Friday, June 12, 2015

Two Upcoming Budget Smartphones With A Lot To Offer

Two Upcoming Budget Smartphones With A Lot To Offer 

For The PriceBack at CES earlier this year, Blu announced a handful of phones, including the Vivo Air, Studio X, and Studio Energy. Today, we're looking at the final phone from that announcement, the Life One, as well as another handset Blu has coming out in a few weeks, the Life 8 XL.

Let's jump right in with specs.

Life One

SPECS

Display5-inch 1280x720 display with Gorilla Glass 3Processor1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 with Adreno 306RAM1GBCamera13 MP rear shooter, 5MP frontStorage8GB with SD card slot (up to 64GB)PortsmicroUSB, 3.5mm headphone jackWirelessLTE, HSPA+, Wi-Fi, BluetoothDimensions143 x 72.1 x 7.5mm, 125gBattery2420mAhOSAndroid 4.4.2 (Lollipop coming next month)Price$149 ($99 for one week during pre-orders)BuyAmazon (Pre-order; release date: June 19th)

The first thing worth noting about the Life One is the processor - it's a 64 bit Snapdragon 410. This is a departure from the norm for Blu, as the company generally uses Mediatek chips in its handsets. This choice has its upsides and downsides, of course; on one hand, this is one of the few Blu devices to have LTE. On the other, it's actually slower than some of the Mediatek phones - especially the octa-core models (like the Life 8 XL). Still, it's nice to see them mixing it up a little bit.

Since we're already talking about the processor, I'll go ahead and touch on performance for a bit. When it comes to raw benchmark scores, the Life One isn't the best out there - it gets about 20k on AnTuTu. Decent enough, I suppose. During the short time that I had the Life One, however, the "every day" performance was pretty much dead center with Blu's other devices - not quite as good as the Vivo Air, for example, but a little better than something like the Studio X or Energy. Like with most other current Blu handsets, I also didn't really "feel" the single gig of RAM. I would still really like to see an extra gig in here, though - especially for when this gets Lollipop, which should be hitting next month.

The overall form factor of the Life One is pretty nice, especially for a $150 phone. The back is a soft-touch, removable plastic (the battery is non-removable, but the SD and SIM slots are found underneath), and the phone is incredibly light. The volume and power buttons are both on the right side of the phone, which more and more often seems to be becoming the "normal" spot on Blu phones. The headphone jack is on top and the microUSB port is found on the bottom. Pretty typical arrangement here.

The One's display is also another middle-of-the-road feature, sitting just between the Vivo Air and more recent Studio models. It's not the greatest display I've seen from Blu, but it's also not bad either - colors are decent, viewing angles are decent, and it's just generally...decent? Nothing to write home about, but I also don't have any complaints either. I do, however, think it's solid considering the price of the phone.

Then there's the software. Currently, it's KitKat. In a month's time (or thereabouts) it should be Lollipop. Thus, I'm going to keep this short and sweet. It's basically stock KitKat, and it has on-screen buttons. This is a pretty big deal, because if you've been following Blu for any amount of time, you already know the company's love for capacitive keys. I'm so happy to see on-screen buttons here, because it just makes everything better. My biggest argument against the software on almost all Blu handsets is that there's no easy way to get to Google Now. But with on-screen navigation, no problem - just swipe up! Ahhh, that feels good. So, so good.

Life 8 XL

SPECS

Display5.5-inch 1280x720 display with Gorilla Glass 3Processor1.4GHz Octa-core Mediatek  MT6592 with MALI 450 GPURAM1GBCamera8 MP rear shooter, 2 MP frontStorage8GB with SD card slot (up to 64GB)PortsmicroUSB, 3.5mm headphone jackWirelessHSPA+, Wi-Fi, BluetoothDimensions155 x 74.8 x 7.7 mm, 146gBattery2920mAhOSAndroid 4.4.2 (Lollipop coming later this year)Price$129 ($79 during first week of pre-orders)BuyAmazon (Pre-orders begin on June 22nd; Release date: July 1st)

While the Life One is sort of a departure from what we've seen from Blu so far this year, the Life 8 XL is very similar to the company's other recent handsets (at least where specs are concerned). It features the same octa-core MediaTek processor that's found in the Vivo Air and Selfie, 1GB of RAM, and a meager 8GB of internal storage, along with Android 4.4.2. This device is on the list to get Lollipop later this year (no date has been set just yet as far as I know), so it shouldn't be stuck on KitKat for very long.

Where performance in concerned, the 8 XL is solid. The MediaTek MT6592 is comparable to the Snapdragon 800, making this one of the best processors for the money (at least in my opinion). The primary drawback to the 8 XL's performance is the same as other recent Blu phones - the RAM. 1GB isn't terribly noticeable at first, but I know it's going to hurt overall performance in the long run, especially once this handset gets Lollipop. I would really have liked to see an extra gig thrown in, at least for longevity purposes.

Much like the Life One, the 8 XL's display is pretty middle-of-the-road. Viewing angles are OK, color reproduction is OK, and resolution is OK. So, all in all, it's pretty much OK. That said, I think it's a very good-looking screen for just $129. That's generally the case with Blu phones, though - they always offer a lot of bang for the buck, especially in the display department.

If there's one thing I can say about the 8 XL's look, it's very plain. It's essentially a nondescript rectangle with a removable plastic back that wraps slightly around the front. It's an interesting design in itself, but it doesn't really lend much to the phone's overall look in my opinion. Beneath the plastic back, you'll find a removable battery, dual SIM slots, and the microSD slot. Again, all pretty par for the course.

On the software level, it's basically stock KitKat. I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking about that for two reasons: 1. It's stock, so it works like any other stock device; and 2. It's getting Lollipop soon. No need to focus on KitKat when Lollipop is essentially around the corner.

Conclusion

The main thing to consider with any Blu phone is the price, and the One and 8 XL are both very good devices for the money. But here's the thing: for the first week of each phone's release, Blu is knocking $50 off the price. That means starting today, the Life One will be available for pre-order for just $99, and when pre-orders start on June 22nd, the Life 8 XL will only be $79. To be completely, objectively honest with you - that's freakin' insane. The return that either one of these phones is going to offer for that kind of money is nothing short of incredible.

If you're interested in picking up either of these handsets, I definitely encourage you to do it during the first week of release

About the Author

Prejeesh Sreedharan

Author & Editor

I am a Biotechnologist very much interested in #SciTech (Science And Technology). I closely follow the developments in medical science and life science. I am also very enthusiast in the world of electronics, information technology and robotics. I always looks for ways to make complicated things simpler. And I always believes simplest thing is the most complicated ones.

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