When it comes to smartphones, the phrase “you get what you pay for” isn’t always completely true. For instance, you can spend $700 on a flagship smartphone. It may not even last you 6 months. It may never get updated, it may just die one day. There are smartphones out there ranging from about $35 all the way up to over a grand. From various manufacturers. One manufacturer in particular, that is located in Miami, Florida, has done pretty well in releasing smartphones under $100, and even smartphones under $300. That company is BLU. Believe it or not, BLU has the most popular unlocked smartphones on Amazon. That’s ahead of all of Samsung’s stuff, the Nexus line, and everything else that’s on Amazon. It’s time we took notice.
BLU has just announced the Studio C, which is their newest addition to the Studio family – which happens to be their low-end smartphone line. The biggest selling point for the Studio C, is the 3,000mAh battery with it’s $99 price tag. Now it’s important to remember through out this review that the Studio C is only $99. So it’d be unfair to compare it to the likes of the HTC One M9, Samsung Galaxy S6, and LG G4. But how does it stack up to other smartphones like the Moto E 2015? Good question.
If you’ve used some of the other Studio smartphones from BLU, then the Studio C will feel pretty familiar. It’s a polycarbonate back and sides with a glass front. There’s a design element here that they borrowed from the Nexus 5, and that’s the earpiece. No it’s not a circle. Instead, it’s the same color as the back of the phone. Which in out mint color that we have here, it looks really nice, actually. Obviously you wouldn’t notice it on the black model.
On the back, the sides are curved just a tiny bit. Not much, but it’s noticeable, and it makes the phone feel that much nicer in the hand. BLU has also brought in soft-keys. Which is a nice change from their other Studio models. Which typically had three capacitive keys for menu, home and back. We do have a notification LED light to the right of the earpiece of top along with the front-facing camera.
As usual, with the Studio series, there is a removable back. However the battery is not removable. By removing the back, you are able to get to the dual SIM card slots and the micro SD card slots. While there is a microSD card slot, it does only support up to 64GB of storage, according to BLU. So the fancy new 128GB and 200GB cards from Sandisk and Samsung won’t work, unfortunately. Storage is a bit lacking here. As there is only 8GB of storage, and out of the box you have a little over 4GB. So you won’t be playing many games, if any, on here.
Pair a 5-inch 720p display, along with a 3,000mAh battery and that’s a recipe for long battery life right? Correct. Because of the storage limitations here, I wasn’t able to install all the apps I use on a daily basis, but the battery is quite good. Standby is pretty decent as well. I unplugged it at about 10pm and by 7am it was still at 100% which is pretty good for 9 hours of idle. I was able to get through a full day with ease. Which included watching some YouTube, some Vines courtesy of Twitter as well as browsing through my email, Google+, and Twitter.
Like usual with BLU’s Studio smartphones, there’s not much to go over here as they’ve kept it pretty much stock Android or AOSP. It’s running Android 5.0.2 Lollipop. There are a few things that have been added, so let’s start in the notification shade. In the quick settings section you have Audio Profiles, where you can swap between General, Silent, Meeting, and Outdoor. There’s also a Data connection one, which has to do with this device being dual-SIM. Which means you can switch from one SIM to the other without any issues.
BLU also has an icon that is on the home-screen by default called “BLU Help” and it’s basically just a shortcut that takes you to their website for help and also shows you the manual for the phone. Which is pretty neat, but it would be nicer if it were a full fledged app to help out users. What’s interesting is that Google Chrome is not installed by default. I think this might be the only phone I’ve used with Google Services, that doesn’t have Chrome installed by default. Instead it uses Opera. Which is a pretty popular browser, and much lighter weight than Chrome. Considering we have a quad-core 1.3GHz processor but just 1GB of RAM, that could be why they opted for Opera over Chrome. Additionally there’s the space argument as well. We have just 8GB of space here and Chrome does use quite a bit of storage space.
The launcher on the BLU Studio C is not the Google Experience Launcher, but it’s close, in fact the only real difference I see is that Google Now is not to the left of the homescreen. Otherwise, you wouldn’t even notice the difference, most likely. There are a few more pre-installed apps here like Adobe Acrobat, FM Radio, and the Google News & Weather app in addition to Opera and BLU Help. The FM Radio app is actually really popular on cheap smartphones like this, those that are in South America use FM Radio apps quite a bit, as we saw with the Moto G, actually.
So here we have a 8MP camera. It’s not the stock Android or Google Camera though. However, if you’ve used BLU’s smartphones before then you’ll feel right at home. There’s four modes here, Panorama, Beauty, Live Photo Mode and Normal. You can also change things like GPS Location, exposure, scene mode, white balance and more by hitting the gear icon in the lower left-hand corner. No 4K video here, but then again you shouldn’t have expected that from a $99 smartphone. Down below we have plenty of shots taken with the BLU Studio C, so check them out.
After reviewing a ton of flagship devices, it’s always a bit tough to review a phone that’s not meant for the same markets, or consumers. I have to keep reminding myself that this is just a $99 smartphone. And for $99 it’s one hell of a smartphone. I’d put it right up there with the Moto E 2015, which is $129. The BLU Studio C has a bigger battery, bigger display with a better resolution, and is dual-SIM which is essential for those that travel, especially into Asia. The BLU Studio C is available from Amazon now for just $99, it’s a great phone for the kids, or even the parents and grandparents.