The term smartphone used to mean something—a phone, usually—with the ability to connect to the Internet and perform office tasks such as opening and editing documents, sending emails, and browsing the web. These days, the word smartphone doesn’t really mean anything specific. Smartphone could mean an iPhone, an Android phone, or for about six of you out there, a phone running Windows. For the most part, though, when people hear the word smartphone, they tend to think of something specific. A feature, sometimes a hardware component, that is better done with a specific phone model than with any other device.
For those who like to take photos—whether of themselves or of everything around them—a smartphone can also come to mind when thinking about what kind of device to use best. This should explain the rise of selfie-centric smartphones. Phones with powerful front and rear cameras that allow users to take fantastic photos in almost any situation and almost any location. This is the kind of phone that Vivo aims to sell to the general public, and they have been doing so for quite some time now. One of their most affordable models, the Vivo V5 Lite, is being sold as the perfect selfie smartphone. How true is their claim? We’ve been testing it for over a month now and we can provide you with a definitive answer.
Read on for our Vivo V5 Lite review.
- 5.5-inch HD (720×1280) IPS LCD touchscreen
- 1.5GHz 64-bit octa-core Mediatek MT6750 processor
- 3GB RAM + 32GB internal storage
- microSD card support up to 256GB
- 13MP rear f/2.2 auto-focus camera with LED flash
- 16MP front-facing f/2.0 camera with 1080p video recording
- Face detection, panorama mode, HDR mode
- Built-in loudspeaker
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- Bluetooth 4.0 with A2DP
- GPS with A-GPS
- FM Radio
- micro USB 2.0 port
- USB OTG
- Dual SIM card slot (nano + micro)
- Accelerometer, proximity sensor, e-compass
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow with FunTouch OS 3.0
- 3000mAh battery (non-removable)
- 155g weight
- 153.8 x 75.5 x 7.6mm
- Colors: Crown Gold, Rose Gold
Just from this quick list of features, you can probably already tell that the Vivo V5 Lite is quite a well-rounded smartphone. We’ll tell you more about it as we go through this review.
Build quality and design
The Vivo V5 Lite is lightweight but quite sturdy. This is because it uses a combination of metal and glass in its casing, not to mention, it has a non-removable back cover. So Vivo was able to make it compact and all-around solid.
On the front, it doesn’t have any hardware buttons. Instead, there’s a set of capacitive touch menu keys for navigation below the display, which is a touchscreen, of course. There’s a recent apps key, a Home key, and a back key for easy menu navigation.
But the V5 Lite does have a handful of hardware buttons. All of them are located on the right side of the phone, near the top. They are the up and down volume buttons as well as the power button. The power button also doubles as a Sleep/Wake switch, which is convenient because of its placement.
The only thing that the V5 Lite lacks is a built-in fingerprint scanner. Fortunately, Vivo has included smart gestures that allow you to wake the screen from sleep with just a double-tap, and also double-tap to sleep. You still need to fiddle with the screen to actually unlock the phone, of course, but at least you can save the power button for wearing out too early by using gestures to wake the phone instead of pressing on the hardware keys every time.
We couldn’t find a single hardware fault with the V5 Lite in terms of design, build quality and construction. It looks and feels much more expensive than its price tag suggests, and the thinness and lightness both combine to give it a “I could fit in any chic handbag or purse” kind of vibe. Probably perfect for ladies or anyone who’s feeling a little too pretty at the moment.
Its quite clear where Vivo got the inspiration for most parts of its custom-made OS that’s based on Android. The Vivo V5 Lite, which comes with FunTouch OS 3.0, includes a neat little menu screen that can be accessed by swiping up from the bottom of the display. It’s a bit like Control Center in iOS, but with more options and more flexibility. We prefer it over Apple’s take, which is limiting and a bit confusing at times, so Vivo earns brownie points here. You can also re-arrange the order of the on-screen options so you can make it look exactly the way you like it. Personally, we found it useful to put the Calculator quick launch key among the first ones, but the one for the Camera was a bit redundant.
We actually have a feeling that many of the Vivo V5 Lite’s features will be overlooked by Vivo’s target market for it. The V5 Lite has a built-in GPS with A-GPS feature, as well as Bluetooth, 4.0 with A2DP, and even USB OTG. But what use are those for someone who just enjoys taking selfies, taking photos, and posting on all kinds of social media web sites?
Whatever the case, the V5 Lite does come prepared with a pair of pretty capable cameras. On the back, there’s a 13MP camera with f/2.2 sensor and LED flash, which is useful for portraits, landscape shots, and even indoor photos where there’s very little lighting available.
