These are two of the hottest low-end smartphones on the market right now-- the Alcatel A30 and BLU R1 HD. The term budget smartphone has become more and more vague over the years as OEMs continue to release devices in all kinds of different price tiers. These two smartphones are most certainly on the low end of the spectrum as they only cost right around $100 off-contract but you can pick up a variant with Amazon’s Offers and Ads that will bring the price of each smartphone down to only $60.
Let’s start by looking at the build department. Alcatel and BLU have sprinkled in some high quality materials even though the cheap use of plastic ultimately shines through. The R1 HD has a thicker band of metal around the device than the A30 and whereas the A30 has a soft sandpaper-like textured back cover, the R1 HD has a rubber coated back cover; both of which are removable for providing access to the SIM card and microSD card slots. The R1 HD does, however, have two SIM card slots. And unfortunately, the batteries cannot be removed.
You’ll see the builds are very similar but if I had to pick a winner here, I’d lean towards the R1 HD as it has smoother edges and more metal. It just feels like you’re getting a little bit more bang for your buck.
The A30 and R1 HD both have 5-inch 720p resolution displays. I personally prefer the R1 HD display a bit more as it has slightly thinner bezels and the display is slightly more vibrant offering better viewing angles and brightness. I do, however, like the ambient display mode available via the A30.
The software is where these devices contrast the most. On one hand, you have Android 7.0 Nougat and on the other, you have Android 6.0 Marshmallow. It’s impressive to see the A30 run Nougat right out of the box. It adds a bunch of new features that the R1 HD doesn’t have thanks to its year old operating system. We have multi-tasking, bundled notifications, a reply feature built into the settings, a new settings app itself, and Quick Settings toggles at the top of the notification panel. The list goes on and on.
It’s really unfortunate to see the R1 HD still running Android Marshmallow even after being one of the most popular BLU smartphones and for being on the market for almost a year now. BLU has a reputation for not delivering updates to its devices. I’ve been told that Nougat is on the horizon. But I take that with a grain of salt. Actions speak louder than words, my friends. So for software features and future-proofness, the A30 is the clear winner here.
With that said, the performance is a different story. The A30 features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 CPU with Adreno 304 GPU and with 2GB of RAM while the R1 HD has a MediaTek MT6735 processor with 2GB of RAM as well. In my testing, I found the R1 HD to be much more smooth in accomplishing everyday tasks like managing social media accounts and sending emails. The Alcatel A30, right out of the box, was dropping frames and flat out freezing at times; especially when trying to multi-task. So while you have a fresh, new operating system with neat features like multi-tasking, you don’t have a lot of resources necessary to smoothly execute a lot of those features. You’re going to have to decide what’s more important to you: software features or performance?
Both phones feature 8-megapixel rear-facing camera sensors. The A30 has a 5-megapixel front-facing sensor while the R1 HD has an 8-megapixel front-facing sensor. And in the right lighting conditions, you can capture some pretty decent shots with both of these images. When comparing two similar photos back to back or side by side, the A30 seems to capture more vibrant images. The R1 HD photos tend to be a bit more washed out and are over-exposed. I did have an easier time focusing on nearby subjects with the R1 HD than the A30 though. Also, the R1 HD can capture 1080p videos while the A30 maxes out at 720p.
The speakers are pretty tinny on both devices but the clear winner here is the A30 thanks to its positioning. While the R1 HD has a bottom facing speaker, the A30 has a front-firing speaker that produces a much more enjoyable listening experience.
Battery-life should last you through a full day with moderate usage. They both feature 2500 mAh batteries. With similar specifications, the battery life should be nearly the same across the board.
So these phones are incredibly alike. And while there’s no clear winner, I find myself gravitating more towards the BLU R1 HD. It performs marginally better and has a sleeker build in my opinion. With that said, I encourage you to continue to research and compare the specifications as the front-facing speaker of the A30 and the Android 7.0 Nougat operating system might make it a better option for you honestly.
Also, if you have Verizon, your only option is the Alcatel A30 so you definitely want to keep that in mind. Once again, both of these phones retail for about $100 without Amazon’s Offers and Ads. However, if you want to save even more money and you happen to be an Amazon Prime member and you don’t mind being advertised to, you can pick up a variant with Amazon’s Offers and Ads that will bring the price of each smartphone down to only $60, which is absolutely insane.