Available today, budget handset maker Blu’s new G9 smartphone is a $180 device with features and hardware that excel what its price point might suggest. This phone offers a lot of bang for users on a budget.
As much as we all love to focus on the highest-end devices on the scene, the budget market might be even worthier of our attention. If you’re looking to get a handset on a budget, then the odds are you want that phone to be the best you can get at the price in which you’re shopping. And in this market, it’s hard not to look at Blu’s handsets.
First, A Little Bit About Blu
Before we get into the details of the device, let’s take a quick second to talk about Blu’s slightly muddy history. The company has been around for nearly a decade and focuses on budget smartphones. It had a history of releasing an excessive number of devices each year, which came at the cost of updates and support. In short, it was releasing far more devices than it could update.
That’s an issue, so in August of last year, the company promised to focus on quality—that includes support and updates—over quantity. According to the company’s CEO Samuel Ohev-Zion, new Blu devices would be released “with a purpose” and “guaranteed software updates and support.” That all sounds good.
It’s also worth mentioning that back in 2016, Adups, the company Blu used to update its handsets, was found to be sending private information—like text messages and real-time location details—back to China. Blu stated that it wasn’t aware of what Adups was doing, but settled with the FTC on the issue last year. The settlement requires Blu to undergo third-party security assessments every two years for the next 20 years. The company has also since moved away from using Adups for updates and is using the method supplied by Google for OTA updates, which is probably the best method for Android system updates anyway—especially when it comes to privacy. So, all that said, everything seems to be on the up and up for Blu now.
With that bit of backstory out of the way (important both because this is our first review of a Blu handset and because we want you to be an informed customer), let’s talk about the G9 itself.
Hardware and Build Quality: Above Its Price Point
First things first, let’s look at the hardware the G9 has under its hood. Keep in mind this is a $180 handset:
- Processor: 2.0 GHz Octa-Core MediaTek Helio P22
- RAM: 4GB
- Storage: 64GB, microSD card slot
- Display: 6.3-inch 19:9 1520×720 “Infinity Display” (271 PPI) w/ teardrop notch
- Cameras: Dual 13 MP rear cameras with depth sensor, 13 MP front
- Ports: USB-C, 2.5 mm headphone jack
- Headphone Jack: You betcha
- Battery: 4,000 mAh
- Fingerprint Sensor: Rear-mounted
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 2.4/5 GHz (a/b/g/n), 3G 850/900/1700/1900/2100, 4G LTE 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/28, dual-SIM
- US Carrier compatibility: T-Mobile, AT&T, Metro, Cricket, Straight Talk
- Android version: Android 9.0, Pie; April 2019 Security Patch
- Price: $180
As you might expect, a $180 phone isn’t going to have the fit and finish of a $900 flagship (or even a $400 mid-ranger). With budget phones like this, you can expect cut corners—the hope is that the cuts are in the right places.
When it comes down to it, the G9 is a bit of a mixed bag. The finish on the device is what I would expect on a handset that costs less than half of what you’ll pay for a Google Pixel 3a. It seems well put together and looks really good. The chameleon blue on the plastic back offers a much more premium look than you might expect to find on a phone at this price point.