When it comes to smartphones and their capabilities there is often very little that the typical user needs. For many, one might as well throw a dart at a board and let fate decide which model they end up. That is to say the entry-level and mid-range is usually up to the challenge for your average person.
As we move into the topic of what someone may want things change a bit. Some of us care about particular features such as reverse wireless charging, incredibly robust camera experiences, or water and dust resistance. Select few truly need to be on the bleeding edge of technology with phones that have high refresh rates and touch sampling rates or 2K resolution screens.
Ask your neighbor or co-worker what they desire in a phone and they’ll usually say something like “big screen” or “good battery”. Furthermore, they might ask for a lot of storage for apps and games, and maybe a headphone jack.
Despite what your wireless carrier might suggest, 5G connectivity is still a luxury that only few truly enjoy.
Miami-based BLU Products (BLU) is out with its latest phone, the G91 PRO, which happens to be targeted at just that sort of user. As the newest in the budget G Series of handset, it packs a hardware suite that meets the needs of the masses with a little bit of extra sprinkled in for good measure. And if you’re able to get it during it’s limited-time discount period, it’s a damn good deal.
We’ve had a review unit here at the office for the better part of a week and we’ve been using it as much as possible. In other words, it’s not quite a daily driver just yet as we’re splitting time among other phones. With that in mind, we have still formed an opinion on the G91 Pro and are ready to share it with you.
G91 PRO Features
- Display: Curved 6.7-inch Incell Full HD+ 1080×2400 Resolution, 20:9 aspect ratio, 395ppi
- Processor: MediaTek Helio G90, 2.0GHz Octa-Core, 2 ARM Cortex-A76 + 6 ARM Cortex-A55
- OS: Android 11
- Quad Cameras: 48MP + 2MP Depth Sensor + 5MP Wide Angle 115 degree, 2MP Macro,
- Security: Encrypted Fingerprint Sensor, Face Unlock
- Memory: 6GB RAM, 128GB Internal Memory, MicroSD Slot (up to 128GB)
- Battery: Non-Removable Li-Polymer 5,000mAh
- 30W Quick Charger + 10W Wireless Charging
- Dual SIM
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 2.4GHz/5GHz a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 5.0, Hotspot
- Network: (GSM/GPRS/EDGE) 850/900/1700/1900/2100 MHz, (4G HSPA+ 42Mbps)
- 850/900/1700/1900/2100MHz, (4G LTE Cat 7 Up to 300Mbps) FDD 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/28
- Available Colors: Moonstone & Graphite
One of the first things we notice about the BLU G9 Pro is that it continues to carry forth the design language of its predecessors. If you don’t quite know what that means, it’s that it has a gently curved body with an eye-catching color and modern aesthetic. Taking things a step further, it also means a little more bezel around the screen and an ever-so-slightly thicker feel in hand.
Were I not constantly testing different phones this wouldn’t be as noticeable. Handing it to other people for a quick once-over, nobody has remarked about any sort of thickness or even seem to notice the frame around the display.
Our review unit was Moonstone which more or less feels like a soft and pearlescent sky blue that dances in the light. A Graphite version is also available however I wouldn’t trade this one away. It’s just enough color to stand out and it hints at a much pricier experience.
The display is big one, to be sure, coming in at 6.7-inches. Thankfully, it’s a 20:9 aspect ratio which means it’s thinner than it could have been. In fact, I might have been cool with something around 6.2-inches or so as it seems to fit smaller and medium hands at that ratio.
There’s a hole-punch cutout in the top center of the display for the front-facing camera. On the right hand side of the phone is where you locate the power button and volume rockers. On the left is a dedicated button for Google Assistant, the first time we’ve seen this in a BLU phone.
Around back you’ll locate a fingerprint reader in the center of the top third of the phone with the quad-camera array in the top left corner. The fingerprint reader is easy to locate as it’s in a natural spot for where your finger wants to sit; however; it does feel a tad small at first.
As someone who has come to use the Pixel A Series of phones as his daily driver, I am not one who needs much from my handset. With that said the 2.0 GHz quad-core MediaTek processor and 6GB RAM is more than adequate for my day-to-day usage.
I’ve found that pretty much every phone I ever review in its first few weeks is going to feel snappy. This is especially true if you aren’t loading all of your accounts or using it the device as your main phone. That is to say you really need to throw a lot at a handset like this if you want to see it slip up. And if that’s what you’re doing, you probably don’t want something like this anyhow.
I appreciate that BLU hasn’t done very much with the software, leaving things largely untouched. While it’s not a true bare-bones Android and Google experience, there’s very little in the way of bloatware or unwanted additions.
The BLU G91 PRO comes with a couple of extra apps, some of which may be on your list to install in the short term. Present in our review unit were Pandora, Candy Crush Soda, Dancing Road, Solitaire, TikTok, The Weather Channel and an FM Radio. A “Games Hub” icon opens the door to additional titles and the “News” app is a convenient way of keeping up with a wide range of topics.
Should you not want any of the included apps, you’re a long-press away from uninstalling them. But with as much storage as you get with the device, it’s not as if they’re eating up large amounts of space.
