12.5 C
New York
Monday, September 27, 2021
HomeReviewsBlu G91 Pro review: Three steps forward, two steps back

Blu G91 Pro review: Three steps forward, two steps back

Blu continues on its quest to deliver gaming phones in a highly affordable package. At $249, the Blu G91 Pro looks set to offer a lot of value for budget mobile gamers, but it’s missing some features you’d expect from a traditional gaming phone. Can Blu make up for it with a competitive price-performance ratio and some notable upgrades over its predecessor? Find out more in Android Authority’s Blu G91 Pro review.


$249
.00

Blu G91 Pro

Buy it Now

Blu G91 Pro

Buy it Now


$249
.00

About this Blu G91 Pro review: I tested the Blu G91 Pro for five days running Android 11 with a May 5, 2021 security patch. The G91 Pro review unit was provided to Android Authority by Blu for this review.

What you need to know about the Blu G91 Pro

Credit: Luke Pollack / Android Authority

  • Blu G91 Pro (6GB/128GB): $249

Following up on last year’s G90 Pro, the G91 Pro ships with the Mediatek Helio G90 processor, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage, which is expandable up to 256GB. The device ships in two colors: Graphite and Moonshine. In the box, you get the phone, a rubber case, a 30W charger, a tempered glass screen protector, 3.5mm headphones, and a USB-A to USB-C cable.

The device costs $249, but Blu is currently running a limited-time promotion for $100 off for early adopters. It’s not clear how long the deal will last, so if you’re interested in this phone, hop on the promotion fast. The G91 Pro aims to compete with phones such as the Moto G Power ($249), and the OnePlus Nord N200 ($240). The G91 Pro is currently available in the US, but Blu has yet to detail any plans for a global release.

How does the design hold up?

Man holding Blu G91 Pro in hand

Credit: Luke Pollack / Android Authority

Last year’s model, the G90 Pro, saw a pretty decent design for the time, and this year it’s no different. There have been some small upgrades over the previous model, but the most significant upgrade here is the new display. The G91 Pro comes with a 6.7-inch Full HD+ display. Its resolution is marginally better than last year’s G90 Pro, but the big difference here is the inclusion of the punch-hole camera. As a result, the screen feels more immersive. Keep in mind this is an LCD panel so it won’t have the deep blacks of an OLED screen. It’s also locked to 60Hz so don’t expect the most fluid animations. With those caveats in mind, it’s still a fairly good screen for a budget phone. Colors are accurate, contrast is good, and sharpness is great too. Thankfully this panel doesn’t suffer from any oversharpening effects that some other budget phone displays have.

The only other notable change is the camera module, which has been repositioned from the center over to the top left of the device. Instead of a singular candybar-like camera module, Blu opted for a square design more in line with current smartphone trends.

The back features a matte glass finish, while the sides are glossy plastic. The G91 Pro also includes a handy Google Assistant button on the left rail. It’s not customizable, though. All in all, the design is modern-looking enough. However, it’s quite thick and doesn’t compare to other budget devices like the OnePlus Nord N200 in overall build quality. The plastic build means the device feels cheap and it’s quite light, again making for a less premium feel in hand. You have to consider this device only costs $250, and at that price, there’s nothing particularly bad about this design — but the OnePlus Nord N200 has the same price tag, and that device simply looks and feels better.

There’s nothing bad about the design, but there are phones in the same price range that feel better.

The G91 Pro doesn’t have any official dust or waterproof resistance rating, but that’s to be expected in this price range. Blu was vague when we enquired about the durability of the glass, merely noting that it is produced by BOE Technology.

The G91 Pro also only has one single firing speaker. While it gets very loud, it’s easily covered when watching content, and it has some distortion at its loudest point. Thankfully, Blu included a 3.5mm headphone jack and some headphones in the box. That said, you will probably want to use your own set of headphones, as the included ones aren’t anything special.

What’s gaming like on the G91 Pro?

