For those that want a larger sized screen, but don’t want to shell out $600+ to get one, Blu offers up their Studio II 5.3 smartphone. At $229.99, the Studio II 5.3 offers up a good experience without breaking the bank. The Studio II 5.3 features a 5.3” qHD display, 8MP camera and a built in FM radio tuner, For the tech geek in all of us, the Studio II 5.3 has and ~208ppi pixel density on its 5.3” IPS LCD screen, an HSDPA 7.2 data radio and Bluetooth 3.0 certification.
The build of the Studio II 5.3 is decent. It is more than one would expect for the low $229.99 price tag. It has the vague feel of an older HTC device with a solid feel in hand, but I do worry about the quality of the seals and the fact that dust could become a problem over the course of time. The screen delivers excellent images and remarkably clear text for a 208ppi density. Overall, the build quality is very good.
The Studio II 5.3 features 512MB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. The internal storage can be expanded very easily by inserting a MicroSD card of 32GB or smaller. We strongly recommend going with the 32GB as your 8MP shooter will quickly fill up smaller cards. Last year, 512MB of RAM was still a monstrous amount of RAM, but going in to 2014, this might be considered more of a minimum than a decent amount. I suffered minimal lag with a few Apps running, but when I taxed the system with a few bigger Apps, there was a decent amount of lag in the device. That said, for the average user, checking email, running a game or two and browsing the web won’t do this device in.
The auto settings on the Blu Studio II 5.3 camera were far from spectacular, but with some minor tweaking, the 8MP shooter really came into its own. With the ability to capture images and video at the same time, the Studio II 5.3 offers some of the most advanced features found on devices today at a fraction of the cost. The front facing 2MP camera also did a decent job of capturing self portraits and offered a clear video image for video chatting.
Being in a refarmed 1900MHz area, the Studio II 5.3 performed beautifully on the Solavei network. With the HSPA 7.2 radio on board, average speeds were around 3 Mbps down and about 1.5 Mbps up. These were more than adequate for streaming Pandora and other music services, but struggled to keep pace with video streaming services like Netflix. If you don’t live in one of the refarmed 1900MHz areas, then the Studio II 5.3 will only receive 2G data speeds on Solavei.
Another performance bonus is that you are allowed to use 2 different SIM cards in the Studio II 5.3. This allows you to place your personal card in one slot and your business phone’s SIM in the second slot. While not many people worry about this, it is a nice feature to have build in, if and when you need it. It is also great for international travellers who might want to keep their US number in the device for emergencies and have a local SIM installed for the country they are visiting.
Solavei offers an exceptional non-contract value to its users. The Studio II 5.3 matches this great price on service with a very competitive handset at an excellent price. The $229.99 price tag puts the Studio II 5.3 at the bottom of the barrel in non-contract handsets, but the performance is mid-range at worst. The average user will enjoy the larger screen, the good camera and the ability to run all their favorite Apps from their choice of stores.
The Blu Studio II 5.3 offers the performance of a $450-500 phone at a price tag that is much lower. If you live in an area that T-Mobile has refarmed already, check out the Blu Studio II 5.3 as an option for a lower cost Solavei handset.