I sincerely hope this will become a series for me. Cheap Chinese smart phones are becoming increasingly popular, and there are a whole lot of them. When the manufacturing is all over there putting together a firm is easy, parts are cheap and design documents are not hard to rustle up either. It means the market is now flooded with designs, all using high end hardware. It means that life could to be better for the savvy consumer. There will always be people out there that use their phone as a symbol of status, but for me what matters is specs and performance. Last month I got my hands on the Doogee Mix, itself a nice basic model, this month I have the BL5000, and it seems to be the more interesting of the two phones.
Doogee are an established player in the world of cell phones, just not all that established outside of China and Spain. The firm made a splash on the Spanish market after teaming up with a number of soccer teams, releasing custom hardware bearing the logo of teams like Villareal CF. They have expanded since then, and now have a number of phones on the market, each targeting someone different. The Mix went after the stylish crowd, with its lovely bezel-less design, the BL5000 is banking on its impressive battery life, so I decided to put it through its paces. We have here a mid range spec phone, decent screen, fair size too at 5.5″, with that dual CPU tech that I like to see. Combining that with a 5050mAh battery means that this phone should keep on trucking throughout the day.
So let’s get to the review proper, see what Doogee have done right, what they have done wrong, and whether or not you should buy this build.
Doogee BL5000 Smart Phone Design and Build Quality
I love the Chinese smart phone market. Setting up shop is easy over there, meaning there are way more models on the market than you might think. Sites like Aliexpress allow the smaller firms to sell internationally too, and the prices are amazing. It’s all down to the local production, the fact that the hardware used by the big western players, Apple, Samsung, Motorola etc, are all made in China, sometimes Taiwan, but mostly China, means that these smaller firms are able to pick up the hardware, retool a design and push out a phone is such a short space of time. That means a tougher market, meaning more savings for the consumer.
Unlike the mix the BL5000 comes with a bezel, and it’s a big bezel too. Not a deal breaker, or at least it shouldn’t be. The Bezel-less screens are more expensive, so drive up the price. The key aesthetic choice made here is the eight sides and holographic back decal. It looks nice, the angular edges make the phone set steady in your hand. I know Doogee don’t have an extensive R&D wing, so I wonder where this came from, regardless, it’s a great design choice, and nice to see. Seen as the phone is selling itself on other features the fact that someone over at Doogee took the time to make sure the aesthetics were up to snuff speaks volumes about them as a company.
The BL5000 is a standard 5.5″ build, running Android 7.0. There is not much in the way of in built software, or at least software that I recommend you use. I advise you flash the phone if you want to get the most out of it, but even if you don’t the app store for Android is awesome. All the in built stuff you may or my not use on your Galaxy might not be here, but there are always alternatives on the app store.
The hardware is not bad at all. There are two CPUs, which is a design choice many are making these days. It means that when performing low intensity tasks the higher end CPU won’t spool up, allowing you to conserve battery life. When you want to do something that requires a little more power, the big boy CPU will activate for as long as is necessary. You have the option to disable this battery saving feature, if you want all fast all the time, but I don;t recommend it. The build takes the now standard nano sim, but there are two slots, so if you need access to multiple networks, or you need to travel abroad, you are covered.
The rest of the hardware specs are middle of the road. I like the 4GB of RAM, but the RAM clock speed leaves much to be desired, sitting at 667MHz. It means pulling data from storage to RAM is not as quick as I would like, and when you are running multiple things at once you are going to hit slowdown sooner rather than later, regardless of the CPU in use. I advise you get a memory manager program, and strip down the background processes as well. When it comes to running mid range hardware you need to know how to make the most of it. The GPU isn’t bad, up to running videos and playing a few games. I don’t really bother with the app store releases when it comes to gaming, most of them are 2D pick up and play puzzle games, right? It will run those, and more besides. I tested it with ePSXe and it was solid as a rock, picking up my Final Fantasy IX play through right where i left off. Make sure you own the original hardware and a copy of the game before running an emulator, else it’s piracy.
The screen here is pretty good. not a glorious 2k or 4k display that you see with the newer flagships from the big players, but a nice crisp 1080p display. It has 401ppi too, so images really do look lovely. The use of gorilla glass at this point is par for the course, but it is still nice to see.
I’m not one for picture taking, but I checked it out. it is clear that this is where they lavished as many features as they could, making sure that every picture taken with the 4k camera came out lovely. The rear acing camera has a slightly higher resolution, but both the rear and the front facing camera are sitting at near 13 megapixels.
The key selling point here is the battery. It is a monster, 5050mAh of pure Li-Polymer. On a max charge this phone will last near two days, and that is not something we have been able to say for a fair few years at this point. It has become almost routine for use to charge our phones during any downtime, and some even do so overnight. Here that is not required. Combining the high capacity with a quick charge system means that you have way more peace of mind than with the competition.
Overall this is a well put together build. the quality on offer is higher than I expected, and it seems as thought Doogee have taken the time to understand the needs of the market. The feel of the build is great, fits well, and has some nice heft to it. The hardware is fine, nothing to right home about, and the camera is more than up to serving the habitual picture taker. The battery us unsurpassed in this form factor, and I wish more companies would integrate large capacity capacitors.
Doogee BL5000 Smart Phone Pricing and Warranty
And to the price. Word of warning first, this is a Chinese phone, so do yourself a favor and steer clear of Amazon for this build. I did a whole series of reviews on Dropshipping, and while most dropshipping storefronts offer great prices and good customer support, I have yet to find an electronics drop shipping site that offers a good price. The Doogee BL5000 can be found on Aliexpress for less than $200, and right now is on offer for $148.79. Shipping will set you back $10, but that is still an amazing deal. I am a bit of a skin flint, usually get my hardware second hand to make that saving, but the rise of the cheap hardware market coming out of China, and made available via Aliexpress, means that i may well be buying new sooner rather than later.
I live Doogee, I really do. their handsets are well designed, they combine good prices with good hardware, and it all comes right to your door. The place where they fall flat is in their warranty. They are a Chinese firm, I know I keep harping on about it, so that means that the level of English used on their site is a bit stilted. A wee bit ESL. This means that the warranty page is muddled to say the least. They will not accept disliking the product as grounds for a return. they claim that if you contact them within 48 hours of receipt that they will accept a refund request, but then say that the phone must be faulty. There is a 1 year limited warranty on any manufacturer faults, that bit at least seems clear. If I could give the firm any advise it would be to hire a decent copy writer and get their site cleared up. Not a huge issue for me, this is the cheap handset market, there has been no warranty arms race, so I did not expect them to have the best warranty.
The price is fantastic. There are so few companies out there that can match them in terms of price, but that warranty is a minor issue. I get what they are selling, something cheap and cheerful, but without a clear and concise understanding of my rights after point of sale I had to hesitate before recommending the build. There is always the option of getting it on Amazon, but you spend an extra $50 on there. It depends on how highly you value Amazons consumer protection policies, certainly worth considering.
Doogee BL5000 Smart Phone Conclusion
This is a fine option. A mid range phone that is more than up to the task of day to day to day use. Not often I can say that. The massive battery, and nice aesthetic choices, means that you don;t have to worry about running out of charge. the price is excellent, but the warranty leaves a little to be desired, if not in terms of content then certainly in terms of clarity. As I said, Amazon is always an option, but know that you will spend more for the peace of mind.
If you are in the market for a long lasting smart phone for travel then the BL5000 is one you have to consider.
To learn more about the phone or purchase please check out the links below.