02 Oct 2016, 17:45

Quick review of the BLU Life Mark £80 Android phone

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A couple of weeks ago, I took my Galaxy S6 out for a run in the rain and it died. Based on previous experience with the horror known as Vodafone Ireland Insurance, I figured I’d be looking at 10 days minimum to get a replacement. This proved 100% accurate as the usual completely inept software that connects Vodafone’s PDP-11 to Stay Mobile’s Commodore 64 had cancelled my insurance without notification several months previously. It took them a week to sort this out before they could even look at replacing the phone.

So the same day it died, I ordered a cheap replacement backup phone which arrived within 2 days from Amazon UK. Yep, you can order and receive a new phone from the UK faster than two groups of circus clowns in Dublin can fix a mistake they made.

BLU Life Mark

The BLU Life Mark is an utterly generic low-mid range Android phone from a US-based company. It’s very similar to the Wileyfox Swift I got my mother-in-law a few months back, which she loves.

BLU Life Mark Bits

This won’t be a long review as there really isn’t anything new to say about modern smartphones. Slabs of glass that still can’t tell the difference between accidental and intended touch or learn anything about your usage and optimise accordingly.

It has a 720p screen of decent brightness and perfectly acceptable touch responsiveness. It uses a Mediatek chipset which, whilst it isn’t particularly fast, is fine for 90% of the population. It lags when opening the camera or launching Facebook but otherwise it’s grand.

It can take 2 SIM cards or a SIM plus an SD Card. Which is more than can be said for Samsung or HTC.

Battery life seemed a bit weak compared to an S6.

The fingerprint scanner is superb. It’s not only in the correct place, the back, it is also extremely fast. I can’t abide the one on the S6 and have it disabled.

The camera isn’t brilliant. 13MP in theory but nowhere close to the S6. But for day to day, it does the job.

The GPS/Compass is a bit crap. Google Maps spun around like a tasmanian devil whilst trying to navigate on foot around Berlin. Positional accuracy seemed ok tho. Both Google Maps and Scout worked fine otherwise in Berlin.

The only seriously bad part of using it for a week was the Bluetooth. I paired it to Sync 2 on my Mondeo and initially it streamed my Adam Buxton podcast perfectly. But after a few miles driving, it started cutting in and out “randomly”. It was driving me nuts. Then I sussed that the cut-outs happened when I was passing other cars. So I’m now pretty sure the bloody thing was trying to have a Bluetooth chat with every phone and car it could see. Unfortunately this high-speed connect/disconnect sent the car’s Bluetooth stack nuts. I then couldn’t connect properly from any phone. Factory defaults and Master Reset failed to fix it. Eventually I had to disconnect the car battery to reboot the car! That worked. Now I know this might have been the car’s fault but it has worked seamlessly with the S6 and an iPhone for months so I’m blaming the BLU.

Overall, unless you are a Bluetooth streaming fiend like me, you’ll find little to complain about in this phone. It’s really quite wonderful that you can have a supercomputer in your hand with access to all the world’s information for £80 without any contract. It’s a great time to be alive.

Oh and the S6 somehow fully recovered after I kept it in a very warm place for a few days. So that’s €60 I won’t be giving to the Stay Mobile Clown Retirement Fund.

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