BLU Samba W (Q170W) Quad Band GSM Phone Review

Continuing on my cheap GSM phone binge, I’ve acquired a BLU Samba W.

The Samba W
The Samba W

There is very little information on the Samba W out there (of which some of the information is just downright incorrect) so I’ll try to start from the ground up. Even BLU’s website displays the phone but doesn’t let you click on it, nor does it appear to have a similarly named page as its other phones that you can’t guess the URL.

The literature suggests that it was released only a few months ago in August 2013. Obviously phones of this dumb class don’t proliferate as quickly as the iPhones. Here are some highlights:

  • WiFi (b,g,n)
  • Quad Band GSM + GPRS + EDGE
  • Built in Opera Browser (!)
  • SMS AND MMS
  • 1.3 Megapixel Camera (much pixels)
  • Runs some sort of “Java” application (not sure if that’s just plainly wrong marketing speak or what)
  • 2 SIMS (I actually cannot find the one SIM version)
  • microSD card slot (up to 8GB, though literature claims 32GB but my 16GB had problems)
  • microUSB charging slot
  • 3.5mm headphone out
  • Full real keyboard
  • Some vague social media support
  • YouTube App
IMG_0461
As you can see, the screen fingerprints easily.

A bit about my setup: I’m using H2O Wireless, a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) of AT&T. I use them because they have the best prepaid plan in the US (as far as I can find), which includes $0.05/min calls, $0.05/sms, $0.05/MB data AND with only a $10 top up, you extend your service plan 90 days.

IMG_0462
The width when compared with a second gen iPod touch.

To clarify: 200 minutes over 90 days for $10. Compare that with T-Mobile prepaid and you get 30 minutes for $10 over 90 days. Not to mention you have access to a better network.

Some bad news:

  • Ships in Spanish. You may need to know a little Spanish to get it working (idioma means language ;)
  • Use of social media features requires BLU Club support. Downloading BLU Club requires support from the carrier. The tech told me that AT&T does support BLU Club in the US. BLU Club cannot be downloaded over WiFi. Until the point that I steal an AT&T SIM I cannot rate those applications.
  • Internet is slow. And when I say slow, be prepared to wait for about 20 seconds for a 1 KB page of only text to load over EDGE.
  • Browser is a near clone of the crap they used to ship with phones before Apple did better.
  • Keyboard is handy but can be annoying to type things like cell phone numbers. No doubt with a little practice you could become a ninja.
  • The OS is still based off the damn Chinese phone OS that requires “Options”->”Edit” or “Save” or “Transfer” or “Done” for everything and will discard your changes unceremoniously if you hit the obvious “Back” button.
  • Very heavily reliant on having a micro SD card, which is not included. It’s also difficult to get 8 GB or less micro SD cards now, which the phone apparently requires. You may end up paying the phone’s cost over again just to get some features to work.
  • Got YouTube app to play a video for a moment. Then I hit the left key on the phone and it just crashed and the phone rebooted.
  • MMS settings are configured through the data account, but there’s no slot for MMSC. Having trouble getting MMS to upload or download. If anyone has luck with MMS settings on this phone please let me know!

IMG_0460

Good:

  • It makes calls and texts and MMS (requires micro SD card for MMS).
  • The browser sort of works once you configure APN settings properly.
  • Supports Analog TV if your country hasn’t wised up and repurposed that spectrum to 4G phones. The US did that already so you’re out of luck in this country.
  • Battery life seems pretty high.
  • BLU’s dual SIM support is pretty good. Can be confusing if you’re not expecting dual SIM support.
  • It seems to fall into the category of phone that is “too shitty to break.”
  • Supports WiFi so you’re not forced into EDGE to download things. The WiFi is significantly faster than EDGE.

Some intriguing things:

  • Supports some sort of ambiguous Java application. The tech said that’s what comes from BLU Club. I would be interested to look in to developing applications, though no doubt it will be difficult to find support for developing those.

4 thoughts on “BLU Samba W (Q170W) Quad Band GSM Phone Review”

  1. It might be worth trying AT&T APNs with H20 if there’s no risk of extortionate additional data charges. APNs of parent carriers have been known to work from MVNOs, and different APNs can offer different functionality. As for something called BLU Club giving you pseudo-Java support I would have to say I’m skeptical.

    1. Valid. I’ll give that a shot.

      It does literally say “Java” and “Java Settings” under the “Organizer.” How logical! But I agree that it’s worthy of suspicion.

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