It may have taken nearly three years, but BOLD is back with a new handset. The summer of 2022 finds the Blu sub-brand introducing its N2, a $350 phone with a solid assortment of mid-range hardware.
EDITOR NOTE: A flash launch sale puts the price at just $250 for the phone. It’s a limited time offer but one that you won’t want to miss.
Much like it did with its predecessor, the N1, BOLD’s approach is more of a premium experience than what Blu typically offers. While the first generation employed metal and glass, this time around its highlights are a thin metal housing and textured Cyprus Teal leather.
Design: Initial Impressions
Just as with the N1, I could tell that the N2 was more of an upscale and deliberate design from the moment I looked at it. It’s thin, clean and curved in the right areas.
The leather is an interesting choice, and it’s one that I find pretty fascinating. How will it wear over time? Will it develop a patina or unique feel as oils and dirt slowly have their way it? I like the dark teal color and would be in no hurry to cover it up.
If I am being forthcoming, I would like to see a different color offered for the leather back of the phone. I mean why not go “bold” and give us something bright and eye-catching? The teal is more sophisticated and business-like. Give me something on the opposite end of the spectrum like Electric Mango.
The frame of the BOLD N2 seems to dance somewhere between a silver and seafoam with the “Cyprus Teal” feeling more of a dark marine. They complement each other nicely.
Speaking of which, included in the box are earphones, a USB Type-C charger, silicon protective case, sticker, and a USB-C adapter for the earphones.
The screen has a curved glass that tapers to the middle of the side edges of the phone; the volume and power button are located on the right side of the display. The SIM card slot is found below the screen next to the charging port.
The front-facing camera is actually two sensors, one being a 16-megapixel and the other being a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The pair sit side-by-side in the top left edge of the screen. It’s not often that you find two cameras on the front so that’s certainly an interesting choice.
Around back is the 64-megapixel main camera with three others aligned below; also present are a 2-megapixel depth sensor, 5-megapixel wide-angle (115-degree), and 2-megapixel macro lens.
Hardware and Specs
The BOLD N2 does a decent job of balancing mid-range hardware with an attractive finish that’s usually reserved for devices with a higher price tag. The term “premium” is thrown around quite often and usually means glass, metal, or heavier or unique materials.
As we often see with BLU handsets, the BOLD N2 looks like a more expensive phone. Here, though, it’s a little more obvious. It’s curvier and slim, and the leather goes a long way to class things up.
Internally, the N2 is right in line with the specifications that a moderately sophisticated user might want in a device. It’s nestled neatly between that “first time user” experience and the junior flagship space occupied by the Pixel 6a.
The Octa-Core MediaTek Dimensity 810 processor is bolstered by 8GB RAM with storage capacity coming in at 256GB. Performance-wise, I’ve had plenty of luck with this sort of package in other devices so I don’t imagine any long-term issues for the N2.
The 4200mAh battery, while pretty ample, surprised me as we’ve seen a growing number of phones closer to 5,000mAh. Still, it’s more than enough to get typical users through a day or more without worrying about a charge.
Speaking of which, the battery does support 30W quick charging but it does not allow for wireless charging.
I’m torn when it comes to curved displays on phones. I tend to appreciate it more when the handset has a smaller screen and kind of hate it when devices get closer to 7-inches. The BOLD N2 has a 6.6-inch (1080 x 2340 pixel) screen with Gorilla Glass 5 that feels good in hand. I’ve not had any issues with unregistered swipes or phantom touches in my first week with the handset.
- MediaTek Dimensity 810 ARM Cortex A76 Octa-Core 2.4GHz 6nm Processor
- Antutu Benchmark Score 393,468
- 6.6” Full HD+ AMOLED 1080×2340 Infinity Dot Curved Display
- Corning Gorilla Glass 5
- QUAD A.I 64MP Camera+ 2MP Depth Sensor + 5MP Wide Angle 115° + 2MP Macro Lens
- Dual 16MP + 2MP Depth Sensor Selfie Camera
- 256GB Internal Memory/8GB RAM
- 5G Speed Connectivity
- 4200mAh Battery with 30W Quick-Charge
- In-Display Fingerprint Sensor with A.I. Face ID
- Premium Housing Finish
- Android 11
- Available in Cyprus Teal
Software and User Experience
Given that Android 13 is about to formally debut any day, I was a bit bummed to see the BOLD N2 running Android 11. I’m not sure how the decision was made but I hope that Android 12 arrives in short order. For one, it would help signal to the consumer that this is a more upscale brand.
To be fair, most of the people I know don’t know which version of software runs their phone. Furthermore, they don’t know the differences in various releases. And really, things have become more cosmetic over time.
I’m anxious to see how BOLD handles its major software updates and security patches. Most phone makers are sticking their neck out and making promises in this area. I’ve learned from BOLD that it pledges “at least two years of Android security updates.” Does that mean we’ll get Android 12 or 13? Time will tell.
As far as the user experience goes, it’s business as usual for BOLD (and BLU). That is to say the software is a largely stock Android build on the surface. There’s no extra layer or skin to make the look different or flashy.
