BLU sent me the other phone announced at CES 2016—the Vivo 5. It's a lot like the Vivo XL which debuted along its side. But it features more powerful specs, a more premium build, and a slightly higher price tag. So what are some of those specs?
The Vivo 5 does feature a 5.5-inch HD Super AMOLED display with a 720p resolution and Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Inside, it's packing an octa-core 1.3GHz 64-bit processor with not 2 but 3GB of RAM. There's a 13MP rear and 5MP front-facing camera sensor, 32GB of on board storage with support for microSD card and a 3,150 mAh battery with Quick Charging. But as far as the build goes, it features a 6.9mm thin aluminum uni-body design with polished chamfered edges. You can get all of this for only $200 off-contract.
But let's lift off the top of the box to reveal the headset. I'm going to put the headset off to the side for now while I take a look at the contents of the box. First we have a SIM card ejector tool, there's a USB quick charging wall wart, a pair of earphones with removable tips and music playback control buttons, a USB Type-C cable for charging or syncing data, and there's a USB Type-C to USB 3.0 adapter to transfer and sync data on and off the device. I'm really glad to see BLU implement the new USB Type-C standard port in the Vivo 5 and it's nice to see them include this adapter here for no additional cost. But we have even more goodies in the box. Some of the literature actually details the SIM card installation process as well as the setup process. Then we have a silicone protective case as well as a screen protector to provide all around protection to your shiny new aluminum phone.
We can take a first look at the device by sliding it out of the plastic back and removing all of its plastic coating. I really admire the design and I can see some resemblance to the BLU Vivo Air but I like to think of it (and this is a stretch but hear me out) as a bigger, thinner iPhone 5 or 5S with a uni-body aluminum design instead of an aluminum and glass construction. It really feels great in the hands and it feels night and day different than the Vivo XL. But here's what you need to know about the Vivo 5 beyond the build construction. It features a 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display with a 720p resolution. It's the same panel that is found in the Vivo XL. And to be totally honest with you, I'm in love with it. It's very bright, has excellent viewing angles, and the saturation and contrast are supreme. It doesn't appear to be the most color accurate panel but that doesn't really matter to me. I want a display that looks unreal when displaying content. I would like to see a 1080p resolution display in the next version. But to be totally honest with you, the 720p resolution isn't bad.
As for the software experience, BLU has added a custom skin on top of Android 5.1 Lollipop. There's no app drawer so all of your apps will be placed on the home screens but you can change this with a custom launcher of your choice. The notification panel has been slightly redesigned. In the upper right hand corner, there's an icon to open the app manager section in the settings and there are no quick settings icons here. Instead, BLU has opted in for a quick settings tray that actually slides up from the bottom portion of the display. From here, you'll see many of the standard quick settings icons-- a volume toggle and there's even a fake call feature that can get you out of a sticky situation. My only complaint with this menu is that when you pull up, you'll often press the capacitive touch navigation button, most likely the home button. But thankfully, it doesn't register the navigation command when that happens but the vibration feedback is registered; which can also be turned off in the settings if you want. Okay, it's a minor complaint but I did want to mention.
What is neat about this custom skin however is that it performs very well. So it's very smooth—smoother than stock Android in some areas. The performance of the Vivo 5 is also very good thanks largely in part to the octa-core processor and 3GB of RAM. It features 1GB more RAM than the Vivo XL and I think it does show. I'm able to switch between applications in a snap. I would say multitasking is a breeze. The only thing that really slows me down is the fact that I'm not entirely adjusted to the layout of the menus and the navigation buttons. It's something that will take some time to adjust to if you're coming from iOS or stock Android. But overall, I'm impressed with the performance.
In addition, the Vivo 5 features a 13MP rear and 5MP front-facing camera sensor. It's not a bad sensor but I'll have to spend more time with it before I come to a consensus of the quality. But in the meantime, here are some sample photos from the rear-facing camera sensor as well as a selfie from the 5MP camera sensor.
What's also neat to see is a lot of various camera modes. There's a professional mode, which will allow you to tweak the White Balance, ISO, shutter speed, exposure and so on. We have a beauty mode, a magic focus mode, filter, HDR, panorama, night mode, smart scene, ultra pixel; you can even scan barcodes from the camera app as well as create animated GIFs. It's surprising to see so many functional camera modes in a budget smartphone like this.
I mentioned earlier the Vivo 5 features a 3,150 mAh non-removable battery which should help the device last a full day on a single charge, especially with a battery saving AMOLED display. It's also worth mentioning the Vivo 5 and Vivo XL for that matter, feature Hi-Fi DTS Sound for an enhanced audio experience.
Overall, I would probably have to say the BLU Vivo 5 is my new favorite BLU smartphone. While I'm in love with the display and the performance, I think it's the design that I'm truly in love with. It's mind boggling to think you can get this device for only $200 off-contract on Amazon or Best Buy. It makes you think-- if BLU can make a $200 aluminum smartphone, there's really no excuse for larger companies like LG, Samsung, Lenovo, Sony (you name it) to produce flagship smartphones that cost hundreds of Dollars more with less premium build materials. I'm not necessarily saying they aren't nowadays but it's something to consider.