Beau HD reviews the BLU Vivo Air. The Vivo Air can be described in three words: thin, premium, and cheap. It features an incredibly slim aluminum unibody design with a 5.1mm thickness, Gorilla Glass 3 on the front and back of the device, and a $200 off-contract price tag. In addition, it's equipped with an octa-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and a 4.8-inch 720p AMOLED display.
The BLU Vivo Air can be summed up in just 3 words: thin, premium and cheap. It’s a BLU device that not many people know about but has the potential to sell millions.
Here’s what the BLU Vivo Air does right. In terms of hardware, it features an incredibly thin body that measures only 5.1mm thick, making it the thinnest smartphone currently available in America. It’s also said to be the lightest smartphone currently available in the US, weighing just 97 grams. Together, it’s very minimal in the hands. It makes sense for it to carry the Air name since it almost does not exist when carrying it around with you on the go.
As for build quality, the device is made with high quality materials. It features a magnesium alloy frame built around the device with chamfered edges. It also comes with Gorilla Glass 3 in front and back of device to protect it from scratches; overall adding a nice premium contrast between its aluminum edges and the glass.
Taking a look around the device, you’ll find the standard Power/Sleep On/Off button and volume rocker on the left hand side. A simple SIM card slot can be found on the right hand side, while the micro USB charging port and 3.5mm headphone jack is on the bottom. Nothing is on top. The front features a 4.8-inch 720p Super AMOLED display underneath its 5MP front-facing camera and above the Menu, Home, and Back capacitive touch navigation buttons. The back has an 8MP camera sensor and flash with Gorilla Glass 3 back cover. This particular model features a 16GB internal storage.
After powering on the device, its 4.8-inch 720p Super AMOLED display looks pretty good. It’s an AMOLED panel so the blacks don’t use any power, resulting them to be very deep and true to color. I didn’t notice any sort of yellowing to the whites or unusually high blue tints when viewing whites. The color is pretty accurate but it is not great or terrible. Overall, it is a nice display to look at, granted the resolution isn’t very high. It probably is the biggest downside to the display.
When looking at the device close up, you’ll start to see individual pixels and the brightness just isn’t really there. In direct sunlight, it can definitely be very hard to see the display; something I noticed when using the device at the outdoor BLU booth at CES.
The BLU Vivo Air runs a custom skin on top of Android 4.4.2 KitKat. I was told Android 5.0 Lollipop for the device will be released in June. The unusual thing about the software is that it does not have an app drawer. So all of the apps are presented on the home screen, sort of similar to iOS. Additionally, all of the app icons are square in shape; even the ones that really aren’t intended to be. On one hand, it creates unity while on the other, certain apps don’t look that great since many of stock Google apps have a white box around the icons.
The BLU Vivo Air has its own Smart Gestures, typically found on flagship devices from larger phone manufacturers. On the Vivo Air, these include Smart Dial, Smart Answer, Pause Alarm, Double Click Wake (basically, double tap to wake up screen), Quick Operating, and Smart Remind. Quick Operating is pretty cool as it allows you to draw shapes to activate certain apps such as camera, music player, contacts and messaging application. I loved how you can just double tap the display to wake up the phone—I think it’s awesome and every phone should have this feature available. It does, however, eat up the battery life more so than when the feature is turned off so keep that in mind.
The lock screen has a lock screen widget that gives you access to camera so you can take pictures or record videos directly from lock screen. You can turn on torch or flash on phone to act like flashlight. Unusually, there’s an option to receive a fake call to help you get out of awkward situations. You can tap on it and 15 seconds later, your phone will ring from an unknown caller. You’ll hear a kid on the other line saying “Hi, can you send me your file as soon as possible please.” He says this repeatedly and it’s incredibly and possibly the creepiest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. I’ve never heard of this as a feature on a smartphone so it was definitely worth sharing.
The BLU Vivo Air has an octa-core processor built inside that manages to perform pretty well and keeps things pretty smooth for the most part. It features a MediaTek processor that does not perform as well as Snapdragon processor so you will notice some stuttering here and there that will not be very aesthetically pleasing. Multi-tasking works well but in order to switch between apps, you need to hold down the menu button. But you can only do this on the home screen because when you try to hold down the menu button with an app open, the menu will just pop up and nothing else will happen. You have to press the home button and go over and hold down the menu button from there. It’s kinda strange and definitely slows down multi-tasking process.
The camera is kind of a disappointment as it usually is with a budget smartphone. The BLU Vivo Air features an 8MP camera sensor but doesn’t capture really great images. While you can get by with its camera, the indoor pictures are grainy and not very detailed. They do have a very nice vintage appearance though. Outdoor images in good lighting will look better. But if you’re looking for crisp, detailed images, this isn’t going to be the smartphone for you.
You’d think for such a thin device, the battery would be garbage. BLU manages to pack a 2100 mAh battery inside the Vivo Air. While it’s not the biggest battery, it’s also not that bad. Standby time is pretty good and you can leave the phone on overnight and its battery won’t drop significantly. When a lot of the Smart Gestures are turned on, the battery life drops more. There’s also a CPU power saving mode that limits CPU performance to conserve battery life. I was able to get more than 5 hours of use with the phone, which isn’t too terrible at all.
The device costs only $200 off-contract. For an HD display, octa-core processor, and all the other features mentioned, you can get your money’s worth with this device. If you’re looking for an off-contract smartphone with HSPA+ for less than $200, you may seriously want to look at the BLU Vivo Air. If you’re worried about it being too thin that you might break it, BLU has included a screen protector and case in the box.
Let me know what you think of this device by leaving a comment below.