BLU Win HD LTE is a solid and affordable smartphone with Windows Phone 8.1 on board. It has a great screen, decent battery life, and it offers a great performance for the money. The only downside is the underperforming camera, but you just cannot have it all for 130 USD, right?
BLU Win HD LTE: Full specifications
- LCD: 5″ HD IPS display
- 720 x 1280 pixels (294 ppi)
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 1.2Ghz Quad Core processor
- Adreno 306 GPU, 400MHz
- 1GB RAM
- 8GB Storage
- Dual Micro SIM
- 8MP Rear Camera w/-LED
- 2MP Front Camera
- GSM / 3G / LTE
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
- Bluetooth 4.0
- 145 x 72 x 8.2 mm
- 146 grams
- Non-removable 2500 mAh Battery
- Windows Phone 8.1, planned upgrade to Windows 10
BLU Win HD LTE: an affordable smartphone that does not feel cheap
Don’t worry if you have never heard of BLU Products, you are not alone. Although this relatively small manufacturer based in Miami, Florida, was established in 2009, but for years BLU’s products were primarily aimed at Latin American markets, where it is one of the most popular brands. Nowadays BLU’s smartphones are available on Amazon, Microsoft Store, and several others platforms, but still you can impress some of your friends who are not geeks with it – it is kinda exotic brand.
Probably the first thing I noticed about the BLU Win HD LTE was the build quality. Believe me, the Win HD LTE is quite a looker. Of course it’s not the Samsung Galaxy S6 or iPhone 6, the back is made of plastic, and high-grade aluminum is nowhere to be found. But compared to some older Galaxy models or some budget Lumia’s it looks nice, and feels great in hand. From the front, at the very first sign, the Win HD LTE might be even taken for the HTC One. Moreover, if you don’t like it in gray you can choose a yellow, and white version as well.
This is a budget smartphone, but BLU surprised me again when I took a look deeper into the box. Inside, beside things like a charger or bunch of papers, I found a phone case and a screen-protector. This is a great idea and I wish more manufacturers would do the same. Included headphones are terrible, though. The sound quality was so bad that it was painful to use them.
BLU Win HD LTE: a closer look
Similar to HTC One series, the BLU Win HD LTE has a speaker grill at the top. It is not made of aluminum, though. It’s just a piece of plastic imitating brushed aluminum, but it does a good job at doing that. There is also a 2 megapixel front facing camera along with sensors, that’s all.
There is no secondary speaker at the bottom. No stereo, sorry. During calls the main speaker performed well. The sound was clear and loud enough to talk even on a crowded street. The same can be said about the microphone. No problems here, everyone I talked to hear me clearly.
On the back an 8-megapixel camera with a flash can be found. As you can see, the camera is situated in a weird spot, on the corner, and at the beginning it’s a little hard to get used to it.
At the bottom there is a loudspeaker. The sound quality is fine for gaming or some short Youtube sessions and it’s loud enough to use it indoors. I have to be fair here, at this price point I couldn’t ask for anything better than this.
BLU Win HD LTE is a dual-sim smartphone, so under the removable cover two SIM card slots as well as Micro SD card slot can be found. The dual SIM support is great if you need it, so if you like it then it’s another reason to consider the Win HD LTE. Both cards have separate dialers, calling is simple and intuitive. Only one card can be selected for the data-connection at the same time.
Opening the back cover also gives you access to the 2500 mAh non-removable battery. This is a mystery, though. It is written that the battery is built in, but it looks like it can be replaced. However, it is covered with a sticker and removing it will void warranty. So, for the typical user it is impossible to replace battery without sending the smartphone to the manufacturer.
BLU Win HD LTE: Smartphone with a beautiful screen and great performance
The BLU Win HD LTE packs a beautiful 5 inch 720 x 1280 IPS display with 294 ppi, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of integrated storage. It measures 145 x 72 x 8.2 mm and 146 grams.
The screen is great looking, everything is sharp, and colors are vivid. It is bright enough to use it even in direct sunlight. No Gorilla Glass here, so it’s a good idea to use the included screen protector. The only downside is that sometimes it can be too bright. When it’s dark it was significantly brighter than other smartphones I have. This can be corrected manually, for example for reading e-books at night.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 with Adreno 306 offers 1.2GHz of Quad-Core processing power with a 64-bit architecture, which is more than enough for Windows Phone 8.1. Everything runs smoothly and without any noticeable lag. Apps start in milliseconds, menu can be browsed seamlessly, the same can be said about the camera which starts in about 1 second. When it comes to games I tried Subway Surfers, Asphalt 8, Lara Croft: Relic Run, and some others less demanding titles. All mentioned games worked fine. Overall I was positively surprised how well Snapdragon 410 with Adreno 306 deals with games.
BLU Win HD LTE: decent battery life
Battery also does not disappoint, the 2500 mAh cell is good enough for a day of moderate to heavy use. Your mileage may very, but I have never ran of the juice before the evening. The only thing I wish for is a quick-charge option, it takes some time to fully charge the Win HD LTE with included 1A charger.
BLU Win HD LTE: Disappointing camera
BLU Win HD LTE is good looking, it’s fast, and affordable. So, where is the catch? I left the biggest disappointment for the very end. In order to keep things “cheap” BLU had to make some cuts here and there, and probably that’s why camera is under-performing.
8-megapixel camera lunches extremely fast and there is no shutter lag between taking photos, but the entire experience is ruined by focusing problems, both with automatic and manual focus. As can be seen on the photos below, the camera sometimes is not able to focus properly. Moreover, trying to do so may take a lot of time.
I am not sure whether or not this is a software-related problem, but I don’t think so. I’ve already got quite a few updates from BLU and still the same problem exist. Maybe Windows 10 will bring some changes, but this is something to be seen in the future.
The image quality also fails to impress. There is a lot of noise and artifacts on every photo. It’s not terrible, just below average. The bottom line is, if you plan to use your camera for Instagram and Facebook, then the Win HD LTE should be enough. If you want to take some photos from a trip to Hawaii, bring your compact with you. You will thank me later.
Software – No Surprises with Windows 8.1
The BLU Win HD LTE is just a pure Windows Phone 8.1 experience. BLU did not add anything to customize the system, and depending on your philosophy it may me something good or bad. Windows Phone 8.1 is mature enough and does not need any custom apps from manufacturers to work properly. Bare-bone system means there is no bloatware, more space for the users, and faster upgrades (BLU promised that this phone will get a Windows 10 upgrade) . All apps are just standard of Windows Phone 8.1. Skype, OneDrive, Office, Internet Explorer, Maps, and others, are all available out of the box. If you want more, then Windows Phone store offers many custom apps for camera, navigation or music.
Conclusion: Probably the best entry-level Windows Mobile Phone
The BLU Win HD LTE is a handsome device with a beautiful screen, and a good battery life. It offers a great performance for a great price with dual SIM support and LTE on board. And you get all of this just for $225 on Amazon. It is probably impossible to find another Windows Mobile Phone with so many features and similar build quality at this price point. I would even call it the best entry-level Windows Mobile Phone, but…
This can be said only if you are able to turn the blind eye on the biggest problem, which is the camera. I understand that budget smartphones cannot offer the Samsung Galaxy S6’s picture quality but focusing issues are unacceptable to me. However, that’s the only bad thing I can say about the BLU Win HD LTE, the rest is just great and heavy to beat.