If you need a cheap smartphone, you’ve probably seen Blu. And the price probably makes you wonder. Are Blu phones good? And are Blu phones safe? Those are good questions to be asking. Here’s my family’s experience with Blu phones.
Blu phones had a spotty security track record but haven’t had a major security issue since 2017. As far as quality, they’re fine for the money, as long as you don’t expect them to perform with a phone that costs twice as much.
Who Blu appeals to
If you live on a tight budget but need a smartphone, Blu can be pretty appealing. You can get a smartphone from Blu for well under $100, then use it on AT&T’s or T-Mobile’s network on a bring-your-own-device plan. Then you’re not making a monthly payment on a phone. You own the device outright and your only commitments are on your voice and data plan itself.
Blu is also appealing if you’re rough on your devices. If you’re the type who buys insurance to cover broken screens, you may very well find it’s cheaper to buy a Blu phone, then replace it when it breaks. Insurance often costs $10 per month, which means if you break a screen once a year, it’s cheaper to buy a Blu phone and replace it when accidents happen.
I think they’re great for kids. Like I told the clerk at the T-Mobile store, I’m not turning my kids loose with a $1,000 phone from Apple. A cheap Blu will get the job done for them, and if something happens to the phone, we’re out less than $100. They can learn responsibility on a low-stakes device, and a Blu provides the main things they need: a way to call home if they need to, and a way for us to know they’re where they’re supposed to be.
Are Blu phones safe?
In 2016 and 2017, Blu admitted to having spyware installed on their phones, and Amazon suspended sales for a time over the concerns. And then in November 2017, Blu botched an update on one phone model that knocked the phones out of commission for almost a week.
While these events are concerning, Blu does seem to have learned from these mistakes. One thing I liked, when I bought a Blu C6 in August 2019, is that the phone pulled down the monthly Android security updates from Google. Not all phones do this. By and large, Blu phones are reasonably safe today.
All things being equal, I’d prefer a Nokia phone, since Nokia also promptly provides monthly updates from Google. But all things aren’t always equal. If the price difference is significant, I don’t blame you for going with Blu. I’ve done it myself.
Are Blu phones good?
Don’t expect a sub-$100 phone to keep pace with a $200 phone. A Blu will be slower and laggier than more expensive competitors, even if their specs seem impressive on paper. They’re basic smartphones for basic needs.
When I shopped for a phone in August 2019, Blu had phones at several price points. The two cheapest models, which came in at $50 and $60 apiece, had a lot of complaints. But the reviews on the $80 model were mostly good. The only negative reviews I saw about it said the phone wasn’t very fast. Well, for $80 I don’t expect a barn burner.
But for basic needs, the phone is fine. It makes calls fine. The included Google apps run fine. Chrome runs well enough on it to get online and check something, even if you probably don’t want to use it as your primary device to get on the Internet.
Blu phones aren’t the best phones in the world. But they get the job done. If the alternative is buying a used phone and not knowing how much battery life it will still have left in it or how much longer the manufacturer will supply updates, they are a good value.