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BLU Win HD LTE review: A gorgeous Windows Phone device at a decent price

BLU Win HD LTE review: A beautiful Windows Phone device at a decent price

BLU didn’t impress us when we explored the very first Win HD back in 2014. It felt like a cheap plastic device, complete with a variety of minor issues. The brand new Win HD LTE from BLU recently landed on our doorsteps (along with its younger sibling) begging for us to change our minds — and we were definitely impressed this time around. BLU really outdid themselves with a gorgeous device at a decent price. Let’s take a look.

First Impressions

Having used the Win HD from BLU (the original device without the LTE support), I was expecting something similar with the LTE model. In essence, I was expecting a cheap build and large 5-inch display that looks decent and works with just a few hitches. After all, the Win HD was targeted as a budget to mid-range 5-inch Windows Phone device with an affordable price tag.

When I unboxed the metal dark grey-colored Win HD LTE, I was disappointed. And that’s a good thing because I was expecting another plastic, cheap phone from BLU. Not this time. My initial first reaction was, “wow, this phone looks absolutely beautiful.”  The Win HD LTE looks stylish with its metal finish, having a screen resolution that is vibrant, extremely responsive, and amazing, with a top-notch build quality. BLU really outdid themselves with this Windows Phone device. I seriously felt like I had an expensive smartphone in my hands.

The phone runs Windows Phone 8.1 and does not feature any bloat ware or unnecessary changes to the operating system, mainly because the device is available for purchase unlocked via the Microsoft Store, rather than via a carrier. BLU promises an upgrade to Windows 10 for phones as soon as the new operating system arrives, so let’s hope they keep true to their promise.

BLU Win HD LTE review: A beautiful Windows Phone device at a decent price

Hardware and Performance

The Win HD LTE features a Snapdragon 410 chip that offers 1.2GHz of Quad-Core processing power and a 64-bit architecture. The device also features a gorgeous 5-inch 720×1280 IPS display (does not have Corning Gorilla Glass), 8MP rear camera, 2MP front camera, 8GB of storage, and 1GB of RAM. The device features a 2.5mm bezel that accentuates the vivid 5-inch HD display.

Overall, performance was smooth and the operating system ran without a glitch. Opening and closing apps were a breeze and animations had no lag. The device features a 2500 mAh battery, easily lasting us an entire day with moderate usage and without having to plug in a wall charger. 

With the previous generation Win HD, there was a noticeable touch-screen issue that made it hard to use the phone. BLU rolled out a firmware update soon after the phone’s release and resolved the issue but the touch screen still seemed flimsy. With the new Win HD LTE, the touch screen does not have that same issue — it seems flawless, extremely responsive, and looks great.

BLU Win HD LTE review: A beautiful Windows Phone device at a decent priceBLU Win HD LTE review: A beautiful Windows Phone device at a decent price

Win HD LTE vs Win JR LTE

The new Win JR LTE from BLU will soon be available for $99.99 at Microsoft Stores and Amazon.com, while the Win HD LTE from BLU is now available for $229.99 exclusively at Microsoft Stores both online and in-store, completely unlocked with Dual Sim functionality and 4G LTE. Both devices have been completely redesigned compared to their predecessors and are upgradable to Windows 10, when the operating system is released this summer.

BLU Win HD LTE review: A beautiful Windows Phone device at a decent price

Looking at the specs, both devices feature LTE support as well as Dual SIM support. The JR comes with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage, while the HD comes with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. Plenty of room for your games and media. The display on the JR is 4.5-inches, vs the 5-inch HD display. The HD is slightly heavier and has a slightly higher ppi.

The processor and GPU are both similar, and the camera is 5MP and 8MP for the JR and HD, respectively. The HD records in 1080p, while the JR records in 720p. Both devices come in a variety of color options, including grey, white, orange, and yellow. However, the HD is available in an exclusive pink color too.

So what’s the big difference between these two smartphones? The price ($100 difference between the two), the RAM (512MB vs 1GB), and the screen size (4.5-inch vs 5-inch) are the three biggest differences in my opinion. Check out the specs below.

BLU Win HD LTE review: A beautiful Windows Phone device at a decent price

BLU Win HD LTE review: A beautiful Windows Phone device at a decent price

Win HD LTE vs Lumia 830

The new Win HD LTE from Blu is a beautiful mid-range Windows Phone device, but how does it stack up against other mid-range Windows Phone handsets? The Lumia 830, for example, is a solid mid-range device, meaning it doesn’t have all the top-notch specs you’d find on an actual flagship phone, but it performs well for a mid-range. Let’s compare the specs of these two devices.

The Lumia 830 features a 5-inch 1280 x 720 IPS display, 296 ppi pixel density, Corning Gorilla Glass 3, 16GB of storage and 1GB of RAM, Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor clocked at 1.2GHz. The device also features a 10MP camera with LED flash and autofocus. There is also a HD 0.9 MP wide angle front camera. The device weighs 150g.