One of the things I often look for in testing out a new phone experience is whether I can customize things to my liking. Truth be told, stock Android has a lot to offer, but more and more handset makers are sprinkling in the right amount of extras. I do like it when OEMs leave the overall look and feel alone but add in features in the name of comfort and convenience.
BLU gives users plenty of options to tailor the UI, including deciding on whether they want soft buttons or gestures for navigation, how folders and icons should appear, and how to treat the various buttons.
I really like that the G91 PRO has a dedicated Google Assistant button on the left side of the phone. It’s a handy way of calling on the tool that I use quite often throughout my day. For what it’s worth, I’ve found it’s possible to disable the button but not reassign a different function or app to it.
Other settings under the “Intelligent Assistance” setting in the phone include lifting to wake, flipping to silence a call, three finger swiping for a screenshot or split screen, and double tapping power for the camera.
As far as gaming and daily usage is concerned, I’ve not seen any hiccups or stutters. Being transparent for a moment, I do look for them but not in a benchmark-testing or frames per second sort of way. Does the phone hang on me or close apps? Not at all. I think we’re well beyond that with today’s $200 phones.
Do I ever see anything that tells me the MediaTek chip can’t do what a Qualcomm one can? No. I suspect the target user doesn’t even know what either of those names mean, let alone how they perform.
Both the face unlock and fingerprint recognition worked well and took very little time to setup. I might appreciate a slightly larger fingerprint reader but that’s being a little nitpicky. Were there no facial recognition available I imagine it might be a more problematic situation. Finding the location is not hard, especially with the protective case on. It’s the overall amount of room to work with and the margin of space between the case and the ring that could get annoying.
Battery life has been great thus far, however I’ve not fully committed to the phone as my daily driver. I’m splitting time with another review unit but did lean more heavily into this one as the publication date approached. The 5,000mAh battery is bigger than what you’ll find in much pricier phones and the 30W quick charging is rather respectable.
Although it does have wireless charging capability, it does not support fast wireless nor does it have reverse charging. That is to say it cannot be used to charge up your earbuds by placing the case on the back. Do those matter? Not really, at least not to me.
Once I put a phone down on a wireless charger I don’t plan on picking it up for some time, usually the next morning. And as far as charging earbuds up on the go, that happens so little that I don’t even think about using a phone for a supplemental recharge.
The camera experience is a generally enjoyable one, particularly if you’re not comparing it to others. Seeing as how I use a Pixel phone as my main unit, I am spoiled with an incredibly intuitive app and excellent shots.
The BLU G91 PRO delivers right in line with my expectations. That is a simple of way of saying the “open the app and shoot” stuff results in good photos. Play around with the settings a bit, such as HDR or portrait, and you’ll find it slows down ever so slightly to capture higher quality images.
One area where I did see a bit of struggle was in taking lower lighting indoor pictures where the outside was bright. Even though I had some blinds in the window, the G91 PRO had difficulty showing anything but a white square. To be fair, this is fairly common in lower end and mid-range phones.
Similarly, it also proved to be a challenge for quick candid pictures outside as details would get lost. Think of tree leaves or bushes muddying together a bit.
While I do like having so many filters and AI capabilities available, I couldn’t help but wish things were easier to move between standard and wide angle shots. There’s a dial on the left and you can slide the setting but it would be helpful if I could more quickly tap between 1X, .6X or 4X. The same goes for switching to macro shooting; it’s tucked behind the “more” option where you’ll also find panorama, beauty, pro, night, and other modes. Oh, and as for the 108-megapixel shots, I don’t think it’s worth the roughly three seconds it takes to store 25MB images.
Getting back to the AI and filters, I like being able to compose my shot in real time as opposed to editing after the fact for social media. The G91 PRO makes it easy to capture interesting shots with a live look at how the color, lighting, and other variables will appear. I’ll continue to take more shots with the phone and update this review as my perception evolves.
It’s worth pointing out that the G91 PRO is a 4G handset and doesn’t have support for any 5G networks. At the time of its arrival (mid-2021) that matters little in the big scheme of things. We’re still looking at some time before we have the 5G coverage that blankets the country. Things are getting closer, but honestly, have you met someone who complains about being “stuck” with 4G?
I’ve enjoyed my short time with the BLU G91 PRO and look forward to spending the next few weeks getting more familiar with it.
Its look flies in the face of its low price point and the Moonstone is a fun color. In fact, while I do like having a protective case included in the box, it hides its beauty and makes for a thicker (and wonkier) in-hand experience.
It’s a great handset for a wide user base as it delivers on a number of important fronts. It has a large screen, really generous battery, and a software experience that’s no-frills and essentially the way Google intended. For a lot of people that’s the full list of requisite features.
As an unlocked phone that works with a number of GSM carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile, etc), it’s an affordable alternative to the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy A series or Motorola’s G series of phones.
You can learn more about the BLU G91 PRO at the phone maker’s website where you can also read up on its other devices. If you’re looking to purchase one, you’ll end up at Amazon where it retails for $249.99.
A limited time launch promotion finds the phone at just $199.99, or $50 off. At its normal price it sits on the line between good and great but at the discounted price it lands in the area of “no-brainer”.