The rear camera is visible from the side of the V5 Lite, but it doesn’t have that big of a bump. And it practically turns invisible when you put the phone inside its free clear case–included in the retail box. This is a plus for those who prefer not to have a camera bump on their phones, especially if the rear camera won’t be used as much as the front cam, so it doesn’t really need to have those extra megapixels.
Using the V5 Lite as a cameraphone is as straightforward as using pretty much any other Android handset. It comes with the usual sets of controls, including options for panorama, video recording, and HDR mode. There’s also a built-in timer, digital zoom, and a number of camera filters. The stock camera app is plenty useful, but if you like, you can also install third-party camera apps and make better use of the hardware.
When used as a kind of digital camera, the Vivo V5 Lite can be a handy little tool. It can slip in and out of any pants pocket or bag easily, and can start shooting photos as quickly as just a couple of seconds. It captures and saves photos quickly, too.
For selfies, though, the Vivo V5 Lite truly shines. In case you just glossed over it, we suggest scrolling back up to the key specs section to see what difference in sensors used for the rear and front cameras on the Vivo V5 Lite. The biggest difference is that the rear cam has a 13MP sensor but the front-facing cam actually has a 16MP sensor. It’s also faster than the rear cam, so when used during daytime for taking selfies, it produces even better results.
Usually, when talking about a phone’s “main” cam, we refer to the one on the back. But for the V5 Lite, it can be argued that the front cam is the main one. Even without the built-in beautification feature on the camera app, the front cam is able to take bright photos. The “soft light” feature that’s available through the screen certainly helps, but that’s not the only reason for the great selfie photos. The camera itself is just excellent.
There is still a caveat here, of course. And that is the Vivo V5 Lite still can’t be used to fully replace a professional camera. But for casual use, especially for photos that are meant to be shared on social media, it offers excellent performance.
Front cam samples to be uploaded later…
Gaming and performance
The Vivo V5 Lite comes with an octa-core processor, 3GB RAM, and 32GB internal storage. On paper, this is as good a setup as any for a low-midrange smartphone with minimal performance hiccups. In real world use, it doesn’t disappoint.
The phone runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box, which has been turned into what Vivo calls FunTouch OS 3.0. It’s a lot like OPPO’s Color OS, also based on Android, and takes a lot of design and user interface cues from Apple’s iOS. The end-result is a slightly more customizable OS than stock Android, and at least a few nice wallpapers, ringtones, and fonts.
You can modify the look of the home screen easily by using a built-in iTheme app, and even download additional photos for wallpapers and also install third-party fonts. All told, these are customization features that most users seek through third-party apps anyway, so all are useful additions on Vivo’s part.
When put through popular synthetic benchmarking apps, the Vivo V5 Lite shows predictable results. They aren’t that impressive now in a time of three-digit AnTuTu benchmark scores, but 40k is still nothing to knock at. In use, the phone can multi-task well enough to prevent major headaches, and it can run many popular games and mobile apps on the Play Store.
At times, the Vivo V5 Lite shows some lag, but only because of horribly optimized apps. One example is Facebook, where if you press a photo on an album, it can take a full couple of seconds before the photo opens in full screen. That’s not down to the speedy processor onboard the V5 Lite, but to the terrible coding job that Facebook has done with its mobile app.
For gaming, the V5 Lite responds well to touches and fortunately doesn’t get too hot even when you are connected to Wi-Fi or mobile data. In fact, if you use the V5 Lite with the free clear case in the box, you won’t even feel any heat from the back of the phone. And it cools down right away as soon as you quit any intensive apps or mobile games.
The Vivo V5 Lite comes with a built-in 3000mAh battery. Now, if you have never tried a phone with a 3000mAh and above battery, you’ve been missing out. This is the kind of battery that will truly let you use a phone for at least one full day before needing to recharge. With its 3000mAh battery, the V5 Lite can last you from sunrise to sunset, but you might need to turn on low power mode to make it all the way home. For a full charge, it can take up to 2 hours if you check on the phone from time to time. All things considered, we think the battery here is something most users can learn to live with.
Is the Vivo V5 Lite the perfect selfie smartphone? Well, it’s a perfect selfie smartphone, at least as far as we can tell. Its features are tailored around helping users make it through a whole day and bestow them with the ability to take share-worthy photos practically any time and anywhere.
It may be lacking in certain areas, like in security, screen sharpness, and storage space, but for those who like to take pictures, it delivers on all fronts–with regards to the cameras, we mean. The V5 Lite could probably be improved by adding just a little more memory, extra battery capacity, and a few other things, but why would you bother when it’s already fine just the way it is?
For its price, it surely offers a nice, well-rounded package. In other words, as a smartphone, the V5 Lite is just right. And we think many people will be OK with that.