Earlier this week, Blu announced a handful of new phones: the Vivo Selfie, Studio C 5+5, Studio C 5+5 LTE, and Energy X Plus. Each handset has something that makes it stand out from the others, and all of them come in at the low price points that we've come to expect from Blu. In short, we've got a thin and light phone made for selfies, a pair of ultra-affordable devices with dual 5MP shooters, and one with a battery that's in it for the long haul.

I've had three of the four for the last few days, with the only exception being the 5+5 LTE since it's virtually identical to the 5+5, just with the addition of LTE.

So, let's talk about 'em.

Vivo Selfie

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The Vivo line is all about thin, sleek handsets, and the Vivo Selfie fits into that description perfectly. It features a 4.8-inch 720p panel covered in Gorilla Glass 3, and is powered by a MediaTek 6582 1.3GHz quad-core processor with 1GB of RAM. Android 5.0 runs the show here, and it's surprisingly snappy on just 1GB of RAM, though it's hard to say how that will work out in a long-term situation. Here's a look at the full spec list:

Specs

Display 4.8-inch 1280x720 Super AMOLED with Gorilla Glass 3
Processor 1.3GHz quad-core Mediatek 6582
RAM 1GB
Camera 8MP rear shooter (1.1mm pixel size, 1/3.2 inch sensor, 2.4mm aperture), 8MP front camera with flash
Storage 8GB internal, microSD card slot
Ports microSD, microUSB, 3.5mm audio
Wireless (GSM/GPRS/EDGE) 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, (4G HSPA+ 21Mbps) 850/1700/1900/2100; Wi-Fi b/g/n/, GPS, Bluetooth v4.0, Hotspot, FM Radio
Dimensions 141 x 68.4 x 7.7 mm
Battery 2,300mAh
OS Android 5.0
Available colors Sandstone Gray, Ceramic White, Teal, Mint Green, Salmon Pink
Price $149, unlocked
Buy Amazon

You want to know what else is pretty fun about the Vivo Seflie? It comes with a selfie stick! I get that selfie sticks aren't for everyone, and that's fine - but you have to admit that it's pretty neat for a phone to ship with its own stick right in the box. It's even Blu branded so it matches the phone. Awwww, BFFs.

Oh, and the included screen protector matches the body of the phone. That's also pretty awesome.

Appearance, Hardware, and Build Quality

While the Vivo Selfie comes in a variety of colors, my review unit is unfortunately a non-descript Sandstone Gray model. It's not that it looks bad, but it's just kind of boring considering all the other awesome colors this phone comes in. I bet the Teal one is rad.

But I digress - it's a pretty typical-looking phone, but it still fits in the Vivo line fairly well. It isn't nearly as flashy as the Vivo Air or IV, but it's still sleek and thin. The back is removable soft-touch plastic, so it doesn't necessarily have that premium feeling the other Vivos do, but it's also the most affordable, so that's to be expected.

The front of the phone is a simple panel, with a speaker grille that reminds me a lot of the Nexus 5, flanked by the 8MP front shooter on one side and LED flash on the other. Like with other recent Blu pones, this one is lacking capacitive buttons and relies on Lollipop's on-screen navigation. The other phones in this hands-on roundup follow suit, but we'll get to those later.

The right side houses the power button at the top and camera shutter button at the bottom, the microUSB port and headphone jack are on the bottom, and volume rocker on the left. There's nothing on the top.

Beneath the removable back you'll find dual microSIM slots and a microSD card slot. Like many other recent Blu phones, the battery is non-removable.

The Vivo Selfie's 4.8-inch 720p Super AMOLED display is exactly what you'd want and expect from a 720p Super AMOLED display: it looks good. Colors pop, and everything is clear and sharp. Viewing angles are good. Overall, it's a nice display, especially for the price. No complaints.

