BLU has been releasing budget smartphones for years now in the US market but they have been unlocked GSM-only devices that work with T-Mobile, AT&T, and other GSM-only networks. Now, the company is releasing a CDMA smartphone called the S1 for the Sprint and Boost Mobile users out there. But don’t get confused. The S1 still supports GSM carriers like T-Mobile and AT&T but it now also supports Sprint’s CDMA networks as well. The only caveat is that it does not support Verizon’s CDMA network.
The S1 is being marketed as being simply brilliant and I’m not so sure about the brilliant part but I do agree that it is a simple budget smartphone. It tries to pull off a metal unibody build construction with its use of “metal plastic” but it’s not fooling anybody here. This is a plastic smartphone that is extremely slippery so I would definitely recommend that you throw in a case. It doesn’t feel uncomfortably chunky or rigid in the hands though. It does have a microSD card slot for expandable storage to help expand the 16GB of onboard storage. We are looking at a 5.2-inch 720p LCD display with moderately chunky bezels, pretty solid viewing angles and brightness, and just average color vibrancy.
Under the display, we have a physical home button that doubles as a fingerprint scanner and the scanner works really fast. The software is really clean and it should appeal to those who love stock Android. This near stock version of Android 7.0 Nougat will maximize the performance of the relatively under powered MediaTek processor and 2GB of RAM. Despite these hardware limitations or conservative hardware specifications, the phone does actually do a pretty good job quickly and smoothly of opening up applications and switching between applications. You will notice some lag when running two applications at the same time but even so, the performance has still exceeded my expectations. I honestly didn’t expect much from this device.
There is a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera sensor with an f/2.0 aperture as well as a 5-megapixel front-facing camera sensor. Image quality is just fine outdoors and in plenty of sunlight but when you bring this camera indoors and you take photos in adequate lighting conditions, you’re going to start to notice some noise and faded colors but it’s what you’d expect with a smartphone at this price tier. The front-facing sensor does have a similar effect. Photos tend to come out with varying degrees of faded-ness. Also, there’s no front-facing flash, which I’m generally used to seeing on BLU devices.
The 2,800mAh battery is not exceptionally large but I do feel very confident that this phone will last you a full day of moderate usage on a single charge. It has a clean version of Android and a fairly low-powered hardware specifications.
And last but not the least, we have the bottom-facing speaker. It’s not in my preferred placement but it’s not in the absolute worst place, which would be on the back.
So this is the S1 smartphone from BLU. It’s their first CDMA smartphone and it retails for $179 on Amazon. When you purchase this phone, you will get a screen protector, silicone case, quick guide, charger, USB cable, earbuds, and SIM card key all included in the box. You get pretty much everything to get this phone up and running.