• My Blu Win JR LTE review


    While Iím not sure if itís by choice, these days Microsoft has decided to devote most of its attention to the more affordable end of the market. Hereís Bluís entry level Windows Phone, the Win Jr LTE which surprise, surprise, has support for LTE at a sub $100 USD price point.

    Entry level phones are more about what compromises you have to make to reach a certain price point and whether they make sense so letís check it out.
    What about the Motorola Moto G first gen?




    First things first, the Moto G is now a year and a half old. When it came out, we were all amazed at how much you got for the price. However, in that year and a half, the entry level has moved quickly and now the first gen Moto G doesnít feel quite as revolutionary as it used to. Just to clarify, Iím talking about the Moto Gís with 8GB of storage, no LTE and no MicroSD.

    Still, the Moto G has 4 features that give it a leg up on the Win Jr. First off, it comes with a 1280x720 display which is much sharper than the Jrís. You also get 1GB of RAM, which allows it to run pretty much anything you can throw at it, along with 8GB of storage, which gives you some room to grow. Then thereís the Android vs Windows choice. Windows Phone has its merits and indeed, some prefer it over alternative. However, Iím guessing most would rather have Android.

    Neither has a very good camera but Iíd say the Jr wins out by a small margin. Really, the reason to get the Jr is for the LTE, dual SIM support and removable storage.

    The Jr also has a newer Snapdragon 410 vs the 400 in the Moto G but to be honest, the difference between them isnít enough to choose one over the other unless both phones are otherwise exactly the same.

    These days, you can pick up a locked Moto G first gen for around $100 - if you donít need the Jrís extras then itís a more well-rounded phone.

    What about Nokia Lumia 635?

    The Lumia 635 costs a tiny bit more than the Jr but for the extra cash, it comes with 8GB of storage instead of the 4GB you find on the Jr, a better camera (though it lacks the Jrís flash) and a better set of screen coatings.

    The Jr does come with a more recent Snapdragon and room for an extra SIM card (GSM/EDGE only).

    If you can swing it, youíre probably better off with the 635.

    Specs:


    • Qualcomm Snapdragon 410, 64bit 1.2Ghz Quad-core SoC
    • Adreno 306 GPU
    • 4.5Ē 850x480 IPS display
    • 512MB RAM
    • 4GB storage
    • 5MP camera with AF/flash
    • 2000mAh battery
    • LTE bands 4/7/17
    • dual SIM cards (one is 2G only)
    • 133 x 67.5 x 9.5mm
    • 138g
    • Windows Phone 8.1 (upgradable to Windows 10)
    • fitted case and screen protector included


    Body:



    While Iíve gotten used to carrying large phones around with me like my iPhone 6 Plus and Nexus 6, itís a bit of fresh air to use something as small as the 4.5Ē Blu Win Jr LTE. It doesnít take up much space in my pocket and fits perfectly in my hand.

    Like its bigger brother, the Win HD LTE (shouldnít it be called the Win Sr LTE?), you can get the Jr in some crazy colours. Mine is bright yellow (or is it green?).



    Unlike the Sr, the Jrís back is painted with a hard finish which should be much more practical than the Srís soft-touch finish.



    Note the finish on the buttons.



    The buttons themselves are decent, they protrude just enough and have some feel when you press them in.



    Check out the crazy green chrome finish on the sides.



    The back cover comes off to reveal the battery, MicroSD and 2 MicroSIM slots.



    I think itís a pretty pleasant looking phone. Despite the price tag, it doesnít look (or feel) particularly cheap.

    Display:



    You get a 4.5Ē 854x480 IPS display. Donít forget that the Blu has separate menu buttons so the bottom of the display isnít reserved for buttons. Some lower-end Lumiaís use on-screen ones which eat into the screen real estate.

    The 4.5Ē screenís 854x480 resolution is stretched pretty thin at just 217ppi, the display is a bit blurry. That said, itís not so bad that you canít get used to it. Just watch out, itís not sharp enough to let you read most non-mobile optimized webpages without zooming in first.

    Like other Blu phones, the Win Jr doesnít have the greatest oleophobic coating on it. Once it gets dirty itís very difficult to clean.

    You can tell that there is a gap between the digitizer and the actual screen though this doesnít really affect how you use the Jr.

    The anti-glare coating isnít very good, so you might have trouble seeing the display outdoors.

    To be honest, while the display isnít awesome, itís not exactly terrible either. It works perfectly fine indoors and has decent view-angles.

    Camera:



    You get a 5 megapixel camera on the back with autofocus and an LED flash.

    It actually focuses fairly quickly

    The camera canít handle scenes where you have a darkly lit subject and a bright background (like when youíre indoors and have a window in the background).

    Image quality isnít as good as the Nokia Lumia 635. The Jr is kind of noisy so indoors pictures can get really soft looking because of the noise reduction.

    Colour doesnít look too bad though sometimes thing look a bit dull outdoors.

    Overall, the Jr is serviceable outdoors while indoors, youíll need to keep it very still and stick to static subjects.

    Video can be recorded at 1080P. If youíre going to record any video, do yourself a favour and pick up a MicroSD because out of the box, the storage is basically full already.

    Video doesnít look very good. The microphone is easy to overdrive and it picks up lots of handling noise.

    Another way to think of it is this, many phones in this price range are horrible, the Jr is a step up from that.

    Software:

    The Jr only comes with 512MB of RAM. While some people will say that 512MB of perfectly adequate for Windows Phone, it will sometimes keep you from running certain apps. 512MB does go further than it does on Android but not that much.



