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The $60 phone, day eleven: the "slowening" begins, I take a hiatus

Aziz Ansari's cultishly popular Master of None is a show you should watch (and also a Netflix exclusive). Ansari plays Dev, a not-convincingly-struggling actor in New York City. At one point, he is cast as a doctor in a film called The Sickening. Which, in the words of the show, is a "black virus" movie. The plot is familiar: there's some kind of unstoppable super-plague that turns everyone into not-zombies, and Dev's character is the one man who is trying to stop it. He, too, of course, succumbs to The Sickening in the end.

The purposely generic and vague namesake of that fake movie, though, I find is perfectly fit to be coopted and molded for use in describing a common Android smartphone phenomenon: the slowening.

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BLU Energy XL review: Huge screen, epic battery life, and a reasonable price

BLU released a new phone a few days back called the BLU Energy XL and they sent me one to take a look at. The XL in the title is there for good reason; everything about this phone is massive. It has a huge 6" HD screen, 64GB of on-board storage, and mammoth 5,020 mAh battery. The only thing that isn't enormous about this behemoth is the price, which is a very reasonable $300.

Sound pretty good on paper, right? Let's see how good it is in practice.

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Day three: this is a $60 Pokémon GO phone (at least until we're all tired of it)

Pokémon GO is a phenomenon. And to an extent that I think Niantic and Nintendo scarcely could have imagined. Last night, my girlfriend and I walked down the street to have a nice dinner, and on the way there I counted four or five people clearly playing GO (several were walking their dogs).

On the way back, we spotted a small crowd - perhaps a dozen or so - standing outside of a rather famous recording studio in our neighborhood. "Oh," I said to my girlfriend, "there must be some kind of event at the studio tonight." As we walked closer, I noticed these weren't the, uh, sort of individuals who I'd expect at a venue like this.

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I'm going to use Amazon's "Prime Exclusive" $60 smartphone for a month

A $60 smartphone (or rather, $50 - but hold on) is basically a headline unto itself. It is a novelty solely because of its cost. And that makes talking about it in a way that doesn’t always use “yeah, but it’s only $60” as a reflexive crutch difficult. (Which is not to say I won't do that, because I will. Probably even in this post. Several times.)

BLU’s Amazon-supported R1 HD is far from the cheapest smartphone ever. And it’s far from being a revolutionary product - the only thing interesting about it is, frankly, the business model. And in particular, Amazon’s proposition that it being a nag on your lockscreen and in your app drawer is worth $50 if you’re already a Prime member.

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BLU makes the super-cheap R1 HD official, as low as $50 with Amazon ads

BLU has long been known for making low-cost Android phones, but this is getting ridiculous. The company has made the R1 HD official with a $100 base price tag. However, this phone is included in Amazon's new unlocked phone deal, so you can get an R1 HD for as low as $50 with Amazon ads. Without ads it's $100.

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Amazon is now selling unlocked phones at a discount in exchange for giving you bloatware and ads

I can't say I saw this coming: Amazon is getting into the unlocked smartphone business in a big way starting today. By selling you phones for a lower price... in exchange for bloatware and lockscreen ads. Yep, seriously.

Amazon announced today that the BLU R1 HD and the Moto G4 (not the Plus, though) are the first Amazon Prime Exclusive smartphones in the US. Both phones are $50 off their standard retail prices, making the BLU R1 HD just $49.99 and Moto G4 just $149.99 (the 32GB is $179.99). Amazon is even offering an additional $25 off the Moto G4 with offers and ads today as part of a special launch promo, bringing it down to $124.99 for Prime members.

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[Update: Winners!] Win A Blu Life One X Or Vivo 5 (Six Phones Total) From Blu And Android Police

We've been working with Blu for quite a while now, and the company has been putting out some of its best phones to date over the last few months. With the release of the Life One X (2016) and Vivo 5, Blu has once again set the bar for what a "budget" phone can — and should — be. For $150 and $200 respectively, these are two of the absolute best phones that are available on the market today in this price range.

This contest is now over.

The final results are listed below. If you've won, you will be contacted in the near future.

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Blu Vivo 5 Quick Review: $400 Worth Of Phone For $199

Back at CES, Blu announced two phones: the Vivo XL and Vivo 5. While we've already taken a look at the former, the latter is the one we've really been waiting for. I've had it in-hand for about a week now, and there's honestly a lot to talk about with this handset. From the specs to the design, this definitely offers more than a $200 handset should, though there are definitely some quirks with the software.

But I'm getting ahead of myself now. Let's start at the beginning. And when we get to the end — stop.

Specs

Display 5.5-inch 1280x720 Super AMOLED with Gorilla Glass 3
Processor 1.3GHz octa-core Mediatek 6753 64-bit with Mali T720 GPU
RAM 3GB
Camera 13MP rear shooter, 5MP front
Storage 32GB, microSD card slot
Wireless 3G: 850/1700/1900/2100; 4G LTE: 2/4/7; Dual SIM
Ports USB Type-C, 3.5mm headphone
Battery 3,150mAh
OS Android 5.1
Dimensions 151.9 x 74.6 x 6.9 mm
Price $199
Colors Gold, Silver
Buy Amazon; Best Buy

The Good

Great performance for the money It's hard to argue with what this phone is capable of for just $200.
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Blu Vivo XL Quick Review: Breaking The Boundaries Of What A $99 Phone Should Be

AT CES earlier this month, Blu announced two new phones: the Vivo 5 and Vivo XL. Today, we're taking a closer look at the lower-end of the two, the Vivo XL, which is the first one to hit the market. This one isn't a dramatic difference from some of the other more recent stuff we've seen from Blu — like the Life One X, for example — but it does continue the company tradition of offering a lot of phone for the money.

Under the hood, it's actually a lot like the aforementioned Life One X, though it does have a slightly larger, lower-resolution display.

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[Deal Alert] The New BLU Vivo XL Is On Sale For A Sweet $100 On Best Buy ($50 Off)

The amount of technology and specs that you can get for less than $200 nowadays is staggering. Do you remember when we were gushing over quad-core processors and 720p displays in flagships that cost over $600 and $700? Well, now those specs count in the lower end of the smartphone market, or at best the lower midrange.

Take the BLU Vivo XL for example. It was just announced at CES at the beginning of the month.

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