Last Updated on October 11, 2019 by Dave Farquhar
I needed a phone in a hurry the other day when my wife’s Moto E started acting up. We turned to the Blu Studio One, specifically model# S0110UU. This is my Blu Studio One review.
It’s an inexpensive midrange phone for people who want to bring their own to their carrier rather than (over)paying on a monthly installment plan. It works with GSM providers like T-Mobile and AT&T. It does not work with Sprint or Verizon, since they use the CDMA standard. Some of the smaller carriers also work with GSM. Buying a Blu phone isn’t a bad way to go when you’re looking to save on a cell phone.
It’s a cheap phone but it has more metal in it than a Motorola, which is my usual go-to brand for bring your own. I like that the SIM and memory card fit in a tray that hold them tightly. I’ve had them jostle before, and if your memory card is encrypted, you’ll lose your data if it comes loose at all. I used the included tool to pop open the tray, insert a T-Mobile SIM and a micro SD card, then put it back together. It only took a couple of minutes. The tool is a little bit tricky to use the first time, but it’s easier than taking the back off a phone to insert cards.
You also have the ability to load two SIMs in it, rather than a SIM and an SD card. I didn’t test this capability, since I don’t have an AT&T SIM to put in it. But if you travel internationally, this feature is invaluable. Or you can separate work and personal use on a single phone by using two GSM providers. And if you live in an area where one provider has bad coverage and work in an area where the other does, this can help. It’s a novelty, but if you need this feature, you may need it pretty badly.
Hardware-wise, the Blu Studio One has a 1.3 GHz quad-core CPU, a 5-inch screen, 16 GB of onboard storage, and, most notably, 2 GB of RAM. It costs $140, making it the cheapest phone I can find with 2 GB of RAM. And for $140 they give you a charger, a set of earbuds, a screen protector and a plastic case. It’s not a very good case, but it will give you some protection while you scour the ‘Net for a better one. For the money, they’re throwing in $10 worth of extras you don’t usually get, which is nice.
The default keyboard is something called Touchpal. At least on this phone, Touchpal has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. None. It inserted random characters into every password I tried to enter. Thanks to that, setup that should take five minutes took an hour. But once you get the phone on your wifi, you can change to the standard Android keyboard. Navigate to Settings -> Language and Input -> Current Keyboard and select Choose Keyboards. After I did that, the phone became usable. It’s a good thing. Had I not found that setting, I would have taken the phone back.
You probably assumed this because it comes with earbuds, but it has a headphone jack. That’s good. Wired headphones are cheap and don’t need their own batteries. Tethering the phone to you via headphones also lessens the damage if the phone falls onto concrete.
It claims to have a 5.5-inch IPS screen. I don’t know about that but it is a better quality display than I expected for the price. I think I like it better than my Moto G 4.
The camera didn’t do much to impress me. It works, but I get better pictures with my Moto G 4, even if the Blu Studio One claims to have a better one. Then again, most sub-$200 phones skimp on the camera, so I’m not surprised. In my experience, if the camera is important to you, you need to try out the phone in person.
My only other complaint is the Blu Studio One has more preinstalled software on it than I would like. It has Opera, McAfee Security, Truedialer, Truecaller, and Yahoo Weather on it. You can’t uninstall them. We don’t want or need any of those things and I’m going to resent them once the phone’s built in storage fills up too much. Then again, subsidies from loading those things on the phone may be why they were able to hit that $140 price point.
Blu is a low-tier brand, but their phones seem to be getting easier to find. They may yet make a name for themselves. They’re not the best phones, but they’re good phones for the money.
David Farquhar is a computer security professional, entrepreneur, and author. He started his career as a part-time computer technician in 1994, worked his way up to system administrator by 1997, and has specialized in vulnerability management since 2013. He invests in real estate on the side and his hobbies include O gauge trains, baseball cards, and retro computers and video games. A University of Missouri graduate, he holds CISSP and Security+ certifications. He lives in St. Louis with his family.