The Blu Win HD LTE sports a 5-inch 1280 x 720 IPS display, 293 ppi pixel density, 8GB of storage and 1GB of RAM, Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor clocked at 1.2 GHz. The device also features an 8MP camera with LED flash and autofocus. The Win HD LTE also features a 2MP front camera. The device weighs 146g.

The Lumia 830 features Nano SIM connectivity, while the Win HD LTE features Dual SIM (Micro SIM and Mini SIM). Both devices are running Windows Phone 8.1 and can be upgraded to Windows 10 when the operating system is released this summer.

So as you can see, the specs on both devices are relatively similar. The Lumia is the optimal choice, since it features exclusive Lumia apps, a fantastic camera, and Microsoft support. However, the Win HD LTE is a great alternative if you are basing your decision on price.

BLU Win HD LTE review: A beautiful Windows Phone device at a decent priceBLU Win HD LTE review: A beautiful Windows Phone device at a decent price

BLU Win HD LTE review: A beautiful Windows Phone device at a decent price

Camera (Win HD LTE vs Lumia 830 vs Win HD)

The Win HD LTE features an 8MP main camera with LED flash and autofocus, while it’s predecessor had a similar 8MP camera. The Lumia 830, on the other hand, features a 10MP camera. My biggest gripe about the Win HD LTE is the position of the rear camera lens. BLU has moved the rear camera lens from the top-center of the phone (Win HD) to the top-right of the phone (Win HD LTE). Look at the photo above to see what I am talking about. Why is this a big deal? When taking photos with the device, I kept placing my fingers right across the camera lens inadvertently, ruining my shots. This is because the rear camera lens is position so close to the top-right edge that I had to be mindful every time I took a shot to watch my left hand placement. I did not have this issue with the Lumia 830 or the Win HD (both devices having the camera lens at the top-center of the device). Deal breaker? Not really. But it was quite annoying when taking a photo.

The Win HD LTE comes with the stock camera app, which is available on every Windows Phone 8.1 device. I took a few photos using the Win HD LTE, along with the Win HD and the Lumia 830 (using the Nokia Camera app). One thing I really liked about the stock camera app vs. the Nokia Camera app is the speed. The stock camera app loads almost immediately while the Nokia Camera app took longer than a second to open. Why is this a big deal? I’d rather not stand there waiting for a camera app to open when I want to take a shot as quickly as possible.

So how did the camera fare against the Lumia 830 and previous generation Win HD? Let’s take a look. By default, the Win HD LTE took photos at 3264×2448 resolution, while the Win HD took photos at the same resolution. The Lumia 830, on the other hand, took photos at 3840×2160 resolution. Let’s look at some sample shots from all three phones.

Win HD

Photo above taken by Win HD.

Win HD LTE

Photo above taken by Win HD LTE.

Lumia 830

Photo above taken by Lumia 830. Note how the Lumia 830 automatically adjusted the photo to show less glare due to the bright sunlight.

Win HD

Photo above taken by Win HD.

Win HD LTE

Photo above taken by Win HD LTE. Note how the blue sky stands out a bit more with this particular shot.

Lumia 830

Photo above taken by Lumia 830.

Win HD

Photo above taken by Win HD.

Win HD LTE

Photo above taken by Win HD LTE.

Lumia 830

Photo above taken by Lumia 830.

So as you can see, the Lumia 830 wins hands-down when it comes to taking photos. However, the Win HD LTE takes better photos than its predecessor, the Win HD. Camera quality isn’t amazing, but for the price, it’s perfectly fine. The colors are a bit more vivid and the picture comes out a little better when compared to the original Win HD. But, like I’ve said, it does not match the quality of a Lumia’s camera. Either way, I think you will be happy with the camera quality of the Win HD LTE.

Final Thoughts

If you have $229 and you are looking to purchase a mid-range Windows Phone device with a top quality feel and decent specifications, we recommend checking out the BLU Win HD LTE. This device is not only beautifully designed, but performs well too.

Keep in mind that this phone does not have Glance (a neat feature we have in Lumia devices), nor does it have NFC, a removable battery, or wireless charging option. However, the phone dues support Dual SIM, comes in a variety of color options, and runs/looks great for the price range it’s slotted for. If you are shopping for the best smartphone camera money can buy, the Win HD LTE is not for you. But if you are looking for a wallet-friendly Windows Phone device that has decent specs and an above-average camera, the Win HD LTE is definately for you.

Before you purchase this device, be mindful of what carrier it will work on. Turns out the phone is not compatible with Verizon, Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile. Instead, you will need to be on AT&T or T-Mobile to use voice and data. The Win HD LTE supports the following bands: 3G (850/1700/1900/2100) and 4G LTE (700/1700/2600).

Right now, you can purchase the Win HD LTE from the online Microsoft Store for $229. The device is unlocked allowing you to use it on supporting carriers without a contract. The only problem is carrier support. If you want to make phone calls or send/receive text massages, you will need to be on AT&T and T-Mobile.

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