Blu Products said over the weekend that its phones are once again available from Amazon.com. Amazon ceased selling the phones after it discovered the phones may be collecting consumer data and sending the data to remote servers. Blu maintained that any data collected by its phones was "standard for OTA functionality" and "[did] not affect any user's privacy or security," according to a statement provided to Engadget. Blu and Amazon resolved the matter through conversations between them, though Amazon said it will pull the phones again if it feels its customers' privacy is being violated. While consumers can once again purchase Blu smartphones from Amazon.com, the company's phones have not returned to Amazon.com's Prime Exclusives. Prime Exclusive devices cost less as long as the owner agrees to view ads on the lock screen.
Amazon has suspended sales of smartphones made by Blu over privacy concerns. A security firm called Kryptowire recently demonstrated that Blu phones collect consumer data and send it to servers located in China — all without alerting the owner. "Because security and privacy of our customers is of the utmost importance, all Blu phone models have been made unavailable for purchase on Amazon.com until the issue is resolved," said Amazon in a statement provided to CNET. Blu vehemently denies any wrongdoing. "There is absolutely no spyware or malware or secret software on Blu devices," insisted Carmen Gonzalez, Marketing Director at Blu. The Adups OTA application, which what Kryptowire identified as the bad actor, is standard software, according to Blu. "The data that is currently being collected [by Adups] is standard for OTA functionally and basic informational reporting. This is in line with every other smartphone device manufacturer in the world. There is nothing out of the ordinary that is being collected, and certainly does not affect any user's privacy or security." Blu went on to defend the company's decision to store information in China, as well, claiming Huawei and ZTE have plenty of servers in China that contain consumer data. The company says it takes customer privacy seriously and there have been no security breaches due to its data collection policies. Blu did not address Amazon's decision to halt sales. Amazon did not say what it has asked Blu to change in order to bring its phones back online. Blu was one of the first handset companies to participate in Amazon's Prime Exclusive Phones program, which offers steeply discounted handsets in exchange for ads that appear on the lock screen.
Blu today announced the R1 Plus, an update to the R1 HD. The Plus builds on the R1 HD's foundation with a larger 5.5-inch 720p HD screen with curved edges and Gorilla Glass 3. The R1 Plus is powered by a 1.3 GHz quad-core MediaTek 6737 processor with the Mali T720 GPU. It ships with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. Both the 13-megapixel main camera and the 5-megapixel front camera have flashes for low-light shooting. The selfie camera has an 84-degree wide field of view. The R1 Plus improves the battery capacity to 4,000mAh, which Blu says delivers more than a full day of use. This dual-SIM phone is being sold unlocked with support for the GSM/LTE networks of AT&T/Cricket, T-Mobile/MetroPCS, and others. The phone supports VoLTE and HD Voice when used on T-Mobile's network. Other specs include Bluetooth 4, GPS, WiFi, and an FM radio. The R1 Plus runs Android 6 Marshmallow, though Blu says an update to Android 7 Nougat is in the works. The Blu R1 Plus goes on sale via Amazon and BestBuy Saturday, April 29. The phone normally costs $160, but Blu is offering it for $110 during its first 24 hours of availability online.
Blu today announced the Vivo XL2, a sequel its popular Vivo XL phablet. Like its predecessor, the XL2 is an affordable, unlocked Android handset that's available to consumers directly online. The XL2 has a 5.5-inch 720p HD display and the phone is powered by a MediaTek 6737T quad-core processor with Mali T720 GPU, 3 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of storage. The 13-megapixel main camera is assistant by phase-detection autofocus, an aperture of f/2.2, and an LED flash. The user-facing camera boasts a wide-angle lens and an 8-megapixel sensor. The XL2 can record video up to 1080p HD. Blu ensured the Vivo XL2 can support AT&T/Cricket and T-Mobile/MetroPCS by including LTE Bands 2, 4, 7, 12, and 17. The phone also offers WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, and an infrared blaster. The Vivo XL2 runs Android 6 Marshmallow and is supported by a 3,150mAh battery. The phone goes on sale today via Amazon.com for $150.
Documents spotted on the FCC web site show off an unannounced phone from Blu called the Vivo XL2. According to the FCC, the XL2 includes support for similar radio bands to the Blu Vivo XL. The draft user manual for the XL2 points out features such as a rear camera with flash, user-facing camera, memory card support, and Google's Android operating system. The Vivo XL has a 5.5-inch screen, 3,150mAh battery, and MediaTek processor, but the FCC doesn't carry information about those specs for the XL2. Blu has not yet confirmed any details about the Vivo XL2.
