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Is Amazon Prime's $50 Blu R1 HD worth it for buyers?

This phone from little-known brand Blu is one of two that Amazon is offering Prime members at a steep discount. Here's what you can expect from the ad-supported phone.

It's hard to say without seeing the phone and feeling it in my hands if the Blu R1 HD that Amazon is selling for $50 -- half-off its retail price -- is a good deal for Amazon Prime buyers (you can also get the Moto G4 for $150).

But specs do indicate what you might expect from a phone, so with that in mind, let's dig on in.


Amazon's two ad-supported phones for Prime members Moto G, left, and BLU R1 HD.


The Blu R1 HD has:

  • 5-inch screen
  • 8-megapixel rear camera with flash
  • Aluminum body
  • 1.3 GHz quad-core processor
  • 8/16GB internal storage with 1/2GB RAM (two capacities) -- 16GB version costs $60
  • Up to 64GB with a microSD card
  • GSM technology, so it will work with AT&T and T-Mobile

These are low-end specs that suggest basic performance. At the very least, $50 is a tempting deal for anyone looking for a cheap smartphone that does the essentials, a cost-effective pick, say, for your tweenager's first phone, or a handset you're loaning overseas guests when they visit, or maybe even a backup to stash in the car for emergencies. These cheapies have their uses.

What's this about ads?

The larger question in my mind is how well can you deal with Amazon running ads all over the screen? This is part of the deal: a cheap phone in exchange for a lifetime of ads. I haven't seen this in action yet (but I did request getting this phone in for testing), so it isn't clear how invasive the ads are on the phone's 5-inch screen, and how often you may accidentally press one.

I don't like ads myself, so in my mind, paying $50 more for a phone like this is still a bargain. That said, over time, it might be easy enough to tune them out.

Who's Blu?

If you don't know Blu, don't worry. The Miami-based company has quietly been around under the radar for years, mostly selling its inexpensive, dual-SIM handsets in South America, though it's broadening its presence in the US through direct sales and retail deals like this one with Amazon.

Blu distributes a range of handsets from entry-level phones to aluminum rigs housing higher-end specs. Check out this $200 Blu Vivo 5 we saw earlier this year.

Where to Buy

Blu R1 HD (8 GB)

See all prices

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