Hands on: Blu Life Max review

Another budget phone from Blu

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

Blu's new budget Life Max phone is cheaper than a lot of the competition while offering great features such as a large battery and a fingerprint scanner.

For

  • Low price
  • Fingerprint scanner

Against

  • Lacking storage
  • Only one color

Blu is one of the smaller phone brands that’s impressing around the world with phones that mix high end specs and a lower price.

The new Blu Life Max is a handset with fairly impressive specs on paper - including a fingerprint scanner and a large battery - especially when you consider its price point.

We've loved the Lenovo P2 and Moto G4 Plus in the budget space, but this phone is around a third cheaper and offers a lot of the same features, so is it a better buy?

Blu Life Max price and release date 

You can buy the Blu Life Max in the US right now for $109.99 – that’s an impressive price considering what you’re getting for your money here.

In the UK, it’s not out until February 20, but you can pre-order it now for the special price of £89.99. If you buy after it launches, you’ll have to grab it at the higher price of £109.99, which is a little disappointing considering it's higher than the price in the US once you factor in exchange rates.

As for Australia, there’s no word on the phone seeing a release there at the moment.

Blu Life Max design

The design of the Blu Life Max may be familiar to you if you remember the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - there’s a faux leather back on this phone, which you’ll either love or you’ll hate.

It’s a nice feeling on the palm of your hand when you’re holding it, and the phone is comfortable to hold as it’s not too large.

But if you don't like the look of faux leather you won't be able to escape hating the back of the Life Max. It does feel more premium than the ordinary plastic you’d find on other phones at this price point though.

The faux leather back cover can be peeled off to get access to the removable battery and to insert your SIM card or a microSD card. That's all inside a plastic frame that goes around the phone.

There’s only one color version of this phone available and it's blue, which shouldn’t come as a major surprise. It’s a dark shade, is inoffensive and is a good step considering the Blu Vivo 6 is only available in gold or rose gold. Those are not colors everyone wants.

On the top edge of the phone there's a 3.5mm headphone jack, making it easy to use a wired headset for listening to music when the phone is in your pocket, plus there’s also a micro USB port for charging and data transfer.

In the middle of the rear of the phone there's a fingerprint sensor, which is a great addition for a phone at this price point. If you're after a more efficient way to secure your phone, the fingerprint sensor should be a big highlight of the Life Max and with our first round of testing we found it to work very quickly.

The display on the phone is a 5.5-inch 720p IPS panel – it’s not as sharp as the 1080p Moto G4, and nor is it the most vibrant screen, but if you turn the brightness up you’re sure to get a good experience compared to other phones at this price point.

Under the hood there's a 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek system-on-a-chip, that we haven’t managed to fully test yet. It's also backed up with 2GB of RAM, a disappointing 16GB of internal storage and microSD support of up to 64GB.

The phone is running Android 6 Marshmallow software at the moment with a light Blu skin running over the top. TechRadar has been assured Android 7 will come to the phone eventually though.

One of the key highlights of the Life Max is the large battery inside - it's 3,700mAh and Blu claims it will last you at least two days of intensive usage. That sounds a little too good to be true, but we’ve got our fingers crossed it will be and we’ll be sure to push it hard in our full review to find out for sure.

The Life Max also has an 8MP rear camera that can take OK photos and has a solid autofocus, but this won’t be as good as phones that are a little more expensive and have double the megapixels, such as the Moto G4 Plus.

There’s also an 5MP selfie shooter complete with an LED flash, for video calling and taking selfie shots for your social media profiles – again, it seems OK based on initial tests, but nothing fantastic.

Early verdict

Right now the Blu Life Max looks to offer some great specs at an unbelievably low price.

There are still a few uncertainties under the hood, but this is stuff you’d expect at this price point that you can’t be too disappointed with. The battery looks like it may be a highlight, but there's no gurantee it will last as long as Blu claims.

That said, on paper everything looks like it adds up to a great phone for your budget needs, especially if you're upgrading from a phone that's a couple of years old.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James is Phones, Wearables and Tablets writer for TechRadar and covers all the big announcements from the best manufacturers making gadgets for your palms, wrists and face. Based in London, James is often testing out the latest and greatest phones, smartwatches, VR headsets and - when he can be motivated to go outside - fitness bands. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for all the latest from the mobile world.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.