Kryptowire, a security research firm, says millions of phones made by Chinese companies, including Blu, include a secret backdoor that send owner text messages to a server in China. The backdoor also records location data, reports the contents of messages, and identifies the recipients of those messages. The software in question is made by a Chinese corporation called Shanghai Adups Technology Company and is installed on some 700 million phones, connected devices, and cars from Huawei, ZTE, Blu, and others. Adups says its software is meant to help improve customer service by identifying junk messages and phone calls. Adups installed the software at the request of one of its Chinese phone-maker clients, but the company would not disclose which one. Blu Products executive Samuel Ohev-Zion says the software was found on about 120,000 of its devices in the U.S., but was removed. "It was obviously something that we were not aware of. We moved very quickly to correct it," said Ohev-Zion in a statement provided to the New York Times. "Today there is no Blu device that is collecting that information." Ohev-Zion did not say how recently Blu discovered the software, nor when it was removed. Kryptowire says Adups' software was hidden deep within the firmware of Android phones, invisible to end users. Adups insists it is the phone-maker's responsibility to disclose such software and data collection to end users. Kryptowire has brought the matter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The research company did not say if Huawei or ZTE handsets are affected.
Blu has a new Android phone offering desirable specs like a fingerprint reader, 5.2-inch, full-HD screen, 16-megapixel camera, fast charging, and memory card slot, all for under $200 unlocked. We spent a little time with it. Read on for our impressions.
Blu today announced the Blu Life One X2, a successor to the Blu Life One X. The Life One X2 features a 5.2-inch full HD display with curved glass, a metal chassis, and a fingerprint reader for biometric security. The phone is powered by a 1.4 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 430 processor with 2 or 4 GB of RAM and 16 or 64 GB of storage. The main camera has a 16-megapixel sensor with phase-detection autofocus and LED flash, and the selfie camera has an 8-megapixel sensor with a forward-facing LED flash. The phone supports Qualcomm's QuickCharge technology for rapid power-ups. The Life One X2 supports LTE Bands 2, 4, 7, 12, and 17 for AT&T, MetroPCS, and T-Mobile. Preorders for the phone kick off today from Amazon.com. Consumers who preorder Sept. 22 or 23 will receive a 10% discount. The 2 GB / 16 GB model costs $150 and the 4 GB / 64 GB model costs $200. Blu didn't say when the Life One X2 will ship.
Blu recently announced the Vivo 5R, a well-spec'd device that it plans to sell directly to U.S. consumers. We spent a few moments with it today. Here are our initial thoughts.
Blu's Studio Touch is another low-cost option that's available unlocked. It's not quite as polished as the Blu R1 HD, but it has a few surprising features. Here our our first impressions.
Blu's R1 HD is a compact budget phone that offers a lot of bank for the proverbial buck. It's well made, attractive, and boasts some features that are hard to find at this prince point. Here are our initial thoughts.
Blu announced the Vivo 5R, what it calls a refresh of the Vivo 5. The 5R features a metal-and-glass design, with aluminum body panels, 2.5D curved glass, and a fingerprint reader on back. The display measures 5.5 inches across the diagonal and offers full HD resolution. The Vivo 5R is powered by a MediaTek 6753 processor, which has eight cores clocked at 1.3 GHz, and is accompanied by a Mali T-720 GPU. The phone includes 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, and supports memory cards up to 64 GB. Blu gave the phone a 13-megapixel main camera with LED flash and phase-detection autofocus, and an 8-megapixel front camera with LED selfie flash. The phone includes a 3,150mAh battery with rapid charging, and it supports LTE bands 2, 4, 7, 12, and 17 for moderate compatibility with AT&T, Cricket, T-Mobile, and MetroPCS. The Blu Vivo 5R runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and goes on sale September 21 for $199. It is sold unlocked.
Amazon today announced the Blu R1 HD, an inexpensive Android smartphone that will be sold unlocked starting July 12. The R1 HD boasts curved Gorilla Glass 3, a metal frame, and soft-touch paint job on the rear cover to give it a premium feel. The screen measures 5 inches with 720p HD resolution and the phone is powered by a 1.3 GHz quad-core MediaTek 6735 processor with 8 GB of storage and 1 GB of RAM. The R1 HD includes an 8-megapixel main camera with f/2.0 aperture and LED flash, while the selfie camera — which has an LED flash of its own — captures 5-megapixel images. The phone can record video up to 1080p HD. The Blu R1 HD runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow and comes with support for two SIM cards and microSD cards up to 64 GB. The phone is sold unlocked and is compatible with the networks run by AT&T and T-Mobile (LTE in Bands 2, 4, 7, 17). The device costs $100, but will be sold exclusively by Amazon for $50 with ads and promotions appearing on the lock screen. A second variant includes 16 GB of storage and 2 GB of RAM for $10 more.
