B&H Photo in NYC now sells it and has a demo model in store.
I made a special trip there yesterday to give it a whirl.
It’s thinner and lighter than I expected. Even though the back is plastic, it feels nearly like metal. Side buttons seem to be metal and are sturdy and don’t rattle.
The demo model was tyrant gold color. It wasn’t garish at all. It was classy. (Still, where I live, flashing something gold is Mugger Bait. I’d have to go for Space Gray.)
As most people in their YouTube videos have pointed out, the front bottom capacitive buttons have finicky touch areas and more than one press attempt is required. They also don’t have backlighting. This is annoying.
The screen is freakin gorgeous. I don’t know what I had the brightness set at because …
… the included firmware is really Teh Suck. Settings are found via swiping up from the bottom of the screen, instead of being part of the Notification area with a swipe down from the top of the screen. This is screwy. I hate it.
Also, within Settings itself, I was quickly confused because things weren’t where I expected them to be and didn’t look like I expected them to look. And I had a gut feeling some Settings were actually missing or incomplete.
Unfortunately, B&H’s WiFi had two problems:
1) The Display WiFi was locked down like a Supermax prison. I couldn’t get to my blog or just about anywhere — not even YouTube. Even when I tricked the firewall by calling up a page via Google Search, eventually the damn firewall would wake up and block the page!
2) The “open” B&H WiFi was malfunctioning. The BLU couldn’t get a stable IP address. It’d grab one and then the WiFi would send out a new one! (I hope this was a problem with B&H’s WiFi and not the BLU. Some people in Amazon reviews have mentioned not being to connect to some home WiFi.)
I did manage — through spiteful persistence — to get to my Google Books Test PDF page and then to click on the links for The American Magazine [iOS edition], Surface Japan, and Stuntman. Those links will show the pages streaming online. As they did on the BLU.
Looking at those three links right now on my notebook, I can tell you that the BLU was faster. That Mediatek MT6795 Helio X10 has some damn power to it.
To heap upon the misfortune of the hinky WiFi, Chrome wouldn’t give me any freakin link to download the PDFs! I had hoped I’d be able to do that to see what they’d be like with whatever PDF viewer might be hidden inside the BLU. But no.
Of course, trying to download any PDF app from either the Play Store or my Google Drive was out of the question. The phone lacked a Play Store demo account. The firewall blocked Google Drive.
I tried the camera. It’s wonderful for video. For still photos, it’s far from being the worst but I wouldn’t place it as one of the best, either. Maybe if I had played with Camera Settings, but who outside of pro photographers really do that? Most people just want to Point & Shoot. I wasn’t crushed by the quality of the camera — Samsung has actually had worse cameras, shame on them! — and I don’t see it was a dealbreaker, at least for me.
My encounter with VR has changed my phone spec criteria. I think a screen at 2K resolution is the least for phone-based VR. This knocks out all other phones I’d been considering.
Despite reports of disappointing battery life, I think Quick Charge would make that less of an irritation. At least one YouTube reviewer said his BLU takes just an hour to get a full charge. I can usually get to an outlet — even during the twenty-minute trip on the Staten Island ferry — so I wouldn’t mind carrying the charger. I do that for my lifeboat Sony CLIE — and it has amazing battery life (but I bang on it hard and can deplete the battery within a day, sometimes!).
So, for the moment, the BLU Pure XL is my top contender for a phone buy.
I just need B&H to get its WiFi functioning and unrestricted again so I can run my Google Books PDF Tests on it.
In the meantime, some videos — with the news that it can now be rooted. No custom ROMs yet, however. The included firmware really needs replacing.
Bonus: A tip about getting a Menu button.
Previously at Mike Cane’s xBlog:
Blu Pure XL Review: One-Hour Video
Blu Pure XL Sales Begin At Amazon
Blu Pure XL Superphone Sales Delayed
First Reviews: Blu Pure XL Superphone
Videos: Blu Pure XL Superphone
BAM! Blu Products Brings Gionee ELife E8 Superphone To U.S.
Gionee E8 Superphone Gets A Review
Gionee E8 Superphone: US$644.00
Gionee ELife E8: Six-Inch Phone