Last year, BLU made a big splash in the low-end budget smartphone market with the release of its R1 HD smartphone. It’s a device that was priced at just about $60 with Amazon’s Offers and Ads available via the lock screen. The smartphone we have in front of us today is the latest member to join the R1 family. It’s called the R1 Plus and it offers a ton of competitive features for a relatively low off-contract price of about $160. However, BLU is offering a 24-hour sale that will knock off $50 from the price, bringing it down to just $109 off-contract; the price of the older R1 HD without Offers and Ads.
The R1 Plus has an aluminum metal housing that feels cool to the touch and premium. The back is removable, providing access to dual SIM card slots and a microSD card slot for expandable storage. Unfortunately though, you cannot remove the battery. The Power Sleep On/Off button is a bit small for my liking but it does have some texture to it to help your fingers locate it.
If you’re coming from the R1 HD, this device feels considerably more chunky in the hands. But that is because of the massive 4,000 mAh battery that is hiding under the hood. One of the main reasons why you should buy this smartphone is for that massive battery.
Up front is a 5.5-inch HD display that has pretty decent viewing angles and brightness. It’s far from being the sharpest display I’ve ever seen but it’s what you can expect given the overall price of less than $200. With LG and Samsung’s significantly trimming down the bezels of their flagship smartphones, the separation between high-end and low-end in smartphones has never been more apparent. As you can see here, the R1 Plus has thick bezels around the display. There is no fingerprint scanner found on this device. So if that’s a dealbreaker for you, I recommend something like the $130 BLU Life Max.
The software is Android 6.0 Marshmallow. However, I have been told Android 7.0 is in the works and it’s actually in its final testing and will be released very soon. I wish it shipped with the phone but it’s still good to see that it will be coming in a future update very soon. I do consider myself a fan of the skin found running on top of Marshmallow because of how similar it is to stock Android. You get those nice, big Google Now launcher-esque icons, you get an app drawer, Google Search bar and quick settings where you’d expect to find them in the notification panel. The settings drawer and overview tray are also very similar to stock Android where you’ll see BLU’s footprint is with the pre-installed BLU apps.
There is a lot of Amazon bloatware and instead of Chrome on the home screen, the Opera browser is there by default. Of course, you can completely change the look and feel of the launcher and Chrome is pre-installed. It’s just not on the lock screen. The Google Play Store has a ton of different apps that you can use to customize the look and feel of your Android device.
In terms of performance, the R1 Plus isn’t a speed beast but it’s no slouch. It does take considerably longer to load content than a mid-tier or flagship smartphone but it does so without any sort of hiccups or stuttering. You may wait a few seconds longer for apps to load up for the first time but content will load up fairly smoothly most of the time. The model I have features a MediaTek 6737 quad-core processor with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. I’d recommend this configuration over the model with 16GB storage and 2GB of RAM.
The Plus has a 13-megapixel camera sensor on the rear with a 5-megapixel selfie camera, you can take some pretty good images with the rear-facing sensor. But the vast majority of the images I captured were either over-exposed or slightly under-exposed actually, which is a little bit unusual to see. With that said, images were fairly crisp and vibrant.
The front-facing sensor is able to capture some nice wide images. What’s neat is that there’s a front-facing flash so you can capture selfies in a wide range of lighting conditions.
The speaker on the rear can get very loud but it’s quite tinny and the placement isn’t ideal. The battery life might be the strongest area of this phone. Under the hood lies the massive 4,000 mAh super battery that we mentioned earlier and it should easily last you a full day of moderate to heavy usage or two days with a little usage.
So BLU has a lot of great devices for those on a budget and the R1 Plus is no exception. For $160 off-contract, it could absolutely be worth it for you, depending on what you want in a smartphone. If you want a device with excellent battery life and a premium build construction, then by all means, look into the R1 Plus. If you want a sub $200 smartphone with a fingerprint scanner, maybe check out the $130 BLU Life Max. BLU has a lot of great options for you and so does other manufacturers like Motorola or Lenovo and Alcatel.
BLU is currently offering a killer deal, which will bring the cost of the R1 Plus down to $110 off-contract. If you’re interested in that deal, here’s a link to check it out. It only lasts 24 hours so you’ve got to act quick if you’re at all thinking about picking up this phone.