26
Nov
1[1]

Back in April, I said that BLU "is a company to keep an eye on moving forward." A few months later, I reviewed (and loved) my first BLU device: the Life Play. Since then I've also taken a look at the Life View – the company's take on a large-screened phone – which was also very impressive for the cost. I'm definitely a fan of what BLU is doing right now, and the company seems to be keeping a nice momentum with the Life series. It just officially announced the newest member of the family, the Life Pro (which it actually teased along with another device back in September). I was able to spend some time with a pre-production version of the Life Pro over the last week, and it's a sleek, sophisticated device.

wm_IMG_20131126_113828 wm_IMG_20131126_113847

Specs:
  • Network: 2G (GSM/GPRS/EDGE) 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, 3G (HSPA+ 42Mbps) 850/1900, 850/2100
  • Display: 5.0 inch HD 720 x 1280, with OGS and Full Lamination Scratch Resistant Touch Panel
  • Processor: MediaTek MT6589T Quad-Core 1.5GHz Cortex-A7 with PowerVR SGX544 GPU
  • OS: Android v4.2 Jelly Bean
  • Camera: Rear – 12.0 megapixel, BSI Sensor, autofocus with LED Flash, Video Record 1080p @ 30fps Front – 5.0 megapixel, BSI Sensor, Video Record 1080p @ 30fps; Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, panorama, HDR, image stabilization
  • Connectivity: WiFi b/g/n, GPS, Bluetooth v4.0, Hotspot, micro-USB, FM Radio
  • Sensor: Accelerometer, Proximity, Gyro
  • Memory: 16GB internal memory, 1GB RAM
  • Dimensions: 147 x 72.1 x 6.9mm, 158 grams
  • Battery: Li-Ion 2500mAh

In fact, the first thing that I noticed about the Pro is just how damn solid it feels. At just 6.9mm, it feels ultra svelte, and the all-aluminum exterior really gives it a premium feel. It's mostly black with a few chrome accents, which really pop and give it a very classy look. Where the Life Play is for those who want whimsical and fun, the Life Pro is definitely for those who want for a refined and polished look. At 165 grams it's a bit heavier than the Nexus 5 or Galaxy S4, but at the same time I'd actually say the materials used give it a higher-end feel than both.

The overall design is a little different than other devices I've used, in that the volume rocker and power button are both on the left side one just below the other. It's a little strange to adjust to at first, but I got used to it fairly quickly (and it's pretty rad to take screenshots with just one finger). That said, I did end up trying to turn the display on and off with the volume down key more times than I care to admit. It also uses a full-size SIM card, which is a little weird since most other devices use micro or nano at this point. Still, a minor complaint, and nothing that a SIM adapter can't fix in a snap.

wm_IMG_20131125_100211 wm_IMG_20131125_100421

The Pro is a little more powerful than both the Play, View, and One, as it's sporting a 1.5GHz quad-core chip, as opposed to the 1.2GHz chip found in the other three Life devices. This seemingly slight bump in speed actually makes a tangible difference in snappiness, which helps affirm the Pro name. Unfortunately it still only has a single GB of RAM, but like other BLU devices that I've used, it doesn't necessarily affect performance. Still, 2GB would be nice – good thing BLU has one in the works.

Also keeping in line with BLU's other products, the Life Pro has an absolutely gorgeous display. For me, this was the standout feature of the Life Play and Life View, and it keeps going with the Life Pro. Despite being only 1280x800, it looks absolutely fantastic. Color reproduction is vibrant and immersive thanks to BLU's Infinite View and Nex Lens technologies, and everything really pops off the screen without being oversaturated.

wm_IMG_20131126_113921

The Life Pro's 12MP shooter is pretty much on par with the Life View, which I reviewed a few weeks ago. Color reproduction looks good, and it's capable of grabbing some pretty solid images, especially outdoors. Like most smartphone cameras, it's not the greatest indoors or in low-light, but it'll work in a pinch. The five megapixel front camera is also on par with the Life View, and comes in quite handy for snapping your next selfie.

On the software side, Blu has stuck with minimal modifications to stock Android 4.2.1, much like with the Life Play/One. It still has a very stock look and feel, with useful additions like lockscreen notifications, battery percentage, a reboot option in the power menu (seriously, Google – why isn't this a stock option by now?), and a few other little things here and there. It's clean and runs really well.

Like with most Blu phones, the cost is one of the main selling points of the Life Pro. At just $300 off contract, the Life Pro is quite the deal for anyone looking to buy outside of the Nexus line. Simply put, it's a low-cost phone that feels and performs like a high-cost device.

