Android

Vivo V7+ Review – A Better Thought Out Package

In Malaysia, the V series is Vivo’s best selling line-up. In a year we’ve seen the unveiling of the V5 and a follow-up model, the V5S. For 2017, Vivo presents to us with the new V7+ and the smaller V7. With a price tag of RM1499 for the V7+, does it have a chance to survive in the huge budget smartphone market out there? Let’s find out.

Unboxing

The V7+ comes in a usual white packaging like all their other devices. The phone is the first thing that is revealed when you lift the top cover off. Below the tray that the phone sits at is a box which contains the usual documentations and a soft case, which gets the phone protected right out of the box. The rest of the box contains the usual accessories, including a USB wall adapter, a microUSB cable and a cheap-looking pair of earphones. It even comes with a pre-applied screen protector.

Design

Unmistakably Vivo

At first glance, the V7+ also have the premium looks that is found on the V5 considering the price. Even though Vivo has included some new design cues for the V7+, it is still easy to recognize that it is a Vivo-designed smartphone. Even though it is nowhere as premium as a more expensive device, it is respectable that Vivo gave you this design at this price point. Being the larger device in the line-up, the V7+’s size is slightly larger than the just-announced V7 in terms of width and height, but the difference is no more than 5-centimeters. The thickness is pretty same as well.

The looks of the V7+ might be deceiving, but when you pick the phone up, you’ll immediately realize that the metallic-feeling unibody is actually just plastic with metallic coating. Still, they’ve got the body looking great. The front glass is actually Gorilla Glass 4, and even though it has the 2.5D-edges on all four corners, it also has this plastic band that goes around all 4 sides. There’s also some chamfered edges-looking trim on the unibody. With that said, it is well-weighted at 160-grams, while the little brother V7 is around 20-grams lighter with the same materials but a smaller body.

A 5.99-inch “FullView” display dominates the front, and like the Nova 2i, it is in 18:9 format. This means that it does not need to be a wider device, just that it fills up the most of the front. The bezels on both sides are pretty minimal as well, staying true to its “FullView” name. Since there isn’t much space at the top or bottom, Vivo had to switch to on-screen Android controls. The top has just enough space for the 24-megapixel front-facing camera and the softlight LED flash that goes with it, a regular earpiece and a couple of sensors.

The removable SIM tray is, as usual, located on the left, and once it has been removed with the included tray ejector tool, you are presented with 3 slots – 2 nanoSIM slots and a standalone microSD card slot for storage expansion. It is such a relief to able to see a manufacturer offering you everything instead of a “hybrid” slot. There’s nothing going on the top, and the power and volume buttons are conveniently located on the right.

The rest of the party is left at the bottom – including a 3.5-mm headphone jack, a microphone, a microUSB port for charging and data transfer as well as a bottom-firing mono speaker.

The design on the back is, as always with Vivo devices, pretty clean. There is a subtle chrome antenna lines running towards the top and the bottom. The curves on all 4 sides are very clean as well. The top left houses the 16-megapixel camera with LED flash, a fingerprint reader at the centre with a Vivo logo below it. Vivo is also proud of their design of the Vivo V7+, hence the tagline “Designed by vivo” at the bottom. Apart from those, the back is very clean and classy looking.

Our V7+ review unit is finished in a Champagne Gold colour, and the only other colour that the V7+ is offered is Matte Black. The same colours are offered on the smaller V7.

Vivo V7+ Exterior Photos

Specs and Performance

Once again, Qualcomm saves the day

For devices at this price point, Vivo usually got their processors from MTK, but for the V7 and V7+, Vivo has turned to Qualcomm for some supplies for processors. The V7 and V7+ is the first device to debut with Qualcomm’s all new Snapdragon 450 processor, an all-new SoC designed for budget devices. It is an octa-core processor clocked at 1.8GHz, which is not only an improvement over the Snapdragon 435 that it replaces, it is said to be better than MTK’s MT6750 that is used in the V5s. This chip is promised to be even more efficient with performance gains with lower costs in the battery department. Vivo has also included 4GB of RAM to go along. The V7 features the same exact setup as well.

