Earlier this week, we reported that BLU is selling their new Win JR Windows Phone direct through Amazon.com (direct link). The fully unlocked, dual-SIM device is the first Windows Phone from the fledgling company and at $89 and no contract, it seems too good to be true. At the time, we noted how ours was on the way and sure enough, Amazon delivered it on time today.So, how good can a $90 Windows Phone be? Watch our video unboxing and hands on to find out. Spoiler alert: it gives Lumias a run for their money.
BLU Win JR specifications
- 4GB Internal Storage (1.5 GB available) with Micro SD Slot up to 32 GB
- 512MB RAM
- 4.0-inch WVGA display
- Windows Phone 8.1 build 12400
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 200, 1.2 GHz Quad-Core
- 5MP Autofocus Camera with LED Flash, HD recording (720p), with VGA frontal camera
- 1950 mAh battery
- Bluetooth 3.0
- 4G HSPA+ up to 42 Mbps 850/1900: Nationwide AT&T: Cricket Wireless, Trachoma, Straight Talk, Net10, H20 Wireless, 420 Wireless, Black Wireless, Consumer Cellular, Pure Talk USA, Red Pocket, Telcel America.
- T-Mobile: MetroPCS, Lyca, Speedtalk, Go Smart, Simple Mobile, Net10, Straight Talk, Solavei, Ultra Mobile, Telcel America, Walmart Family Mobile supported in most areas; check with your service provider; dual SIM
The BLU Win JR is clearly a budget phone for those looking to get a 'smart' device and not break the bank. Even though I carry a Lumia 1520 and an HTC One for Windows, I can certainly appreciate how not everyone wants a contract, a $600 phone, or the expense constraints working people face these days. The fact is there are many people who would like a smartphone, but simply cannot afford it. Likewise, there are those people who want a basic smartphone, where all that high-end gobbledygook means very little (I still know a person in his early 30s who carries a flip phone).
The idea of an $89 smartphone still rather blows me away, but here it is, and you know what? The BLU Win JR is a great device that I would not hesitate to recommend.
In the box
Amazingly, for $89 you think you would just the phone and a USB charger, and you do, but you also get much more:
- Micro USB cord
- AC wall jack
- Stereo headphones with inline mic and button for calls
- TPU clear case (soft)
- Two screen protectors (one extra; one pre-installed)
Considering you can buy flagship Nokia phones and not get most of that in the box, the idea an $89 phone can include them is shocking. Sure, the headphones are pretty mediocre; the TPU case is super basic, etc. but if you are on a budget or don't want to think about buying accessories, including them in the box is awesome.
Once again, for $89, the idea that this phone would be of quality seems hard to believe. The BLU Win JR feels great in the hand, with a solid feel. It is not too heavy, not too light, and nothing creaks. The buttons all have a real 'click' to them; things are placed logically, and the phone looks damn beautiful. The BLU logo on the back is subtle but elegant.
Moreover, did I mention this has real Nav keys on the front? The trend lately has been for on-screen keys, but the BLU Win JR kicks old school, and it is great to see.
The rear speaker is also surprisingly loud and better than expected.
Below you can see a few samples from the 5 MP autofocus rear camera. It works for me and by that, I mean it is a rock-solid 5 MP shooter. You do not get the Nokia camera software but at this price range do you care? It takes pleasant photos in daylight, has autofocus for macros and there is a LED torch to throw some light on your subject if you need it. I am not going to complain about any of that.
Turning to the front camera and at VGA, you are looking at a "better than nothing!" situation. It works, but it is nothing fantastic. However, when you consider a Lumia 635 (and Lumia 530) do not even include a front-facing camera, I am not throwing stones at BLU for having a subpar one. At the end of the day, one person gets to do video Skype calls while the other uses their imagination.
Versus Lumia 530
Who wins between the BLU Win JR and Lumia 530? Get the BLU Win JR. This is barely a fight, and I even like the Lumia 530. The BLU Win JR though is cheaper, includes more accessories, it has a better rear camera (AF + LED) and it has a front-facing camera.
Did I also mention the BLU Win JR has an ambient light sensor? This feature is another thing the Lumia 530 and Lumia 630/Lumia 635 omits.
Unless you are into Nokia's software, I see no reason to pick the Lumia 530 over this phone. I even have a hard time justifying a Lumia 630 over it, although you do get better performance with the Nokia and a larger display.
Wrapping it up
I have never used a BLU phone before. Being based out of Miami, Florida and building a small indie business in smartphones is no easy task, but after spending an hour with this phone, color me impressed by this company.
The BLU Win JR is a great $89 phone, with no contract, dual-SIM, robust build quality and some nice bonus accessories in the box. The one small ding? The BLU Win JR is a 512 MB device, so there will be a few games it cannot run. However, this is becoming rarer these days and for people buying an $89, it is likely a moot point.
I cannot wait to try their BLU Win HD, a 5-inch version with some more impressive features.
Depending on how you folks feel about this phone in comments, I can do a more direct comparison between it and the Lumia 530 (they share the same chipset, so same performance) and do additional coverage on this interesting fella.