Upgrade cycles are stretching as people are starting to figure out what their devices actually cost. And with that awareness, the market for competent mid and low-range phones is expanding. That’s where BLU lives. Selling unlocked, wallet friendly, phones for GSM carriers through Amazon. And that’s where today’s subject, the BLU R2 Plus, comes into the picture.
They’re back with another device aimed at the budget conscious smartphone buyer. The BLU R2 Plus is a $179 phone that carries a Full HD display, a metal body, and decent internals. Over the last 12-18 months there has been a dramatic upswing in the quality of BLU devices and the R2 Plus continues that trend.
Cheap plastic budget phones are a thing of the past. The R2 Plus is an attractive, if somewhat nondescript, slab phone that is available only in black. The front is covered in all glass that is perfectly rounded at the edges. The back is gently curved aluminum that feels great to hold. I feel like I say this all the time, but budget phones are sure getting good.
There are noticeable bezels above and below the screen. They aren’t quite iPhone 8 level, but they are there. Thankfully, the side bezels are slim. Above the display sits the front camera, an LED flash, and notification light that’s used when charging. Volume and power controls sit on the now-default right side of the device. Volume is controlled by a single rocker which is easily distinguishable from the power button.
The back of the R2 Plus is all aluminum and it feels great. The main camera and flash is centered at the top of the phone, just where they should be. Beneath the camera is a fingerprint reader. The single speaker is rear-facing and located near the bottom edge. That’s not ideal but is certainly understandable on a phone at this price.
That brings me to the one design-related element I really dislike about the R2 Plus. The charging port is located on the top edge of the phone. It’s not even centered but is to the right side. Almost every phone out there puts the charging port where it belongs – dead center along the bottom edge. This is something I could never get used to when testing the R2 Plus as muscle memory just always caused me to try to plug the cable in in the usual spot. It’s not a device killer but it is annoying.
The screen is 5.5 inches and 1920×1080 which lands at 400 PPI. That’s quite good for a sub-$200 device. The screen is an LCD which still isn’t my favorite display tech but it looks fine. BLU’s MiraVision settings utility is back to allow you to customize the display appearance. Everything I said about in in the Life One X3 review applies to the R2 Plus. As I said then:
You can set the screen to Standard, Vivid (my favorite), or a user mode that lets you customize things yourself. The Vivid mode makes things pop a bit and look a little closer to a tuned AMOLED display. I also like to enable dynamic contrast. Overall, it’s a good display made better with the ability to customize it.
The R2 Plus has 3 GB RAM and 32 GB storage with the ability to add an additional 64 GB using microSD. It supports dual SIMs. The CPU package is the octa-core MediaTek 6753 with Mali-T720 GPU, the same as in the Life One X3. So, as expected, this device performs just like the Life One X3. Which means it is roughly equivalent to the Nexus 6. And at $179, that’s quite good.
With the same internals driving the R2 Plus, again everything I said about the Life One X3 applies.
Navigating around the device shows it to be smooth and responsive. Apps launch reasonably quickly and I had no problems running my normal complement of apps – Chrome, Newsblur, Allo, Netflix, Amazon, and more. I also want to mention the fingerprint reader. It is fast and accurate. Everyday usage proves the device to be just as capable as the Moto Z2 Play that I loved when I reviewed it last year.
The R2 Plus ships with a 3,000 mAh battery. That’s good, especially with the power-friendly MediaTek chipset. It isn’t great. But most users will find it adequate for a day’s worth of usage. I found the need to top off the battery in the evening especially if I’d been using the device heavily.
The R2 Plus is almost 100% vanilla Android 7.0. From the Launcher 3 home screen, to the stock settings menu, and even the standard notification shade with quick actions the R2 Plus is decidedly standard. And that’s a good thing. It helps to ensure that the phone provides the best performance on its limited hardware.
The cameras are good enough for a $179 phone but really aren’t very good. There are twin 13 MP shooters with LED flash on the front and back. There are plenty of customization options including the ability to modify white balance, exposure, electronic image stabilization, and more. See the samples below and you’ll see how it can struggles.
The BLU R2 Plus is an excellent value. At $179 you get a device that can do everything the average smartphone user requires in an attractive, if somewhat plain, package. That BLU includes a TPU case, screen protector, and headphones just solidifies the value proposition for this phone. Performance is good and value is spectacular. Check it out on Amazon if such a device appeals to your needs and budget.
|CPU||MediaTek 6753, octa-core CPU @ 1.3 GHz|
|Internal Storage||32 GB|
|microSD Support||Yes, up to 64 GB|
|Display||5.5 inches, 1920x1080, 400 PPI|
|Main Camera||13 MP with LED Flash|
|Front Camera||13 MP with LED Flash|
|Fingerprint Sensor||Yes, Rear|