a very plain version of Android 5.1 Lollipop, and the only real differences you'll spot are the rounded shortcut icons on the home screen and the addition of several Smart Wake gestures, such as the ability to double-tap to wake the screen or draw the letter C to instantly launch the Camera app.

One change we particularly like is the continuously scrolling screens both on the home screen and in the app drawer. Right now there's very little software preinstalled on the Xtouch, but if you download a lot of apps you will find this incredibly useful.

Another very useful customisation is the ability to set different LED colours for calls, messages and other notifications.

Bluboo Xtouch review

Read next: Best new phones coming in 2016.

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Bluboo Xtouch: Specs

  • Android 5.1 Lollipop with Smart Wake gestures
  • 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6753 64-bit octa-core processor
  • Mali T720 GPU
  • 5in full-HD (1920x1080, 441ppi, 95% NTSC, 450cd/m2 brightness, 1000:1 contrast, 175º viewing angles) JDI IPS display with 2.5D Gorilla Glass 3
  • 3GB LPDDR3 RAM
  • 32GB storage, plus microSD support up to 64GB
  • dual-SIM dual-standby (2x Micro-SIM)
  • 4G LTE Cat 4, supports all three UK bands (3, 7 and 20)
  • dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • GPS, AGPS, GLONASS
  • touch-style fingerprint scanner (0.3s identification)
  • 13Mp, f/2.0 Sony IMX214 rear camera, dual-LED flash
  • 8Mp OV f/2.0 front camera
  • Smart Audio chip + DOX
  • 3050mAh non-removable lithium-polymer battery with quick charge (1 hour talk time from 10-minute charge), one-day battery life with heavy use, charges over Micro-USB
  • 71x7.5x143mm
  • 151g
  • performance results: Geekbench 3.0: 606 single-core, 2691 multi-core
  • AnTuTu: 48,133
  • SunSpider (tested in Chrome): 1297ms
  • GFXBench: 12fps T-Rex, 4fps Manhattan
  • Android 5.1 Lollipop with Smart Wake gestures
  • 1.3GHz MediaTek MT6753 64-bit octa-core processor
  • Mali T720 GPU
  • 5in full-HD (1920x1080, 441ppi, 95% NTSC, 450cd/m2 brightness, 1000:1 contrast, 175º viewing angles) JDI IPS display with 2.5D Gorilla Glass 3
  • 3GB LPDDR3 RAM
  • 32GB storage, plus microSD support up to 64GB
  • dual-SIM dual-standby (2x Micro-SIM)
  • 4G LTE Cat 4, supports all three UK bands (3, 7 and 20)
  • dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • GPS, AGPS, GLONASS
  • touch-style fingerprint scanner (0.3s identification)
  • 13Mp, f/2.0 Sony IMX214 rear camera, dual-LED flash
  • 8Mp OV f/2.0 front camera
  • Smart Audio chip + DOX
  • 3050mAh non-removable lithium-polymer battery with quick charge (1 hour talk time from 10-minute charge), one-day battery life with heavy use, charges over Micro-USB
  • 71x7.5x143mm
  • 151g
  • performance results: Geekbench 3.0: 606 single-core, 2691 multi-core
  • AnTuTu: 48,133
  • SunSpider (tested in Chrome): 1297ms
  • GFXBench: 12fps T-Rex, 4fps Manhattan

OUR VERDICT

The Bluboo Xtouch offers great value, with a strong set of specifications all round and a design that is mostly very good for a phone at this price point. Storage and connectivity are excellent, the screen decent, software just right, performance sufficient and the cameras quite acceptable. It's really rather difficult to fault for the money.

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