Amazon today announced a new promotion that will allow Amazon Prime subscribers to buy unlocked handsets at reduced prices. The first two phones eligible for the promotion include the Motorola Moto G4 (pictured) and the Blu R1 HD. Amazon said the Moto G4 will cost $150, rather than $200, and the Blu R1 HD will cost $50, rather than $100. There's a big catch, however; people who buy these phones will be required to watch ads. "The breakthrough pricing on unlocked smartphones is supported by personalized offers and ads," explained Amazon, "including deals and product recommendations, displayed on the phone's lockscreen. When a customer sees an offer, they can tap to learn more about it or simply unlock their phone to dismiss." Amazon uses a similar model to discount the price of its own Kindle-branded e-readers. Both the Moto G4 and Blu R1 HD go on sale July 12. For a limited time, Prime subscribers can get an additional $25 off the G4, dropping the total price to $125.
Blu is not only a fast-growing company, they're a fast-changing one as well. Most Blu phones to date have been cheap, plastic, and loaded with plain Android. At CES this year, Blu had a bit of a coming out party as a more aspirational brand. Their new Vivo 5 and Vivo XL have AMOLED displays, premium designs, advanced features, and a new, custom Blu skin on top of Android. Yet they stay true to Blu%u2019s mission of providing affordability, topping out at $200. We spent some time with the new models.
Blu and Celltick today announced a deal to put Celltick's Start screen technology on all new Blu phones. Start is an interactive lock screen that includes shortcuts to favorite contacts, apps, and more, while displaying content automatically personalized to the user. Users can customize the shortcuts and content they see, or turn off Start completely. Celltick and Blu make money form the arrangement by suggesting content from media partners — such as Huffington Post — and adding pre-roll video ads to video content selected by the user. Blu is also able to gather data to better understand which apps and content its users prefer. The new Blu Vivo 5 and Vivo XL include Start.
Blu today announced the Vivo 5 and Vivo XL affordable Android smartphones. Both have a premium design, and similar specs. The Vivo 5 (pictured on the right) is Blu's first phone with unibody metal design carved from a single block of aluminum. Both phones sport a 5.5-inch HD AMOLED display, 1.3 GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6753 processor, 13-megapixel camera, Type-C USB connector, and 3,150 mAh battery. The phones ship with Android 5.1, upgradeable to Android 6. Besides design, the two phones differ in a few other areas. The Vivo 5 is 6.9mm thick, while the Vivo XL is 7.5mm. The 5 has 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of memory, while the XL has 2 GB of RAM and 16 of memory (both have a memory card slot.) Finally, the XL supports LTE bands 2, 4, 7, 12, and 17 - for full US network support - while the Vivo 5 only supports LTE bands 2, 4, and 7. The Vivo 5 will sell for $199 unlocked next month, while the Vivo XL will go for $149 this month. Both will be sold via BestBuy.com and Amazon.com.
Blu is a fast-growing name in the U.S. phone market. To date, they've focused on selling unlocked phone to be used with T-Mobile and MetroPCS. Now, for the first time, they are offering phones officially certified by T-Mobile, that will be sold by official T-Mobile dealers. This is increasingly important for good LTE service with T-Mobile. The Studio Selfie is the first such phone. We spent some time with it, as well as the incredibly thin Vivo Air and Studio Energy 2 with its massive battery. Read on to find out what they're like in person.
Blu updated the Vivo Air today to include 4G LTE for AT&T, T-Mobile, and other GSM providers. The Vivo Air LTE is machined from aluminum and maintains a slim profile at 5.1mm thick. The phone weighs a mere 3.42 ounces. The Vivo Air LTE includes a 4.8-inch 720p AMOLED HD screen protected by Gorilla Glass 2. The Vivo Air LTE is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage. The main camera includes an 8-megapixel sensor with LED flash and 1080p HD video capture, and the user-facing camera has a 5-megapixel sensor. Other features include a 2,050mAh battery, HD sound, and global 3G support. LTE compatibility for AT&T is limited to markets that include bands 2 and 4. The phone ships with Android 5.0 Lollipop, but will be updated to Android 6.0 Marshmallow in the first quarter of 2016. Blu is selling the device unlocked via Amazon. Pre-orders begin today and it ships Sept. 22. The Blu Vivo Air LTE costs $199.99.
Blu Products unwrapped a new phablet called the Pure XL, which has a refined design and solid spec sheet. The Pure XL features a quad HD screen measuring 6 inches across the diagonal. The display uses Super AMOLED technology and is protected by Gorilla Glass 3. The phone is powered by a 2.0GHz octa-core MediaTek Helio X10 processor with 3 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. It supports memory cards up to 64GB. The main camera has six lens elements with a sapphire cover and captures 24-megapixel images. The selfie camera captures 8-megapixel photos. A fingerprint reader is positioned on the back for securing the handset and the 3,500mAh battery supports quick charge technology. Other features include DTS surround sound, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and support for LTE networks such as those operated by AT&T and T-Mobile. The phone runs Android 5.1 Lollipop. Availability was not immediately disclosed. The Pure XL costs $350.