Just5 Blaster 2 budget smartphone review

Latvian brand Just5 is new to PC Advisor, but its Blaster 2 smartphone is pitched to directly compete with two of the best budget smartphones sold in the UK, the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 and the Samsung Galaxy Core Prime. We review the Just5 Blaster 2. Also see: Best budget phones 2015/2016.

Just5 Blaster 2 review: UK price and availability

The Blaster 2 comes from Just5, a Latvian brand that sells smartphones direct from its website. Prices are in Euros, and there's a 12 Euro (around £8.50) shipping charge to the UK, but you'll still find excellent value in its products.

The Blaster 2 costs 149 Euro (around £105), putting it in direct competition with the £109 Samsung Galaxy Core Prime and £125 Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 in the UK - especially given its dual-SIM 4G LTE capability.

Just5 Blaster 2 review: Build & design

As with other phones at this price point, the Blaster 2 is a plastic phone - but, despite its low price, it's not at all bad-looking. We particularly like the interchangeable rear covers, and you'll find black, white and yellow supplied in the box. Not only is the rear cover removable, but the generous 2700mAh battery is also. And below you'll find twin Micro-SIM slots and room for a microSD card. Also see: Best smartphones 2015/2016.

The Blaster 2 is a little creaky when pressure is applied in the hand, and fingerprints are an issue, but it doesn't feel overly vulnerable to damage.

The layout is standard for an Android phone, with a power switch and volume rocker on the right edge, a 3.5mm headphone jack at the top and Micro-USB at the bottom. The speaker is sadly rear-facing, while the home, back and recent buttons lie under the screen. These are visible at all times, but glow blue in use or while the phone is charging. Also see: Best MiFi 2016.

Just5 Blaster 2 review

As is often a telltale sign for budget smartphones, the Blaster 2 is quite chunky at 9.5mm, and heavy for a smartphone at 185g. But it feels comfortable in the hand, and we appreciate the way the rear camera lies flush with the case.

Just5 has fitted a 5in HD (1280x720) IPS panel with a pixel density of 294ppi. This is both larger and sharper than the 4.5in, 207ppi screen on the Samsung Galaxy Core Prime, although Vodafone has for not a lot more money been able to fit a larger- and higher-resolution still 5.5in full-HD panel with a 401ppi pixel density. Also see: Best Android phones 2015/2016.

The screen has several plus points. It's a useful size for consuming media or playing games, it has great viewing angles and it's sufficiently clear. The colours aren't bad either, although the screen is very dull even at maximum brightness.

Just5 Blaster 2 review

Just5 Blaster 2 review: Hardware & performance

The Blaster 2 is right up there with its Samsung and Vodafone rivals in terms of performance. Just5 has fitted it with a Smart Ultra 6-matching 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage (the Samsung Galaxy Core Prime has 1GB and 8GB respectively), and all three phones accept storage expansion via microSD. Also see all Android phone reviews.

However, each of these three budget smartphones use a different processor, which in our benchmarks left the Blaster 2 sitting in the middle of the pack (albeit with very little difference between the trio).

In Geekbench 3, which we use to measure overall performance, the 1.5GHz MediaTek MTK6732 quad-core chip inside the Blaster 2 powered it to a 2183-point score in the multi-core component, and 736 single-core. The Samsung Galaxy Core Prime, which uses a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 quad-core chip, here managed 1429- and 472 points respectively. And the Snapdragon 615 octa-core chip-wielding Smart Ultra 6 managed a score of 2469 points multi-core.

We also ran the Just5 Blaster 2 through AnTuTu, where it recorded 33,161 points.

Just5 Blaster 2 review

To measure graphics potential we use GFXBench's T-Rex and Manhattan onscreen tests. The three were once again on par, with the Blaster 2 recording 14- and 8fps respectively, the Core Prime 15- and 8fps, and the Smart Ultra 6 14- and 6fps.

In SunSpider, used to measure web-browsing performance, the Just5 budget phone led the way with 1202ms. In this test a lower score is better, meaning the Blaster 2 put the Samsung's 1400ms and Vodafone's 1545ms in the shade. You can compare the Just5 Blaster 2's performance to other Android phones we've tested in our article What's the fastest smartphone 2015.

