BLU R2 Plus Launch Review

Adam Matlock

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Jul 24, 2015
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It seems like just yesterday that I was reviewing the BLU R1 Plus, and here I am today providing a follow up review for the brand new R2 Plus. In all reality, it hasn’t been a day… it’s actually coming up on a year. I guess the old saying is true; time really does fly when you’re having fun, and I’ve been having a lot of fun with BLU devices this year. I’ve reviewed the R1 Plus, the Vivo 8, Vivo 8L, S1, Life One X3, and now I’m rounding out the collection with the R2 Plus.


After reviewing so many BLU devices, I can’t help but think to myself, is there a place for this phone in the consumer market? Well, I believe the answer to this question is “yes”. In a world of smartphones where we are constantly being spoon-fed type-cast, annual offerings by nearly every manufacturer, forcing us to choose between Option A and Option B, BLU helps make the decision a little bit more flavorful by offering Option C, D, E, F, G, and... you get the picture. In this day in age where smartphones are looking to break the next mold on ingenuity and gimmicks, BLU sticks to the tried-and-true methods of producing a reliable and affordable smartphone lineup that gets the job done, and checks off a lot of boxes for a wide range of people.

Enter the BLU R2 Plus: Power and Performance, with a twist.


Pricing: The MSRP is $179, but BLU has partnered with Amazon for an exclusive limited-time sale price of $129, which is a fantastic deal! The device is currently only available in Black.

- An Octa-core MediaTek 6753 processor (and Mali T720 GPU), clocked at a top end speed of 1.3ghz
- 3GB of memory
- a 5.5” curved display, with 1920x1080 HD resolution, made with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 (400ppi)
- A 3,000 mAh battery
- 32GB of internal storage (expandable; supports up to 64GB SD card)
- A 13MP f/2.0 aperture main camera with LED flash – records video at 1080p @30fps
- A 13MP front-facing camera with LED flash
- Runs Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box
- Dual Sim & GSM Unlocked 4G LTE for use with ATT/TMO, and other MVNOs
- Bonus --- it also comes with earphones, a clear TPU style case, and a screen protector (installation required)

Overview and Performance: Many of the BLU phones that I have reviewed lately have been their higher–end devices, which carry a higher cost and/or offer some more refined enhancements. In the R2 Plus, BLU has pared the device down a bit in some areas, trying to reach a balance between price and performance, which definitely shows. However, one thing I want to reflect on really quick is the idea of a mid-tier budget phone. When we think the phone spectrum, traditionally we have the flagship tier, mid-tier, and budget tier. Well, BLU breaks the mold with this device and brings us a whole new level of economy-phone citizenship, which I shall call the conscientious ownership tier. A lot of what has gone into this phone is maximizing the experience for the user, but keeping price low, which they have accomplished. If you are familiar with any of the recent BLU devices or my previous reviews, then the 1.3ghz Octacore Mediatek 6753 won’t be much of a surprise to you. This has been the mainstay in many of BLU’s devices this year, and it’s a solid chipset. It cranks out enough power for multitasking, a little gaming, and all-around good performance for your day-to-day activities. Where BLU decided to keep things a bit more flashy is with the 5.5” 1080p display, which is rocking a solid 400ppi density. The battery life is on-par with many mid-tier devices, and rounds out the package well. All in all, the phone works well and can handle pretty much anything you throw at it, within reason. The phone does have 3GB of RAM, which is ample, but don’t expect to be doing any high-end gaming or heavy multi-tasking. You can load a very reasonable amount of apps without noticing any shuttering or system slowdown, but the best way to maximize the performance is to stay on top of your app management and close programs every once in a while.


Display: Overall, I have been very impressed with the graphics. The screen is the same 5.5” 1080p display that the flagship VIVO 8 carries, which is a nice addition to the spec spectrum on this phone. The color saturation is good and the overall balance of color and temperature are sharp as well. Of course, if you want to change things up a little you can go into the display settings and adjust the warmth to your individual preference. The color accuracy is also more on the natural side, versus the ever popular over-saturation technique that Samsung employs in their devices. I am happy that the blacks balance out well, especially considering it has an LCD screen. Generally LCD screens have more of a white-color effect that makes some of the colors look light and faded.


Battery Life: The battery life on this phone is ample, and adequate. When paired up with other BLU devices that have 4,000mAh and 5,000mAh batteries, it seems like a radical shift in battery size. However, when you look around at the competition in the mid-tier range, and even the budget range, you’ll find that 3,000mAh is actually really good, and more than competitive. Unfortunately the phone doesn’t have the quick-charge technology that its predecessors have, but the battery is also much smaller which means that the recharge times naturally aren’t terribly long. Even at 3,000mAh, when combined with the 1.3ghz processor, the battery should last you all day long unless you’re a video streaming warrior. With normal use and mixed media, the phone lasted me all the way until the end of the day, which is perfectly fine in my book.


Fingerprint Sensor: The Fingerprint Sensor (FPS) on the R2 Plus is accurate and works well, especially considering that we’re dealing with a phone that costs between the $129-179 range, depending on when you buy it. However, you can tell that it’s not quite up to par with some of the higher-end BLU devices. There is a little bit of a delay between the FPS activation and the screen turning on. I’m not sure if it’s a programmed delay or it’s just as fast as the FPS can work, but you will notice it if you’re switching over from a higher end device. Is it the end of the world? Of course not; it’s a $130 phone. I remember back when phones cost $500-600 dollars and didn’t have fingerprint sensors, so the fact that here we are just a few years removed and you can get a phone for barely over a hundred bucks with bio-metrics in it is an all around win.


