This will be a first impression review of the Blu Advance 4.0. I had this phone for a week, although wasn’t able to make full use of the features until about 24 hours ago. There are a couple of reasons why I purchased this phone. The first is to replace the role of my DECT phone which is a terrible product (as with most VTECH phones) for something that will function better in the modern world. The second reason is to see if I will be able to suffice off of a free phone plan when my obligations are completed.
The Blu Advance 4.0 (Model Number A270a) is a Dual SIM GSM-3G phone. It has a 4″ screen, capacitive touch buttons, and a physical power and volume keys. There is also a micro-USB port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. There is a replaceable battery which hides the dual SIM trays, and micro-SD card slot. The Advance can be acquired for less than $100 on Amazon (as of 2015-04-21), and comes in black or white. The phone supports Wifi-N, and Bluetooth. It runs Android 4.2 OS.
This phone functions well enough as a budget phone. Spending less than $100 on an Android phone is typically a very bad mistake, and while I would never be able to use this a primary phone (due to my requirements), for those on a tight budget – they might find this suitable. The phone comes with 1.27GB of storage space out of the box, but if you need or want a basic phone, expect another 500MB of apps to be loaded. This is good considering that I had real concern that there would have been 250 or 500MB of storage. It’s not the 16-128GB found on newer higher end phones, but the micro-SD card makes up for that somewhat.
The phone is dual SIM. This means I can have 2 SIM cards from the same or different providers. This is unusual in the US, as there are still times when one is required to sign a 2 year contract (which you should run from like the plague). In my instance, I am using one SIM for data, and another for voice. You just have to be careful to install the data SIM into SIM 1. SIM 2 only supports GSM-2G.
And of course, you will find it hard to beat the price. I last seen this phone for $75, and I bought it on sale for $50. Even the Motorola Moto E doesn’t compete on those grounds, although the Moto E has advantages over this phone, it is worth looking at if nothing else.
The Dual SIM management tool was simple enough. I was able to select SIM 2 as default for voice calls, and allowed SIM 1 to handle data by simply selecting the appropriate card. There was a couple of hiccups in navigating when it came to the phone, and services – but this more of an Android problem.
There are a number of things that I find at fault with this phone. Yes, I understand that the phone is less than $100, and I am taking that into consideration. There are still some things that needs to be addressed.
First, the OS. Android 4.2 is just not an inconvenience of not having newer features in Android, but a security flaw. Just as people should update the OS on their PC, so should the phone OS be updated. I have concerns that this will never happen and that is a shame. And considering this is a brand new phone – it should have an updated OS. Now some will say that the phone is a lower spec phone. I call bulls**t on that as Android’s newer versions are to be easier on lower end phones.
Next is marketing. The phone claims 3D gaming, and I doubt that with a Dual Core 1.3Ghz CPU on 512MB of memory, nad only 1.3GB of storage. The marketing on the box also screams 4G, and again – Bulls**t. Under the ITU Specs, 4G cellular is LTE and WiMax with Wimax seeing the last days, so let’s just say LTE. HSPA is 3G. Plain and simple, and just because the top of the line HSPA is equivalent to LTE in the infancy doesn’t make it 4G.
And speaking of 3G, it would have been a better value if Blu didn’t skimp on supporting the other two 3G bands. My Nexus 4 from 3 years ago with no LTE at the time supported all of the GSM 3G bands, and I can’t see why a new budget phone can’t do the same. Bands supported are 850/1700/1900 bands. If they are trying to cater to the emerging market, or budget friendly choices, they have made a failing here.
For what ever reason, companies known to be budget likes to put the micro-USB port on the top of the device. Not only is this unusual, but it can be a problem with handling the device while charging. Next, the micro-SD card cage was a pain to open. The arrows suggested on direction which one will likely imply to open where it is to close. The capacitive touch buttons would have been nice to be rid of. A 4.3″ screen with onscreen buttons would have been better.
This phone is good enough. I wouldn’t expect it to be anything really good, or an impression, but even as a Single SIM service, it could serve well enough. If you are looking for a “first” smart phone, back up, or in need of a low cost dual SIM phone, this is a good enough choice.
My main gripe is the OS. This is something that Blu can solve with all of this model phone, they just choose not too. If you are worried of a reliable update path, you may have to consider spending twice as much for a Motorola Moto series phones which have a reputation of a reliable update path. However, you may find it hard to get a dual SIM phone, and only model I know is the Moto-G.