For a phone with "seflie" in the name, I'm actually pretty disappointed in the camera on this one. Here are a few shots with both cameras so you can judge it for yourself, both indoors and outdoors:

Software and Performance

The Vivo Selfie runs Android 5.0, which is simultaneously some of the best and most frustrating software Google has ever released. It's great because it's fast, functional, and beautiful, but the ultra-aggressive memory management can be the most frustrating thing on the planet. Listening to music and fire up maps? Psh, no more music for you. But you want it back? Fine, maps is gone, gone, gone. I can feel my blood pressure rising just thinking about it.

Now, that situation doesn't exactly describe my experience with the Vivo Selfie, but! since this only has one gigabyte of RAM, I can see how it could really become an issue. That said, during my testing it was fine...but I didn't test it with heavy use, nor did I use it as a daily driver. So take that for what it's worth.

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The processor is the same quad-core Mediatek chip that we've seen in several other Blu phones before it, and the performance from it is just OK. It's not terrible by any measure, but you can easily tell when the phone gets overloaded - like I've said a dozen other times, I'd really like to see Blu use the octa-core Mediatek chip that's in the Vivo Air (and a couple of others), because honestly it's a solid budget chip. Probably the best I've ever used.

But alas, this is its quad-core cousin, and unsurprisingly not as snappy. Still, for a budget phone, it's not bad at all, and if all it's being used for is checking social networking, the occasional email, or Googling things during a heated debate with friends to prove who's right, then it'll be just fine. You really won't even feel any slowdown till the phone is under a heavy load - like the Maps and Music example I pointed out earlier.

As far as modifications to the stock OS, you won't find many on the Vivo Seflie. It has a couple of additional options in the quick settings panel for audio profiles and data connection, and a scheduled power on/off entry in the Settings menu. There's also an option to enable the battery percentage in the status bar. Otherwise, it's a stock experience with the stock Android launcher. Simple.

Energy X Plus

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Back in February, Blu released a phone called the Studio Energy, which had a 5,000mAh battery. I wouldn't necessarily call the Energy X Plus the Studio Energy's successor as much as I'd call it another big-batteried phone from Blu; in fact, it's actually very similar to the Studio Energy. Save for a couple of changes, the specs are nearly identical:

Specs

Display 5.5-inch 1280x720 IPS panel
Processor 1.3GHz quad-core Mediatek 6582
RAM 1GB
Camera 8MP rear shooter (1.1mm pixel size, 1/3.2 inch sensor, 2.4mm aperture), 5MP front camera with flash
Storage 8GB
Ports microUSB, 3.5mm audio
Wireless (GSM/GPRS/EDGE) 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, (4G HSPA+ 21Mbps) 850/1700/1900/2100; Wi-Fi b/g/n/, GPS, Bluetooth v4.0, Hotspot, FM Radio
Dimensions 150.5 x 76.5 x 8 mm
Battery 4,000mAh
OS Android 5.0
Available colors Sandstone Gray, Ceramic White, Gold
Price $139
Buy Amazon

OK, so it has a slightly smaller battery (but still pretty large by today's standards), a new OS, and a larger screen, essentially. A different phone, but still kind of the same. Yeah.

Appearance, Hardware, and Build Quality

While the Energy X Plus (EXP) may be a lot like the Studio Energy on the inside, the outside is quite different. This one is a lot sleeker than its sibling.

My review unit is the Ceramic White model, which features both a lot of white and silver. It's actually very high-quality and classy looking, which I like. Like the Vivo Selfie, the EXP uses Lollipop's on-screen navigation, so you won't find any capacitive keys cluttering up the front of the handset. It seems that Blu is finally going to leave the old style behind, which is a welcome and much-needed step forward.

The overall layout here is very straightforward, with volume and power on the right side, along with a SIM card slot. Another SIM slot is on the left side, and the microUSB and 3.5mm audio jacks are found on the top. Because the EXP has such a massive battery, the back is non-removable, giving this phone a much more refined look.