My review unit came with a handful of extra apps loaded on it, some of which I suspect would have been installed sooner or later. Titles include Pandora, Solitaire, TikTok, Dancing Road, and Woodoku.
There is also an app loaded called NewsPop which is a news hub for a range of topics. It’s helpful and customizable, but it’s also removable. You’ll also find a widget on the home screen when swiping to the left panel. Additionally, you can swap the widget out for a smaller version.
The Games app is more of a portal to find additional games. It’s a nice way of discovering new titles if you’re a game player and it also serves as a folder of sorts to locate and launch games on your device. This, too, can be removed if it’s not something you’d use.
I appreciate some of the additional settings found in the phone under the Intelligent Assistance. If you want to make the phone a little bit more personalized, check out the options here.
To me, the benchmark for a phone’s camera experience is the way Google treats it with the Pixel phones. It’s lean, intuitive, and smart. And the devices take amazing shots without effort.
The BOLD N2 does a great job of capturing pictures with a wide array of options. Not only are there multiple cameras to work with, but there are also plenty of settings such as AI, HDR and filters.
If you like to play around with your camera, capturing fun and interesting pictures or videos, the N2 has a well-stocked toolbox. Look for panoramic, time lapse, slow motion, macro, pro, beauty, and other modes.
There’s an option to take pictures at 128-megapixel but I didn’t find it worth the effort. It slows down the capture rate a bit as pics are in excess of 40MB a piece and the overall result is not that distinguishable from other resolutions.
It doesn’t take long to master the camera and get a feel for its capabilities. There’s nothing happening here that feels like it’s in the way of the user. If you like to quickly open a camera and snap pics, you’ll enjoy what’s on offer.
Image quality has been as good as I expect, especially when viewing them on a mobile device. Without doing any post-processing or editing the pictures have been worthy of sharing on social media or sending to friends.
I did notice that some results seemed to be a little overexposed when viewing on a computer. And, depending on how you back your pictures up, you might want to keep the original quality in place. Some of my pictures were noisier than I’d like when backing up using “storage saving” under Google Photos.
The various shooting modes meet my needs with portrait and HDR my go-to for a lot of pictures. The depth of field and color have treated me well, including the front-facing camera. I don’t often take a selfie but the portrait mode does a remarkable job.
I’ve only had the BOLD N2 for about ten days so I cannot attest to long-term performance. With that said, I’ve enjoyed adding more and more apps and games to the phone, making it more “me”.
In the past I would find myself reluctant to throw my main SIM card into a review unit because I didn’t want to find out the hard way how underpowered of an experience it might be. Or to learn that the camera just didn’t want to do what I needed it to do. That’s not so much of a problem in 2022, especially when dealing with mid-range devices.
The BOLD N2 is everything I expect my handset to be. It’s snappy to unlock, easy to navigate and interact with, and doesn’t aggravate me. Both the facial recognition and in-display fingerprint reader have performed well thus far. In fact, it feels quicker than what I get from my Google Pixel 6.
Battery is more than reasonable and besides, I’m usually around a charger most of my day. To me, 30W charging is is still plenty fast. I have become more fond of wireless charging but I still prefer to plug in whenever possible. But, were wireless charging included in the N2, it would have been icing on an already tasty cake.
I’ve come to love 120Hz (and higher) refresh rates for some of the games I play. Likewise, scrolling of texts and videos are also just a bit better when you’ve got something like that at work.
There’s a setting in the aforementioned Intelligent Assistance that enables “high speed refresh” which I’ve learned is 90Hz (default setting is 60Hz). Thus far I’ve not seen a significant impact on the battery. And prior to enabling it the picture was still very sharp, vibrant, and accurate.
I was surprised to learn that the phone isn’t unlocked for all GSM carriers in the US. Unlike its predecessor and others from BLU, you’ll only find compatibility with T-Mobile, Metro, and other brands that use its towers. That’s a little deflating and unexpected, and it cuts off a sizable segment of buyers.
I was really glad to see that BOLD was not a casualty of the pandemic and that the brand was ready to introduce a new phone. I enjoyed the N1 and looked forward to putting the N2 to work for me.
Although I’ve only had the device for a little over a week, I’m in no hurry to put it down. I feel increasingly confident in its capabilities and don’t have any anxiety over missing a candid moment with the camera.
I’d like to feel more confident in the Android versions, especially as the software gives us more control over personalization and UI customization. Were this phone to stay with Android 11 it would look and feel outdated in the next year or two.
The processor and memory are more than sufficient for my needs and that should be the case for another year or more. I can’t imagine there being anything different that I’d do with my phone in 2024 that I am not doing today. And to that end, the N2 should be still handling the duties.
I like the price point for the N2 and have no reservations in recommending the phone for most of the people in my personal circle. If you can get yours for less, you’re doing very well.
Remember, though, the BOLD N2 is not compatible with AT&T, Cricket, or any of the other carriers that use AT&T’s network. Moreover, it’s not a CDMA phone so Verizon and Sprint networks are out, too.
You can purchase learn more about the BOLD brand at the phone maker’s website. To purchase the N2 you’ll end up at Amazon where it retails for $350. BOLD, like BLU, offers flash sales and launch deals of its devices. If you act fast, you can get the BOLD N2 for just $250.