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The Little Smartphone That Can't
The Blu Tango is probably a smartphone that you haven't heard of. Blu is not a manufacturer that really comes to mind immediately when smartphones are discussed. In a world dominated by Samsung, Motorola, HTC, and LG, the smaller manufacturers easily disappear into the footnotes of time. Blu is also a relatively new manufacturer, based out of Miami and making their debut around 2009. The Blu Tango is an inexpensive, entry level, unlocked world phone, powered by Android. While price is an important thing to consider when choosing a smartphone, does the Blu Tango offer much for the price? Or in this case, is price not even a factor?
- Dimensions: 98.7 x 55 x 13 mm
- Weight: 94 g
- Display: 2.8 inch TFT resistive touchscreen display
- Memory: 512 MB expandable up to 32 GB MicroSD slot
- OS: Android OS 2.2
- Processor: 600 MHz
- Camera: 3.2 megapixel camera
- Connectivity: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
- Data: HSDPA 850 / 900
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth 2.1
- GPS: GPS with A-GPS
- Battery: Li-Ion 1200 mAh
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Design and DisplayRating
The Blu Tango looks and feel cheap, not only is it light in the hand, but there are some possible manufacturing defects on the Tango. For instance, there's a small bump at the top, which when felt can easily be identified. It doesn't add to the design and is most likely an error with the manufacturing. The back cover also comes off extremely easily, requiring very little effort to pop off the back.
The Blu Tango features a tiny 2.8 inch display, which is comparable to the screen on the Motorola Charm or Samsung Replenish. One thing to note, however, is that those aforementioned phones have a physical QWERTY keyboard, while the Blu Tango does not. This means the 2.8 inch display is very frustrating to use, especially the virtual keyboard. If you have larger hands, you begin covering a large amount of the display as you type.
Also, the display itself is not capacitive but rather resistive. Many people have forgotten the days of resistive screens, when you had to apply more pressure on the screen for it to react. This is, unsurprisingly, frustrating for users who have gotten used to capacitive touchscreens. You have to wonder if the display can continue to support the pressure that it will constantly be under, as the entire phone feels cheap.
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The Blu Tango leaves a lot to be desired from the user interface side of the house. As mentioned, the display is a resistive screen, meaning you have to apply pressure to get movement. It takes a bit of getting used to and will remind you of older generation smartphones. However, as it is running on Android, it is easy to learn and has a low learning curve once you get over the hurdle of the resistive screen.
The 2.8 inch screen is another reason why the user interface is hindered quite a bit. Unlike other smartphones with small displays such as the HP Veer, the Blu Tango doesn't have any physical interface, meaning all interaction is virtual. When typing on the virtual keyboard, the amount that is displayed becomes even smaller and trying to type and read becomes a frustrating adventure. Add in the resistive aspect of the display and using the Blu Tango becomes a major headache.
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The Blu Tango's 600 MHz processor is decent and runs a preloaded version of Android 2.2 fairly well. There were times where the Tango did lag, which was expected. At times, it seemed as though lag was the reason for the delay but it ended up being the resistive display not registering my movement. Some applications did force close quite often, which may have been due to the Blu Tango not being powerful enough to run the applications.
The call quality on the Tango was not decent, with both incoming and outgoing calls fairly hard to hear. People listening on the outgoing calls from the Blu Tango had a bit of a hard time hearing while in crowded areas, while incoming calls were not crystal clear either. It could have been the market that the unit was tested in, but there is a chance that the cheaper parts in the Tango could be the reason.
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The Blu Tango comes with the usual features associated with Android. Namely access to thousands of different applications, both available for free and at a price. One thing to note, however, is that the Tango did have a few problems with more memory intensive applications, lagging quite a bit, or in some cases, just force closing the application.
Rounding out the back of the Tango is a 3.2 megapixel camera which is decent for a cheap smartphone. It's a step up from the Samsung Replenish, though barely, and the pictures come out fairly decent. It's definitely not a digital camera replacement, but if you're in a rush and need the use of a camera immediately, the Tango is able to perform the job.
The Tango also does support Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS, so it actually becomes a cheap electronic device that covers a wide range of features. With a price point of less than $200, using the Blu Tango as a GPS device is also an option. It can also become a mobile hotspot, thanks to it running Android 2.2, but be wary of any extra fees that carriers may apply to use this feature.
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The Final VerdictRating
Overall the Blu Tango barely makes it to the 'Below Average' rating. The fact that it runs Android and has the features associated with Android keeps it afloat, above the 'Poor' rating. Blu is a new contender to the market and hopefully, they'll make more strides to enhance their smartphones. The Tango is definitely a poor showing as a smartphone in this ultra competitive market and, though the price is low for an unlocked smartphone, you have to wonder if the pains are worth it. If you're looking for a GSM unlocked world phone for a cheap price, then the Blu Tango may be an option, but there are other entry level smartphones such as the LG Optimus U or C that can easily blow the Tango out of the water.
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- Source: Author's experience.
- Image Credits: Blu Products, http://www.bluproducts.com/p-tango.html