Despite the ads, this $50 smartphone from BLU is a pretty sweet deal


I am continuously finding myself impressed with the amount of quality, affordable phones on the market. It wasn’t too long ago that cheap phones were widely known to be “last resort” status, and most of the time they were unreliable at best. Today, however, there is a big push to make good, affordable smartphones the new norm.

Typically, “affordable” and “decent” phones usually ends up priced somewhere in the $100-$300 range. However, a recent deal from Amazon puts a remarkably cheaper option on the table with the BLU R1 HD. Amazon is selling the R1 HD, which has specs on par with the Moto G, for an amazingly low $50 – but there is a catch.

You see, the BLU R1 HD itself retails for $100. Even at $100, it’s a great price for a phone that’s comparable with the beloved Moto G. However, if you want a really cheap phone, Amazon will shave off half of the price in exchange for ad placements on your lock screen. For some, it sounds like a terrible deal. For others, not so much.


I was initially pretty repulsed by the idea. Actually, I’m still not much of a fan – but I realized that I actually took the same deal for my Kindle Fire HD 7 for a lot less money. For a mere $15 price difference, I agreed to have advertisements on my lock screen (although if I later decided I didn’t want them, I can pay the $15 difference to remove the ads). I’ve had that tablet for a year, and I’ve not yet been tempted to remove the ads. A big reason for that is probably because the tablet is mostly used by my son, who doesn’t care much for customization, and is actually quite amused by the different ads that show up.

However, there’s a big difference between having ads on a tablet that I hardly ever look at and having them on a phone that’s unlocked multiple times a day. On my own daily driver, I actually enjoy personalizing the lock screen to be aesthetically pleasing – I mean, I have to look at it several times a day, so you’d presumably want something nice to look at, right? On the other hand, you only look at it for a few seconds before moving on to something else, and the times that I do use the Amazon tablet, I hardly give the ad a second thought. It’s very easy to block out. I could just as easily see somebody deciding that $50 in the pocket is worth more than a personalized lock screen. Plus, a $50 smartphone (that actually works decent for the basics) sounds like a pretty sweet deal.

In fact, I would say that Amazon actually offers users a better deal for those who would rather have a bit more power in their smartphone. For just $10 more, you can get double the storage and double the RAM with the BLU R1 HD, which in my opinion is a much better deal than the $49 version.


Additionally, Amazon also offers the 4th generation Moto G for $149.99 with the same catch. The Moto G, which will retail for $200, could cost $50 less if you’re willing to accept the ad placements.

As I mentioned before, I think “ad placements” on a smartphone sounds a lot worse than it is. I remember being skeptical about allowing the ads on my Kindle, but they’re definitely not as invasive as I thought they would be. Plus, it’s allegedly possible to bypass the advertisement lock screen by using a third party lock screen app from the Play Store, so there’s that.

Both devices are currently available for pre-order to Amazon Prime subscribers only, and will begin shipping on July 12th.

Readers, what are your thoughts on this latest deal? In this game of “Would You Rather”, would you spring for the ads or pay the $50 to avoid them?