- Camera works poorly in low light situations
- Amazon subsidized version places ads in lock screen and notifications
- Lots of preinstalled Amazon apps
Blu is a relatively unknown name in the smartphone market. The Florida-based company specializes in affordable hardware and the R1 HD is no exception to the rule. The phone is available to Amazon Prime members for under $100, though that also means they will need to allow ads on their lock screen, in their notifications and agree to a suite of preinstalled Amazon apps. For those who don’t want to deal with all of that, there is an unlocked version, but it will cost a little over $100.
For a budget phone it surprised experts with its sleek design from its slim aluminum frame to the curved-rectangle shape. While it won’t be confused with a flagship phone, they note it does have its own charm and is quite easy to grip thanks to the soft-touch back and comfortable dimensions of 5.6 x 2.8 x 0.3 inches. The back also snaps off to reveal two SIM slots and a microSD slot. Despite the low price tag, critics did not experience and issues that plague many other lower end phones like flexing, creaks or loose buttons.
The 5-inch, 720p LCD display isn’t the best one you’ll find on the market, but reviewers still came out impressed with its color, contrast and viewing angles. At 294 ppi, it might not be as sharp as the top smartphones on the market, but reviewers were still quite happy with how well text and images look. It wasn’t until the compared it beside a top tier phone that they really noticed the difference. Still, for the price, they consider it quite good.
It shouldn’t be surprising that this is no powerhouse. Still, armed with a quad-core 1.3GHz processor and up to 2GB of RAM, it also isn’t painfully slow. In fact, most experts consider it quite good as it had no serious issues during day-to-day tasks. Surprisingly, it also handles games quite well though they did notice a bit of stuttering for more graphic-intensive games. The life of the 2500mAh battery was also quite good and generally lasted them around a full day even with heavy usage. Sadly, there are no quick charging capabilities, but that isn’t too unexpected considering many higher priced smartphones don’t come with this feature either.
The 8MP rear camera cannot possibly stand up to higher end phones like the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, but it managed to provide experts with color accurate images in good lighting conditions. With such a low megapixel count, they weren’t surprised to see pixilation in the images, especially when they zoomed in. Unfortunately, as light diminished so did the cameras capacity to take good pictures. In dimly lit situations, there was noticeable grain and an even greater loss in detail.
Depending on what model you get – the unlocked or Amazon exclusive version – will affect the cost of the Blu R1 HD. Reviewers have a hard time recommending the phone for power users as the pop up ads on the lock screen and notifications are annoying. For the cost of an unlocked version, they were also able to find other comparable smartphones that offer better performance, higher resolution screen and better cameras. Toms Guide adds, “…the Blu R1 HD is still a very good value if…other phones are out of your price range, but be prepared to deal with ads if you’re looking to pay as little as possible.” Ars Technica states, “BLU’s R1 HD should only really be on the table if you’re trying to buy the most phone you can for the least amount of money…As a phone buyer, I’d be much happier to have a phone subsidized by Amazon but not cut off from Google’s ecosystem than I would be to buy a Fire product…”