Although gaming smartphones have a habit of filling out spec sheets, they also have a habit of carrying high price tags. Take the ROG Phone 3, which starts at around $1,000. Blu looks to shake things up with the G90 Pro, a gaming smartphone that promises to deliver gaming chops at a sub-$250 price.
It’s a solid proposition, particularly during a time when buying smartphones has taken a step back to living through a pandemic. That said, let’s take a look and see if the G90 Pro is worth your time and money in our review.
Disclaimer: This review was written following several weeks with the Blu G90 Pro. Blu provided no compensation for this review. Blu provided the G90 Pro for review, but was not provided with copy approval rights or an early preview of this review.
Here’s what I liked
The good news is there’s plenty to like about the G90 Pro, so let’s see what the phone is cooking with.
The G90 Pro features a large 6.5-inch IPS display with Full HD+ resolution and a 19:9 aspect ratio. There’s a notch at the top, but it didn’t distract me much when using the phone.
Although I would have preferred an OLED display and high refresh rate, the display on the G90 Pro is more than good enough. Colors are rich, text and images look sharp, and touch responsiveness is good.
The G90 Pro is advertised as a gaming smartphone, and I’m happy to say it delivers on the advertisement.
The phone features the MediaTek Helio G90T processor, Mali-G76 GPU, and 4GB of RAM. From Call of Duty Mobile and PUBG Mobile to Pokemon Go and Alto’s Odyssey, the G90 Pro handled just about every game I threw at it.
The solid performance also translated to general use, though it could use some ironing out in certain spots. General use was overall good, though the phone was a bit choppy when using Chrome. To be fair, the Chrome browser on Android is notorious for not being the smoothest app around.
Overall, I’m happy with the G90 Pro’s performance. While I would have been happier with more RAM, performance generally wasn’t an issue with the phone.
The G90 Pro comes with a huge 5,100mAh battery. It was more than enough to get me through a day and then some, though you should expect less battery life if you spend more time gaming.
It should be noted these are weird times we live in. Because I’m at home most of the time, the G90 Pro was mostly connected to Wi-Fi. As such, the battery didn’t drain as fast as it would have if it was mostly connected to just cellular data.
Nonetheless, the G90 Pro will last you a good deal of time before it gives up the ghost.
Say whatever you want about Blu as a company, but you can’t say it skimps on value.
When I opened the G90 Pro box, I was greeted by the phone itself, a wall adapter, a charging cable, a case, earbuds, a Blu sticker, and even a glass screen protector specifically-made for the G90 Pro. Before you even power on the G90 Pro for the first time, you have everything you need.
With other phone companies taking things away from phone boxes, it’s refreshing to see Blu include so many accessories with its phones. In other words, the G90 Pro doesn’t have any hidden costs associated with it.
Here’s what I didn’t like
The G90 Pro has much going for it, but Blu had to make some concessions to get the phone under $250.
Poor camera performance
The G90 Pro comes with four cameras: a 48MP primary sensor, an 8MP wide-angle sensor, a 2MP depth sensor, and a 2MP macro sensor.
I’ll give Blu credit for versatility, but not much more than that. Even in good lighting conditions, I had a hard time grabbing good pictures from any of the cameras. Photo subjects came out blurry, colors were washed out, and bright spots were frequently blown out.
I had similar issues with the 32MP front-facing camera. Even in good lighting conditions, whites were blown out and images didn’t retain a good deal of sharpness.
The funny thing is the HDR mode dramatically improved the image quality from the primary sensor. Colors were more saturated and accurate with HDR enabled, and highlights were better maintained.
Unfortunately, the HDR mode is buried in a menu within the camera app. I wish the mode was turned on by default or at least presented front and center, seeing how it makes that much of a difference with image quality.
Poor haptics and speaker
The G90 Pro’s haptics are bad. Like, really bad. The Pixel 3 XL and Pixel 3A XL have shown me good, if great, haptics are possible in Android smartphones.
Unfortunately, the G90 Pro doesn’t hold a candle to the Pixel phones in terms of haptics. The vibration motor feels hollow and mushy. I have to keep the sound up in order for me to notice an incoming call, since solely relying on the haptics meant I had missed several calls.
Also poor is the single bottom-firing speaker. It was easy to cover up while playing games and sounded tinny when playing music. I can just use the headphone jack, but then there’s the next issue of…
Software needs tweaking
I find Blu’s Android skin inoffensive. I prefer Google’s cleaner take on Android, but Blu’s software skin doesn’t get in the way and doesn’t bog down the system.
That said, it definitely needs an update or two. The volume options are not as granular as on other phones. That means playing music through headphones is either really quiet or really loud. Blu needs to add more granular steps to the volume.
Then there’s the bloatware. The G90 Pro came pre-installed with apps like TikTok, VivaLive TV, Candy Crush Soda, and more. There’s also the weird shortcuts to Bing and Yahoo. I easily removed all of them, but it’s something to keep in mind.
When it comes to gaming smartphones, there are two questions to keep in mind: 1) If they play games well, and 2) If they’re overall good smartphones.
The G90 Pro is a curious beast, since the answers are mixed. It plays games well and battery life is great, but it swings and misses on camera and speaker quality.
Then I’m reminded of the G90 Pro’s current $220 price tag. It’s hard to be incredibly harsh against a phone that delivers this much value at such a relatively low price.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check your expectations with the G90 Pro. However, it also means it will satisfy your needs for a cheap gaming phone in the horrible year that is 2020.
The Blu G90 Pro is available for purchase from Amazon.
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Williams Pelegrin is a Managing Editor for Back to the Gaming. When he’s not writing up news, he’s talking a walk around the neighborhood with his wife and his dog. Either that, or drinking a cup of hot chocolate. Or both.