The 720p IPS panel found on the Energy isn't quite as good as the Vivo Selfie's Super AMOLED display, but it's not bad, either. Colors are still pretty vibrant (not washed out, at the very least), and viewing angles are decent. In comparison to the Selfie, it's just not as high quality, essentially. I still think 720p is OK on this size of display, especially for a non-flagship phone.

One thing I wasn't expecting from the Energy X Plus was a decent pair of cameras. They're both pretty solid, and honestly my favorite of the three. Here are some samples to compare it to the other two phones:

Software and Performance

Like the Vivo Selfie, the EXP runs Android 5.0, and for the most part, it's essentially stock...ish. It has a proprietary launcher that throws everything on the homescreens, a la iOS. I personally despise this on a very high level, but to each his own - if you like it, that's fine. I think what peeves me the most about the EXP's launcher is that it has a freakin' menu button. On the screen. In the navigation panel. I hate it so much.

This is where you'll find options that could've easily been put elsewhere - like a long-press menu, for example. Things like widgets, themes, wallpapers, and effects are here. Whatever. You can of course install another launcher (like Nova), which will remove the overflow button and make everything right with the world again. That was a close one.

Otherwise, the other thing you'll notice almost immediately is the icons in the Settings menu: gone are the minimal blue-gray icons of stock Lollipop, and in their place is a colorful array of circular symbols. It's not bad, and I actually have no opinion of this change one way or the other. It's just different.

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The quick settings panel has the same extra tweaks of the Seflie, and the scheduled power on/off option is also present here. Otherwise, you're looking at a stock system.

Remember all the stuff I said about the lack of RAM on the Selfie? Well guess what? It applies here too. One gigabyte on an Android 5.0 system just kinda freaks me out when thinking about the long-haul, and I'm almost certain I couldn't use a phone like this as a daily driver because of how I use my phones. And honestly, I don't even think I use mine any differently than a normal "power user" - probably even less, really.

But again, if it's for a user who needs less, then it should be fine.

The same applies for the processor. Since it has the same exact chip found in the Selfie, along with the same GPU and display resolution, you'll get nearly-identical performance here. It's not terrible, but it's not a speed demon, either. You guessed it - for simple, it's great. For power, not so much.

The important thing is to keep your expectations in check: this is a $140 phone, not a $600, $500, or even $300 flagship-level handset. As long as you don't over-expect, you'll be fine.

Studio C 5+5

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OK, this is the last one of the bunch. It's also the lowest-end and subsequently the most affordable. Let's just get right to the specs, shall we?

Specs

Display 5.0 854x480 IPS
Processor 1.3GHz quad-core Mediatek 6582
RAM 1GB
Camera 5 MP rear shooter (1.75mm pixel size, 1/5 inch sensor, 2.8mm aperture), 5 MP front
Storage 8GB
Ports microUSB, dual SIM, 3.5mm audio
Wireless (GSM/GPRS/EDGE) 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, (4G HSPA+ 21Mbps) 850/1700/1900/2100; (4G LTE Up to 150Mbps) Bands 4/7/17 (5+5 LTE ONLY); Wi-Fi b/g/n/, GPS, Bluetooth v4.0, Hotspot, FM Radio
Dimensions 143 x 71.8 x 9 mm
Battery 2,000mAh
OS Android 5.0
Available colors Sandstone Gray, Ceramic White, Teal, Mint Green, Orange, Gold, and Salmon Pink
Price $89/$99 LTE
Buy Available in August

There are two version of the 5+5: a standard HSPA model and LTE model. They are virtually identical, with the only difference being the addition of LTE in the 5+5 LTE. That's it.

Appearance, Hardware, and Build Quality

The 5+5 comes in at the bottom of what you can normally find a Blu phone for, and as a result has the "cheapest" look to it. Like the others in this hands-on roundup, there are no capacitive keys here, so it seems that (hopefully) Blu has abandoned those completely. That's awesome.

