The BLU G90 Pro Might Be the Best $200 You Can Spend on a Phone Today

Rating: 8/10 ?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price: $199/$249
The Blu G90 Pro with its beautiful Purple Haze finish
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Budget phone maker BLU is launching a new phone today with the G90 Pro. It’s not only a spec-bump for the previously-announced G90, but it’s also the company’s first “gaming phone.” I’ve been playing with it for the last couple of weeks—here’s what you need to know.

Here's What We Like

  • Beautiful aesthetic and excellent build
  • Rear-mounted fingerprint sensor
  • Very good value, especially at launch
  • Surprisingly good cameras for a budget phone

And What We Don't

  • Poor haptic engine
  • Overly-cool display
  • Very slippery without a case

So, you may be asking yourself “what makes a gaming phone, anyway?” And, well, that’s a good question! Mostly because there still isn’t a straightforward answer. For some manufacturers, it means “a bigger battery!” or “improved cooling!” For others, it may mean “two charging ports!” or “great sound quality!” Or “a faster processor!” —or any combination of those. Or even other stuff, like a display with a high refresh rate (90 or 120 Hz). It’s the wild west of smartphone terms right now, and while it sounds silly, I kind of love it because it inspires innovation.

For BLU’s G90 Pro, “gaming phone” means a couple of things: a gaming processor in the MediaTek Helio G90T Gaming, and liquid cooling. Oh, and there’s even a gaming case in the box—just in case it wasn’t clear that this is a phone meant for playing games. The case has cooling vents! COOLING. VENTS. Y’ALL.

The BLU G90 Pro's included Gaming Case
See those openings in the corners? C O O L I N G V E N T S. Cam

But really, this phone looks like most other phones in terms of just, like, carrying it around. The back is a pretty sexy purple color (the company calls it Purple Haze) which I really like. BLU has upped its aesthetic game with most of the G-series phones, as they’ve all had pretty damn nice-looking bodies. That’s another reason the “gaming case” bums me out—it’s black, so it covers this sleek look. I wish it were clear.

As for the specs, here’s a quick-hit list for your eyeballs:

  • Display: 6.5-inch 19.5:9 FHD+ Infinity Display (1080×2340/396PPI) w/ teardrop notch
  • Processor: 2.0 GHz Octa-Core MediaTek Helio G90T Gaming w/ liquid cooling
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 128 GB, microSD card slot
  • Cameras: 48 MP main camera, 8 MP wide-angle, 2 MP depth sensor; 32 MP selfie cam
  • Ports: USB-C, 3.5 mm headphone jack
  • Headphone Jack: Yep
  • Battery: 5,100 mAh w/ 18w 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 10
  • Price: $199 at launch, $249 after

All pretty standard fare here. If they weren’t leaning so hard into the gaming processor here, you’d never know this was a “gaming phone.” And I kind of like that about it, because gaming phones generally don’t carry an aesthetic that everyone wants.

But I digress—that’s a tangent I don’t want to get started on right now.

Build and Aesthetic

The overall build quality and aesthetic if the phone are nice. It feels well made and solidly built. No complaints on the construction! I do have a complaint with the material, though: the back of this phone is slippery as hell. If you don’t want to use the case, there’s a good chance you’ll end up dropping it. It’s like butter coated in more butter.

Otherwise, I’m happy to see the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor on this phone. I’m not a big fan of Face Unlock on the PIxel 4, nor do I really care for in-display fingerprint sensors. The rear-mounted sensor will forever be my favorite, so it’s a welcome addition here. It’s also worth noting that this phone has a “Face ID” feature, but it doesn’t use any sort of depth mapping so it shouldn’t be used as a real form of security. It’s just for funsies.

The rear fingerprint sensor and camera cluster on the BLU G90 Pro
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Many of you will also be happy to know that BLU continues to shun the idea of ditching the 3.5 mm headphones jack, so you’ll be able to use any set of wired earbuds you like on this guy. Good guy BLU.

