Even as smartphones become commodities, brands are looking at different aspects to woo consumers. At one hand, companies like LeEco and Lenovo are focusing on hardware performance and specifications, the likes of Oppo, Gionee and now Vivo are targeting the ‘selfie’ crazy audience. The Vivo V5 boasts a massive 20-megapixel selfie camera with a ‘moonlight glow’ LED flash to help you capture better selfies in low-light. The smartphone will compete with the OPPO F1s and Gionee S6, both of which are priced at Rs 17,990. While the OPPO F1s boasts a 16-megapixel selfie camera, the Gionee S6s features an 8-megapixel selfie camera with LED flash. But does the V5 have more tricks up its sleeves apart from clicking good selfies. Check out my detailed review.
Vivo V5 Design
The V5 features a unibody design in a sleek and slim form factor. Up front, you have the 20-megapixel selfie camera along with the “moonlight glow” LED flash and earpiece placed above the display. On the other end, there is the non-clickable home button with an integrated fingerprint sensor flanked by capacitive buttons for menu (long press for multitasking) and back on either side. The fingerprint sensor is accurate and fast, unlocking the smartphone in under two seconds mostly. Vivo also claims that it can scan the fingerprint even if your fingers are wet or moist, but in my case, it didn’t work most of the times.
There is a metallic rim running along the edges of the smartphone, adding to its look and feel. On the left edge, you have the hybrid-SIM card tray, whereas the right edge has volume rocker and power / sleep buttons. The buttons are easily accessible and they offer click feedback too. The 3.5mm audio jack, micro-USB port and the speaker grille is placed at the bottom.
The back panel is made from thick plastic and has a metallic finish. The camera module and LED flash is placed on the top and you have embossed Vivo branding in the center. The thin antenna lines can be seen along the top and bottom half. While other manufacturers are going with metal bodies, it is disappointing to see Vivo using plastic body. Also, the use of plastic makes me wonder if the antenna lines serve any purpose or they are there just for aesthetics.
Vivo V5 Specifications
The V5 sports a 5.5-inch HD (720p) IPS LCD display with pixel density of 267ppi and Corning Gorilla Glass protection. The screen is bright and offers good legibility under direct sunlight. The colors look punchy and blacks look deep too. However, the screen isn’t sharp enough, and it’s something that you’ll notice when you closely look at the app icons. There is also an eye protection mode that adds a yellow filter to the display to reduce strain on eyes while reading from prolonged hours. The use of a 720p HD display is baffling considering most smartphones priced around Rs 10,000 have good quality 1080p full HD displays and the V5 is priced at Rs 17,980.
Under the hood, the smartphone is powered by MediaTek’s 64-bit MT6750 octa-core SoC (eight Cortex A8 cores), paired with 4GB of RAM. Vivo’s decision of choosing MediaTek SoC is a bit disappointing, especially as competitors in the same price range such as the Lenovo Z2 Plus and the LeEco Le Max2 are powered by Snapdragon 820 SoC. Even if we consider them as aberrations, smartphones like the LeEco Le 2 and Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 that are priced under Rs 12,000 are also powered by the more efficient Snapdragon 652 octa-core and Snapdragon 650 hexa-core SoCs, respectively. Clearly, with 4GB of RAM, Vivo is aiming at the non-techie crowd that is swayed easily with an octa-core processor and 4GB RAM as being top-of-the-line specifications.
With 32GB of onboard storage, the V5 also a hybrid SIM card slot that lets you use one micro-SIM and one nano-SIM card, or one micro-SIM and one microSD card for expandable storage.
Besides the 20-megapixel selfie camera, the smartphone also sports a 13-megapixel rear camera with phase detection auto-focus (PDAF) and an LED flash. Connectivity options on the smartphone include Bluetooth, 4G LTE with VoLTE HD voice calling support for Reliance Jio network, Wi-Fi 802.11n and GPS. The smartphone also comes with support for USB on-the-go (OTG) to read content from USB flash drive. However, you’ll need to separately purchase an OTG adapter, which is available for around Rs 250 on sites like Flipkart and Amazon India.
To keep things ticking, the Vivo V5 comes armed with a 3,000mAh battery. Sadly, the bundled charger does not support fast charging feature, and it roughly takes about two-and-a-half hours to fully charge the battery from zero to 100 percent.
Vivo V5 Software
The smartphone boots to Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS, with Vivo’s Funtouch OS 2.6 running on top. The interface does not feature any app drawer and all installed apps appear on the home screen. Dragging from top to bottom reveals the notification panel, whereas sliding up from bottom of the screen brings recent apps, display brightness and volume bar, and quick toggles for Wi-Fi, flashlight, mobile data, Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi hotspot and more.
In terms of bloatware, Vivo has added a themes app, a backup and restore app, media sharing app, file manager, internet browser and an app to monitor power, data and apps among others. Using the vivoCloud app, you can backup and restore your contacts, SMS, bookmarks and notes. The app also lets you blacklist unwanted callers. The EasyShare app lets you share photos, videos and documents with other Android smartphone users over Wi-Fi direct. The app also lets you transfer content from your old phone to new phone, and vice-versa. However, you need the EasyShare app on both smartphones. This is quite similar to SHAREit app.
