06
Aug
1

When it comes to affordable, off-contract handsets, BLU is one of my favorite phone manufacturers on the market. The company offers a myriad of devices to fit a wide range of budgets, and today's release features a couple of new handsets for those looking to pick up a smartphone for around $150 or less. As always with BLU, that's an off-contract price.

wm_IMG_3016

These two new phones – the Studio C Mini and Studio 5.0 C HD – are made to compete directly with Motorola's budget devices, the Moto E and Moto G, respectively. I'm sure most people are familiar with Moto's handsets by now, but here's a direct spec comparison:

Moto E

BLU Studio C Mini

  • 4.3-inch 540x960
  • 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon 200
  • 1GB RAM
  • 4GB Storage, SD card slot
  • 5MP rear shooter
  • 1,980mAh Battery
  • HSPA+
  • Android 4.4
  • 124.8 x 64.8 x 12.3 mm
  • $130
  • 4.7-inch 480x800
  • 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6582
  • 512MB RAM
  • 4GB storage, SD card slot
  • 5MP rear shooter, 2MP front
  • Removable 2,000mAh battery
  • HSPA+ 21
  • Android 4.4
  • 138 x 71.5 x 9.5 mm
  • $120

Moto G

BLU Studio 5.0 C HD

  • 4.5-inch 720x1280
  • 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB Storage
  • 5MP rear shooter, 1.3MP front
  • 2,070mAh battery
  • HSPA+
  • Android 4.4
  • 129.9 x 65.9 x 11.6 mm
  • $180
  • 5-inch 720x1280
  • 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6582
  • 1GB RAM
  • 4GB storage, SD card slot
  • 8MP rear shooter, 2MP front 
  • Removable 2,000mAh battery
  • HSPA+ 21
  • Android 4.4
  • 145 x 73 x 9.7 mm
  • $150

Spec-for-spec, BLU's handsets appear to mostly hold their own against Moto's offerings (at least on paper), with the 5.0 C HD offering what appears to be the best value between the four. While I don't have a Moto G or E on hand to directly compare to, I've had both Studio models for the past couple of days and spent some time using them. Overall I'm quite impressed with the quality of both devices for the money, and I think they're excellent options for anyone looking to buy on the cheap. Let's take a quick look at each handset individually, starting with the more affordable of the two, the Studio C Mini.

BLU also announced the Studio CE series, which is virtually identical to these two devices, but without the HSPA+ radio (3G only).

Studio C Mini

wm_IMG_3035

This is the lesser of the two handsets, with overall low end specs. Of course, it has an equally low-end price to go with it; at just $120, the Studio C Mini offers an excellent value that won't break the bank. Don't be fooled by its low-res display, I was pleasantly surprised at how good it looks, all things considered. Text is much sharper than I thought it would be, and, like so many other BLU devices, the colors are very well calibrated. While I wouldn't say it's comparable to an HD display, it definitely feels higher res than it is.

Of course, I expect the knee-jerk reaction to the specs – after all, how good can a 480x800 display and 512MB of RAM be? In this case, I'm going with not terrible. Definitely not as bad as I expected, anyway, which is always a nice change (especially in a world where so many devices are disappointing).

wm_IMG_3033b wm_IMG_3032a wm_IMG_3036

For such an affordable handset, it's actually quite snappy. This is something that I feel the 480x800 display actually aids in; fewer pixels to push means better processor and GPU performance. Of course, it probably goes without saying, but the C Mini is no speed demon by any standards. However, KitKat does a great job of making the limited amount of RAM go further than one would expect. Thanks, Project Svelte!

Where build is concerned, I think the C Mini has a nice frame for its low price. The back cover is thin and slightly slippery (not unlike the one on the Life Play), but otherwise it feels pretty good. Better than I expected for such a low-cost piece of hardware, anyway. That seems to be a recurring theme here, doesn't it?

Studio 5.0 C HD

wm_IMG_3022

Love the matching speaker grill. Very nice touch.

Of the two handsets, I'd readily say this one is the best value. For just $30 more, you get an extra half-gig of RAM, a 5-inch 720p display, and 8MP rear camera. To me, the upgrade is a no-brainer.

But it's about more than just the extra stuff here; this is a good handset for $150. The display is nice and vibrant, performance is overall smooth and snappy, and it has a great form factor. Hard to ask for more than that for a hunnit-fiddy.

The overall feel of the device is a lot like the C Mini. The removable back is kind of thin and slippery, but it's otherwise solid. It also comes in a variety of colors (both devices do, actually): white, black, orange, teal, and pink. BLU sent me the pink one, which is super vibrant and kickass in my opinion. I'd rock it.

wm_IMG_3028 wm_IMG_3029 wm_IMG_3031

It's packing the same chip as the C Mini, and performance is also essentially identical, though benchmark scores may be slightly lower due to the increased pixel count. In the real world, where benchmarks don't really mean anything, however, there isn't a tangible difference. These aren't powerhouse devices, but they handle most things that average users would throw at them just fine.

