Whereas the spring and early summer is when most phone companies introduce their flagship devices, others tend to deliver products along the rest of the spectrum. For every killer handset launched there are likely a dozen models in the entry level and mid-range.
Such it the case with the Pure View, Blu’s newest phone. With a standard retail price expected to be $199.99, it competes with the likes of the Moto G5 Plus and some of Nokia’s latest.
EDITOR NOTE: At launch the Blu Pure View comes with a steep $70 discount, putting it at just $129.99 for the phone.
Although it’s not exactly a successor to any other products, it definitely fits in Blu’s scheme of things. Similar to its other brethren of 2018, it’s an unlocked handset which works with either AT&T or T-Mobile‘s networks as well as any of their respective MVNO brands.
For those of you living outside of the US, the globally unlocked device works with Orange, Vodafone, and other service providers. It is a dual-SIM phone meaning you can pull service from two carriers at once. Those who travel will also appreciate the peace of mind in allowing for a temporary SIM card.
Let’s get to it. What’s missing or wrong with the Pure View? Surely you can’t have a killer experience for just $200, right? Well, at first glance it’s not unlike the other Blu phones from the last few months. Does that mean it cuts corners? Yes. Does that mean it’s a good value for its money? Yep.
Getting into the box we find headphones, a microUSB charger, a silicon protective case, and a sticker. A screen protector is already installed so you don’t have to mess with bubbles or off-centered placement.
The headphones tell us we’ve got a 3.5mm headphone jack, a good sign. The microUSB charger signals Blu’s sticking with the older plug standard. Ehh. We’ve griped about this on other models from Blu and don’t like it in our flagships. It’s passable here if only because of the price point.
The phone feels solid, albeit a little on the heavier side of things. The metal housing and 5.7-inch design lead us to view it “dense”. Speaking of which, the very moment you touch the rear of the phone you are adding fingerprints and smudges. Yikes. The review unit we have is black and it really looks terrible in the wrong (or right) lighting.
The silicon protective case is nice in that it keeps you from scratching and scuffing the phone. It likely won’t withstand a drop any better than going without, but we appreciate the gesture.
In terms of layout, it’s pretty much like any other model you’ve seen from the last year or so. The volume rocker and power button are on the right side of the display; there’s no knurling present on the power but they are spaced out well enough that you’re not accidentally powering off instead of turning volume down.
See Also: Blu Vivo XL3 review
The microUSB port, single speaker, and 3.5mm headphone jack are on the bottom of the phone while the SIM card slots/microSD card slot are at the very top. A slight departure from other Blu models, but nothing crazy like moving the charger to the top.
The dual-camera setup is off to the left of the earpiece while an indicator light blinks to the right of it. Around back you’ll locate the camera with the fingerprint sensor just below. It’s in a nice position and stands out, but we recommend feeling for it from the bottom up. In other words, start by swiping your finger lower and moving upwards. At least until you get the feel for it, otherwise you’ll put smears on the camera lens.
The phone feels like a nice blend of “premium” and “affordability”. It’s nothing overly sexy or sleek, but we’ve felt much more generic builds. In an era where a lot of companies are delivering unique colors, the black is a little uninspiring.
- Android v7.0 Nougat
- Mediatek 6753 | 1.3GHz Quad Core Processor with Mali-T720
- 32GB Internal Storage with microSD (up to 64GB)
- 3GB RAM Memory
- 5.7-inch 720 x 1,440 pixel display
- 13-megapixel rear camera
- Dual 8-megapixel front-facing cameras
- 3,000mAh battery
- 3G: 850/900/1700/1900/2100
- 4G LTE: 1/2/3/4/7/12/17/28
Build & Design
The Pure View comes with a 5.7-inch display which is pretty much what you’ll get in most mid-range phones of the day. With the 18:9 aspect ratio it feels slender and comfortable in hand. The resolution is just 720 x 1,449 pixels which counts as HD, but it’s lower than what most companies are doing at around the same price.
We don’t take much issue the resolution at this price point. Fortunately for us, screen resolution is an area where it’s hard for the average person to discern the differences in casual usage.
Reading text is fine for the most part, and images and video play as well as we’d like. Keeping in mind that a lot of content is streamed at lower resolutions by default, we’re content with it. Remember that many carriers will adjust video streams to “DVD quality” or 480 pixels. In other words that’s lower than what the screen offers.
Lower resolution displays keep the cost down, but also help to extend battery life. Do note that if you plan to use your phone in a VR headset, you will see the difference. At that distance and magnification you would certainly notice all the little dots – or lack thereof.
The Pure View offers up a 13-megapixel rear camera with an f/2.2 aperture. On paper it should allow for a decent amount of light in and take When it comes to indoor and low lighting conditions we found the phone really struggled. Taking pictures in dark rooms and using the flash produced a shocking amount of white and simply too much light.
To be fair, we didn’t set out thinking the phone was going to handle very well in those conditions. It doesn’t take long to figure out what a camera’s limitations are and what you can (and can’t) get from it. Having spent plenty of time with other Blu phones, we have a pretty good idea where things will end up with the Pure View.
You’ll get the best results when you don’t rely on HDR or can when you can hold the phone very still. Still life, like food or scenery, come across nicely, especially if you tweak them through a filter.
