Budget Android smartphones have come a long way over the past few years. It wasn't that long ago when anything below flagship status came with a million compromises, from screen clarity to processing power and from camera quality to built-in storage. Not to mention, budget smartphones hardly ever came with enough connectivity options or sensors to help make things easier for buyers. Cut to 2016 and the entire landscape has changed beyond recognition, thanks largely to the ultra-competitive Chinese smartphone scene. With most Chinese smartphone vendors offering attractive hardware at prices unthinkable just a couple of years back, buyers are spoiled for choice without having to make the same concessions that they would have had to make not so long ago.
That being the case, U.S. residents looking to get their hands on an inexpensive smartphone will now have yet another option in the form of the entry-level BLU R1 HD. The device will officially launch in the country on the 12th of next month, but early birds can already pre-order it exclusively from Amazon. The smartphone comes in two different models, with the base version sporting just 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of internal storage. While that particular option will cost $99.99 unlocked and SIM-free, the better-equipped version with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage will cost just $10 extra. One interesting thing to note here is that Amazon Prime members can get a specially-made version of the handset for $50 less than the asking price. However, that particular model will come with a bunch of pre-loaded Amazon apps and with lock-screen ads.
Taking a look at the tech specs of the BLU R1 HD, the device features a 5-inch 720p display and is powered by a MediaTek 6735 SoC, which comes with a 64-bit quad-core CPU, Mali-T720 GPU and a WorldMode LTE modem. The device comes with 4G LTE connectivity on bands 2, 4, 7 and 17 in the U.S. while support for band 12 is expected to be added by way of a future software update. Imaging options on the handset include an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with LED flash and a 5-megapixel front-facing shooter with wide-angle lens for better selfies. Meanwhile, the device carries a 2,500 mAh battery and runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box.Pre-order the BLU R1 HD