When Amazon first launched its Prime Exclusive phones initiative, Miami-based smartphone company BLU was one of the first to be on board. The BLU R1 HD was offered for only $50 so long as you were fine with Amazon displaying ads on the lock screen.
When a cyber security company caught Chinese malware pinging servers in Shangai, Amazon stopped selling various BLU phones until the issue was sorted. However, it appears as though the Chinese companies just got a bit slicker about how they hide these pings, because they’re still happening. We reported on the discovery after the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas revealed these phones were still subject to malware collecting information about the users and sending it to China.
Now, Amazon has responded yet again by taking BLU phones out of their Prime Exclusive line-up. If you take a look at the screenshot captured above, you’ll notice BLU phones have been removed. A quick search for “BLU R1 HD” on Amazon reveals several cases and other accessories for the phone, but it’s not available for sale anywhere.
This is the second time that Amazon has had to suspend sales of these rebranded Chinese smartphones. Perhaps the third time is the charm?
[UPDATE] BLU has reached out to us to let us know that they believe there are no issues here. Here’s their statement in full:
The original report by Kryptowire issued on November 2016 regarding the Adups OTA application, stated a small fraction of BLU phones had a version of the application which was collecting phonebook contacts and text messages. Since BLU was unaware of this collection, they hadn’t notified customers, thus it was deemed as a potential privacy issue. BLU moved quickly and resolved the problem by having Adups turn off this functionality.
Furthermore, BLU decided to switch the Adups OTA application on future devices with Google’s GOTA. Even though it is BLU’s policy to only use GOTA moving forward, some older devices still use ADUPS OTA.
BLU has correctly pointed out that other phones do indeed ping servers in China, but no other phones have been removed from Amazon’s Prime Exclusive line-up. We’ll keep you up-to-date to let you know when Amazon reinstates the BLU R1 HD.