Overall, I'm quite impressed with the Life Pro. It's a solid entry into Blu's Life series, and definitely lives up the Pro name. The performance is slightly better than other Blu devices thanks to the 1.5GHz processor, the display is beautiful, and the build quality is solid. Give the $300 price tag, what's not to love?

The Life Pro has already started shipping to retailers like Amazon, and will be available in the coming weeks.

BLU Products announces addition to its flagship Life Series smartphone devices, introducing the new Life PRO.

New Life Series device is the thinnest 5.0” HD display smartphone available in the market at just 6.9mm

MIAMI, November 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- BLU Products, one of the fastest growing mobile phone manufacturers in the world announced today the BLU LIFE PRO - the latest member of the extremely popular BLU LIFE Series of smartphone devices delivering stunning design and premium build quality with flagship performance. The new BLU LIFE PRO, with an extremely slim and premium aluminum construction design of just 6.9mm, features upgraded performance over the previous LIFE SERIES devices with a faster Quad Core 1.5GHz processor, which integrates a power-efficient subsystem, along with a long-lasting 2,500mAh battery for incredible battery performance, despite its slim design.

“The BLU LIFE PRO is an accomplishment of engineering as much as one of design.” said Samuel Ohev-Zion, CEO of BLU Products. “Every detail and material - particularly the sleek aluminum enclosure - has been meticulously considered and refined. It’s made with a level of precision you’d expect from a finely crafted watch, not a smartphone.”

Photos and videos come to life with spectacular clarity and rich, natural color on the vivid 5.0 inch IPS HD display incorporated in the BLU LIFE PRO, along with OGS and Full Lamination technologies resulting in unparalleled viewing angles and eye-popping images for an incredible and brilliant viewing experience.

The BLU LIFE PRO delivers on excellent image capture quality even in adverse conditions such as low light, or no light with advanced camera technology, featuring dual BSI sensor cameras, incorporating a 12 mega pixel autofocus camera on the back with Full HD 1080p @ 30 fps video recording, along with a 5.0 mega pixel front camera with an extremely wide field of view for self-portraits.

The BLU LIFE PRO has started shipping to distributors and dealers throughout the United States, Brazil, and Mexico and will be available unlocked throughout several US Online Retail partners such as Amazon.com at $299.00 unlocked with GSM Quad Band and 4G HSPA+ 42Mbps connectivity, in addition to Jelly Bean v4.2 with future software updates available through over the air wireless update feature.

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, and musician. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6- or 7-string, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • http://k3rnel.net Juan Rodriguez

    MONEY WORDS. hahaha. ${priceless}

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      WordPress screwed me here, haha - it pushed an old version of the post, and I had to revert it back to get all the stuff I added in after that part.

      Thanks, Obama!

  • aatifsumar

    Two words: Moto G

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      I'd be interested to see how something like the Life Pro compares to the Moto G. It out-specs it in some ways, but in others the G comes out on top. There's also the $100 price difference to consider.

      Either way, this is a great time to go off-contract. Between the Nexus 5, Moto G, and Blu phones, there should be something for pretty much everyone.

      • xsirxx

        Well The price on the Moto G makes it great for a replacement phone if your expensive contract phone goes plunk in the toilet. The Nexus 5 is just plain awesome to have off contract and save money. This phone really doesnt offer much those 2 dont. the only reason I would go for this over the Nexus 5 or the Moto G is if it had an SD card slot... does it?

        • david

          it doesn't.

    • wackenroader

      Compared to this Moto G has weak camera, low batery, simple tft screen and plastic body, Moto G is a simple low cost device, no way to compare.

  • fatman

    why the fuck is the usb port on the top????? or am i just crazy

    • ProductFRED

      Probably to save on design costs; one board that includes everything. On most non-budget devices (Samsung/HTC devices), the charging port is on a separate board that interfaces with the main board.

    • Cerberus_tm

      It's a rain meter. Really convenient: when the internal moisture seal turns green, you know it's raining.

  • Mystery Man

    Blu and other of contract budget phone makers should start using kit kat 👍

    • Markoff

      They are not making any phones, unless you mean by making go to Chinese website, out there order for few thousand phones, tell them to print Blu logo on it and send them your custom boot animation by e-mail. Yeah, that's making of phone for some "brands"...

      • Tuấn Ankh

        I second this. You speak the truth. XD

  • Rupeshwar

    Do BLU phones receive updates to newer versions of android?

    • psychoace

      No, they very seldom ever do.

      • efan

        how is the custom rom support?