Man playing Genshin Impact on Blu G91 Pro

Credit: Luke Pollack / Android Authority

When you think of gaming phones, typically, you think of phones with high refresh rate displays, an active cooling system, and maybe adaptive triggers. The Blu G91 Pro doesn’t ship with any of those features. Does that mean the device performs poorly in gaming metrics? Not at all. Over the course of my time with the device, I tested 3D games such as Fortnite, Genshin Impact, and PUBG Mobile. In every game, the device performed admirably, with only a little lag here and there in high-action scenes.

In a bizarre turn, The G91 Pro sees a minor downgrade in chipset compared to the G90 Pro. For reasons unknown, Blu is shipping the G91 Pro with the Mediatek Helio G90 instead of the G90T. Both chips provide a considerable amount of power for a budget processor and the same Mali-G76 GPU, but a downgrade is still a downgrade. The Helio G90 falls just under chipsets like the Snapdragon 730, which powers the Google Pixel 4a. Considering this is marketed as a gaming phone, however, I would have liked to see games run at higher frame rates, as some titles such as Fortnite were locked to 30fps.

Gaming is surprisingly good, but there are some surprising downgrades to the hardware compared to the G91 Pro’s predecessor.

Even with the less performant processor, Blu did make a quality of life upgrade that should improve long-term performance over last year’s model. This device ships with 6GB of RAM vs the 4GB from the G90 Pro. It’s not a massive upgrade, but it’s a welcome one. To be clear, there probably won’t be a difference in actual in-game performance, however, the higher amount of RAM will give the phone a little extra headroom for applications and games that need extra memory.

Using the device when gaming proved to be an enjoyable experience; however, the phone did get warm to the touch when gaming for longer than an hour or so. It’s not in any way worrisome but is definitely something to consider if a continually cool experience matters to you. This is also a potential indicator that the phone may struggle with sustained performance with longer gaming sessions, though we didn’t encounter that issue. Keep in mind that this year Blu removed the liquid cooling design that last year’s G90 Pro had. To Blu’s credit, it informed us that the device was designed with a very specific layout without any processor and memory stacking to avoid heat. Nevertheless, this is an area where the G91 Pro feels more like a downgrade.

For those wondering about benchmarks, the G91 Pro performs just as well as you’d expect. In our own custom Speed Test G benchmark, the device completed the time test in three minutes and 31 seconds. On paper, these seem like pretty poor numbers for any device, but you have to remember, this is a $250 phone, and benchmarks don’t always dictate accurate performance. In this case, real-world use paints a far better picture.

Outside of gaming, day-to-day performance was solid. I didn’t experience any stuttering or lag, and moving in and around the OS was fluid.

Is the battery life any good?

Battery life of Blu G91 Pro

Credit: Luke Pollack / Android Authority

Blu makes some pretty aggressive claims about the battery life and charging times on the G91 Pro. The phone ships with a 5,000mAh battery, and Blu claims the battery will last three full days. Unfortunately, that’s simply not the case. Day-to-day usage sees the phone lasting into the second day, with about five to six hours of screen-on time. That’s not bad by any means, but as soon as you introduce heavy gaming or do any performance-intensive tasks, the phone dies very quickly. About an hour and a half of gaming easily takes the phone down to 50% from 100%. Still, my day-to-day, which consisted of social media browsing, light mobile gaming, some photography, and watching videos on YouTube, was not a huge challenge for the device.

For a gaming phone, battery life while gaming isn’t great.

For a gaming-centric device, I would have expected better overall battery life. If you’re not looking to game for long periods of time, then the device lasts well enough, but that begs the question, why are you buying a gaming phone if not to use it? Now, were the charging speeds incredibly fast like other gaming phones, I might be able to overlook the poorer performance; however, that isn’t the case. Blu makes some more slightly exaggerated claims, stating that the phone can power up from 0% to 50% in under 20 minutes. I wasn’t able to corroborate this claim, as with the included 30W fast charger, I could only charge up the phone from dead to 50% in about 35 minutes. That’s not a huge difference, but it’s not what Blu is advertising. The device also supports wireless charging at 10W which is a nice surprise given how rare a feature it is in this price bracket.

For a $250 phone, the battery life and charging speeds are very respectable. It just leaves a sour taste in the mouth when manufacturers make boldly unattainable claims.