The 6.5-inch HD+ display is big and looks pretty good, though it’s a bit cooler than I personally prefer on phones. That said, it doesn’t take long to get used to it, and if you don’t have a half-dozen other phones to compare it to at any moment, you probably won’t even notice. The 396 PPI keeps everything sharp and looking good. it’s not the best display out there, but it’s fine—especially for the price.

The BLU G90 Pro's teardrop notch in the display.
The teardrop notch. The design is a little tired now, but it’s still functional. Cam

It’s also worth quickly noting that the G90 Pro has 18-watt quick charging (with a compatible charger in the box) and 10-watt wireless charging, which is far from a given at this price. Hell, Google couldn’t even be bothered to add wireless charging to the Pixel 4a!

Performance and Cameras

So, how is this here gaming phone when it comes to performance? It’s fine. It all depends on your expectations, I suppose—if you think of the difference between a “regular” PC and a gaming PC, and want that to translate to phones, it’s not going to happen. But that’s not really how this works anyway.

As I said earlier, there’s no real indication as to what “gaming phone” even really means across manufacturers. I feel like this phone’s “gaming” moniker is mostly surrounding the MediaTek G90T Gaming processor. And truth be told, that chip isn’t really any faster than other processors. In fact, it’s only marginally faster than the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G in the Pixel 4a in both Geekbench 5 and 3D Mark Sling Shot Extreme.

But is that something you’ll be able to feel? I’d wager a big ol’ “nah” on that one. Clock speeds and benchmark results are all just trivial numbers when it comes to phones—they’re nice to see on paper, but rarely translate into a real-world difference.

All told, the G90 Pro performs well. Using it for my normal stuff—social media, Slack, email, all the normal jazz—and switching between multiple apps often never resulted in any sort of slowdown. It was fine.

That said, I am disappointed in only 4 GB of RAM here. For a phone that’s leaning hard into the gaming scene, I’d like to see at least 6 GB. But it’s also a $200 phone (for now, anyway), so I get it. Corners have to be cut in places, and this is a logical one.

If I had to pick out a real sticking point for this phone, it would be the haptic engine. The tactile response when typing just feels…bad. It’s very “loose” feeling, which makes for a sloppy typing experience. It’s mostly fine when it comes to notifications, but otherwise, I’m not a huge fan.

The G90 Pro's camera cluster and gaming case
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So, let’s talk about the cameras. Historically, BLU hasn’t had the best cameras—but hey, we’re talking about phones that are $200 or less most of the time, and excellent cameras aren’t cheap.

But the G90 Pro has the best cameras that BLU has ever put in a phone. Full stop. They’re actually really damn good for a phone that will set you back a couple hundred bones. I mean, don’t get it twisted—Pixel cameras they aren’t. But then again, what is?

A parking sign with dark clouds, green grass, and blue sky in the background
That’s not a bad shot for a $200 phone! Cam

The main sensor offers up some surprisingly great images when the lighting is good. Colors are vibrant and the depth of field is pretty damn good. The wide-angle cam isn’t as impressive, as it tends to wash photos out more. I figure most people will want to use the main shooter most of the time anyway.

A photo example with green grass, blue sky, and clouds An example of the wide-angle lens, which is more washed out Left: main sensor; Right: wide-angle

I used BLU’s “AI Mode” for all of my test shots, which is supposed to choose the right type of shot for the environment. Again, color me impressed—it pretty much nailed the scene most of the time, even going as far as detecting “greenery” for a macro shot of a little plant (see the gallery below). AI mode is pretty cool and something I think most users will get along with.

The front camera is surprisingly serviceable as well. Again, colors pop and images are sharp. Not bad for a front camera! That said, portrait mode here still leaves a lot to be desired, as the AI simply isn’t powerful enough to accurately detect the edges of the subject. I’m a bald dude, and if often cut part of my head off because of light reflection.