Benchmarks are of course only part of the story, but we didn't find the Blaster 2 to be laggy in use. That's almost certainly due to the complete lack of bloatware stored on this device, which puts it an instant advantage over the Samsung and Vodafone alternatives.

The battery inside is a 2700mAh model and, like that of the Galaxy Core Prime, it's removable. It's a little lower in capacity than the Smart Ultra 6's 3000mAh battery, but significantly higher than the Samsung's 2000mAh. With nothing here that is likely to drain the battery, getting through a full working day should be easy. See all smartphone reviews.

Just5 Blaster 2 review

Just5 Blaster 2 review: Connectivity & extras

Extras aren't something you often get with budget phones, but the Blaster 2 has the advantage of being a dual-SIM phone (the Samsung and Vodafone models are both single-SIM). This works in dual-standby mode, although both Micro-SIM slots are capable of 4G LTE connectivity. Pleasingly, the Just5 covers all three LTE bands used in the UK (800MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz). Also see: Best dual-SIM phones 2015/2016 and How to check whether a phone is supported by your network.

There's no NFC or IR blaster, but you do get Bluetooth 4.0, GPS and 802.11n Wi-Fi.

Just5 Blaster 2 review

Just5 Blaster 2 review: Cameras

In common with the Smart Ultra 6, the Just5 Blaster 2 is fitted with a 13Mp rear camera with LED flash (also capable of full-HD video), and a 5Mp selfie camera. The Samsung, by comparison, has only 5Mp- and 2Mp cameras.

Various shooting modes are available, including Face beauty, Panorama, Live Photo and Multi-angle view. There's also face detection, smile shot and a 40-shot burst mode.

The photos from this phone, given the price, aren't bad. Colours are a little oversaturated, but we quite like the warm appearance this affords to photos. Viewed at 100 percent you can clearly see fuzzy edges to objects as much of the detail is lost. And you'll almost certainly want to default to HDR mode to help it pick out the details in light and dark areas - as you can see from our test shots below the HDR example (the second image) shows a vast improvement over Auto mode. Also see: Best phone camera 2015/2016.

Just5 Blaster 2 review

Just5 Blaster 2 review

Just5 Blaster 2 review: Software

The Just5 Blaster 2 comes with a very plain version of Android 5.0 Lollipop, which is no bad thing. You get the Nexus launcher with no bloatware slowing down the handset.

There is one addition, though, with smart wake up options allowing you to draw a C on the screen (in standby mode) to launch the camera, an E for the browser, M for music or O for phone. Fortunately you can swap these shortcuts, allowing us to, for example, swap the built-in browser for Chrome, and Music for Google Play Music.

Just5 Blaster 2 review

Read next: Best new phones coming in 2016

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Just5 Blaster 2: Specs

  • Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • black, white and yellow cases supplied in the box
  • 1.5GHz MediaTek MTK6732 quad-core 64-bit processor
  • ARM Mali-T760 MP2 500MHz GPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB storage
  • microSD up to 64GB
  • 5in HD (1280x720) IPS display
  • dual-SIM dual-standby (2x Micro-SIM)
  • 4G LTE (supports all three UK bands)
  • GPS
  • 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 13Mp rear camera, full-HD video at 30fps
  • 5Mp front camera
  • Micro-USB
  • 2700mAh removable battery
  • 144.5x71.6x9.5mm
  • 185g
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • black, white and yellow cases supplied in the box
  • 1.5GHz MediaTek MTK6732 quad-core 64-bit processor
  • ARM Mali-T760 MP2 500MHz GPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB storage
  • microSD up to 64GB
  • 5in HD (1280x720) IPS display
  • dual-SIM dual-standby (2x Micro-SIM)
  • 4G LTE (supports all three UK bands)
  • GPS
  • 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 13Mp rear camera, full-HD video at 30fps
  • 5Mp front camera
  • Micro-USB
  • 2700mAh removable battery
  • 144.5x71.6x9.5mm
  • 185g

OUR VERDICT

Although you can't just walk into a shop and buy it in the UK, this Just5 Blaster 2 is certainly a better budget buy than the Samsung Galaxy Core Prime. At around £105 it's no surprise to find a plastic build, but we appreciate the inclusion in the box of interchangeable colour covers. The screen is good, if a little dull, and performance is spot-on at this price point. The cameras are acceptable, and the software free of bloat. A good all-round budget option.

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