See also: Charging habits to maximize battery life

How are the cameras?

Camera module of the Blu G91 Pro laying on red table

Credit: Luke Pollack / Android Authority

If you’ve been following Blu’s lineup, then you know that last year’s G90 Pro had some very lackluster cameras, to say the least. Thankfully, this year, Blu has drastically improved camera performance in a lot of ways.

Blu has moved away from the Sony IMX582 sensor, and the G91 Pro now ships with a Samsung GM1 48MP primary sensor. The images produced by the main shooter are far better than the G90 Pro. Specifically, the color science is far better on this sensor. Images are sharp, with good color and saturation, and grab focus almost immediately. That said, most images struggle with higher dynamic range scenes and often don’t retain detail in the highlights. There is an HDR mode that does a far better job of retaining highlight information, but unfortunately, this mode introduces an oversharpening effect that’s distracting. As a result, I chose to leave HDR off. There is a night mode, but low light images are very noisy and out of focus at times. I wouldn’t really recommend using the camera in very dimly lit environments.

Related: The best budget camera phones you can buy

HDR onHDR off
HDR on

HDR off

The 5MP ultra-wide camera isn’t nearly as good as the main sensor. Photos produced by this camera are far softer and lack a lot of detail. I also found that the color science wasn’t nearly as accurate, and colors were usually oversaturated in most shots, but not to an unpleasant degree. Blu did include a 2MP macro camera, but it isn’t anything to write home about. Honestly, it’s pretty hard to get a good macro photo in focus, and you would be better off using the primary sensor and getting closer to the subject.

The 16MP front-facing camera is actually pretty good. I was quite impressed by its better-than-average performance. Images tend to have a fair amount of good detail in both the highlights and shadows, and there isn’t a beauty or oversoftening effect included here, as with some other budget smartphones. Nevertheless, in portrait mode, the edge detection is not great, and you can clearly see it completely blurs out my ears. Overall the selfie camera is pretty solid, but Blu needs to work on the software side of things.

You can find high-res versions of each image here.

Anything else?

Blu G91 Pro sitting on white windowsill

Credit: Luke Pollack / Android Authority

  • UI: The Blu G91 Pro runs Android 11 in what is a relatively stock configuration. The UI is pleasant and there’s a fair amount of customization options, but it’s a shame you can’t alter the smart key. Also, just like previous Blu phones, the G91 Pro includes some bloatware. Apps like Candy Crush and TikTok are preinstalled but can be fully removed. There are also some weblink shortcuts on the home screen to pages like the weather channel and some web-based pinball games. Again, these can all be removed, but I would have liked never to have seen them in the first place.
  • Software support: Blu doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to software support, often only supplying one major OS upgrade. Unfortunately, it’s no different with the G91 Pro, and when asked Blu failed to give any information regarding security updates. The device ships with Android 11, so most likely it will receive an Android 12 update at some point in the future, but I wouldn’t count on multiple years of support.
  • Biometrics: The fingerprint sensor is housed on the top back center of the phone and is fast and accurate. I had no issues with it recognizing my fingerprint, and the setup process was swift. It looks like Blu fixed the problems that plagued the sensor on the G90 Pro. Blu also markets the G91 Pro with a “Face ID” feature. This sounds cool, but in reality, it’s just your standard Android face unlock feature. For what it’s worth, it works well, but it’s nothing new.
  • Haptics: The older Blu G90 Pro had pretty abysmal haptics. They were so bad in fact that we immediately turned them off during testing. Thankfully, the haptics on the G91 Pro are much improved. They are no longer distracting and you should expect a similar experience to any modern smartphone. Are they the best in the market? Well, no, but they are more than adequate.
  • No 5G support: Unfortunately, the G91 Pro is limited to only 4G LTE bands. While this isn’t uncommon at this price, it’s worth considering that the similarly-priced Nord N200 does support 5G.
  • Video: The G91 Pro can shoot video up to 4K at 30fps. It’s not amazing and the electronic image stabilization isn’t great, but overall it will get the job done in a pinch.
  • Security: Security has always been a bit of a sore spot for Blu. In the past, the company has had some less than trustworthy backdoors in its phones. Specifically, in 2016, Blu phones were found to be sending information back to a Chinese server. Blu did end up reaching a settlement with the FTC, but it’s still something to make note of. There haven’t been any controversies around security issues since 2017, but if security is absolutely paramount to you, a Blu device might not be the best choice.