Lastly, there is also an iManager app that lets you clear the cache files, monitor data usage, uninstall apps and also lock apps using fingerprint sensor security from prying eyes. The app also includes phone manager where you can toggle different modes — performance, normal, power saver and super power saver. Here you can also view battery consumption statistics – both for apps and hardware. Vivo has also added support for split screen multitasking which lets you watch a video on YouTube, VLC and MX Player, while replying to chats on WhatsApp, WeChat and Messenger on the split screen.
Vivo V5 Performance
The combination of MediaTek’s octa-core SoC and 4GB of RAM is decent enough to offer good performance. During my one week usage, I did not encounter any lag in the UI or while using apps. I had some apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, Slack, Inbox by Gmail and Twitter running in the background. With about five tabs open on Chrome browser, I was able to open photo heavy flickr.com/explore in the sixth tab, and things were still pretty smooth.
Casual games such as Temple Run and Subway Surfers run smoothly. The graphics intense Asphalt 8: Airborne also runs without any hiccups. While some amount of framing is clearly visible, it does not affect the overall gameplay in anyway. The lack of high-resolution display is also clearly visible here. After about 10 minutes of continuous playing the back of the device does get quite warm, but not unbearably hot.
Like its previous smartphones, Vivo has also worked on the audio chops. The V5 features a custom built AK4376 Hi-Fi audio chip with signal-to-noise ratio of up to 115dB. With the Hi-Fi mode turned on, the smartphone delivers good audio performance. I played a few songs in FLAC format such as Eagles – Hotel California and Mountains – from Interstellar OST by Hans Zimmer. It offered good amount off base, while highs not going too sharp. While it may not please the audiophiles, but its surely a pleasure for those who love crisp audio with a good dash of bass.
Vivo V5 Camera
The camera app interface is easy to use. You get toggle to switch between front and rear camera, flash control and camera modes on the top, whereas the bottom has quick shortcut to access the gallery, camera shutter button and filters. Vivo has added camera modes such as night mode, HDR and professional mode that lets you play with the shutter speed between 1/5000 and 16 seconds, ISO up to 1600, exposure and auto white balance. The camera supports full-HD video recording, along with slow motion in 480p and fast motion video recording 1080p.
The main highlight of the Vivo V5 is its selfie camera. The company has used a 20-megapixel Sony IMX376 sensor of aperture of f/2.0. Outdoor selfies clicked in ample sunlight are detailed, and the skin tones look accurate too. Selfies clicked indoors with enough light look good but the ones in dull light tend to deteriorate, and noise is visible too. The ‘moonlight glow’ LED light does work to brighten the scene, but it works like a lamp (or torch) rather than firing like a flash. The photos clicked in low light with the LED light look decent to share on social networks, but if you look closer, a little noise is clearly visible.
[Click to see camera samples shot on the Vivo V5]
The 13-megapixel primary camera is strictly average. The daylight photos look a little dull, but after turning on the HDR mode, the camera is able to capture decent looking photos, with punchy colors and good details. Indoor shots look dull, whereas close-up shots suffer from focusing issues. They aren’t too sharp either. In low-light, the camera suffers and the loss in quality is clearly visible. Overall, the photos captured from the main camera are average and barely sharable.
Vivo V5 Battery
The 3,000mAh battery on the Vivo V5 lasts quite well, thanks to the software optimizations and efficient processor. With moderate use, the battery lasted for a day-and-a-half. Usage included clicking some selfies, some social networking, internet surfing and playing music for over two hours on wired headphones. With all this, I was able to get screen on-time of close to 4 hours and 25 minutes.
Even with some heavy usage – screen brightness set at 50 percent, gaming for 40 minutes, social networking and internet surfing, the battery lasts through the day before it completely dies. The screen-on time during this usage was a little above three hours and 30 minutes. To put it into perspective, 13 minutes of playing Asphalt 8: Airborne, the battery drained from 100 percent to 92 percent.
The Vivo V5 has its shares of hits and misses. The smartphone scores in departments such as battery life, audio, selfie camera and overall performance. But considering the asking price of Rs 17,980, the misses outweigh the hits. The low-resolution 720p HD display is unpardonable at this price. The plastic body feels cheap and certainly not worth the price tag Vivo has put on this phone. The rear camera is strictly average as well.
The only feature for which one should consider the V5 is its selfie camera and that’s the audience Vivo is gunning after with its marketing for the smartphone, because there is very little else going for the phone. If clicking selfies is not an obsession but value for money is, it’s hard to recommend the Vivo V5. For the same price, you can buy the Gionee S6s, which also features a front-facing flash along with an 8-megapixel selfie camera and comes with a higher resolution full-HD display as well. For those looking after performance, there is the Lenovo Z2 Plus with top-of-the line hardware and compact form factor with 5-inch full HD display, or the LeEco Le Max2 with the latest Snapdragon 820 chipset and a 5.7-inch QHD display.