    Something else to consider is that the Jr only comes with 4GB of storage of which less than 1GB is available to the user. This means youíre almost out of storage the moment you turn it on for the first time. After snapping a few pictures I didnít have enough room to run a firmware update.

    Fortunately, a bunch of the pre-installed apps are actually removable.

    Check out my Win HD LTE review for more on what I think about the Win Jrís software which is more or less in the same situation:

    Performance:

    I was pretty excited that the Jr comes with a 64bit 1.2Ghz quad-core Snapdragon 410 SoC. Itís not a high-end processor but itís still pretty fancy for an entry-level phone like the Jr.

    My first intuition was that it would excel at games since it has a lower resolution display which means there are less pixels to push. However, the Jrís meager 512MB of RAM keeps it from running GFX Bench.

    Youíd think that the Snapdragon 410 should be up to the task of browsing the web, but browsing the web isnít very smooth and the low resolution screen makes things worse. Most webpages arenít really legible unless you zoom in.

    In the end, the Snapdragon 410 is a bullet point on the Jrís checklist but the lack of RAM and resolution act as bottlenecks.

    Media Capabilities:

    The built-in speakerís volume is slightly above average. It also sounds a lot better than the Win HD LTE.



    The headphone jack sounds good and is quite powerful.

    Remember, the Jr only comes with 4GB of storage most of which is taken up by Windows so if youíre going to store any files on it, do yourself a favour and get a MicroSD.

    As a Phone:

    The earpiece isnít very powerful, ditto for the speakerphone.

    RF performance is below average.

    Battery life is decent. The small screen and lack of RAM really help to keep the battery out of trouble.

    Conclusion:

    Part of me is wondering why anyone would bother putting LTE into a phone as inexpensive as the Win JR LTE. At this price point, the extra money spent on adding LTE could be spent on other features like a bigger/better screen, better camera, etc. However, if you look at it from Bluís standpoint it makes perfect sense; Adding LTE allows it to work with more operators, better compatibility expands the Jrís audience.

    Donít forget that LTE has been around for around 4 years now so it was bound to trickle down eventually.

    Still, the addition of LTE means that the Win JR doesnít make as much progress in other areas as it could have had they omitted it.

    If I could could make changes to the Jr, the first thing I would do is add more RAM followed by more storage. Next up, would be improving the screen coatings, followed by adding more resolution, and then improving the camera.

    Given the price tag, I donít have any massive complaints about it. However, at the same time, while it does raise the bar for an entry-level phone, overall it still needs work.

    3 Howies out of 5.

    Pros:

    • LTE
    • Screen isnít too bad
    • Snapdragon 410 SoC


    Cons:

    • Autofocus camera
    • only 4GB of storage
    • only 512MB RAM
    • Lousy screen coatings
    This article was originally published in forum thread: My Blu Win JR LTE review started by howard View original post
    Comments 11 Comments
    1. HansCT's Avatar
      HansCT -
      Lumia 635 is $50 brand new these days, unlocked.
    1. JSH1's Avatar
      JSH1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by HansCT View Post
      Lumia 635 is $50 brand new these days, unlocked.
      Please post a link to an Unlocked Lumia 635 for $50. I see plenty of no-contract phones for $50 but none that are factory unlocked.
    1. mrvmrvmrv's Avatar
      mrvmrvmrv -
      You can easily get an unlock code yourself by filling out a form on AT&T website, I unlocked 2 pre-paids from Target.
    1. JSH1's Avatar
      JSH1 -
      If you are not an AT&T customer?
    1. mrvmrvmrv's Avatar
      mrvmrvmrv -
      Yes, I chose "Non-AT&T Mobility customer" in the form. Just don't activate the phone and don't put any SIM in the phone before sending unlock request, otherwise it may not work.
    1. HansCT's Avatar
      HansCT -
      Quote Originally Posted by JSH1 View Post
      Please post a link to an Unlocked Lumia 635 for $50. I see plenty of no-contract phones for $50 but none that are factory unlocked.
      You can even buy from AT&T direct - GoPhone is selling them for that - just don't activate and they will unlock for free.
    1. indyrunr89's Avatar
      indyrunr89 -
      Thanks for posting such a meticulous review Howard. I was always curious about Blu phones.
    1. nok1anostalgic's Avatar
      nok1anostalgic -
      Thanks for posting this review! I'm interested in buying this phone as a backup to my galaxy.
    1. bmwfreak's Avatar
      bmwfreak -
      BLU is working its way into Walmart retail locations. I noticed a section of "unlocked" phones by BLU being sold in my local Walmart that I had not noticed until recently.
    1. Antilope's Avatar
      Antilope -
      Make sure to read the specs on the package, look for 3G at least, because some of the less expensive BLU android models are 2G only and AT&T is phasing out 2G in Jan 2017.

      "AT&T Shutting Down Its 2G Network"
      https://system5electronicsinc.com/20...y-be-affected/
    1. indyrunr89's Avatar
      indyrunr89 -
      Quote Originally Posted by bmwfreak View Post
      BLU is working its way into Walmart retail locations. I noticed a section of "unlocked" phones by BLU being sold in my local Walmart that I had not noticed until recently.
      Yeah, Target has a new BYOP display they are rolling out since discontinuing their Brightspot service. My Target has two BLU phones, a 4" & 5" I believe. Neither are WP though. Good to see some new options though!