BLU's UK debut is an attractive mid-ranger — available on Black Friday for £45 off.
Today Florida-based BLU announces its first entry into the UK market, with the mid-priced BLU Vivo 6. The phone sees the upstart manufacturer bring an attractive metal unibody and a handful of premium features like fingerprint security and USB-C connectivity to a phone with a standard price of £239.99. But pick up the phone on launch day — Black Friday — on Amazon UK, and it's yours for a mere £184.99.
So what does that get you? Let's take a look.
A good-looking phone at any price point.
On the outside, the Vivo 6 sports a curved aluminum unibody with a brushed finish, and a subtle curve that fits comfortably in the hand. Chamfers around the front and back give it a premium look and feel, similar to an old favorite of ours, the HTC One M7. It's a trued and true design that many have emulated over the years, but nevertheless it looks good at any price point.
Around the front, the rose gold model we've been using has a white border around its 5.5-inch 1080p LCD display. It's a good-looking panel that's easily visible in daylight, and vibrant but not over-saturated. We have noticed some subtle ghosting in day-to-day use, though — significantly more than most other Android phones with LCD panels.
The Vivo 6's button setup will be familiar to anyone who's used a recent Samsung phone. There's a central home button, which also houses the phone's surprisingly quick fingerprint scanner, sandwiched between two capacitive keys. (These buttons aren't labeled, because you can choose which is used for the back key and recent apps functions.)
On the inside, there's a solid collection of mid-range hardware. The Vivo 6 is powered by MediaTek's Helio P10 processor — a chip that hasn't made it into many phones in the West, but with four Cortex-A53 cores at up to 1.8GHz, there's plenty of power to go around. The inclusion of 4GB of RAM and a hefty 64GB of internal storage is also welcome, plus there's the option of dual-SIM support or microSD expandability via a hybrid slot.
Other highlights include...
|Operating System||Android 6.0 Marshmallow|
|Network||HSPA+ 42Mbps, LTE Cat. 6
LTE: FDD B1/3/7/8/20, TDD: B38/39/40/41
|Processor||MediaTek Helio P10
1.8GHz octa-core with Mali-T860 GPU
|Storage||64GB Internal + microSD up to 64GB|
|Display||5.5-inch 1080p LCD|
|Camera||13MP Sony IMX258 with PDAF/Laser AF, f/2.0
HD 1080p video @ 30fps
5V/2A quick charging
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, Hotspot, Type-C Port|
|Security||One Touch Fingerprint Scanner|
BLU's software is fast, colorful and feature-packed, but the UI won't fit everyone's tastes.
The 13-megapixel rear camera follows a familiar pattern for mid-range Android phones: In daylight or well-lit conditions, it does pretty well. In low light, not so much, with plenty of noise creeping into darker indoor shots and low-light photos. The phone does sport a full-featured camera app, though, with a range of photo filters, along with HDR and beauty modes for agumented selfies.
That's part of BLU's highly differentiated Android experience, which sits atop Marshmallow. The firm says an upgrade to Nougat is planned, but there's no timetable in mind just yet. In any case, BLU's interpretation of Android 6.0 is a combination of Material Design and its own flattened, geometric UI. In some places it's a relatively light touch of customization atop the OS. In others, things have been completely rearranged — for example, quick settings now live behind a swipe up from the bottom of the screen, as in iOS.
BLU has also baked some genuinely useful additions into its software — a quick app shortcuts menu that lives behind a sideways swipe of the fingerprint scanner, scrollable screenshots for longer captures, and a "fake call" button for getting out of awkward situations. There's also an optional floating button widget, which makes one-handed use a little easier.
Besides which the phone is incredibly quick in day-to-day use — there's not a hint of lag or stuttering to be seen when jumping between apps — and thanks to the ample 4GB of RAM, we didn't notice any multitasking issues either.
A mix of Android and iOS design influences.
But there are also changes that may rub Android purists the wrong way, like the aforementioned iOS-style quick settings, and the springboard-style home screen with no app drawer.
Software quirks aside, the BLU Vivo 6 looks like a solid mid-ranger, especially at its Amazon launch day price. However, it remains to be seen whether this will be enough to help BLU break into a new market — particularly in the wake of the recent spyware scandal which reportedly affected some of BLU's other phones. (BLU tells us the Vivo 6 is safe, and affected devices have been patched.)
The BLU Vivo 6 is on sale on November 25 for £184.99. From November 26, the price will revert back to the standard £239.99.