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Vivo V5 Plus Review: Ye Selfie Supremo!

Love it or hate it, but only the very naive would deny that this is the age of the selfie. Small wonder then that many smartphone makers are trying to capitalize on people’s penchant for shooting themselves (fortunately, generally non-suicidally). But while many of the so-called “selfie phones” tend to sacrifice other specs on the altar of the front facing camera, some brands tried to offer a more balanced offering, while still focusing on the selfie. One of these is the Vivo V5 Plus, which brings not one but two cameras on its front, as well as some decent specs and design. But do those justify a price of around Rs 28,000?

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Looks more from Cupertino than from China

We said it in our initial impressions that the Vivo V5 Plus wants to be an iPhone when it comes to design. And it manages to pull that off! We used the phone for close to two weeks and there were over half a dozen occasions when we had people thinking asking us if that was an iPhone. This, in spite of scores of iPhone clones and wannabes out there, and folks bored to death looking at them. If this one turned the eye, it is because it comes with the sort of elegance that one associate with an iPhone. It feels like an iPhone (cliché aye!) thanks to the material used, the thin round cornered slab that it is. The phone also took some drops and did well in not getting scuffed or ruffling its paint job. If there is one gripe we had, it would be the home button that feels a tad cheap with its “clicky” sound. We believe that this build will age well. And if you are someone who is paranoid about scratches being picked up or retaining a phone’s mint condition, go ahead and use the transparent case Vivo has thrown in with the package – it fits snugly and does not make the phone bulky.

The “i” factor in software too

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Many wannabe iPhones just stop at looking like an iPhone. Some try to continue that on their software but simply fail to replicate the smoothness and attention to detail. Vivo, though, seems to have decided that “if you’re gonna imitate someone, might as well go the full length.” There are no half measures here. So much so that we are, in fact, surprised that the default screen unlocking mechanism is not that classic “Slide To Unlock” but a vertical swipe upwards.

Get past that, however, and the icons, the look and feel off that gorgeous 5.5-inch IPS LCD display packing 401 pixels per inch is top notch. We had no complaints on the viewing angles and the touch sensitivity continued to impress us right through. Coming with Gorilla Glass 5, the phone did well in not picking up any scratches through our tests (torture tests you ask? No, we believe in reviewing the phone like normal users would use their phone, and not as some members of the erstwhile Gestapo!)

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Vivo’s Funtouch OS is built off Android Marshmallow and is heavily skinned to make it look like iOS, but the naming of some apps by prefixing an “i” seems a little off. The icons are well designed and if you are up for some changes, you can hop onto the Themes app to change the look and feel of all the components, of an operating system that does not come with an app drawer. We tried third party launchers from Google, Nova and Microsoft (Arrow) and they all worked fine with no issues. The OS comes with very few additional apps which our anti-bloatware side just loves. The Control Center shows up with all the toggle options when you swipe up on the home screen while the notifications menu comes from a swipe down. There are no onscreen navigation buttons and you will have to live with the duo of capacitive buttons (and the fingerprint scanner-cum-home button) that are below the display. The settings menu is colorful and iOS-ish and lots of options are hidden underneath – just remember to be patient as it might take a while to get used to.

A solid performer

The V5 Plus is powered by Qualcomm’s highly power efficient Snapdragon 625 Octacore processor clocked at 2 GHz and 4GB of RAM with Adreno 506 GPU. We have used many phones with the processor such as Lenovo P2, Moto Z Play, Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 4 and all of them did well in day to day tasks. The same is the case with the V5 too, which comes with 64GB of internal memory. Very good on the multitasking, the phone did well on the gaming front too. But like many out there with the Snapdragon 625, the loading of heavy gaming apps was a tad slow and there were occasional frame drops on games with high graphics setting, especially when played for long periods of time.

Though the Snapdragon 625 is known to keep its cool in all conditions, the V5 Plus felt the warmest of all the phones we have reviewed with that processor. We would not consider this to be a “heating issue,” though – we are just bringing in some perspective in comparison to other devices. Bottom line: you would have no issues with day-to-day tasks and the overall experience is of the breeze-through sort. There were, however, a couple of occasions where heavy games such as Nova 3 crashed on us after playing for a long time, but these were exceptions.

In keeping the phone slim, Vivo has loaded a 3055 mAh battery but given the fact that it sports a Snapdragon 625 processor, you will not have to worry – even on the days we pushed the phone real hard, we managed to get through the day with 10 percent juice left. And for the ones hunting down the screen on times, 4.5-6 hours is what the readings hover across. Vivo does provide a Double Charge option in the settings but even with that enabled the phone takes anywhere between 1.45 to 2 hours to charge fully, via its USB Type-C port.

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The sultan of selfies…and a decent rear snapper too

Now, to what the phone is known for, the cameras! We have a special camera review for you if you wanted to dive deep but if you are looking for some quick info, here it is – the V5 Plus has the BEST selfie camera we have used so far. PERIOD! Coming with a 20-megapixel Sony co-engineered IMX376 front shooter with an 8-megapixel secondary lens for selfies, the phone allows users to play with the aperture size from f/0.95 to f/6 on the 8-megapixel lens, to get those elusive bokeh shots made famous by badass DSLRs. You can also play with the focus region – your face or something else around you, and it works well. Even in the darkest of conditions you can manage to take some selfies, thanks to the moonlight flash upfront. The images are a tad softened and lack sharpness but the beauty mode delivers some goodness there. 1080p videos can be shot and audio captured is good too.

Must Read: Vivo V5 Plus Detailed Camera Review

The primary 16-megapixel shooter with a single LED flash does well in most of the conditions, being fast to focus even on close-ups and processing the images. However, in low light, with the lack of OIS or EIS, there is lots of softening going on to keep the noise at bay. The camera app is simple and free of gimmicks. However, both HDR and Ultra HDR fail to make an impression and are inconsistent. Barring those nitpicks, the phone is capable of taking some stunning shots. 4K video is decent but flaky at times, again (we suspect) thanks to no OIS/EIS.

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V5 Plus ticks off most of the sensors and needs such as LED notification, FingerPrint Scanner, USB OTG, dual sim (no hybrid slot for microSD) that support 4G LTE and VoLTE. We have no issues in any of these areas. The loudspeaker is outstanding being loud and holding its own as long as you keep the volume to around 80 percent, which is loud enough in itself. Audio via the earphones too was outstanding.

Selfie-ish? Get it!

Coming at around Rs 28,000, the Vivo V5 Plus shoots for the selfie camera. The price may seem a bit steep when you consider offerings such as OnePlus 3T with far more powerful processing speeds, but the Vivo V5 Plus brings in a lot more than the selfie camera set up to the table that also works well – good looks and build, liquid-smooth OS performance, commendable battery life, amazing sound quality and above average primary camera performance (if only the primary camera had OIS, the V5 Plus would be a tough one to beat). Overall, it is a good package for your money. If you were to pick one up, let it be because you are a crazy narcissist or someone who is intensely into selfies – you would never feel you have been overcharged. But if selfies ain’t your deal, and you are hungry for more power then the likes of OnePlus 3T, Lenovo Z2 Plus (with a huge price drop now) and the Nubia Z11 could be better options.