In the real world, the V7+ is surprisingly fast to use. The oomph that the processor packs really helped a lot. Being a reworked Snapdragon 620 that we used to love, the 450’s main criteria is to be able to spread tasks across all cores while keeping the clock-speed low. It is still no flagship-like performance, but for the price, there’s no complaint at all. The V7+ handles basic-tasks easily, all without any juddering or sudden slow-downs that MTK chips are known for. For what it is, it’s performance for mid and heavy tasks are actually quite well. It is not going to blow doors or minds, but with the new 14nm architecture on the processor, it produces less heat, uses up less battery and is more efficient when all 8-cores are fired up to the max. Very rarely it will lag or show visible signs of slow-downs for real demanding tasks, but overall, it is really impressive.

Results from our usual Geekbench benchmarking app reveals that the new Snapdragon 450 scores 770 for single-core, and close to 4000 for multi-core scores. While the single-core score is just average, multi-core score just shows what it can achieve with all 8 cores joined forces together.

The V7+ is given a whopping amount of internal storage at 64GB, and the V7 still had to settle with 32GB. The storage on the V7+ provides reasonable speeds, with both sequential read and write speeds well over 200MB/s. You can also expand it with a microSD card since it has its own dedicated slot without having to get in the way of the dual-SIM functionality, and the V7+ will take cards up to 256GB.

802.11 b/g/n Single-band Wi-Fi can only be found on the V7+, and the lack of dual-band support is a bummer. Bluetooth 4.1 is also thrown in. Still, the modem on the V7+ supports LTE bands. While the new processor supports up to USB 3.0 and NFC support, Vivo does not fully utilize it. A microUSB 2.0 is still being used. FM Radio also comes with the V7+, and as usual, it requires earphones to be plugged in via the 3.5mm headphone jack.

Since there is no space on the front, the fingerprint reader had to be moved to the back. It’s square in share with rounded corners, and its matte surface allows it to read fingerprints quickly and accurately. So far we have not encountered any lags when unlocking the device as well. The fingerprint reader can also be used to take a photo in the camera app, or revealing the notification panel by sliding up and down. The sliding gestures can be a little choppy at times.

Display

FullView at this price point!

The display on the V7+ is a bit of a mixed bag. It measures 5.99-inches in 18:9 format, which is a good start, as the V7+ is one of the very first devices with this setup at this price point. The 18:9 display allows for more vertical content to be displayed, which makes for better content consumption. But, for some reason Vivo thinks its enough to only include a sad 720p resolution display, which most of the devices at this price point starting to move towards 1080p. With a resolution of 720 X 1440, the screen density is at a rather low 269 pixels-per-inch. It is noticeably not as sharp as other devices that we are used to, and it is easy to pick up the pixels when you are really close to it, but it is still functional, and from a regular distance, it is not too bad. The V7 with a smaller display but the same resolution is slightly sharper.

An IPS panel is also found on the V7+. It is a regular IPS panel which is carried over from the V5 range. Being an IPS panel, colours are adequately vivid thanks to the deep black nature of the IPS which helps with contrasts level. Colours are natural if not a little towards the cooler side. While it has right amount of brightness, using the V7+ under sunlight can wash out some of the colours. Nevertheless, the auto brightness features work well and quick to keep the brightness at the right level depending on the conditions. There’s also no question about the viewing angle. At the end of the day, it is still an IPS panel.

Speakers

Just a regular standard setup

A bottom firing mono speaker is the only setup that is found on the V7+. It seems like it is carried over from previous Vivo devices as well. The loudness is there and the bass is well-balanced, but it could use more clarity even by mono speaker standards. At maximum volume, there is noticeable distortion as well. Overall, while it is not bad, there are still room for improvement.

There’s also a Hi-Fi functionality which gives a nondestructive audio output, but it will only work with earphones or external devices plugged in to the 3.5mm headphone jack.

Camera performance

It’s all just about selfie

As always, Vivo’s devices revolve around its selfie capabilities, and are designed for those who likes to take their selfie game to the next level. The primary camera on the V7+ is no longer the 16-megapixel rear camera, but the 24-megapixel front-facing camera with f/2.0 aperture. Unlike the Nova 2i, dual-camera systems are nowhere to be seen. It is also combined with Vivo’s Face Beauty algorithm, and it is aimed to provide selfies with more natural processing. But apart from the LED softlight, there’s nothing much going on.

Vivo has been in the selfie game for quite some time now, and the V7+ definitely is an improvement over the previous V5. You do get stunning amount of details from the front-facing camera, and the colours are spot on as well, at least in conditions in favour of the sensor. The dynamic range is surprisingly wide with great contrast, and it is really a blast to use. It is also easy to get your face in focus, but with such a selfie-oriented device, the inclusion of auto-focus would’ve been a nice touch. Its not really wide-angle, but there is a group selfie mode which is like a panorama feature.

