vivo V5 review: The Oddball

GSMArena team, 24 February 2017.

Final words

Vivo did a great job with the V5 Plus, but the V5 is certainly the less impressive product in the duo. The recycled design, the low-end chipset, the low-res screen, the mediocre main camera, the average battery life, and the old Funtouch launcher aren't helping the V5's case. And the 20MP selfie camera is just not enough to make up for everything else.

Vivo V5 review

We sure appreciate the 4 gigabytes of RAM as they are invaluable for multi-tasking purposes. The dynamic range in the 13MP samples did catch our attention, and so did the speaker loudness, but that's all (aside from the sturdy build quality).

The V5's key feature is the so-called 'Moonlight selfie,' which is the fancy word behind the front fill-flash. Unfortunately, this feature failed to impress as well. The flash is just too weak to provide for any meaningful improvement in the image quality. On a positive note, the 20MP selfies, while mediocre in quality, turn into striking 5MP images once downscaled for social network use.

All of these could have been easily forgiven, if it wasn't for the hefty $270 price tag. It's just too much for a mid-ranger with low-end specs, despite the high-res selfie camera.

vivo V5 key test findings

  • The recycled design is still catchy, build quality is great and the plastic can easily pass for metal.
  • The display posts good numbers for brightness, average fir contrast, and fails to impress in color accuracy and sunlight legibility.
  • Battery life is average - a respectable score on our 3G talk time test, average numbers on video playback and standby, and a very poor endurance on our web browsing test - all of this added up to a 60-hour endurance rating.
  • The phone runs on Marshmallow and Funtouch 2.6 - both pretty dated already, but the custom overlay is rich in added functionality.
  • Benchmarks reveal uninspiring performance across the board, though the lower screen resolution helps the GPU perform well. The MT6750 chip is dependable overall, but falling short in the most demanding scenarios.
  • The loudspeaker pumped out enough decibels for a Very Good rating; drive it too hard, however, and sound may get distorted.
  • Audio quality is solid especially when you route the sound from the phone to an external amplifier.
  • The 13MP rear camera produces detailed images with pleasing colors and decent dynamic range.
  • The 20MP front camera takes pleasant selfies, which lack detail. They transform into excellent pictures when downscaled to 5MP, which is what really matter for the social networks. We miss the bokeh effect from the V5 Plus.
  • The 1080p videos lack fine detail, but come out with good contrast and colors.

The Meizu M5 Note costs half the vivo V5's money, and yet it delivers a higher resolution screen, an improved Helio X10 chip, and a metal unibody. It can't match the V5's selfies, but if you are not about the selfie experience, the M5 Note should be fine for you.

Meizu M5 Note
Meizu M5 Note

All the V5's shortcomings are taken care of on the vivo V5 Plus, though you'd have to pay extra for the Plus model. The V5 Plus looks like an iPhone and is made of metal; it has a better screen, chipset, and newer Funtouch launcher. Its charm is in the 20MP+8MP front camera setup, which takes some impressive selfies with stunning bokeh effects.

vivo V5 Plus
vivo V5 Plus

Xiaomi's Redmi Note 4, no matter if MediaTek or Snapdragon powered, is cheaper and better than the V5 in everything but selfie photography. The Note 4, even the Note 3 series, have become bestsellers in their respective classes and are among our top picks often, so you might consider them as well.

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (MediaTek) Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (MediaTek)
Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (MediaTek) Xiaomi Redmi Note 3

Lenovo P2 price is close to the V5's, yet it comes with a 1080p AMOLED screen, a battery-efficient Snapdragon 625 chip, and a huge 5,100 mAh battery. The P2 is no match for V5's selfie skills, but everything else is light years ahead.

Lenovo P2
Lenovo P2

The Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime is a good alternative, which has a tight focus on the camera experience with f/1.9 apertures on both rear 13MP and front 8MP snappers. It has a higher-res screen, snappier hardware, and it comes with a TouchWiz, too, which may tip the scales.

Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime
Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime

You've probably taken our hint already - the vivo V5 is for selfie-addicts only. It snaps some great selfie shots (once they turn into 5MP images, that is). But there is nothing outside its selfie photography skills to justify its purchase, and even just for selfies, the V5 Plus is the better phone to get.