        • psychoace

          Because Mediatek the makers of the SOC break the rules and don't release a source code for their kernel it's very hard to develop any real custom roms for these devices. You might see one rom with optimizations but don't expect updated OS's or anything.

          • Cerberus_tm

            So Cyanogen never comes out for Chinaphones with Mediatek processors? But Xposed modules will (mostly) still work, right?

          • http://www.slowlyboiledfrog.com/ DavidHart

            FWIW, it is not "their kernel." What they have failed to provide is source code for the drivers so that they might be incorporated into the kernel source or at least be available externally. Proprietary drivers "taint" the kernel.

          • wackenroader

            Faea, Oppo,Sony and Alcatel (TCL) release their mtk source code http://forum.faeamobile.com/thread-1080-1-1.html

      • KlausWillSeeYouNow

        If you contact them, you are far more likely to get an update. Some phones ship without OTA capability; apparently you can gain "Wireless Update" ability by flashing the first update from a microSD.

    • crackinthewall

      It's a rebranded phone so you better pray that whatever company actually made this phone will be generous enough to post an update. Even if Blu doesn't give you an update, as long as the manufacturer gives an update, you can expect to see an updated custom ROM at least.

  • disqus_7zCKYC2BSD

    when are they going to put 4g radios in their phones!!!

    • Markoff

      when LTE will be common in China, so in other words, wait for few years or more
      they can't put anything in "their" phones, since they don't produce anything, they just order phones from same factory like plenty of other resellers and just put sticker on "their" phones, not designing or deciding anything

    • KlausWillSeeYouNow

      Probably once they catch on more. Someone at BLU told me before very long, they'll begin to have LTE. But for now, until the popularity increases 4G DC-HSPA is doing just fine for their customers.

  • Cheeseball

    Has BLU or Oppo forced MediaTek to stop being ignorant and release kernel sources for their chipsets yet? They make good budget SoCs, but without access to the sources developers aren't able to do much with them.

    • Markoff

      While real brand Oppo can have some strength to do this, Blu reseller selling few phones in US, just like any other reseller has no strength at all to demand anything with their small amounts of orders.

      • Cheeseball

        It's a shame about MediaTek, really. They have the potential to compete well with Qualcomm, Samsung and Rockchip, but if they're going to be violating the GPL and not giving what the developers want, they're going to continue getting backlash from the Android enthusiast community.

  • sean

    It's a soon for any phone to be released with Android 4.2 at this point. Very saddening

    • sean

      *shame*...not "soon"

    • Markoff

      what you expect from US reseller of Chinese phones? even my Chinese phone bought more than year ago got update from Android 4.1.1 to 4.2.2 so releasing in end of 2013 somethign which is not at least 4.3 is bad joke

      • KlausWillSeeYouNow

        Reseller? Show me the Chinese variant. Please explain.

        • Markoff

          there are plenty of phones with same specs for lower price, are you serious? this phone is totally average, if it would be US phone it would have at least LTE, but all these chap chinese phones don't have LTE because chinese have no use for it, it's very easy to distinguish which phone is for international markets and which are made for chinese and just sold by resellers abroad, just look for LTE nowadays, it was same before, all chinese phones were without 3G but now when chinese catched on they are one step behind again with LTE

          poor try from blu PR department here, you guys better look for new job because nobody will ever buy your phones now with nexus 5 and moto g and other real branded phones for lower prices than your chinese white box craps without real development departments just copying ROMs from each other

          • KlausWillSeeYouNow

            The Moto G just isn't in the same league. Sure, it has LTE, but it lacks many features that competitors have. And, by the way, I'm sure you're trolling - the Moto G did NOT set the world on fire. It is average in every sense of the word.

            I don't work for BLU, but I sure was on-target when I noticed you're a hater. Your attacks are virtually entirely baseless, and the animus you harbor toward BLU is evident in your responses.

            By the way, NEWS FLASH: Most phones are manufactured in China nowadays. This is nothing new. Globalization is the name of the game.

          • wackenroader

            Compared to this Moto G has weak camera, low batery, simple tft screen
            and plastic body, Moto G is a simple low cost device, no way to compare.

            Yes Blu devices is made in china, just like the iphone, blu develops the project and the Chinese manufacture, sometimes they license some Chinese design already ready (ex: Life play = gionee elife E3)

  • Christopher Robert

    Stopped reading at "only 1GB of RAM".

    • Christopher Roberty’s Mom

      Why? You dont need more than that for anything.... literally anything on android.

      • smallet

        It might be true that no app on android might require it, but two apps would. I sometimes don't want my apps to take time to reload their previous state (like browser tabs). Anyone have any idea how ram management works in android? Would love to see some specifics on RAM management.

