Starting At $199
Back at the end of May, Blu Products released the G9—an affordable phone with decently high-end features. Today, it’s launching the G9 Pro, an upgraded G9 with some features that are often reserved for much more expensive devices.
At just $250 retail ($199 launch price), the G9 Pro offers a lot of bang for the buck—maybe more than any other phone I’ve seen even at double the price. Here’s what you get:
- Display: 6.3-inch 19.5:9 FHD+ Infinity Display (1080×2340/409PPI) w/ teardrop notch
- Processor: 2.0 GHz Octa-Core MediaTek Helio P60
- RAM: 4GB
- Storage: 128 GB, microSD card slot
- Cameras: 16 MP main shooter, 5 MP depth sensor, 20 MP night mode camera; 24 MP front camera
- Ports: USB-C, 3.5 mm headphone jack
- Headphone Jack: Yessir
- Battery: 4,000 mAh w/ Quick Charge and Wireless Charging
- Fingerprint Sensor: Rear-mounted
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 2.4/5 GHz (a/b/g/n), 3G 850/900/1700/1900/2100, 4G LTE 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/28, dual-SIM
- US Carrier compatibility: T-Mobile, AT&T, Metro, Cricket, Straight Talk
- Android version: Android 9; June 2019 Security Patch (Promised updates to Android 10 and two years of security patches)
- Price: $249 (Launch price of $199 “for a limited time)
Nicer Hardware Than You’d Expect for the Price
Okay, so there’s a lot to cover here, but I want to start with the most surprising feature: it has wireless charging. This is generally reserved for the highest of high-end gadgets, so I was pleasantly surprised to see it on the G9 Pro. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a $250 phone with wireless charging, so it’s super cool to see Blu incorporate it here. It’s also 10-watt wireless charging, which is among the fastest wireless charging rate currently available. Impressive.
I’ve used a lot of different Blu phones over the years, and one thing has become clear to me: the phones keep getting nicer while the price points stay relatively the same. The G9 Pro is an exemplary device in this regard because it’s probably the classiest looking (and feeling!) Blu handset I’ve ever used. It’s a striking device—the “Nightfall” chameleon finish is hot.
The overall fit and finish of the phone is nothing to scoff at either. It feels decidedly more premium than the G9 (as it should), but also comes off has higher-end than the more costly Pixel 3a. It looks and feels better than Google’s affordable phone, with performance that is at least on par with that of the 3a, as well. All in all, it’s a great little package. Oh, and it has a headphone jack. A headphone jack!
My biggest complaint about the standard G9 was the display, which has been noticeably upgraded on the G9 Pro. The panel in the Pro features the same 6.3-inch size, but a much more reasonable 1080×2340 resolution (409 PPI), making everything much crisper and defined. That said, it is a very cool display, which may be jarring for anyone coming from an OLED panel. Still, much like everything else on this handset, it’s great for the money. The biggest complaint I have about this phone is the haptic engine—it just feels sluggish and cheap.
The triple camera array on the back is also a nice touch, with sensors specifically for depth (5 MP) and night mode (20 MP) alongside the 16 MP primary camera. The 24 MP front camera is another decent addition for the selfie-loving crowd, though the phone’s software-based portrait mode is laughable at best when using the front camera. The rear shooter does a much better job with portrait photos since it has a separate depth sensor and doesn’t rely on software tricks to adjust the depth of field. But either way, keep your expectations in check for the camera—it takes very good photos for a $250 phone, but it won’t compete with the current crop of flagship smartphones.
Here are a few more examples:
And one of the rear camera’s portrait mode feature, whch is much better than what the front offers:
Clean Software Makes for a Snappy Experience
If you read my review of the G9, then you already know what to expect here—the software is literally identical on the G9 Pro. It’s a slightly modified version of Android 9, with the most notable changes in the Quick Settings panel and Settings menu—they’re both very white. I still wish it had dark mode.
The Settings menu is also slightly rearranged compared to the layout that you’ll commonly find on other Android phones, with a focus on simplicity here. Everything is still easy enough to find for anyone familiar with Android’s “normal” organization (if such a thing even exists), but it does take a bit of getting used to.
The other big addition on the G9 Pro is a FaceID-like feature called…Face ID. In practice, it’s quite fast. But keep in mind that without all the additional hardware needed for 3D depth mapping (like the iPhone has) this is still a pretty insecure way of protecting a phone. In other words, it’s a neat little novelty, but I recommend against using it as any form of real security on your phone. The good news is that there’s also a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, which is a real form of security.
Finally, let’s talk about performance. This is where the G9 Pro gets a significant upgrade over the G9—it’s a lot faster and more fluid. The MediaTek Helio P60 in the Pro model performs significantly better than the P22 found in the non-pro G9 despite being the same clock speed (2.0 GHz) and number of cores. It’s just a better chip. If you like benchmarks, I did a few of those. Here’s the G9 Pro compared to the G9 and Pixel 3a. You’ll find that the G9 Pro is right there with the 3a…but at around half the price.
Conclusion: This is the Best Phone Blu Has Ever Released
Overall, the Blu G9 Pro is a very impressive phone and the best Blu phone I’ve ever used. It looks and feels great, has the performance of phones that cost twice as much, packs a very usable triple camera array, and is guaranteed to get updated to Android 10 (plus two years of security updates). For $250, you simply won’t find a better smartphone out there. And the launch price is just $199 for a limited time, making it even more of a bargain.
Starting At $199
Here’s What We Like
- High end features for a budget price
- Wireless charging
- Good fit and finish
- Absolutely stellar price to performance ratio
And What We Don't
- The screen may be cooler than some users like
- Portrait mode on the front camera is still laughably bad