BLU Pure XR Review

This is BLU’s highest-end flagship smartphone of 2016 thus far called the BLU Pure XR. It’s a $300 off-contract smartphone that features an octa-core processor with 4GB of RAM and plenty of other attractive specs that we’re going to talk about later in this video, like 3D Touch. Inside the box, you’re going to find the Pure XR sitting right on top, which I’m going to set off to the side for now. Some of the accessories included in the box include a USB to USB-C cable, there’s a pair of earphones with removable tips and buttons for music playback support, a female USB to USB-C cable, a fast charging wall wart, and SIM card ejector tool. There is a Dual SIM instructions packet as well as a quick guide to help set up the device. The last two items in the box are a silicone protective case and screen protector.

If we slide the Pure XR out of the small bag and peel off the protective plastic film on the device, we’re going to find a very simple but premium build construction. Aerospace grade 7000 series aluminum is found on the sides and rear while the front is home to a very smooth and subtly curved 5.5-inch Corning Gorilla Glass 3 display. The Pure XR features a very slim 7mm thick body. Overall, I really like the looks of this smartphone.

Display

If we dive deeper into this smartphone, we’re first going to find a 5.5-inch FHD Super AMOLED display with a 1080p resolution and 401ppi index. While a QHD display panel would be nice, it comes with the cost of battery life and price. This panel delivers plenty of resolution to view content with fine detail in my opinion. Black colors appear very dark and true to color while red, yellow and blue colors appear very saturated.

What’s neat about this display is that it features 3D Touch sensitive input gestures so for selected BLU apps like the camera and dialer app, you can hard press the app icon and additional settings will appear; kind of similar to the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. While it is more limited than iOS because it’s not baked into Android, it does offer the ability to quickly jump to a particular area of the app very quickly. you can also use it to unlock the phone and can customize the sensitivity in the settings.

There is a fingerprint scanner built into the physical home button, flanked by a capacitive back and overview button. It works pretty well and unlocks the device fairly quickly. My only complaint is that the scanner’s cover is somewhat loose and it rattles around when I use the home button or fingerprint scanner.

Software

In terms of software, the Pure XR resembles many other BLU devices. It runs BLU’s custom skin on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow. There is no app drawer and instead of the quick settings being located in the drop down notification panel, they are moved to a slide up panel at the bottom. Also, the settings drawer is heavily skinned. A lot of the key settings can be found in the advanced settings section. I’m not sure why they didn’t just include them all in one list. The good news is that you can swap out the launcher if you don’t like it and it feels very light as the phone feels very quick and fluid when using this launcher.

Processor

Under the hood, you’re going to find a powerful 64-bit MediaTek P10 flagship chipset with 2GHz of Octa-Core processing power paired with 4GB of RAM. This is one of MediaTek’s fastest chips and with 4GB of RAM, the Pure XR really is a speed beast.

Though it does feel fast, it doesn’t feel up to par with the OnePlus 3 or the Note 7 for example. Also, when running the device through Geekbench 3, it received an average of a single-core score of 840 and a multi-core score of 3300. Those scores are way below what you’d find on a device like the Galaxy S7, which features an Exynos or Snapdragon processor with 4GB of RAM but with a QHD resolution display. I’m not sure what’s going on here. It doesn’t quite match the specs on paper.

Camera

Now the Pure XR does feature a 16-megapixel camera sensor with an f1.8 aperture, laser and face detection autofocus, as well as a front-facing 8-megapixel camera sensor. The sensor excels in low light and can retain the quality when cropping, that is compared to a sensor with a lower megapixel count. In my testing, I found the camera to capture images on the overexposed side of things but all in all, it’s a very capable camera; given the $300 price point of this smartphone.

Speakers

In terms of audio, the speakers aren’t in the absolute worst position. They are also not in the absolute best position. They are located in the bottom of the phone. Of course, I would have liked to see them on the front. Maybe someday that will happen. They are a tad bit tinny but can get pretty loud even when an AC unit is blaring right next to you. They get the job done but for nothing special.

Battery Life

As for the battery life, the Pure XR features a 3000 mAh battery with Quick Charging that can provide up to 20 days of standby on one charge. In every day usage though, the battery should provide you about 3-4 hours of on-screen time per charge. There is a power-saving mode available though that can squeeze out some extra battery life.

So BLU has always tempted us with their attractive smartphones that are easy on the wallet when compared to their mainstream counterparts. The Pure XR is no exception. For $300, you get a smartphone with 64GB of onboard storage, aluminum build construction, 5.5-inch Super AMOLED 1080p display with 3D Touch, octa-core processor with 4GB of RAM, 16-megapixel camera sensor, fingerprint scanner, 3000 mAh battery and Android Marshmallow. The XR is worth the price in my opinion, even if the phone isn’t as capable as it appears to be on paper.

The Pure XR shows us that specks aren’t unanimous. Even though the XR has 4GB of RAM and a flagship processor, it doesn’t mean it’s going to perform as well as a device with similar specifications. It might or it might not—there are a lot of factors involved.

While I would challenge BLU to work on the quality of specs versus quantity of specs, I admire their passion for continuing to provide budget users with devices they can feel proud of.