BLU Pure XL Review
Interface and Functionality
The experience reminds us of the Samsung of old, where they go after that ‘more is better’ strategy.
For the Pure XL, BLU has decided to adopt a customized experience running on top of Android 5.1 Lollipop that visually looks like stock Android, but they’ve added several features that remind us of Samsung a couple years back. First and foremost, the notifications panel and native apps appear and function to what we get with stock Android. However, they’ve inconveniently eliminated the apps panel, which means that the homescreen can get rather disorganized with icons filling up every nook and cranny – it just becomes too maddening when there’s a lot of apps.
In differentiating its experience, they’ve included a laundry list of tools and ways to customize the look of the interface, but none of them brings back the apps panel. Instead, we can choose from a variety of transitioning effects and preloaded themes to modify the layout of the homescreen. There’s also the Chameleon app, which uses the camera to create a custom color arrangement for the UI by drawing colors from the scene. It’s cool, but not really diehard.
Over on the software side, they reintroduce some of the many redundant features that Samsung notoriously advertised with its smartphones a couple years ago. In particular, there are the various Air gestures that allow us to wake up the phone, navigate through the gallery app or homescreen, and pause/play a video by simply waving our hand over the display. Nevertheless, it comes equipped with some other features that are more practical and relevant – like the double tap feature to turn on/off the screen and automatically accepting a phone call by placing the phone next to our ear.
What’s missing, though, are some useful multi-tasking and one-handed modes that would’ve been beneficial for a phone of this size. To that degree, it lacks the necessary depth to make it an experience befitting for power users. Rather, the entire experience here with the BLU Pure XL harkens back to the days of Samsung old – where it follows in that ‘more is better’ strategy. Unfortunately, the lack of an apps panel combined with all of those unwanted and redundant software tricks, makes for a somewhat daunting experience.
Processor and Memory
The MediaTek Helio X10 chip puts out an impressive real-world performance, dishing up a nice and tight performance.
Making for a compelling argument, the BLU Pure XL comes at us with a 64-bit based octa-core 2.0GHz MediaTek Helio X10 MT6795 chipset based on the 28nm manufacturing process, which is paired with 3GB of RAM and the PowerVR G6200 GPU. And boy does it impress us with its high level of snappiness just running through the interface! Quite simply, there’s that tight control with its action, so launching apps and navigating around the homescreen are accompanied with those buttery smooth responses. In fact, it evem feels faster than some of the big names in the industry at times.
Meanwhile, the synthetic benchmark tests indicate that it’s just a smidgen behind the performances of its main rivals – namely the Snapdragon 810 and Exynos 7. While its real-world performance is undoubtedly tight and responsive, it achieves lower scores in several of the processing benchmark tests. Over on the graphics processing side, the Quad-HD resolution takes its toll by being extremely demanding, which is evident in how it produces less frame rates than that of the Note5 in the GFXbench tests. Regardless of that, it’s still certainly more than equipped to handle most of today’s demanding gaming titles to a certain degree of enjoyment.
Thankfully, this is one of those phones when storage is never a concern because it comes by default with a generous 64GB capacity, which is backed up by the fact that it comes with a microSD card slot as well.
Internet and Connectivity
Really, there’s nothing we can’t like about the BLU Pure XL when it comes to surfing the web. Much like the other handful of phablets out there, its generous screen size allows pages to fit nicely without the need to do some heavy scrolling – and it helps too that its Quad-HD resolution produces crisp details. Secondly, its processing punch enables it to deliver quick page loads, smooth page rendering, and fluid navigational controls. The only strange thing about it all, is that it tries to promote the Opera web browser. Luckily, we’re not forced or tied down to it.
Similar to the other phones in its portfolio, the BLU Pure XL is an unlocked GSM smartphone with LTE connectivity – though, it doesn’t have nearly as much LTE-band support as its rivals and it tops out at Category 4 LTE. Moreover, there are no CDMA radios with this one, so it won’t work for Sprint or Verizon. Besides that, it comes with all the usual connectivity features in its package, so that includes aGPS, Bluetooth, dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, and NFC.