The Blu R1 HD is the best "smartphone" experience you can get for $100, but it comes with some major caveats.
The Blu R1 HD goes for as low as $100 unlocked on its own, but that can go down to just $50 if you’re an Amazon Prime member. That’s a good bargain, but if you get the higher-end model that costs $10 more, you get a totally competent performer that doesn’t feel totally cheap and has a bright, 5-inch, 720p display.
The catch with that “Prime-exclusive” deal is you have to put up with a torrent of Amazon-sponsored bloatware and lock-screen ads. Yes, actual ads on your lock screen, as in, your phone becomes a pocket billboard every time you turn it on. You might hate what this stands for, or you might learn to live with it. Either way, this is the phone to get if you want to pay as little as possible.
However — and this is a big however — there’s another reason to weigh your options. The New York Times reported in November that the R1 HD, along with a few other cheaper, little-known Android phones, was left open to a security flaw that allowed text messages, location info, and other personal info to be sent to a server in China. Blu has since patched the flaw, and says the R1 HD is no longer at risk. It stays on this list because of the patch, but know that holes like that are never too far away from inexpensive Android phones and smaller OEMs. If you can afford to take a step up, do so.
Check our full review for more.