        • Cerberus_tm

          Each application has a number (assigned by the OS, I think), and the system kicks old ones out of memory as it gets full, and it picks which application to kick out first based on this number. System applications will have numbers that are so low (I think low = more important) that they will never get kicked out. Not entirely sure how the number management works exactly, but this is a very much simplified summary.

  • Bill Anderson

    No 1700 support, so this is really AT&T only...

    • psychoace

      or T-Mobile in refarmed areas

      • Derail Doax

        T-Mobile refarmed in areas like Seattle actually produce respectable speeds. On my old Asus Fonepad I used to get 10-15 Mbps speed test downloads. Recently Verizon and AT&T LTE speed tests have only been returning around 8-10 Mbps, so T-Mobile is doing a great job here. BTW, here in Seattle T-Mobile 42Mbps HSPA and T-Mo LTE consistently returns about a 20-25 Mbps download each. So from my personal experience T-Mobile has been the strongest in Seattle. Sprint is horrible at 200 Kbps 3G, and 2 Mbps LTE.

  • Tuấn Ankh

    If you're on a tight budget, go with the Moto G.
    If you can afford this Blu, just add $50 and get the Nexus 5 which is many times better.
    From my experience of owning a Blu (Life Play), it's not worth the money. Software isn't well made. I've found weird issues on my unit. You also gotta wait forever for an update. Mediatek chips will have troubles with GPS too, so you gotta consider it if you don't have a separate GPS.

    • Watho

      Mediatek Soc's doesn't have problem with GSP, also "each manufacturer may change the gps chip" But what happens is that the mediatek soc's are configured for the Asian region, you can solve it with MobileUncle app from Playstore and configure it to work in America or Europe ;) ., I'm agree with you, If you want just add extra $50 and buy Nexus 5 (More support, etc) .

      • Tuấn Ankh

        Good to know that. Too bad I can't try it since I lost my Life Play last week. xD

  • br_hermon

    Hey Cameron, have you AP guys ever considered doing video with your phone reviews? The reviews are always outstanding but I always like to see what the phone looks like "in-hand" and witness it's responsiveness.

  • http://www.youtube.com/#/mrjlwilliams J. Williams

    Moto G, Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Nokia Lumia 521, and the list goes on. $299 is too much, but people might still buy it. With last years specs, and a high price...are you gonna take the bait?

  • Cesar

    Compared to the Moto G, which is $100 cheaper for the same 16GB capacity, the only places the Life Pro really beats it are the camera and battery. I want to like this phone, but if I were to choose, I'd probably take the Moto G over the Life Pro. The only thing that could really change my mind is if Blu had opted to include a MicroSD slot.

  • [A]dri[A]n

    If only it had a SD slot or 32GB of internal. It would almost be the perfect budget phone.

    • Markoff

      Budget phone? I guess you never heard about Moto G with basically same specs for almost for half price and real firmware updates and supoport in future compared to this reseller of cheap Chinese phones. Hey for 300USD you can have already nexus 5, why would anyone be so stupid to buy some overpriced Chinese phone when you can get officially supported phone from Google for same price?

      • KlausWillSeeYouNow

        This is an officially supported phone. It has the Play Store and Gapps. What are you talking about?

        • Markoff

          any chinese phone can have play store and gapps, really big problem to install them or ask factory to preinstall it in ROM...

          you guys in Blu PR department are quite slow, anyay it won't save you with nexus 5 and moto g you can be happy you found enough fools for some time, but now get over it and close your business

          • KlausWillSeeYouNow

            I don't work for Blu, and your China babble is almost completely nonsensical. Getting nervous, Moto fanboy? Oh, and since when did the Moto G get a 12MP shooter? Or quad-core? Get real.

            Your nasty attitude has convinced me beyond a shadow of a doubt that your facts are desperate, and your argument wrong.

          • Anon.

            THE MOTO G HAS A BETTER PROCESSOR. IT HAS A QUAD CORE SNAPDRAGON 400!

          • KlausWillSeeYouNow

            Haha, you're right. Thanks for pointing out. Noted and edited.

  • JM

    Hey Cameron - you mentioned this uses a full size SIM card. Is this a dual-SIM phone? I just ordered the Blu Life Play (based largely off your review!) and dual-SIM functionality was a large part of that decision. Just trying to decide if I should have waited... Thanks!