Otherwise, it's very plain. The power button and volume rocker are on the right side, and I feel like it's worth pointing out the power button: it's cool looking. It's not a typical ovalish button, but instead a sleek little aluminum circle. It's a minor thing, but I like it.

The microUSB port is on the bottom, 3.5mm jack on the top, with the dual SIM and SD card slots under the back cover. Again, pretty typical.

The back of the phone is probably the most questionable to me - Blu decided to go with a textured back that looks totally different from the sides, making the removable portion stand out like a sore thumb. I mean, I don't hate it, but it's just kinda weird. And I do think it makes the phone look cheap. But it is cheap, so I guess it kinda works out.

Then there's the display. Man, this display. It's an 854x480 panel, which leaves me feeling slightly sad in my heart. Don't get me wrong, it actually looks pretty OK for what it is - it's relatively sharp and viewing angles are definitely not horrible, but the fact that I'm talking about an 854x480 display in 2015 just doesn't make me feel good on any level. Still, it's a cheap phone, so it's a cheap panel. I get that, and for less than a hundred bucks, I'm definitely not going to complain. It gets the job done, and on the bright side the performance is a little better here because it has fewer pixels to push. But we'll talk more about that later.

As you might expect, the 5+5 has the worst camera of the bunch, but considering it's only $90-100, it's really not that bad. Check it out:

Software and Performance

I don't want to sound like a broken record here, so I'll keep this brief: it's basically stock 5.0. The OS is identical to what you'll find on the Vivo Selfie, including the quick settings mods, battery percentage, and scheduled power in Settings. It also uses the stock launcher. Simple and clean.

Like I mentioned earlier, the performance is actually better on the 5+5 compared to the other two phones thanks to the lower-resolution display. It's not a monumental difference by any standard, but it is there, especially if you care about raw benchmark scores. The 5+5 actually scores right at 1000 higher than the other two in AnTuTu (20465 vs 19402 (Vivo Seflie) vs 19351 (Energy X Plus). Are you going to feel that difference in a life-changing way? Nah. But it's still nice to know.

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But of course this also faces the same real-world issues that the other two have when it comes to limited RAM. Again, I'm not going to be a broken record here, so just keep in mind what I've already said a couple of times before: less RAM is not a good thing on Lollipop.

Conclusion

I've been recommending Blu for a while now to anyone looking for a phone on a budget, and that doesn't change with this new trio. The Vivo Selfie is my personal favorite of the bunch, though the overall aesthetic of the Energy X Plus is very nice for the money. The 5+5/5+5 LTE have their place on the list as well - for around $100, you can't expect much more than what they offer. As always, Blu does a great job of stretching the dollar out and offering a lot of bang for the buck.

Of course, that doesn't come without compromise. The Mediatek 6582 processor slows considerably under heavy strain, and the limited amount of RAM will undoubtedly become problematic for some users who like to push their phones a little harder. I'm just hoping Blu eventually bumps all three of these up to 5.1, because it just seems to be overall more stable and fluid compared to 5.0.

Still, the combination of decent hardware and very reasonable price points make all three of these good handsets for the right types of user.

More Info: Vivo Selfie, Energy X Plus, Studio C 5+5

Buy: Vivo Selfie, Energy X Plus

Press Release

MIAMI, July 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- BLU Products, the market leader in unlocked devices in the United States, introduced four new smartphone devices that cater to vivid display, selfie cameras, massive battery and affordable LTE connectivity. The Studio C 5+5, Studio C 5+5 LTE, Vivo Selfie and Energy X Plus will all available beginning August 2015.

