A lot can be said about selfies, and we’re well versed with all the arguments for and against them. But this is neither the right time, nor the right space, to delve into all that. And that’s basically because the smartphone industry is thriving off the front-facing camera. After witnessing the arrivals of selfie-centric phones such as the Gionee S6s and the Oppo F1s (where the ‘s’, very obviously, stands for ‘selfie’), Vivo has now arrived at the party with the V5.
As with most new phones, we tend to ask, “what’s the best trick it’s got?” Of course, the camera is the apparent answer, but the V5 also seems to have a little more than that in its bag of tricks. Priced at 17,980, this phone sits in the sweet spot which is currently not as overpopulated as the other price segments, and has competitors in form of the Lenovo Z2 Plus and the Samsung J7, apart from the aforementioned selfie focused devices.
The Vivo V5 is on the bigger side (but now standard) of devices, toting a 5.5-inch display and thus bringing along with it a lot of glass real estate. In terms of design, this device follows the same design language as almost every phone in the market, with curved edges and shiny lines running along the edges and over the back. That being said, the V5 does look quite classy, and despite being a large phone, has good ergonomics.
Specs: 5.5-inch HD display| 1.5 GHz Octa Core MediaTek MT6750 processor | 4GB RAM | 32GB internal (up to 128GB) | 20MP front camera | 13MP rear camera | 3,000 mAh battery | Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS
Price: Rs 17,980
The first thing that we did, inevitably, was to launch the camera. Now, being a photographer, I prefer being behind the lens than be in front of it, so I went for the rear shooter first. The 13 MP unit on the rear-facing camera is quite decent, as it takes good photos in both well-lit and low-lit conditions. In the bright sun, the camera does seem to lag just a little bit to correct the exposure, but doesn’t bleach or overexpose the shot. The autofocus is decently quick for a phone in this price range, even in poorly-lit places such as a dark-ish room with very few sources of light. And the results aren’t too grainy either.
The front camera, however, which is the highlight of this phone, is a little inconsistent in its performance. The field of view is large and wide enough to fit a few friends in the frame without any major lens distortion or the need to crop out the tallest and the shortest friend. However, most of the pictures taken through the front camera turned out to be a little overexposed, even while clicking indoors under fluorescent lights.
Also, the “Face beauty” mode comes on by default, and has more options for vanity such as slimming, buffing and enlarging. There is a normal mode that doesn’t involve any of this (if you like it au naturale) and that’s actually much better. The 20MP shooter captures a lot of details such as texture and contrast, surprising for a front camera and given the price. The front flash is soft, but tends to push the photos towards a cooler colour temperature. We recommend using the front flash only as a last resort.
The phone attempts to be a complete multimedia package, as the display is quite bright and colourful even under direct sunlight, although it has a tendency to be slightly on the cooler side of colour temperature. The speakers, however, are quite loud and clear, and it’s good enough for you to listen to music and dance around funnily in your hotel room (as long as nobody’s watching).
The V5 is very comfortable with multitasking, as the 4GB RAM ensures that. The everyday smartphone tasks such as browsing, dealing with emails, booking cabs, ordering food and checking your social feeds, are where this phone is comfortable. Heavier tasks, including using heavier apps such as Lightroom can slow the phone down. The phone, however, can be a bit laggy after burst modes (especially if you have one of the special modes on). The camera also takes time to launch when there are a few heavy applications on. Interestingly, the V5 managed heat generation pretty well.
What’s not good?
While we say that the Vivo V5 attempts to be a multimedia package, we mean only multimedia consumption. The V5 comes with a 1.5GHz chip and 4GB of RAM, which on paper sound decent, but aren’t great enough for you to start playing Modern Combat 5 or Asphalt 8. Yes, you can still play Clash of Clans and Subway Surfer, and the colours will pop out and you’ll get amazing sound, but that’s about it. The body, though it looks good, does feel very plasticky and not as well built as the Lenovo Z2 Plus or even the Samsung J7. There’s a fair bit of flex if you decide to put pressure on the back, and the glass front doesn’t give a lot of confidence.
While the 3,000 mAh battery is good enough for a whole day’s worth of mixed usage, the lack of a USB Type C port, and quick charging, is a major turnoff. At this point, sticking to older technologies for the sake of cost saving is just not a good idea for any manufacturer.
The Lenovo Z2 Plus, as of now, is a complete package with near-flagship specs and a great build and battery life, but the camera is just about average. The Samsung J7 is not a threat as it lacks the specs for the price, and isn’t really a great purchase decision.
The Vivo V5, however, is an ideal purchase for someone who wants to click a lot of selfies, listen to a lot of music and watch a lot of YouTube videos. Just don’t ask it to be your hardcore number crunching office assistant, and the V5 won’t disappoint you.