There is also a Face Beauty mode which allows you to adjust the buffing, skin tone and whitening of a person’s face. Even though Vivo says that it should be more natural processing, but it can only be achieved with settings toned down. Really, even with default settings, some people may find it a little too artificial. The portrait mode included adds blur to the background of a person to simulate depth effect, and even though without the help of a secondary sensor and lens, the V7+ can do that pretty well. It freaks out with complicated shapes and the blur may look artificial, but for what it is, it is quite impressive.

The rear-facing setup consists of a 16-megapixel sensor with f/2.0 aperture. It has phase-detection autofocus and an LED flash to go along with it. Overall, the rear-camera captures likable photos. In conditions with sufficient lighting, there are a good amount of details, and it is reasonably sharp as well. Colours are well rendered with vivid, but natural colours, and it has a wide dynamic range. It is still advisable to leave HDR in its auto settings, as it will work things out on its own to improve the colour. On the other hand, however, it does not perform well in low-light photography. Even though with the f/2.0 aperture, there is a good amount of visible noise, and the details are just washed out. It can be clearly seen that the softer image messes around with the details.

There is also an Ultra HD mode which takes photos and upscale them up to 64-megapixels, but there is not much different between normal and Ultra HD photos, so it is pretty much a gimmick. Those who like to mess around the settings will appreciate the Professional mode, where settings such as Exposure Value, ISO, Shutter Speed, White Balande and Focus are presented.

Vivo V7+ Samples

Both the front and rear-facing cameras record videos up to 1080p, and is capped at 30 frames-per-second. Once again, Vivo did not make full use of the Snapdragon 450’s capability of recording videos at 60 frames-per-second. The videos are smooth at a steady 30fps, and it has natural colours with enough details. It is lacking any form of stabilization, so do expect some shakiness even with steady hands.

The camera app on the V7+ is pretty basic, but it gets the job done. The toggles are on the left, which leaves the rest of the settings on the right, including mode switcher, filters, shutter icon, image preview and camera switch toggle. The user interface is simple and straight-forward. You can also swipe up and down to go through the modes.

via GIPHY

Software

The V7+ comes with Android 7.1.2 right of the box and that’s a good start. Of course, Vivo has added their Funtouch OS customization on top. There’s no denying on how similar Vivo’s customization looks compared to Apple’s iOS, even down to how the entire user interface works, the icons and graphics. For instance, the launcher does not even have an app drawer. All the apps are cluttered on the home screen. Still, it isn’t a bad thing. It is easy to use, and looks pretty similar to previous versions of Funtouch OS.

The user interface feels light when paired to the new processor, and everything is done swiftly. It does come with a couple of bloatware, but does not tamper with the overall performance and can be easily uninstalled.

Vivo V7+ Screenshots

Battery Life

A 3225mAh non-removable battery is found in the Vivo V7+ (3000mAh for the V7). For the price, it is a good amount. We expect the battery life to be a lot better with less pixels to push around and the new processor, and it does not disappoint. Using our usual test method, the phone returned with 20%-25% battery left at the end of a busy day with 2 SIM cards running, and with primary SIM card connected to data for most of the time. Most people with lighter usage won’t have problems getting 30%. With our heavy usage, it will go on for another 2-3 hours before calling it a day. There’s not much smart power saving measures, but it will still warn you about apps that are draining the battery.

The V7+ is charged through the microUSB port, and it does not feature any fast charging. Using the regular 5V/2A charger that is supplied, it will take the V7+ from a flat battery to 25% in 30 minutes, and a full charge requires close to 3 hours.

To Wrap Things Up

With a price tag of RM1499, the Vivo V7+ sounds like a bargain with lots of points to be impressed. Better yet, it’s smaller brother – the V7 is RM200 cheaper at RM1299, and you do get pretty much the same thing apart from some compromises in size, battery capacity and storage capacity. Still, the V7+ is still able to shine in the huge sea of budget devices, but with lots of devices out there to choose from, do feel free to include the V7+ in your consideration list.

The Good
18:9 ratio display at this price point
Features Qualcomm’s new processor
Impressive performance
Impressive selfie capabilities
Overall premium looking device

The Bad
Display is only a mere 720p
Low-light photography is a mess
No fast charging
Not making full use of the new processor
Operating System is a mess

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