In the quest to find a new niche, one of the more daring rugged smartphone vendors, Blackview, came up with an answer. The BL5000 is pitched as a rugged gaming phone, because… why not? After all, one can expect field workers and warehouse operators to enjoy a bit of casual gaming during their time off at work. At least, we guess, that’s the rationale behind launching such a device.
Pricing and availability
The Blackview BL5000 is on sale at Blackview’s website for $299.99 (about £216, AU$406) or $279.99 (about £194, AU$378) from the company’s official Aliexpress store thanks to a one-off $20 voucher. In both cases, the price excludes shipping costs and other associated fees (like courier handling costs or local taxes); we strongly advise you to read our guide on buying tech in China to find out what to expect.
The BL5000 sports a refreshing design that’s vaguely similar to the Nokia XR20 we reviewed recently. Our sample had a green border but it is also available with an orange or black finish as well.
Influenced by the likes of the Asus ROG Phone 5 or the Lenovo Legion Phone Duel, the BL5000 abandons the industrial looks of its more conservative peers and opts for a more daring assemblage especially in the rear where two triangular shaped glass islands are positioned to provide a resting place for index fingers during gaming sessions (although that also means smudges on the three camera sensors on the left one).
There’s also a glowing blue NFC light which may or may not appeal to the target audience. Although glass is not a material we’d recommend on a rugged smartphone, Blackview added raised borders to mitigate any falls.
Gone are the metal bars that are so prominent on the sides of most rival smartphones. They serve to emphasize the ruggedness of the device externally but prevent engineers from reducing the thickness of the handset. Instead, the BL5000 uses rubberized plastic that gives it a more aesthetically pleasing finish. The sides are also slightly angled, a tiny feature that helps to significantly improve grip.
On the front of the phone is a punch hole selfie camera located on the top left with the display being a 6.36-inch 2300 x 1080 pixels model. It is covered with a Corning Gorilla Glass 5 overlay but lacks any oleophobic coating. Note that the bezels are kept to a strict minimum but like all rugged smartphones we’ve tested to date, all four corners are round to absorb any shock caused by falls.
It is therefore no surprise that it is one of the lightest – at 262g – and most compact IP68/IP69/MIL-STD-810G smartphones (164 x 80 x 13mm) that we’ve tested in recent times.
On the bottom edge is a Type-C connector covered with a flap and one speaker grill. Elsewhere, there’s a dual 5G SIM card tray, a volume rocker and the power button that doubles as the fingerprint reader. There’s no dedicated button though, something that’s often found on rival rugged smartphones. Their uses vary from push-to-talk, allowing intra-team voice communication to ICE (in case of emergency) SOS-type routines (e.g. send an SMS to specific numbers).
Despite being hailed as a gaming smartphone, the BL5000 still uses a Dimensity 700 5G system-on-chip from Mediatek, one which hardly qualifies as a gaming component and definitely doesn’t compete in the same category as say, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888+ or even the Snapdragon 690 5G. Our benchmarks show that when it comes to gaming, it is barely superior to the entry-level Snapdragon 480 5G that powers the Nokia XR20.
The Blackview BL5000 comes with the following hardware:
CPU: Mediatek Dimensity 700
GPU: Arm Mali-G57
Screen size: 6.36-inch
Resolution: 2300 x 1080
Dimensions: 164 x 80 x 13mm
Rear camera: 16MP, 12MP
Front camera: 16MP
OS: Android 11
Elsewhere are 8GB of LPDDR4x system memory coupled with 128GB system storage with the faster UFS 2.2 data transfer technology. Blackview marketing literature also mentions the presence of a “1217 super-linear speaker, combined with 0.9cc-equivalent speaker chamber, produces Smart PA large volume of a wide range”. The BL5000 has one speaker only, so it remains a mono product, however you pitch it.
There’s also a 3D copper pipe liquid cooling technology which we haven’t been able to verify. Blackview claims that it can reduce the temperature by as much as 8.5 degrees. Given the laws of physics, any extra heat will have to be evacuated and since it doesn’t have an active cooling system (pump, fan), we wouldn’t be expecting much.
One area where it does actually measure up is when it comes to the camera sensors. The front one is a 16-megapixel Samsung S5K3P9SP04-FGX9 with a Sony IMX362 12-megapixel rear camera sensor and another 16-megapixel Samsung S5K3P9SN. The latter was found on the original Samsung Galaxy Fold, the one launched in 2019 while the Sony one is the same as the camera sensor on the Google Pixel 2.
All this is powered by a 5.28Ah battery which is charged via a 30W fast charging power supply unit. Blackview provided a right-angle, L-shape USB cable.
Performance and in use
Numbers don’t lie, the Blackview BL5000 is suitable only for light casual gaming. It is significantly slower than the Dimensity 800 and the Helio G95, found in the Blackview BL6000 Pro and the Ulefone Power Armor 13 respectively. Which begs the question: why didn’t Blackview opt for the fastest system-on-chip? Ulefone’s model sells for marginally more, has twice the storage memory and a battery that’s more than twice the capacity.
This is how the Blackview BL5000 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:
PCMark (Work 2.0): 8264
Passmark CPU: 3238
Androbench (sequential): 986 (sequential read); 478 (sequential write)
Androbench (random): 223 (random read); 244 (random write)
3DMark Wild Life Vulkan: 1103
LinPack MFLOPS: 788
Its 3DMark numbers were significantly lower than the aforementioned devices with gaps as big as 35% recorded in the Wildlife test (versus Ulefone Armor 11T/Dimensity 800). On the other hand, its storage subsystem numbers were the best we’ve recorded on a smartphone, approaching 1GBps on Androbench sustained read. Random writes of 244MBps are an order of magnitude better than some competitors like the Doogee S97 Pro.
Not surprisingly, the phone runs on Android 11. It is however paired with a proprietary UI from Blackview called DokeOS 2.1 which promises to “deliver the most professional gaming experience” by having dedicated gaming features like mistouch prevention, blocking incoming calls, blocking pop-ups and enabling full screen in landscape mode.
There’s a bunch of useful apps (like Child Mode, a cool room to freeze apps and the ubiquitous handyman toolkit that contains a barometer) as well as three mobile games. The BL5000 doesn’t come with wireless charging – which is a shame – and no OTG, which is an underrated but still very useful feature.
There’s no microSD card reader as well, so you won’t be able to extend the onboard storage beyond 128GB, a bit of an irony given the target audience. Outdoor aficionados will appreciate the air pressure sensor which can be useful when hiking.
Should I buy the Blackview BL5000?
Buy the Blackview BL5000 if:
You tend to damage phones “in a rage of game loss (sic)” or want something “resistant to your wife’s impulse mistake (sic)”.
No extra comments needed to emphasize the Blackview-sourced marketing material.
If you want a rugged smartphone that doesn’t look like a rugged smartphone
With its slim profile and plastic chassis, the BL5000 doesn’t look like your boring, average-looking rugged smartphone.
If you need 5G connectivity (or even better dual 5G connectivity)
Don’t buy the Blackview BL5000 if:
You are expecting a gaming powerhouse
It may have the looks of a gaming smartphone but when it comes to sheer performance, you will be disappointed if you expect to have the same gaming experience as a flagship smartphone.