"BLU continues to innovate, manufacture and provide consumers with smartphones perfectly suited for each and everyone's specific needs and desires into account, with a focus on design, quality and user experience while maintaining affordability." said Samuel Ohev-Zion, CEO of BLU Products

Studio C 5+5

The Studio C 5+5 is the latest device in BLU's Studio series delivering premium build quality, combining a bright 5" display with BLU Infinite View Technology (IPS) and 5MP auto focus main camera with a 5MP wide-angle front camera, bringing entry level affordability to consumers looking for a quality front camera selfie experience. The Studio C 5+5 will be available in both 3G and LTE versions, with additional features including 1GB RAM, 8GB internal memory with expandable 64GB Micro SD slot, Android Lollipop out of the box, and Dual SIM Dual Active technology for multiple SIM card support. With a focus on design, a leather pattern graces the back of the phone along with color matched metallic front frame detailing a gorgeous design that is both appealing, also a great texture and feeling in hand experience.

The Studio C 5+5 will be available in Sandstone Grey, Ceramic White, Chic Gold, Teal, Mint Green, Neon Orange, and Salmon Pink. Launch date set for August on Amazon.com and other retailers unlocked with dual sim support at $89.00 for the 3G version, and$99.00 for the LTE version, compatible with all GSM Network operators in the Americas.

Learn more: http://bluproducts.com/index.php/studio-c-5-plus-5

Vivo Selfie

The BLU VIVO Selfie continues to expand the BLU VIVO series featuring Super AMOLED display technology in addition to the use of Corning Gorilla Glass 3, resulting in a super slim 7.7mm and feather weight 109g smartphone device. With an incredible slim design and five vibrant colors, the BLU Vivo Selfie will amaze you at first sight with the vibrant display and advanced front camera as the ultimate selfie tool, including a Bluetooth selfie stick prepackaged inside each box. With Dual 8.0 Mega Pixel Cameras, the Vivo Selfie features a high-end Sony IMX 179 sensor on the back, and a wide-angle 8.0MP selfie camera with advanced photo editing technology for the ultimate selfie, as well as built-in LED Flash in the front to capture night time selfie images. The Vivo Selfie is powered by a 1.3GHz Quad-Core processor paired with 1GB of RAM. Other features include Android Lollipop out of the box, Dual SIM Dual Active technology for multiple SIM card support, 8GB Internal Memory and expandable 64GB Micro SD slot.

The BLU Vivo Selfie will be available in Sandstone Grey, Ceramic White, Teal, Mint Green and Salmon Pink and will go on sale in August on Amazon.com and other retailers unlocked for $149.00, compatible with all GSM networks in the Americas.

Learn more: http://www.bluproducts.com/index.php/vivo-selfie

Energy X Plus

The BLU Energy X Plus utilizes advanced technology to pack a super 4,000mAh battery, while still maintaining a slim 8mm design enclosure. The Energy X Plus is the perfect solution for users suffering from the low battery performance on standard smartphones. Delivering impressive stand-by, talk, video, gaming, and web browsing times, the Energy X Plus keeps the user on the phone, not on the wall waiting to charge. Along with the powerful battery the Energy X Plus also supports Reverse Charge to enable consumers to use their smartphone as a power bank to charge other devices.

Equally impressive is the 5.5 inch HD display with 267ppi, utilizing full lamination and IPS technologies with an incredible color reproduction, brightness and quality for a perfect viewing experience with thin bezels to maximize the screen-to-body ratio. Dual Cameras include an 8MP main camera plus 5.0MP front facing selfie camera with LED flash capturing the most memorable moments in dimly lit environments. Powered by a 1.3GHz Quad Core processor running Android 5.0 Lollipop out of the box and 8GB built in storage plus 1GB RAM, with an expandable Micro SD slot up to 64GB. Additional features include Dual SIM Dual Active technology for multiple SIM card support. By means of a clean metal finish, the BLU Energy X Plus rounds out all corners for a flawlessly designed smartphone.

The Energy X Plus will be available in Dark Grey, White-Silver and Luxury Gold, and will go on sale in August at Amazon.com and other retailers unlocked with dual sim support for $139.00, compatible with all GSM networks in the Americas.

