As March gets underway we’re in that time of year that I always find to be quite interesting. That is to say it’s more or less “new phone season” as many handset makers trot out flagships and high-end devices for the coming months.
Things have been slowly changing over the years and US consumers are more educated than ever. Further, they understand that they have more choice then they thought. Buying an unlocked phone is no longer as taboo or confusing as it was in the early days of Android.
With that said, the phone space is a becoming a more crowded one than ever before. Looking at 2022 I’ve noticed I’ve noticed that we’ve received more “new” names here at the office. Companies like Xiaomi, realme, and POCO have sent us phones for review whereas previously they didn’t seem to be making the play for a global audience. If anything, they didn’t seem to care all that much for the US market.
Naturally, one looks at that price and assumes that this model is anything but a flagship. Surely it’s just another entry-level experience that offers up little more than the essentials, right? As it turns out, there’s quite a bit of hardware under the hood and the overall package might surprise a few readers.
BLU G91 Max Specifications
- 6.8-inch Full HD+ Infinity Dot Display
- MediaTek Helio G95 octa-core processor
- 8GB RAM
- 128GB Storage
- Quad AI 108-megapixel rear camera setup
- 16-megapixel front-facing camera
- 5,000mAh battery with 10W wireless charging and power sharing
- Fingerprint reader and Face ID unlocking
- Android 11
Taking a Closer Look
Take a look at that list of hardware and you’ll see there’s quite the value proposition at just $250. And if you were lucky enough to pick one of these up for $150 upon launch, you damn near stole it.
For a large segment of the population, cutting edge features matter little. For every high-end mobile gamer you find, I wager there’s 10 people who just want to stay connected and take a random picture for social media here and there.
If you’re a heavier user, or dig deeper into the details, you’ll surely find a few threads to tug on here. For instance, while the BLU G91 Max has an impressive 8GB RAM, a typical 2022 flagship might have not only more memory, but a faster type of memory. And it’s distinctions like this where I envision a flow-chart of sorts.
Don’t know what I am talking about when I mention LPDDR5? You’ll be fine to keep considering the BLU phone. Those who do understand the difference tend to know whether it matters to their daily usage and can decide whether the juice is worth the squeeze.
Similarly, the 5,000mAh battery is a massive one to be sure, but its wireless charging speeds are limited to 10W and its overall charging is capped at 18W when plugged into a wall. By comparisons, pricier phones have faster speeds, sometimes in excess of 60W. But, if you’re the type of person who barely has to charge their phone, or only plugs it in at night, you won’t care that much.
Lastly, before moving on, we might talk about the Full HD+ display, which is measured at 2460 x 1080 pixel resolution with 396 pixels per inch. Do you know what the resolution is in, say, a Samsung Galaxy S20? It’s 3200 x 1440 pixels at 563 pixels per inch. Moreover, can you recognize the difference when browsing Instagram and sharing memes? I suspect many readers do not.
Phones were already powerful and fast, outpacing the needs of the masses. Over the last few generations of devices we’ve seen implementation of cool stuff like higher refresh rates and touch sampling rates. If you’ve ever had the chance to use a phone with 120Hz or 144Hz refresh rate, you surely notice how buttery smooth it is in places.
The BLU G91 Max is the sort of phone that ticks most of the boxes that matter to average consumers. That is to say it has a large screen, long-lasting battery, better than average camera, and semi-recent software. It stops just short, though, of adding the “frills” and extra details that come with pricier phones.
What is it Like to Use the BLU G91 Max?
The short answer to this question is that it’s enjoyable and familiar. As someone who likes the “stock Android” experience, I appreciate when phone makers get out of the way and leave things alone. BLU does that here, leaving things fairly lean and clean.
One thing worth noting here is that the phone runs Android 11 with the most recent software update being from December, 2021. With chatter already starting for Android 13 it’s easy to pick at this seam and view this handset as “outdated”.
Would it be nice to have Android 12 here? Sure. Does its target user base know what’s missing out on, though? Probably not. It would be nice if BLU were to make an announcement or pledge at least one update just for the peace of mind in not feeling like you’re buying yesterday’s phone.
There are a handful of apps and games pre-installed on the phone, some of which are fairly popular and likely to be downloaded by the user in the long run. Among those are TikTok, Pandora, Solitaire, Wish, and SHEIN. There’s also a “Games” client which recommends a number of other games for installation.
Along the same line, the facial recognition and unlocking is incredibly simple to setup. And as for getting into your device, it’s lightning quick.
As far as personalization goes, there’s not as much here visually so much as gestures and interfacing. I suspect that part of that comes with not having the Material You extras that come with Android 12. Nevertheless, if you spend a few minutes on the first day of owning this one, you’ll have it feeling very much like “you” in how it operates.
What about the G91 Max Design?
Physically, the BLU G91 Max feels great in the hand, if not a little soft or slippery to the touch. Taller than the Google Pixel 6, it’s also a smidge thinner. As someone with a tad smaller hand I appreciate the 20:9 aspect ratio quite a bit.
Similarly, I kind of dig it when phone makers put the power button and fingerprint reader in the same spot. Setting up the fingerprint takes but a few moments and it makes it easy to hop right into action.
Whereas most phones have the power and volume buttons on the same side of the device the G91 Max splits them up. It might take a little getting used to if you’re coming from another phone.