A photo mode example on the BLU G90 Pro
A piece of my head is missing 😮 Cam

But overall, I find the cameras on the G90 Pro to be very usable, especially at this price point. They’re not going to compete with what you’d get from a higher-end phone, but they’re definitely good enough to show off your IG chops…even if you skip the filter.

I’ll call that a win.

Software

The G90 Pro’s software is a lightly skinned version of Android 10 that works and feels familiar. It uses the old school 3-button navigation by default, which just feels absolutely outdated to me at this point, so I quickly changed it to Android 10’s excellent gesture navigation system.

But then when I installed my favorite launcher—Nova Launcher—gesture navigation was broken so it defaulted back to 3-button. Google fixed gesture compatibility with third-party launchers forever ago, so I’m honestly not sure what the issue is here. This phone is running Android 10 with the June security patch, so there’s no reason it should have compatibility issues with third-party launchers. Weird.

So anyway, if you want to use gesture navigation, you’re stuck with the default launcher. It’s not a bad launcher, really—it’s just not as powerful or customizable as something like Nova. It’s worth noting that there are workarounds to making gestures worth with third-party launchers, so if you’re really interested in getting the best of both, you can go that route. Do so at your own risk, though.

That’s really my biggest issue with the G90 Pro’s software. Otherwise, it’s fine—it’s basically just Android 10. It’s simple and clean. One of BLU’s promises for 2020 is to release fewer phones and offer more frequent and timely updates to its existing lineup, though there was no word on how long the company plans to support the G90 Pro.

Value

As I sat down to write this review, I knew I had to not just review the phone itself, but take a look at it from the value perspective. A year ago, I would’ve called it a great value—$250 ($200 if you buy right now) for a phone that looks and performs this good would be a steal.

The BLU G90 Pro with a light reflection of trees on its glossy back
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But then the Pixel 4a came along and basically destroyed all notions of what “value” means in the Android world, so I had to reassess what it means in terms of modern budget phones.

As for the G90 Pro, I think it’s still a good value. It’s faster than the Pixel 4a in most measurable benchmarks, but it also has 2 GB less RAM. You also don’t get the insane quality of the Pixel camera or guaranteed lighting-fast updates from Google. But you do get wireless charging.

But therein lies the tradeoff. At its cheapest, it’s $150 cheaper than the Pixel 4a. At full retail, it’s $100 cheaper. When you’re looking at phones in this price bracket, $100 is no small number—it’s almost a 30 percent difference. Buy the G90 Pro on sale and it’s a ~43 percent savings.

For almost half of the cost of the 4a, then hell yeah, it’s a good value. If you’re in the market for a good phone and absolutely don’t want to spend more than a couple hundred bucks, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better one than the G90 Pro.

Conclusion

The bottom of the BLU G90 Pro showing the BLU logo
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I know this is a “gaming phone,” but really, for all intents and purposes, this is just a phone. One that can also play games. Much like the phone you may already have—though this one may be a little better at it? Generally speaking, phones are all pretty damn fast and efficient now, so I’m honestly not sure the “gaming” moniker is really necessary.

But that really goes both ways—don’t let it put you off from this phone, either. Just because BLU is pushing the gaming thing doesn’t mean it’s a bad phone for someone who never plays games. Just take that big-ass battery and extra processing power as a bonus.

Rating: 8/10
Price: $199/$249

Here’s What We Like

  • Beautiful aesthetic and excellent build
  • Rear-mounted fingerprint sensor
  • Very good value, especially at launch
  • Surprisingly good cameras for a budget phone

And What We Don't

  • Poor haptic engine
  • Overly-cool display
  • Very slippery without a case

Cameron Summerson Cameron Summerson
Cameron Summerson is the Editor in Chief of Review Geek and serves as an Editorial Advisor for How-to Geek and LifeSavvy. He’s been covering technology for nearly a decade and has written over 4,000 articles and hundreds of product reviews in that time. He’s been published in print magazines and quoted as a smartphone expert in the New York Times. Read Full Bio »

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