The Vivo X is BLU’s most appealing smartphone yet and the first device of theirs to truly give Motorola and Huawei some competition. What I find especially attractive about this device is its price point. It starts at $250 and can be purchased via Amazon. There’s also a special launch deal that will bring this phone down to $200 off-contract.
The build consists of aluminum. It has a premium cool to the touch feel to it with rounded sides and metallic buttons. The power button is textured to help you differentiate it from the volume rocker. There’s a headphone jack and microSD card slot for expandable storage. Strangely, we have a micro USB port for charging and not a USB-C port. And there is a mediocre bottom-facing speaker. The fingerprint scanner is on the back of the phone and it’s exactly where my index finger rests when holding the phone. It’s consistently fast and accurate.
The display is one of the most attractive features of this smartphone but it’s not perfect and it has left me scratching my head a little bit. It features a massive 6-inch 18x9 display with relatively thin top and bottom bezels. Just the fact that it features an 18x9 display helps it compete against some of the more premium offerings from Samsung, LG, and even Apple. But the side bezels aren’t terribly thin and the display itself only features a 720p resolution with some extra vertical pixels. Content is not going to be super sharp and detailed but one perk of this lower resolution display is the improved battery life. The brightness does peak out at 520 nits, which is actually pretty solid and colors do appear nice and vibrant for an LCD panel.
The viewing angles are actually pretty great for a BLU smartphone. Overall, if you are a design junkie like I am, I think you’re really going to admire the 80% screen to body ratio we have here with the Vivo X. Unfortunately, what you have to look at is an unpleasant skin on top of Android 7.0 Nougat. Yeah, you heard that right. What year is it?
The quick settings swipe up from the bottom of the screen while nothing but your notifications will be up top. The settings drawer also has been tweaked. A swipe to the left will reveal some of the phone’s “key features”. What is neat to see is the added software features not typically found in stock Android. There’s a glove mode, several smart gestures like double tap to wake, a smart auto-brightness feature, and a screen recording feature among others. One rather unusual feature is the dual WhatsApp support. If you’re a WhatsApp user, you can set up two WhatsApp accounts on your Vivo X so you don’t have to carry around two smartphones.
We also have face unlock, which does not use the same technology as the iPhone X and is nowhere near as secure. But hey, it’s an option to unlock your phone and it unlocks it very quickly. Just keep in mind that someone who kinda looks like you is probably enough to fool the software.
The Vivo X does ship with a MediaTek Helio P25 processor with 8-cores and 4GB of RAM. The phone has its moments of clarity and fluidity but it does tend to slow down when downloading and installing applications, opening apps for the first time, or running graphic intensive games.
Also, I did notice some chappy animations; especially when swiping through some settings drawer, specifically the bottom quick settings tray. In my experience, I found smartphones with MediaTek processors to perform better after being warmed up, kind of like a car. They don’t tend to perform quite as well as Qualcomm chips, which is what this phone is competing against.
The Vivo X will appeal to those who want the most camera hardware for the price. We have a 13-megapixel rear- and 5-megapixel rear-facing camera sensor with an f/2.0 aperture. And we also have a 20-megapixel front-facing camera sensor along with an 8-megapixel wide-angle front-facing camera sensor with an f/2.0 aperture. This might be the best budget smartphone for selfies as in addition to the dual front-facing sensors, there’s a flash and tons of software features. The 8-megapixel sensor has a 120-degree wide-angle so you can take photos with a group of friends or make video calls without having to hold your phone in arm’s length away from your face. The flash itself can be dimmed, which is a really neat effect that I haven’t seen before on a smartphone. Also in the settings is a dedicated group photo mode, a GIF creator mode, and professional mode, among many other settings.
Selfies themselves feature quite a bit of detail especially in well-lit environments. It does suffer in low-light, as do most smartphone cameras in general. But with the wide-angle lens and flash, I can recommend this phone if you’re a big Instagram or Snapchat user who likes to take a lot of selfies.
The rear-facing cameras are able to capture some acceptable images in a variety of lighting conditions but you’re going to see the highest quality shots captured outdoors in direct sunlight. The phone tends to oversaturate images and it is more difficult than on some other devices to focus on a subject and retain a lot of detail. What is neat to see is a depth mode that will artificially add blur to the background of your subject. It is not perfect but it’s not bad for a non-Apple or Google device. Overall, the cameras are a big win for this price point.
Last but not least, there is a large 4010mAh battery with support for fast charging. You can expect this phone to last you a full day of moderate to heavy usage. I just wished there was a USB-C charging port here especially since you’ll probably want to use this phone for the next year or two. This micro USB port is already outdated. It’s going to be super ancient in the next couple of years.
With that said, BLU doesn’t tend to issue software updates. And the fact that this phone is running an old version of Android out of the box doesn’t give me much hope that we’ll see any sort of big software updates in the near or distant future. From that standpoint, it’s tough to recommend. However, if you want to live in the moment and you don’t care too much about the software experience, the Vivo X does excel in the hardware department.
The 18x9 display helps set this phone apart from the other big, more established smartphones in its price category of around $300. Even with its limitations, I think for the price of $200 or $250 off-contract, the Vivo X is absolutely worth it. Just keep in mind that it only does work with a GSM carriers here in the US.