Learn more: http://www.bluproducts.com/index.php/energy-x-plus

Full Specifications:

Studio C 5+5

  • Network: (GSM/GPRS/EDGE) 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, (4G HSPA+ 21Mbps) 850/1700/1900/2100
  • Display: FWVGA 5.0-inch 480 x 854, with IPS
  • Processor: Mediatek 6582, 1.3 GHz Quad-Core with MALI-400 graphics GPU
  • OS: Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • Camera: Rear – 5.0 megapixel, autofocus with LED Flash, (1.75mm pixel size, 1/5 inch sensor, 2.8mm aperture) HD [email protected] video recording Front – 5.0 megapixel
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi b/g/n/, GPS, Bluetooth v4.0, Hotspot, micro-USB, FM Radio
  • Memory: 1GB RAM, 8GB internal memory
  • Dimensions: 143 x 71.8 x 9 mm
  • Battery: Li-Ion 2000mAh
  • Available Colors: Sandstone Grey, Ceramic White, Teal, Mint Green, Orange, Gold and Salmon Pink

Studio C 5+5 LTE

  • Network: (GSM/GPRS/EDGE) 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, (4G HSPA+ 21Mbps) 850/1700/1900/2100
    (4G LTE Up to 150Mbps) Bands 4/7/17
  • Display: FWVGA 5.0-inch 480 x 854, with IPS
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 210, 1.1 GHz Quad-Core with Adreno-304GP graphics GPU
  • OS: Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • Camera: Rear – 5.0 megapixel, autofocus with LED Flash, (1.75mm pixel size, 1/5 inch sensor, 2.8mm aperture) HD [email protected] video recording Front – 5.0 megapixel
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi b/g/n/, GPS, Bluetooth v4.0, Hotspot, micro-USB, FM Radio
  • Memory: 1GB RAM, 8GB internal memory
  • Dimensions: 143 x 71.8 x 9 mm
  • Battery: Li-Ion 2000mAh
  • Available Colors: Sandstone Grey, Ceramic White and Gold

Vivo Selfie

  • Network: (GSM/GPRS/EDGE) 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, (4G HSPA+ 21Mbps) 850/1700/1900/2100
  • Display: HD Super AMOLED 4.8-inch 720 x 1280, Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Processor: Mediatek 6582, 1.3 GHz Quad-Core with MALI-400 graphics GPU
  • OS: Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • Camera: Rear – 8.0 megapixel, autofocus with LED Flash, (1.1mm pixel size, 1/3.2 inch sensor, 2.4mm aperture), HD [email protected] video recording Front – 8.0 megapixel, + Front LED Flash
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi b/g/n/, GPS, Bluetooth v4.0, Hotspot, micro-USB, FM Radio
  • Memory: 1GB RAM, 8GB internal memory
  • Dimensions: 141 x 68.4 x 7.7 mm
  • Battery: Li-Ion 2300mAh
  • Available Colors: Sandstone Grey, Ceramic White, Teal, Mint Green and Salmon Pink

Energy X Plus

  • Network: (GSM/GPRS/EDGE) 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, (4G HSPA+ 21Mbps) 850/1700/1900/2100
  • Display: HD 5.5-inch 720 x 1280, with IPS, Full Lamination
  • Processor: Mediatek 6582, 1.3 GHz Quad-Core with MALI-400 graphics GPU
  • OS: Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • Camera: Rear – 8.0 megapixel, autofocus with LED Flash, (1.1mm pixel size, 1/3.2 inch sensor, 2.4mm aperture), HD [email protected] video recording Front – 5.0 megapixel, with LED Flash
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi b/g/n/, GPS, Bluetooth v4.0, Hotspot, micro-USB, FM Radio
  • Memory: 1GB RAM, 8GB internal memory
  • Dimensions: 150.5 x 76.5 x 8 mm
  • Battery: Li-Ion 4000mAh
  • Available Colors: Sandstone Grey, Ceramic White and Gold