Budget smartphone brand BLU continues to make inroads into Europe, and its latest effort, the Life Max, targets the entry-level segment with a surprisingly solid collection of hardware. The regular price for the phone is £109.99, but it's on sale right now for £89.99.
That gets you just about enough power for a decent, basic Android experience on BLU's Marshmallow-based software. The quad-core MediaTek chip inside the Life Max isn't bleeding edge, and we're a little nervous to see 2GB of RAM in any current Android phone, but the phone performs just fine, in part thanks to the fact that it's only pushing a 720p display. (There's no oleophobic coating on the screen, but there is a factory-fitted screen protector included.)
Spread across 5.5 inches, that's not a whole lot of pixel density, but for the price, the overall brightness, viewing angles and color quality isn't bad at all. Other notables include a relatively cramped, but not surprising 16GB of storage (of which around 10.5GB is available out of the box), backed up by SD expandability, and a decidedly basic 8-megapixel rear camera.
|Network||(GSM/GPRS/EDGE) 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, (4G HSPA+ 42Mbps) 900/1900/2100MHz, (4G LTE Cat 4 Up to 150 Mbps) FDD 1/3/7/20|
|Display||5.5-inch 720 x 1280, 267 ppi|
|Processor||64-Bit MediaTek MT6737, 1.3 GHz Quad-Core with Mali-T720 graphics GPU|
|OS||Android 6.0 Marshmallow|
|Camera||Rear – 8.0 megapixel with LED Flash, (1.12mm pixel size, 1/4 inch sensor, 2.8mm aperture) HD 1080p@30fps video recording
Front – 5.0 megapixel, LED Flash
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi b/g/n, GPS, Bluetooth v4.0, Hotspot, NextRadio|
|Memory||2GB RAM, 16GB Internal Memory, Micro SD Slot up to 64GB|
|Dimensions||154.5 x 77.1 x 8.7 mm|
|Battery||Li-Polymer 3700 mAh|
|Available Colours||Midnight Blue|
All of that's standard fare, as is the plasticky exterior it's all packaged in (Galaxy Note 3 veterans will see a very familiar faux leather back panel.) The Life Max's big selling point is its enormous battery — a 3,700mAh cell which according to BLU's numbers will keep you up and running for a maximum of three days. In my less-than-scientific testing, I've been hard pushed to kill this thing off in five days of on-and-off, lighter use.
The inclusion of a fingerprint scanner is a big deal too, given the price point. BLU's rear-mounter scanner isn't the quickest out there, but it's perfectly serviceable, and gives the Life Max a leg up on competitors around the £100 mark.
The firm's Android 6.0-based software is at once highly differentiated in its feature set, launcher and menus and yet with some visual nods towards stock Android. And aside from a couple of Amazon apps, Opera's browser and NextRadio, the Life Max is pretty light on preloaded bloat.
Picking up a fully-fledged Android phone for less than £100 is always going to be an exercise in compromises, yet the Life Max walks that particular tightrope as well as can be expected. Obviously, spending a little more — say, £50 — will let you score a significantly upgraded camera, or bag something with metal construction from Honor or Moto. But if you're looking for an inexpensive device that's fast, and boasts epic longevity, you could do a lot worse than BLU's new budget offering.
The BLU Life Max is available now from Amazon UK at its promotional launch price of £89.99
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