Blu G91 Pro specs

Display 6.7-inch LCD
2,400 x 1,080 resolution (Full HD+)
395ppi
20:9 aspect ratio
60Hz refresh rate
SoC MediaTek Helio G90
Octa-core, 2.0GHz
2 Arm Cortex-A76 + 6 Arm Cortex-A55
GPU Mali G76
RAM 6GB
Storage 128GB
MicroSD up to 128GB
Cameras Rear:
– 48MP Sony Samsung GM1 sensor
– 5MP wide-angle at 115 degrees
– 2MP macro
– 2MP depth sensor

4k video recording at 30fps

Front:
– 16MP

Battery 5,000mAh
30W wired charging
10W wireless charging
USB-C
Headphone jack Yes
IP rating No
Sensors Fingerprint sensor
“AI” face ID
Network 3G: 850/900/1700/1900/2100
4G LTE: 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/28
Connectivity Bluetooth 5.0
Wi-Fi 2.4/5GHz (a/b/g/n)
Mobile hotspot
SIM Dual SIM
Software Android 11
Dimensions and weight 162.9 x 77 x 10.1mm
215g
Colors Moonstone, Graphite

Value and competition

Blu G91 Pro
Blu G91 Pro

The Blu G91 Pro packages a large 5,000mAh battery, a powerful Mediatek Helio G90 processor, and a 6.7-inch Full HD+ display into an affordable price.

  • $249 at Amazon

The sub-$250 phone market is a tough one to play in, and Blu has its work cut out for it. In this space, phones like the OnePlus Nord N200 ($240) or the Motorola G Power ($249) offer nearly identical experiences at a very similar price point. An argument for the OnePlus Nord N200 — that phone features a slightly faster Snapdragon 480 processor, a 90Hz display, and 5G support, but only has 4GB of RAM. On the other hand, the Motorola G Power features an older Snapdragon 665 processor with 4GB of RAM but offers better battery life than the Blu G91 Pro.

Check out: The best budget phones you can buy

Also, I’d be remiss not to include the now older Google Pixel 4a ($349), which provides a great experience across the board and only costs $100 extra. That phone features the Snapdragon 730G, which outperforms the G91 Pro’s Mediatek Helio G90. Even though it’s not a gaming phone, expect to see similar performance and a far better camera experience due to Google’s computational photography expertise.

On the whole, the G91 Pro still offers a pretty decent value proposition to new buyers. Yes, it’s missing staple gaming phone features, but its overall performance hangs with the competition. Furthermore, its software and cameras aren’t half bad either, making for an even more compelling argument. That said, if you’re willing to spend more money, the Pixel 4a is a better phone in almost every sense and the Nord N200 is a compelling alternative for those on a budget.

Blu G91 Pro review: The verdict

Blu G91 Pro sitting on a yellow and blue background

Credit: Luke Pollack / Android Authority

The G91 Pro kind of surprised me. I wasn’t expecting such a capable device, especially given Blu’s checkered past with quality and security. That said, the Blu G91 Pro is still a confusing phone. While Blu’s marketing pushes heavily on gaming power, gaming performance feels less prioritized than last year’s model. This, coupled with the less than stellar battery life, makes the device feel less like a gaming phone and more like a standard budget phone that can play games relatively well.

The G91 Pro feels more like a standard budget phone than a gaming-centric device, but it’s a capable one.

Nevertheless, it’s a pleasant surprise to see some needed quality of life upgrades over the older model. The inclusion of 6GB of RAM instead of 4GB, far better camera performance, and an improved display give me confidence that Blu is taking notes. These upgrades amount to a well-rounded device that does everything you would need it to at this price point. If you’re looking for a gaming “focused” phone, then the G91 Pro will get the job done. Just make sure to carry an external battery if you plan on gaming for a while.

- Advertisment -

Latest