If you’re looking for a dirt cheap phone that’s completely usable and not embarrassing to own then you’re probably looking for something like the Blu R1 HD. While the unlocked version of this phone starts at $99, Amazon Prime members can pick up a version that only costs $49! But there’s a reason why it’s so cheap — it comes with ads on the lock screen.
And since the ads are such a unique aspect of this phone, let’s talk about them first.
Yes, every single time you see your lock screen it’s going to have an ad on it; that’s just the way it is. Sometimes the ads are targeted and sometimes they’re not: when they are they’re more tolerable but when they’re not… it can be a bit annoying. I’m a bit surprised that ads can be so un-personalized considering you have to sign in with an Amazon account during setup (which means they should know you better based on previous orders/browsing history).
I don’t mind seeing an ad for headphones (too much) but I don’t like seeing an ad for lipstick or makeup. And then there’s the bloatware: Amazon pre-installs around 9 apps on your phone and includes a homepage widget.
The ads are fullscreen when you don’t have any notifications, but when you do they are otherwise shrunken down to a less invasive size.
I think I could live with the ads (even the ones that aren’t so targeted) though I’d obviously prefer them not to be there, but using this phone is surprisingly doable — probably because we’re all so used to seeing ads in apps and on websites anyways (on our mobile devices).
Design and Build
My first reaction when I saw and held the phone for the first time was wow, this only cost $60? It seems more premium than it’s pricing would suggest: that is because there are some nice touches like the metal edge and some curved glass.
There are some odd design elements, however. For instance, there’s kind of a weird placement for the headphone jack which isn’t centered either vertically or horizontally on top top of the phone (it’s just kind of off). It’s not something that apple would ever do just for aesthetic reasons, but little details like these make the phone feel somewhat less finished to me than my iPhone or other (higher-end) Android smartphones....