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Blu Life View Review


Review by Andrew Kameka on Monday September 23, 2013.

android reviews · smartphone reviews · android news · smartphone news · andrew kameka

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Blu Life View Camera App
Blu Life View Camera App

Software and Apps

When I reviewed the Blu Life Play, I praised Blu for releasing a phone that made very few changes to Android. The Blu Life View makes even fewer modifications and leaves a nearly stock Android 4.2 Jelly Bean software package for users to explore. The launcher, Calendar, Clock, Contacts, and Gallery apps are standard issue Android. Only the core Google Mobile apps are preloaded but the full suite of apps - and more than 1 million other choices - are available in Google Play. Best of all, the phone is free of carrier crapware.

There are only a few subtle changes to the software, including themes that change the accent colors from blue to mint, mocha, or raspberry. Scenes offer further customization for having different widget and app displays for personal use or work. Someone can have one home screen display for work or traveling and then switch to another standard later.

A proximity sensor adds more options through Smart Gestures. The Life View can automatically answer an incoming call or unlock a phone by waving a hand over the top of the device, silence a ringer by flipping the phone on its face, or call someone whose contact details are on screen. We've seen similar features on Samsung's Galaxy devices, so it's nice to see Blu recognize the value of providing quick shortcuts to common activities.

The Life View also adds a few apps meant to plug holes in the stock Android software. File Manager offers a free tool to browse through internal storage and find, copy, move, or delete files. An FM radio plays live radio broadcasts and a Holo-inspired Task app provides a dead-simple way to locally managed a to-do list. The Music app from the Life Play is surprising replaced with an app that looks and performs exactly like the old stock Android music app. I wasn't a fan of the previous Music app, so it's not much of a loss. The app works well for locally-stored music, but since the phone has less than 13GB of storage, I'd wager that people will be wise to give Google Play Music, Spotify, Rdio, or Rhapsody a try as replacement music players.

Communication and Data

The beauty of Blu products is that they are sold unlocked, so they typically work with AT&T, T-Mobile, and other GSM networks. The ugly side of that is the phone doesn't support LTE. The dual-SIM phone supports 4G HSPA+ on the 850/1900/2100 bands. The phone uses Mini SIM cards so you may have to visit a carrier and pick up a new card because most phones released in the past year have Micro or nano SIM slots. I don't have a mini SIM and was unable to test call quality or network performance as a result.

Blu Life ViewDual SIM slot
Blu Life ViewDual SIM slot

Camera

A 12-megapixel camera with autofocus, face detection, and LED flash handle the picture-taking duties of the Life View. A surprisingly-high 5-megapixel camera takes care of things on the front for video chat and self-portraits. The rear camera is still just average and passable. The LED flash unfortunately injects a very blue tone when used, and I noticed that the camera works best when manually adjusting settings because the default overexposes images. Brightness and other settings can be adjusted in the revamped software. The Life View also supports taking panoramic photos, toggling HDR, using a self-timer, adjusting exposure/white balance, and much more.

Battery Life

A 2,600 mAh integrated battery keeps the Blu Life View running with solid longevity. With 100 percent brightness, I managed to watch nearly an entire season of The League on Netflix and play a few rounds of Dead Trigger before the battery warning appeared on screen. The phone offered 7 hours of active use streaming video over Wi-Fi. Again, it's hard for me to truly gauge battery life because I could not test with a SIM installed, but battery life should be solid with an HSPA+ mini SIM in a strong coverage area.

Conclusion

Blu's playbook is fairly obvious at this point. It's also smartly executed. The Life View is not as fast as an Optimus G Pro, nor is it as flexible and visually stunning as a Galaxy Note 3. It's not as good as the top of the line devices and it unapologetically lays no claim to being on that level. What the phone does is simply acknowledge that it's in the same arena and may be good enough for consideration.

Blu Life View rear speaker
Blu Life View rear speaker

The Life View offers a large screen for people who like above average-sized displays and below-average prices. Like all Blu devices, the appeal lies in the low price, which is only $299 unlocked, and what someone gets for the money. The Life View costs less than half what other companies charge for the full retail price of their devices. Though the phone falls short of some preferred attributes, it surpasses the "good enough" benchmarks and meets the demands of the average user. I would not recommend this device for anyone who plans to play the top-of-the-line games because the phone is not powerful enough for that segment of consumers. Anyone else looking for a big device with a little price might be pleased to know that the Life View is inexpensive and still quite interesting.

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About the author

Andrew Kameka
Andrew is MobileBurn.com's managing editor. He is based in Miami, Florida.

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