Sounds like a cliché but have to say it, the midrange segment in smartphones are getting better with each passing day, and that’s helping us, reviewers, to stay interested in smartphones! The build qualities have improved, the battery life is now running into days and while there is still that struggle in the camera segment, some companies out there have set out on a unique quest – the race for the best selfie cameras. While it was Gionee and OPPO in the recent past with their S6 Pro and F1S respectively, it’s now time for their Chinese counterpart Vivo to take the game to a whole new level with DUAL front facing cameras! Now coming at a price of around Rs 28000, is this phone all about selfies for that asking price? While we are on that quest of figuring that out, we reckoned it’s a good idea to bring our initial impressions for the ones who cannot curtail their curiosity and excitement! So, here we go.
Follow the Leader, is what they all say is one of the secrets to success and Vivo has taken it seriously. Apple is a name that first strikes to us when it comes to a well-designed smartphone that is iconic and made head turns (until recently). So why not adopt that design? In asking that question, Vivo has replicated the design, the look, and feel of the iPhone on its V5 Plus to the extent of retaining that camera bump and those antenna lines! Just as slippery as the iPhone, the V5 Plus looks and feels premium in all its Gold color that we got and probably the only color that will be seen here in India. Coming at 7.3mm thickness and weighing close to 159gms, the phone fits nice in the hand (that is assuming you’ve gotten used to the 5.5-inch screen paradigm) and if you’re someone new to big phones then it will take some getting used to, using both of your hands most of the time on this slippery phone.
The power and volume rockers sit tight on the right side and provide good tactile feedback. A hybrid sim tray sits on the other side and the 3.5mm jack along with micro USB charging port and speaker grille occupy the bottom part. The front portion holds the camera duo of 20MP + 8MP, a LED flash and other sensors at the top and a home button that doubles up as a fingerprint scanner sits down below. Turn the phone to its back and you’d see the primary camera that is 16MP with a LED flash. The antenna lines go around the edges of the top and bottom, just like on the iPhones. The home button though makes a slightly louder “click” sound when used and you might have to program your fingers to use it in a way it avoids that awkward sound – it’s just us nitpicking!
The display consists of a 5.5-inch Full HD one packing 401 pixels per inch and is protected by Gorilla Glass 5. Though it’s a tad too reflective under the sun, the viewing angles when used indoors is very good. The touch sensitivity is top notch and the screen does well in controlling a number of fingerprints and smudges captured. The display gets plenty bright at its maximum setting and there is a dedicated “Eye Protection” a.k.a reading mode in settings in case you want to go the yellow tint way.
Blending into the brightness of the display is the iOS look alike (to the maximum possible extent probably!) – Funtouch OS, that is built off Android Marshmallow. The icons, the layout of settings, the lack of an app drawer, the control center, the notifications menu the camera app and so on, they all resemble the iOS look and feel. Vivo has even gone on to prefix an “i” to the names of some apps – iMusic, iTheme, iManager and so on. The overall performance of the OS in our limited usage was smooth and had no signs of any issues. Thanks to the reliable Snapdragon 625 SoC clocked at 2GHz and 4GB of RAM that power the phone along with an Adreno 506 GPU. This coupled with 3160 mAh battery should deliver some good battery life, which we will be testing out as we go through the days in our review.
Advertised for its dual front-facing camera, it comprises of a 20MP Sony IMX376 lens with f/2.0 aperture and an 8MP secondary lens that will allow the users to play around with the aperture for that “BOOOOOKEH” effect many die for via a dedicated option in the app! And with a front facing flash thrown into the setup, this configuration promises good selfies in all the conditions including voice and hand gestures for taking pictures.
Our initial impressions? Impressive! The BOKEH mode works well but one has to be careful enough when using it else it may look way too artificial and this may not work well in case there are more people in the frame. The rear facing 16MP camera is totally outshined by the front facing camera. Pictures in daylight are good and one can get really close to the subject. But when it comes to indoor and low light conditions, there is quite a bit of noise that seeps in. There is a dedicated night mode and advanced HDR, we will test these out and see if they improve the output. The phone shoots 4K videos while the front camera does 1080p.
The fingerprint scanner did well in our usage so far and we were particularly happy with the quality of the sound output via the loudspeaker. JIO’s VoLTE and 4G Data worked fine and there were no issues seen in the WiFi either.
Coming at a price of around Rs 28K, the Vivo V5 Plus takes on the likes of OnePlus 3T for the price and Lenovo P2, Moto Z Play and so on for the SoC used. But none of these phones are focused on the Selfie camera and that is when OPPO F1S and Gionee S6 Pro come into the game. Having used the latter two, and testing the V5 Plus now, we certainly feel this has an edge with that dual camera set up but with an additional price. But by what margin of an improvement does V5 Plus bring in those selfies? Does it justify itself for that extra price? Given it has the SD 625 and 4GB RAM, our initial impressions are on the positive front for a phone that is sold on the offline markets and not attempting to get into the race of aggressive pricing. Oh! There is a tall building here, time for another selfie with a BOOOKEH. You guys wait for our detailed review in the coming days while we click ourselves away to glory. Ah that beauty mode coming up now …