Sound: The sound on the R2 Plus is probably the biggest disappointment for me. Yes, it checks the boxes and sounds alright… but it’s not great. If you’re just into listening to casual music and playing games, then you probably won’t care very much, but I can’t really advocate for that type of listening experience. The size of the speaker is the real limiting factor in the whole package, along with it being mounted on the back. I have highlighted before that I actually like the placement of rear speakers like this, and the same is still true. For the size and quality of the speaker, this one is mounted in just the right spot to maximize its volume and clarity. As you hold the phone, you don’t cover up the speaker like you do with traditional rear-mounted speakers. In addition, your hand makes for a natural reflective surface for the sound to bounce back forward towards you, enhancing the volume and listening experience. But, at the end of the day, the speaker is just too small and tries to push out too much volume. Vocals are tinny, and you get some of that cheap speaker reverb as the volume goes up, which is variable and contingent on the type of music or sound that you’re listening to.


Camera: The front and rear cameras on this phone are the same as the ones that are on the Life One X3, which are pretty darn good for an economy level, unlocked phone. Not only does the phone have a 13MP rear-facing primary shooter, it has a complimentary 13MP camera on the front for all of your selfie taking dreams come true; complete with LED flash on both. In addition to the impressive photographic hardware, BLU included complimentary software features and enhancements within the camera interface to help you get the perfect shot! It has quite a bit of built-in features, all at the tip of your fingers. While in the camera app, swiping left-to-right, or vice versa, will change camera modes, which include: Panoramic, Video, Camera, and Beauty Mode. Once inside the specific mode that you want to record or snap, all you have to do is swipe down from the top to get the options icon, which allows you to change the camera settings to your desired preferences, which includes HDR, Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS), and much more!


Software: As is on par with most of the BLU phones released this year, the R2 Plus follows suit with Android 7.0 Nougat, straight out of the box. BLU has been very consistent this year with implementation of Android 7.0 across most of their new phone spectrum, which I think is great. Taking a second to address any diehard software junkie concerns, I know some people are starting to expect Oreo with new Android devices, but I want to place that into context. Oreo is still only on 0.5% of all devices and it’s been out since August of 2017. We will get there. Nougat just finally almost passed the percentage of phones that are still running Lollipop – let that sink in for a minute. So, having said all of that, enjoy the 7.0 experience. It’s nice, it’s sharp and it’s here to stay for a while – and it’s pretty darn good! In a world where many of the previous flagships are just now rolling out Oreo, or Oreo Betas, I’m perfectly fine with a $100 phone hitting the market with Nougat.

Speaking of Nougat, the User Interface (UI) on the R2 Plus is clean, and sharp. BLU decided to stick with the more mainstream approach of the S1 and keep things running a more traditional Nougat interface. With a quick swipe down from the top you can access the quick-options, notifications and settings, and swiping up no longer does anything. Swiping to the right will get you the Google Assistant, which is probably my favorite feature that BLU has implemented this year. The overall experience is really clean, and I like it. It’s about as bare-bones as I’ve seen on any phone that isn’t sold by Google, and I think it goes a long way to adding some credibility to BLU, and their design choices. Other than a couple of standard app formalities on the front page (Google suite, Duo, FM Radio, etc…), all of other apps are hidden away nicely in the app drawer and not taking of valuable screen real estate. Of course, you can clutter it up all you want once you get your hands on it, but I really appreciate the simplicity and lack of bloatware – A+ on the software side of the house!


Conclusion: The phone is solid and does a really good job in balancing price with performance, which is hard to do when you’re BLU. There are so many different phone offerings that sometimes things get a little blurred spec/model wise, but it’s important to note that this mid-tier economy phone brings the best that BLU has to offer when it comes to display and resolution. In addition to screen real estate, it’s backed by a great multitasking processor and a dynamic duo of cameras that will up your selfie game, and allow you to take all around good quality pictures. In many of BLU’s phones, the compromises are made on either the resolution, power, or screen size. With the R2 Plus, you get all of the stuff that you want to provide a solid user experience, along with capable video specs. However, these come at a small price. The battery is smaller, the sound is “meh’, and quick-charge didn’t make the final cut. So, what I say here is that the choice is yours. I think that the phone checks plenty of boxes for many BLU fans that want the full-HD screen and don’t mind giving up a 4,000mAh or 5,000mAh battery, in exchange for solid 24-hr performance and saving $50-100. So… the choice is yours! It’s definitely worth a look, and it’s definitely an upgrade over last year’s R1 Plus.

If you’re interested in picking up one the new BLU R2 Plus, you can find them on Amazon’s website today, 25 January 2018, with exclusive limited-time pricing of $129,99, and a regular MSRP of $179.99. So, if you’re interested in picking one up, I doubly recommend that you snag one now while it’s $50 off!

Planning on picking up one of BLU’s new R2 Plus phones? Let me know down in the comments. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts and questions.

Here is my full video on my YouTube Channel - TechOdyssey:
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