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I call it 'Blu' steel: A look at Blu's first all-metal phone (hands-on)

The Blu Vivo 5 is the company's first aluminum unibody handset, and it comes in at a shockingly low price.

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The Blu Vivo 5 is one of those phones that's better in person than it is on paper. The first all-metal handset from Miami-based Blu has decent hardware specs and generic good looks (OK, OK, so it's made of aluminum and not steel, but I can't ever pass up a "Zoolander" reference.) But what I really liked was its fresh take on Google's Android software -- you really need to watch the video to get the feel. Not everyone likes a custom skin, but I do give it points for being different.

The Android phone starts selling in February for $200 (roughly £135 or AU$285), which really does push the low-cost envelope.

Blu is all about the value buy, and the devices that bear its name tend to swing low on the hardware spectrum as well as price. Although it's stationed in the US, Latin America is one of the company's largest markets, though it's more aggressively pushing US sales through Amazon and BestBuy.com.

The metal build is the Vivo 5's biggest identifying feature, though it also includes a 13-megapixel camera and a 5-megapixel front lens for snapping self-portraits. I'm a little concerned about the screen quality during day-to-day use; its pixel resolution is two steps lower than what's used on many high-end phones of this size, but that's a trade-off that makes the low price possible.

The Vivo 5 comes in two shades: white-silver or solid gold. Blu's Vivo XL is an even cheaper version with almost identical specs, but a plastic housing rather than metal.

Hardware specs:

  • 5.5-inch 1,280 x 720-pixel AMOLED display
  • Android 5.1 Lollipop (upgradable to Android 6.0 Marshmallow)
  • 13-megapixel rear camera, 1080p HD video capture
  • 5-megapixel front-facing camera
  • 1.3 GHz octa-core Mediatek 6753 processor
  • 32GB internal storage, 3GB RAM
  • Dual-SIM card slots
  • 3,150mAh nonremovable battery

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