Blu R1 HD – How Much Phone Does $60 Get You?

By January 21, 2017Tech/Science

 

Pros:

  • Very low cost
  • Non intrusive ads
  • Decent specs for the price
  • Fast enough to run all your favorite apps and games
  • High quality design
  • Expandable storage
  • Almost pure, stock android

Cons:

  • Mediocre camera
  • Non removable battery
  • Not the most responsive touch screen

 

The Review

Guys, no joke, you can actually buy a brand new unlocked Android smartphone for $60! And not like a crappy Chinese knock off, an actually decent, usable phone capable of doing everything the average person would want to do on their phone.

I spent a good while with the R1 HD and I have to say I’m blown away by this thing, I purchased the $60 option which comes with 2GB of RAM, 16GB internal storage and with sponsored amazon ads, I absolutely recommend this version if you do buy the phone but if you’re low on cash you can also choose to go with the 1GB ram , 8GB internal storage with amazon ads. For this review I will be using the former option, so let’s dig in!

 

The design

Arguably the most impressive feat of this phone is the design, it packs a 5 inch IPS, LCD 720p display with Gorilla glass and a slight curve in the glass corners which creates a beautiful, almost 3D looking display. Surrounding the screen is an aluminum body with silver finish and easily grippable rubber removable battery cover, the phone feels heavy enough to not feel cheap at all yet light enough to be comfortable. It’s truly impressive that they were able to build such a well designed phone for only $60 (Don’t forget most high end expensive Android phones were still using plastic bodies up till just this last year) .

Going back to the screen, on paper it seems under powered, only being 720 by 1280, but in real life use I dare you to try and tell the difference between it and a more expensive 1080 or even quad display. For comparison, I was also using an LG G4 which does house a quad display and other than having brighter colors , the difference is barely noticeable.

 

Performance

Performance was fantastic in all my tests, apps opened quickly, I saw zero lag while swiping between screens, and although some higher end 3D games loaded a little slower, they still played just fine. One negative I did notice and felt I should note here is that the keyboard seemed to not understand when my finger was tapping the screen instead of swiping the screen, for example when I’d tap the space bar, it would think I was actually swiping FROM the space bar typing “VG” instead of a space, not sure what causes this, maybe it’s my fingers? Maybe it’s an issue with the touch screen? There might be a way to calibrate the touch response to fix this, either way, it only happen every once in a while but still something to take note of.   Here are the processing specs:

  • Mediatek MT6735 Quad-core 1.3 GHz Cortex-A53
  • Mali-T720 GPU
  • Android OS 6.0 Marshmallow
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB INTERNAL with SD expandable up to 64gb
  • Unfortunately no NFC or fingerprint scanner here

The 2GB ram is plenty for what you’ll likely be using this phone for and keeps everything running smoothly. The 16gb internal is a good amount as well since there isn’t much bloatware to be found (other than Amazon’s apps but those actually take up very little space) and of course the phone also accepts an SD card up to 64gb (although I used a 128gb with no issues) .

 

The Camera

Now for the moment of truth, the test that we’ve all been waiting for, can we really get a decent camera out of $60?!

Well…

The camera is an 8mp rear facing and a 5mp front facing (the front camera has flash!) I took a few shots, one indoors in a somewhat dark room and got a whole heap of awfulness, the camera is absolutely not great in low light, you also need to hold steady or it’ll turn out fuzzy, the video shoots in 1080p and does decently well enough,  but not all hope is lost in terms of pictures, check out this adorable one I took with good lighting:

Not too bad right? Now it’s not galaxy s7 quality but with the built in HDR and good lighting you can take some decent pictures. The camera app is just your standard affair, basic settings, and some pretty good modes, but the auto focus is definitely one of this phones Achilles heels.

 

Battery and Network

The R1 is powered by a 2500 mAh capacity non removable battery which lasted through the entire day till I got home and still had some juice, unfortunately it’s not removable and there is no wireless charging built in, but with a $60 phone you gotta expect some cut backs somewhere.

The phone is fully GSM unlocked so can be used on any GSM network (sorry Verizon and Sprint users you’re out of luck). Here are the nitty gritty network stuff:

  • 2G: 850/900/1800/1900
  • 3G: 850/1700/1900/2100
  • 4G LTE: 2/4/7/17
  • 12 will be available OTA(Over-the-air)
  • Dual sim

Using band 12 is great news for T-Mobile users who will have much better coverage. The phone also uses dual sim which is great for those who travel out of the country, and overall the call quality was good, no issues there at all, one thing to keep in mind if you’re with T-Mobile is that this phone does not support Wi-Fi calling (although you can make calls over wifi using Google voice which I tested and works great)

The final thought

Even with the lack of NFC , wireless charging and a good camera, the phone is  still a huge bargain with incredible value, I find very interesting that we live in a time where smartphones have evolved (or plateaued) to the point where a brand new unlocked phone can be had for only $60.  To those who may feel put off by the amazon ads shouldn’t worry, they are not intrusive, in fact I barely noticed them, and even though you can choose the more expensive phone with no ads, I personally recommend the ads version to save yourself some money. If you’re interested in buying the phone click here. And if you want to save $5 and it’s your first time using the app, feel free to use my code by clicking here: JESSE19036N

 

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Author Jesse Duffy

When Jesse is not writing for Rockably he can be found playing music, enjoying new tech and tasting unique beers!

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