Around front we have two cameras in the form of a pair of 8-megapixel shooters. One of them grabs wide angle images at 120 degrees so it’s perfect for group selfies or when you want to grab the background in your group shots.
There’s not a lot going on with the camera app itself and really leaves us wanting more. We dig minimalism and not being spoon-fed instructions, but this was rough.
You’ll get what you assume is six shooting modes for the rear with four modes for front-facing shots. With only icons to signal what they are, you get QR reader, HDR, panoramic, night, beauty, and automatic for the rear. Or, you can tap the arrow on the left side of the screen and nine filters. Here’s where you get sepia tone, negative, posterize, and other, similar settings. Why “filtered” wasn’t included among the modes is beyond us.
As expected, HDR pictures take longer to snap and process. We like to shoot as much as possible in HDR so it was hard for us to keep that off. Automatic modes delivers lower overall quality, including color accuracy and vibrancy.
For whatever reason, we found the camera struggled with adding white and brightness to images where it didn’t exist. Many of the pic we took ended up with more washed out and weird treatment of white. Using the flash really dials it up; it’s very stark and harsh when used in low light settings.
Given the cost of the Pure View, we were okay with the end results. Nothing we had popped out to where we were excited to share, but it’s decent enough for social media and quick sharing.
Much of what we do with our photos tends to live in the cloud or are viewed from mobile devices; tweak your pictures in an app, upload to social media, and that’s about it. If that sounds like you, the Pure View works respectably.
One of things we’ve come to like from Blu is that its phones are pretty much untouched builds of Android. That’s the same here with the Pure View as it’s almost strictly Google apps with a small mix of apps sprinkled in. Other than that, and throughout the experience, it’s about the same look and feel that you get straight from Google.
In a departure from other Blu models, the first time you start up the Pure View you are greeted with a custom app interface. It’s here where you’ll have the so-called opportunity to install apps and games before going about the final setup.
It’s a small curated selection with decent titles (Snapchat, Netflix, Uber, Waze, Feedly, etc.) and you’re not forced to pick anything. We’re betting that one or two of the apps offered help to keep the cost down on the phone. Nevertheless, expect to see it upon the first few screens.
As for pre-loaded software, our review unit had Amazon, Prime Video, Sound Recorder, and Opera mixed with the full suite of Google apps and services. Google titles include Drive, Duo, Calendar, Gmail, Messages, Maps, Photos, YouTube, Play Music, Play Movies & TV, and the Play Store.
The View Plus runs Android 7.0 Nougat, which is technically two full versions behind what’s available today, if you count P beta. Most models released now run 8.0 Oreo out of the box, be it standard, Android One, or Android Go. It would have been nice to have here.
How much does that matter to the target demographic? Probably not as much as it does to fanboys, enthusiasts, and Android loyalists. Average users likely don’t know Android releases from one iteration to the next.
One feeling we often echo for low-cost devices, or those from Blu, is that you might want to consider the device “as is” when it comes to software. More specifically, you ought not look for Android updates. We’re left wondering why they went with 7.0 especially this late in the game and considering they’ve had 8.0 on other devices.
With that said, Android 7.0 still means much of the latest in protection from Google; the design principles and UI is largely on par with everything else. Sure, the stuff in 8.0 is more finely tuned and a little more customizable, but it’s not absolutely necessary. Moreover, it’s newer than what a lot of current Android users have today.
For what it’s worth, we noticed that this had the Android security patch dated from March 5, 2018. As long as security, malware, and other threats are dealt with in a timely or orderly fashion it shouldn’t prove to be much of an issue.
We’ve only had the review unit in our possession for about one week. With that said, we have not had the chance to truly put the phone through its paces. Specifically, we didn’t set this up as a daily driver or install the full set of apps and accounts that normally touch our phones.
We did install a handful of games and a couple of must-have apps that we like to keep close at hand. With about 8GB of the 32GB accounted for out of the box, you’ve got around 24GB of internal space to work with. Don’t forget the microSD card for media like photos and music as well as other apps
We’re generally used to having phones with 4GB of memory and higher end processors. How does that equate so far with the Pure View? It certainly gets the job done, particularly if your demands are minimal.
Hopping to and from emails, messaging, and various social media is no problem for this phone. Watching videos, casual gaming, browsing through Chrome, and doing the “everyday” was as expected.
Given the specifications, and our experiences with other Blu devices with similar hardware, we don’t see any issue for the target demographic. If you’re a heavy user, you won’t even look in this direction. If you’re new to smartphones, or are replacing something that’s a few years old, this is a great solution.
As we see with pretty much everything Blu does, the Pure View balances affordability and performance. It comes with an attractive price tag, has the hot new aspect ratio, and a decent set of hardware.
On the other hand, there are a few questionable choices. Why no USB Type C or Android 8.0? What’s with that setup screen that asks us to install apps right out of the gate? Why no other color besides black? Small stuff on their own, yes, but they do add up.
We’ve got no problem recommending the Pure View, especially in its early days where it’s discounted by $70. We don’t know how long that price will last, but it is expected to go up to $199.99. Obviously we like it much better at $129.99; perhaps $169.99 might be a better long-term sticker.
If you’re in the market for an unlocked phone, or have a tighter budget to work with, consider the Blu Pure View. Moreover, if you’re looking to pick up something for a young teen on AT&T, T-Mobile, or their prepaid networks, this is a decent starting place.