Conclusion

wm_IMG_3026

Overall, BLU exceeded my expectations with both of these handsets, which is always a pleasant experience. That said, we have to keep in mind who these devices are for: typical users. Mom, grandma, or tweener child; those who don't require a whole lot from their phones. They're not made for power users, but hopefully you already gathered that.

But really, I think it'll be hard to beat the $150 5.0 C HD dollar-for-dollar. Whether you're looking for your kid's first smartphone or something to replace your broken handset till your contract is up, these new phones from BLU are definitely solid choices.

Buy: Studio 5.0 C HD, Studio C Mini

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://robert.aitchison.org raitchison

    This is some competition I can get behind

  • Vivek Goel

    BLU Studio 5.C HD is Micromax Canvas 2 Colors A120 in India

  • CeluGeek

    I'd totally pick the Studio 5 C HD, if it had 8 GB of internal storage; 4 GB is not enough. I'm okay with everything else they did.

  • Guest

    Menu button? Back button on the right side? wat?

  • Someone from the other side

    Two points:
    A) the C HD has no LTE, so fair comparison is the 180USD Moto G, not the 220USD Moto G LTE
    BV) anyone who choses MTK over Qualcomm deserves the pain he will experience.

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

      Good call on the first point. Updated to reflect.

      • atlouiedog

        You should probably also remove the SD card slot from the Moto G listing then.

      • Dalladubb

        Also, the regular Moto G doesn't have HSPA+. 3G only. The LTE Moto G (which has HSPA+ as well) is over $200 ($219 I believe, but don't quote me). I have the 3G version in my hand right now and can confirm it only does 3G.

        • Someone from the other side

          It has hspa us roms just do not show it in the status bar (European one does)

        • acejavelin

          The Moto G (3G GSM) model definitely does do HSPA+, have the GPE model right here with a Cricket SIM in it and its connected with HSPA+42 right now. The original firmware always showed 3G in the status bar but current firmware gives us the familiar H and H+ symbols. Try Network Signal Info app to confirm, but if your not getting it, there is a problem.

  • Intoblu

    Join us on reddit at /r/intoblu

  • AJ

    NO LTE??? Its DOA. come on blu

  • MirandaU

    Why do they have Menu buttons?

  • mgamerz

    Why. Why are there capacitive buttons. Is this 2010 again?

    • Artur Łukasz

      osb sucks
      the worst idea ever.

      • mgamerz

        How? By having buttons that aren't always visible? Easy to accidentally press?

        • Justin W

          He's upset because adaptive buttons should never exist.

        • Artur Łukasz

          ya, i buy phone with 5" screen with osb, now, i have 5" or 4,8?

          next, in 1+1 is a great function, osb and hardware buttons.

          the user should have the right to choose

          • mgamerz

            Your 5" phone with capacitive buttons is going to be significantly larger to compensate, where in games (and other fullscreen apps) the buttons and status bar disappear completely for on screen buttons. So you never even have to think about accidentally hitting a key.

          • Artur Łukasz

            pierdolenie.
            larger and larger.
            e.g. xperia z1c, 4,3" with osb and big frames.
            in all places expect games osb reduce screen, this ridiculus
            in large phone this isn't problem.
            without root this buttons was too big, without root user don't have any config.

          • Yesman

            Software buttons are superior, period. They're customizable, you don't accidentally press them (I've had Note 2 where I would accidentally press menu or back button all the time, now I have G2 and that never happens). It's OEM's fault if they make big-ass bezels, I am looking at Sony. HTC at least gives you front speakers so the bezels are understandable. Besides, if you buy 4.3" don't expect lots of user space.

          • Artur Łukasz

            4.3" with osb 4.1" :)

      • Grayson

        Capacitive buttons suck.

        Ugly.

        Non configurable.

        Extra bezel required.

        Typically smaller, more finicky touch targets.

        Every time you hand your phone to someone they press them accidentally.

        Typically don't stay lit long enough (understandable, because they typically have a hideous yellow hue that no one wants to see).

        I do not miss the days I used Samsung phones with cap buttons.

    • jESUS

      ...to maximise screen real-estate obviously.

      capacitive buttons ftw!

  • muhammadusamasheikh

    Avaible in India as Micromax Canvas 2 Colors A120 and Pakistan as Qmobile i9 for 3 months.

  • Haji

    The problem with BLU is you'd be stuck with whatever OS version it comes out. You won't see any update whatsoever. I got one of their phones awhile back and I can't install some of the apps because it is on 4.1.

    • Grayson

      Which is odd considering their phones appear to run stock Android. Should be easy to update. Google does all the work. All they have to do is integrate the latest drivers for their hardware, compile, and test to make sure nothing went wrong.

      • Josh Rahn

        Is there a good dev community support for blu phones?