As a whole, the G91 Max doesn’t stray from any standard phone designs. It’s gently curved in the normal spots and sits nicely in the hand and has a flat display with minimal bezels. The SIM card slot is located above the volume buttons with the bottom edge housing the charging port, speaker, and 3.5mm headphone jack.
The screen is generously sized and has a rather respectable image with high contrast and sharp colors. It’s also fairly easy to see when outside; that’s not always the case when dealing with phones in this price point.
Sound could be louder when watching videos or on speakerphone calls and the single speaker on the bottom edge can be easily muffled or covered. With that said, I don’t always find myself playing music loudly or viewing long-form videos.
Bonus points are awarded for the inclusion of the headphone jack. Sure, plenty of people have already decided that they don’t need this port, or have moved on to wireless options, but not me. I still appreciate that it is part of the experience.
The review unit we received was the Spectrum Grey; however, there’s a Sky Blue option available, too. If I were to describe the color it’s like a dark grey at the bottom, transitioning into a silver up near the top third. It’s subtle, but it’s better than a standard flat color.
In the box is a rugged-like protective case that hides all those little curves and design choices. If you wanna show off the color and aesthetics, you’ll have to look for a third party case. That said, BLU was one of the first phone makers to even bother to include a case so it’s nice to see them continue that tradition forward. Oh, and they also throw in a pair of earbuds, too.
How about the camera?
Typically, the Pixel line is my personal benchmark for the camera experience. If I am testing a handset, I’ll usually carry my Google phone with me, too, just in the event I want to capture something specific. That’s largely because I have come to trust that my Pixel is going to get the best result and I have not come to trust the other device.
Things changed a bit for me with the Pixel 6 as it doesn’t deliver that all-around perfect shot using dead simple software. I feel like I took a step backwards with results. I’ve become a little more forgiving in my shots as other phones in the $500+ space seem to deliver something on par.
The G91 Max surprised me with its camera, offering up better than average results. What’s more, the app was easy to use and there’s a whole array of features to play with.
I like the idea of just opening up a camera and snapping more than toggling settings and fooling with filters. This phone does make it easy to open, point, and shoot, but it has a fairly robust suite of extras, too. If you like to punch up pictures with different filters or color palettes, you’ll enjoy what’s on offer.
Additionally, there are modes for time lapse, panorama, slow motion, macro, night, and creating gifs. The 128MP one, for its part, does capture a decent shot but its file sizes are often in excess of 25MBs and the pictures take 2-3 seconds to save. It’s certainly not an “everyday” mode, but it’s here. The same goes for 4K video capture or Pro mode. I don’t use them all that often but it’s nice to know that they exist for those who do.
As a whole, I feel like the G91 Max captures an accurate image. It didn’t take me too long to trust the phone and understand its capabilities. Given that most of my photos are viewed on a phone now, they look about as good as I would hope and I’ve not had to do much retouching or discarding of poor results.
What About Overall Performance?
Thanks to the MediaTek Helio G95 processor and 8GB RAM there’s more than enough power to satisfy my needs. I’m a gamer from time to time, a social media stalker, task manager, and message sender.
I often find that I have to “test” a device with more rigorous activities to see when they stutter or slip up. That’s because I’m not an overly demanding user. The stuff that I do on a day-to-day basis is no challenge for this phone and I don’t see that really changing a year or more down the road.
I imagine that the people who spend $400 or less on a phone are much like me. To that end, the G91 Max should not only deliver on their expectations, but it will leave some money in the bank, too.
The 5,000mAh battery is a generous one that doesn’t dwindle quickly. Thanks to the mid-range processor and “lower-resolution” screen I find that I can go around two days before I start getting anxious about battery life.
When it comes time to charge, the 18W quick charging keeps me from being plugged in very long. I might have spoiled myself with other, pricier phones and their charging speed but this still beats what we had just a few years back.
Wireless charging and reverse wireless charging are two features we don’t often see in lower-priced devices but we get both of them here. How can you be mad at that?
Do I miss the 5G connectivity? No, not really. The 4G LTE speeds are just as good for me in 2022 as they were in 2020, if not better. Having the next-gen network support would be nice, but it’s still not necessary.
If you’re fortunate enough to have gotten off the treadmill of device payments or long-term commitments, you know how nice it is to buy a phone outright. Buying unlocked is the way to go for most people, but many of them just don’t know it yet.
Once you get into buying an unlocked phone, you realize there’s an awful lot out there, and for less money than you’d think. BLU has been dining out on that concept for a long time now, and seems to do a great job of finding the “sweet spot” for entry-level and mid-level consumer needs.
I really like the BLU G91 Max, especially for its price. Currently one can find it at Amazon for as low as $229. With benchmarks that rival the Samsung Galaxy A52 and Xiaomi Note 10S, it’s a great value proposition.
The unlocked phone space has become increasingly more crowded and 2022 looks to be no different with realme, POCO, Xiaomi, and other players making a bigger play for the US market. How will the BLU brand do?
I suspect that as more consumers come to trust these less-familiar companies, BLU can do well for itself. It’s a brand that’s been around long enough and has been seen in places like Amazon and Best Buy consistently enough to make people feel at ease.
If you are currently subscribed to AT&T, T-Mobile, or one of their respective prepaid and MVNO labels, the G91 Max will work just fine for you. And if you’re looking for a great all-around, no-frills experience that doesn’t cost very much, it’s one worth considering.
Learn more about the G91 Max and other models at the BLU website or head to Amazon to purchase one today.