LAS VEGAS -- If you've never heard of the phone maker Blu, its enormous metal, 6-inch Blu Pure XL will make you take notice.
The Miami-based company typically sells most of its inexpensive Android handsets in Latin America, but has also slowly and quietly built up a national presence in big retail chains Target and Walmart. The Pure XL will similarly sell straight to buyers beginning September 29, for a very inexpensive $350.
Blu is one of many handset makers bucking the well-worn path of selling phones through a carrier by selling to customers themselves, and leaving the middleman behind. Instead, it's joining the ranks of both better-known brands -- like Apple -- and complete startups that are making it possible to purchase handsets from the vendor itself. For Blu and others, that's one way to lower the phone's price.
XL, without a doubt
The Blue Pure XL is a huge phone, with a 6-inch screen and 2,560x1,440-pixel resolution. It was far too big for my hands, and I had a hard time holding it one-handed while trying to shoot video or take photos. Some people love the largest display they can get and this is about the most expansive we've seen in a long time -- though still shrimpy compared to these nearly.
That said, the dark gray or gold handset has a couple of interesting features, including a recessed fingerprint reader on the back and a physical camera shutter button along the side that can both launch the camera and take a photo.
Speaking of cameras, the XL has a big 24-megapixel shooter as well as a front-facing 8-megapixel sensor. I didn't get much of a chance to evaluate photos in the poorly lit conference hall, so it's hard to say how that quality compares to those of much pricier phones.
Inside, the Pure XL houses a 2.0GHz octa-core processor made by MediaTek (the 64-bit MediaTek Helio X10, to be exact) and comes equipped with a 3,500mAh battery that boasts faster charging than a typical phone (we're seeing a lot of that these days, and it's very helpful). It wisely comes with 64GB of storage.
Will it sell?
At $300 less than the leading, which retails for about $650, Blu is pricing this oversize alternative flagship to sell. On paper, it sure has all the specs you'd want in a high-end handset, though real-world performance is key.
Because of its size, this Pure XL isn't a mainstream device, and it's starting to see a great amount of competition in the direct-to-consumer space by more globally-entrenched companies like Motorola, Alcatel and Huawei, to name a few.
However, the low cost and company's relationship with Target and Walmart mean that it's sure to get some attention, at the very least for its extra-large size and impressive-sounding specs.