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Smartphones

Vivo V7+ smartphone review – amazing selfie camera, but everything else is average

The 24-megapixel selfie camera is impressive, but with its underpowered chip set, Wi-fi limitation and unimpressive screen resolution, this mid-tier phone is unlikely to be snapped up as a bargain

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 December, 2017, 9:48am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 December, 2017, 7:10pm

Vivo, whose parent company BBK Electronics also owns popular Chinese mobile phone brands Oppo and OnePlus, was a China-only brand until recently. In the past year it has begun expanding its market to include Southeast Asia, and last month, Hong Kong. While the Vivo V7+ reviewed here isn’t the exact phone coming to Hong Kong, it is very similar, with identical physical design and software.

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Design and hardware

In a year when every phone maker went with dual cameras and a glass back, the Vivo V7+ almost feels like a classic: its metal unibody phone has a very iPhone 7-esque body and a single rear camera. Wisely, Vivo adopted the longer, narrower 18:9 display aspect ratio pioneered by LG, and with slim top and bottom bezels, the handset looks mostly modern to the untrained eye.

There are, however, subtle design compromises that make this more a mid-tier product than a flagship. Its 5.99-inch LCD panel is completely flat, resulting in slightly rough edges on all four sides where the display meets the frame.

The display’s rounded corners appear forced and do not line up with the actual device’s corners (on the iPhone X, the corners of the display match the corners of the body completely, making for a symmetrical aesthetic). Screen resolution here is just 720p, and the processor inside is from Qualcomm’s low-end line, the Snapdragon 450.

The only stand-out hardware of this phone is its incredibly large 24-megapixel selfie camera with an accompanying LED flash. Vivo, of course, is marketing this as the “ultimate selfie phone”.

Software and features

It’s almost the consensus among tech writers and smartphone power users that stock Android is preferred over third party Android skins. And while Samsung, LG, Xiaomi and Huawei have increasingly made their skins tolerable and even enjoyable, Vivo’s FunTouch OS is the epitome of everything we dislike.

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First there are the square-ish iOS-inspired icons that flood the home screen due to the lack of an app drawer. Then there is the unnecessary separation of the pull-down notification menu and short cut toggles into two different panels – just so FunTouch can ape the iPhone’s swipe-from-bottom “Control Centre”, which will be killed off by 2018 anyway as Apple transitions all its new iPhones to X-style all-screen devices.

In other words, everything that is intuitive about Android has been stripped in favour of this wannabe iOS.

FunTouch does bring some useful additions to Android, such as floating chat bubbles that can be placed anywhere on the home screen; and swiping navigation gestures that eliminate the need for on-screen buttons.

Performance and battery life

The Snapdragon 450 chip set here is quite underpowered compared to the 835s found in other handsets, but it’s still enough for just about all day-to-day smartphone tasks. You won’t be able to cut and edit 4K videos, nor play graphic-intensive games on the V7+, but you can go on Instagram and check your emails just fine.

The 3225 mAh battery inside isn’t large by Chinese handset standards, but it’s enough for a full day’s use, likely due to the less-than-hi-res display.

Another glaring flaw of the V7+ is that it lacks the 802.11a (5GHz) Wi-fi antenna band, meaning it can only connect to b/g/n networks.

Let’s talk about that selfie camera: with a 24-megapixel lens and autofocus capabilities, selfies do turn out sharp, with great dynamic range. The flash unit on the front of the phone, however, is almost always too bright for selfies in dark places, resulting in very harsh lighting that amplifies every blemish. The rear camera is serviceable in good lighting conditions, but definitely belongs in the mid-tier category.

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Conclusion

In a vacuum the V7+, priced officially around Southeast Asia at about US$340, is a nice looking device that won’t burn a hole in your wallet. But its glaring omissions – a full HD display and 5GHz Wi-fi support – make it a very tough sell.

Specs

Dimensions: 155.9mm x 75.8mm x 7.7mm

Weight: 160g

Display: 5.99-in 720 x 1,440 LCD panel

Battery: 3,225 mAh

OS version reviewed: FunTouch 3.2 over Android 7.1.2

Processor: Snapdragon 450

Cameras: 16-megapixel lens with f/2.0 (back); 24-megapixel with f/2.0 (front)

Memory: 64GB; 4GB RAM

Colours: black, gold

Price: US$340