Why you should (and shouldn't) buy a phone from BLU

Best answer: BLU has made affordable Android phones for years, but there have been security scares and a few disastrous bugs throughout its history. BLU phones can give a decent Android experience to users on a very limited budget, but it still hasn't completely won our trust back yet.

Great budget pick: BLU VIVO XL5 ($120 at Amazon)

BLU is a budget phonemaker with some black marks on its track record

If you've ever looked for Android phones on a budget, you've probably seen at least a couple BLU phones somewhere in that selection. BLU's phones often serve up trendy new features and passable specs in phones that are highly affordable unlocked — and almost always free on carrier subsidy.

While some BLU phones offer better performance than others — and thus better value — purchasing a budget phone is a matter of trust as much as it is price, and BLU has given users some doubts over the years:

  • Back in 2016, some apps pre-loaded on BLU phones were found to have a backdoor that sent collected user data to Chinese servers. The U.S.-based BLU claimed to have no knowledge of the backdoor and says that it quickly acted to ensure the collected data was destroyed.
  • In August 2017, Amazon suspended sale of BLU phones for a week, allegedly over more data collection and privacy concerns. BLU released a statement when the suspension ended, saying "that there is absolutely no spyware or malware or secret software on BLU devices".
  • In November 2017, a faulty system update locked some users out of their BLU Life One X2 phones. It took almost a week for BLU to find a fix and begin informing users about how to go about getting back into their phones.
  • May 2018 saw BLU reach a settlement with the Federal Trade Commision (FTC) after the 2016 incident occurred. Blu was required to create a new security program, along with possible assessements every other year.
  • Considering past discretions and a myriad of issues, BLU's CEO, Samuel Ohev-Zion released a statement in 2018 stating that the company's focus would shift. Instead of releasing as many phones per year as possible, BLU would take a bit of a step back and focus more on providing more "well thought-out devices." This began with the new BLU VIVO XI+, which kicked off the 11th generation of BLU devices.

Privacy concerns aside, the thought of being locked out my phone for a week terrifies me, and while I trust that these hard lessons have helped BLU keep its act together since then, I'm still not sure I trust a BLU phone 100% to always be there for me when I need it. However, considering that it's been quite some time since any major issues have arisen, it may be time to leave the past behind and enjoy these products.

Bang for your buck: BLU's ultra-budget winners

BLU hasn't had a major SNAFU since 2018, and what it does have nowadays are some best-selling budget phones that deliver trendy new features at rock-bottom prices. For instance, the BLU VIVO X5 beats out the devices like the Moto G7 Power and Samsung Galaxy A10S as Amazon's best-selling unlocked cell phone. In fact, the Amazon unlocked best sellers list has quite a few BLU models on it from the last two years.

With a 6.3-inch notched screen and 4,000 mAh battery that can power that screen and the processors behind it all day, the VIVO XL5 is a phone that looks and performs above its price tag. Plus, there's an added benefit if you like the feel of faux leather; the XL5 reminds me of the Galaxy Note 3 days. If you want to try a BLU phone, this is the model to get.

Andrew Myrick
Senior Editor - Chromebooks, tablets, and wearables

Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.