        • h4rr4r

          No, because in violation of the GPL they do not release kernel source. You should avoid them at all costs.

        • hp420

          100% non existent

      • h4rr4r

        They don't release kernel source or drivers.

        • Grayson

          I'm not saying consumers should update it. I'm saying BLU should. It would be easy for them.

          • h4rr4r

            No it would not, Mediatek is likely not even giving them new kernels.

          • hp420

            this

    • eddoe

      Blu is updating some phone to Kit Kat. However, most people don't even know what Kit Kat and Ice Cream and Jelly Bean are.. and could care less. Plus most people will find no improvement in phone function updating to the latest OS. When my S4 was lost I picked up in old Droid X2.. Gingerbread! and it did every thing my S4 did, just a little slower.

    • Chuck Jones

      Absolutely correct. My wife has a Blu Life Play that is still running the OS it came with a year ago, and there is no prospect of any updates. This isn't just a functional issue - security flaws crop up from time to time and with the "ship it and forget it" mentality of Blu you're stuck. I won't be buying any more Blu products until they commit to timely updates.

  • Cheeze Keyk

    this is a rebrand from myphone rio in the philippines and micromax canvas A120..this device was first released in the phils.

  • Renan Lazarotto

    Lol, it uses MediaTek processors. This is a no-no in every scenario.

    • Erica Mathis

      Right, because MediaTek chips are known to be...errr, ummm,.. fast, reliable and affordable! Of course it's a no-no, lol. Keep baa baa baa-ing with the other sheep!

      • hp420

        Not for modders and tinkerers, though.

  • Nathan Fletcher

    The studio c mini needs much more than half a gigabyte of ram. That is just to small on KitKat in 2014

    • Simon Belmont

      Actually KitKat runs on 512MB of RAM quite nicely. I rock only 512MB in my B&N Nook Color running Android 4.4.4, and it's the snappiest and smoothest that it's ever been in nearly four years of ownership (Android 2.1 - KiKat and every version in between).

      That said, I agree, I'd prefer at least 1GB of RAM, if possible. Even 768MB would be okay.

    • hp420

      kitkat was specfically engineered to run on low ram devices...why would it need more ram? it's intended to be an almost disposable budget device.

  • h4rr4r

    Are they still violating the GPL?

  • Varu Era

    Never expect a update for these phones better go with moto. Worst customer service too.

    • BoloMKXXVIII

      Actually, Blu has sent me 3 updates in the year I have owned the Life Play and they have publicly stated it will get updated to 4.4.

  • pirerman

    the only thing that came to my mind when i saw this phones was the megapowers of macho man and hulk hogan and the company being based in florida and there being a yellow and pink versions...... i dont know it just came to my mind OOOOOOOOOHHH YEAAAAAAAAAAHHHH WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO WHEN THE MEGAPOWERS COME AFTER YOU BROTHER!!!!!????? (HINT: we want a vs battle for lightweight championship)

  • Simon Belmont

    Too bad MediaTek continues to fail to release the source for its kernel and thus phones from BLU seem to languish on the version of Android that they came with. I know a few handsets from BLU have FINALLY been updated from Android 4.2.2 to Android 4.4.x, but that sure took a long time.

    I hate to say it, but I avoid devices with MediaTek chips in them because of this. It's not even the fact that third party ROMs are tough to make, but that even official updates end up taking until the cows come home to show up because even the phone manufacturers can't do anything until binaries and such are updated.

    • eddoe

      What's the big deal about updating to the very latest software? Probably 90% of phone users could care less and most of them don't even know they can update their phones and when you do update, the upside is often not even noticeable to most people.

      • Simon Belmont

        How about security fixes that come in the latest update? Sometimes Google Play Services can cover that, but a lot of the time a full OS update is needed to patch holes (see Heartbleed).

        For me, security is a big thing and the lag time in slow updates leave you open to vulnerabilities. That's why I like being on the latest version (though new features are a big draw, too, obviously).

  • min009

    Kinda hard to beat the LG F6 currently which is only $100.

    • hp420

      no it's not. my old nokia brick phone was more reliable than that pile of junk!!

  • http://seapip.com/ Thomas Gladdines

    One word: mediatek

    ABANDON SHIP!

    • Erica Mathis

      MediaTek chips are known for great bang for the buck. The only people who talk crap about them are people who never owned a phone with a MediaTek. The MT6582 is comparable to the Snapdragon 400 in benchmarks and real-world performance. The latest 1.7 GHz MediaTek are onlt a tic behind the latest Snapdragon 800 chips, for 1/3 the price.

      • mondaykiz

        no it's because they don't release the source for their kernels so most devices with mediatek chips dont get updates. do some research.

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  • hp420

    A great choice for an extra phone if you need one you don't care about...for example, water sports, etc. At $150 you wouldn't be too upset if you drop it in a lake or something.