  • Markoff

    TLDR: Crap compared to Moto G.
    Whole "Blu" brand or better said reseller of nameless Chinese phones you can buy all over internet under plenty of other "brands" is just joke and was effectively killed by Moto G and Nexus 5. I wish this would happen in other countries than just US.

    • psychoace

      It's really weird huh? Android Police and Phonedog really seem to be blushing about these phones. Yet the Nexus 5 being $50 more expensive gets heavily scutinized. The Blu devices seem to be getting a free pass even with their low end cpu's screens, support, and features. I mean the lack of LTE and NFC should be a big thing yet they are completely ignored. I can get the LG Optimus F3 and F6 for less then this phone and it has both. A lot of places seem to be pampering Blu's butt.

      • AndroidUser

        Even though it doesn't have a 4g LTE feature, it still can go up to HSPA+ 42 mbps on 850/1900. Its camera is much better than the Moto G and the Nexus, especially the front facing one with 5 megapixels.

    • Derail Doax

      TL;DR: Too bad, I really wanted to show Blu support but Moto stole the show and my purchase.

      Yup, I broke down and bought a Moto G 16GB. I have been eyeballing the Blu Studio 5.5 even though it has an extremely low PPI with its $169 pricetag on eBay. But I've been reluctant to buy it because I already have a Note 3 and carrying two HUGE phones around would get very annoying. I waited and waited, then the Moto G was announced and all plans to buy a Blu phone went out the window.

      The Moto G has many bonuses over the Blu phones, #1 Moto is owned by Google, #2 Moto is guaranteeing updates and is updating to 4.4 in January I wouldn't believe this if they didn't update the Verizon Moto X before the Nexus 4 even received its update, #3 Moto is a full on American company not just a reseller of white box phones, #4 the Moto G has a Snapdragon 400 in it instead of a Mediatek, #5 a high PPI that rivals the iPhones cherished "retina display", #6 swapable colored back plates instead of buying a blue phone and get stuck always having a blue phone, #7 an on screen Multitasking button instead of a less useful Menu button with multitasking handled through a long press of the home button, #8 1700 Mhz HSPA frequency radio for better compatibility with T-Mobile, #9 more likely to get Developer love for rooting and ROMing, #9 being able to buy from Motorolas website instead of eBay or a third party seller through Amazon. I could go on and on.

      My distrust for Motorola and their lies about their updates came from the days of owning a Motorola Cliq XT. That phone was promised to get the 2.0/2.1 Eclair update for many months and in the end they retracted their promise and left it stranded on Donut 1.6. Ever since then I haven't bought a Moto phone, until the Moto G. But I think its okay now because once Google bought Motorola they cleaned house and everyone who lied about that update probably lost their jobs in the house cleaning. YAY, maybe less lies?

  • César Gonzalez

    im in venezuela and cant acces the play store to get a nexus 5 and since im not gonna get it from amazon at $489 this phone is pretty much perfect for me since i really dont care about samsungs, lg or htc software gimmicks, ill get this in january, yummy

  • david

    Nice review. The phone would certainly be a very good budget device if it wasn't for the Nexus 5. The additional 50$ for the 16GB version makes the Blu Life Pro a bad bargain.

    Also, I think you should mention in your review that the phone doesn't support LTE. It's in the press release, but I guess many readers would skip that assuming that the most noteable features (or lack thereof) are in the review.

    • Gabernasher

      "Network: 2G (GSM/GPRS/EDGE) 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, 3G (HSPA+ 42Mbps) 850/1900, 850/2100"
      That kinda explains no LTE.

  • Ana

    Where did you buy??

  • http://www.slowlyboiledfrog.com/ DavidHart

    I swore I would keep my Froyo device until the end of this month. I have started looking.

    Price and the 12mb camera are the attractions. Nevertheless, I am inclined to spend another $50 on a Nexus 5 and not have to worry about being locked into KitKat. I would keep my current Huawei (sounds like a Hawaiian disease) if I could upgrade the damned thing. Apps that I need do not run in Froyo, What was I thinking?

    I have been a dedicated Linux user (and sometime developer) since RH 7.4. Over time the kernel has become increasingly hardware agnostic. Google seems to have persuaded Linus to put the Android arch back into the kernel and they seem to be dedicated to a migration commitment. It is TRUST that will probably have me spending more. I am not entirely certain that an aluminum frame is necessarily a good thing as it lacks the rigidity of the plastic. The BLU is not something that I could buy from Amazon without actually holding one first. BLU customer reviews overall are mixed.

    BTW, I sent BLU "sales" a couple of pre-sale questions on Friday morning. They have not favored me with a reply. What if I have a problem? Google called me within 60 seconds of submitting a web form.