BLU Life Pure XL review: well priced, but nothing to write home about

June 2, 2014
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The Bottom Line

Well priced, but nothing to write home about

PROS
  • Decent handling
  • Snapdragon 800 holds up
  • 32GB of storage out of the box
  • Priced competitively for an unlocked device
CONS
  • Uninspiring design
  • Performance is brought down by unoptimized software
  • Camera quality is only decent at best
  • No LTE
  • Unenjoyable software experience
6.5
The BLU Life Pure XL is priced fairly competitively and gets the job done. There are, however, numerous devices in this price segment that still offer a better experience.

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With the big names in Android fighting it out for market share, it’s easy to forget that there are an incredibly large number of Android device manufacturers around the world. While some have managed to find some traction amongst consumers, there are quite a few lesser known OEMs around, all with one target in mind. That is to bring the fight to the “mainstream” companies, by offering cheaper alternatives for the current flagships.

One such company is Florida-based BLU, which has recently upped its game in the smartphone arena, especially with its last couple of high-end smartphones. We’ve got our hands on the company’s latest flagship, and today, we’re going to take a closer look at the BLU Life Pure XL!

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A 5.5-inch display dictates the overall size, and the associated handling experience of this device, but with regards to design, BLU has decided to keep things pretty simple.

Glossy plastic is what you’ll find all around this phone, which features an angular design, but with a rounded top and bottom. The plastic has a curve to it that helps with the handling, along with a protruding camera, that doesn’t come out too much, but will take the brunt of the damage if you slide the phone across a surface while it is on its back. The glossy plastic material is prone to smudges and fingerprints, but the black colour does do a good job in hiding that.

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As mentioned, the BLU Life Pure XL features a 5.5-inch LTPS (Low Temperature Polysilicon) LCD display with a 1080p resolution, and offered a very good experience. With vibrant colours that let the colourful OS shine through, and crisp and clear text, surfing the web, watching videos, and playing games, were all great on this display.

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The smartphone features a 2.3 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, backed by the Adreno 330 GPU, and 3 GB of RAM. While the processor may be slightly older, it’s still a fantastic performer, and 3 GB of RAM is something that even some of the latest flagships don’t offer.

As expected, this processing package allowed for a smooth and reliable performance for the most part, and any lag or stutter that we saw were more the fault of the software than an hardware issue. In other hardware, you get the full suite of connectivity options, including NFC, 32 GB of internal storage that isn’t expandable, and 2,500 mAh battery that does a great job.

It has to be mentioned though that the phone doesn’t support 4G LTE, so for mobile data, you’ll be dependent on slower HSDPA networks.

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The BLU Life Pure XL features a 16 MP rear shooter which is quite impressive, at least on paper. Looking at the camera app first, you do get some features such as HDR, scene modes, and some controls, but there are some issues when you try to play around with the settings, and the processing time when using various scene modes is a little longer than expected.

The quality of the images is also disappointing. Colour reproduction is shoddy, as below average saturation results in washed out photos in nearly every instance. Details are also lacking, and the level of noise is quite high.

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The first thing you’ll notice when it comes to the software is the lack of an app drawer. All of your applications will be found on the homescreens, with the only way to organize them being the use of folders. If you download a lot of apps, things could get cluttered really quickly. Since the homescreens are now the home for all your apps, there’s also no way to add any widgets.

There’s also an interesting feature in the lockscreen that allows for quick access to some apps like the camera, torch, recorder, and a fun “fake call” app, that’ll certainly be a big help in getting you out of an awkward situation. Other pre-loaded apps include a power manager, a nice music player, and an advanced camera app.

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Priced at $399, the BLU Life Pure XL does provide a lower price point compared to plenty of other flagships, but there are also a slew of mainstream devices like the Moto X, Nexus 5, and the difficult-to-get OnePlus One that not only match, or are lower than this price point, but also have a lot more to offer. At the end of the day, you do get a device that features a great processing package, capable display, and a decent camera app, but if you’re looking for anything more, there are some wonderful choices out there.

Check out the Blu Life Pure XL on Amazon, here

Comments

  • Jayfeather787

    Nice price! I hope there is a lot of Android development for this, because that UI is awful.

  • wezi427

    Even though I’m on Verizon and won’t be able to buy this phone, I’m rooting for this company. The phones that they produce seem to be of decent quality. I know they have made a phone that offers 4G, why not do it with all the phones?

    • balcobomber25

      All of the phones they “make” are actually rebranded phones from companies like Gionee, A lot of those phones use Mediatek processors which is why they can offer them at rock bottom prices with top end specs. Mediatek doesn’t presently have an LTE capable chip available for mass markets (although one is just around the corner from being released). LTE has become so hyped people think they absolutely need it. For most people 3G+ is more than fast enough to handle their day to day activities. Most 3G+ phones will have speeds similar to what home broadband offers.

      • wezi427

        LTE is necessary for me. I have a lot of downtime at work and I’m able to listen to Pandora and watch Netflix. I also Skype while I’m out and about.