Review: Blu Vivo 5R

Blu has been slowly making its mark in the smartphone market by offering impressive products at affordable prices. The recently launched Blu Vivo 5R is yet another addition to its arsenal and it was quite the surprise package.

Design and build

sequence-03-00_01_05_14-still003The Blu Vivo 5R resembles a fairly standard modern-day smartphone. Although encased in a plastic shell, the phone feels far from cheap. This is largely due to the metal framing around it as well as the robust volume and power buttons. The fingerprint scanner on the flip side is also fairly fast and accurate and the slight hump from the camera unit does not make the phone rock too much on a flat surface. The phone’s more-than-average heft, combined with the metallic finish, makes for a premium feel for a fraction of a flagship smartphone’s price.

Software and user experience

sequence-03-00_01_53_14-still005Quite surprisingly, the slightly curved 5.5-inch Full HD IPS display, complete with 2.5D protection, provides some vibrant colours and good viewing angles. With a pixel density of 401, the screen shows no quality drops when viewing multimedia or running the user interface unless viewing virtual reality content up close to the screen. To complement, the backfiring speaker grill is great even in louder environments.

The phone is run by a 64-bit Mediatek 6753 octa-core processor clocked at 1.3GHz and 3GB of RAM. While general tasks do not require more power than is present, heavy browsing and multitasking are not recommended on the Blu Vivo 5R, despite good RAM management as it tends to slow down the device considerably. The Mali T-720 GPU is also great for some light gaming, but heavier games tend to stutter and can sometimes be unplayable.

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Running a skinned version of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the device’s overall experience remains similar to stock Android. Unfortunately, the software does not come with an application drawer nor does it provide too much flexibility in terms of theme customisation. Even so, small tweaks by Blu such as pulling the quick toggles from the bottom of the screen like in iOS grow on users and can become a convenience.

Camera

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Most budget smartphones cut corners when it comes to camera, but the Blu Vivo 5R continues to impress here as well. The 13-megapixel camera is great for picture taking in brightly lit scenarios and offers a wide variety of different modes. At night, pictures are not bad, but do show some grain and overexposure of various lights. The front-facing 8-megapixel camera also performs well. While the flash on the front is neat, it takes away from the background in darker conditions and reflects harshly off glasses. Video recording on the other hand was good at Full HD resolution providing plenty of detail, but the lack of optical image stabilisation may produce some shaky footage. Microphone reception though was spot on even in louder environments. For samples, click here.

Battery life and conclusion

A 3,150mAh battery is found on the Blu Vivo 5R, which seems to keep the phone running for most of the day. Average use led to a screen-on time reading of five hours but on heavier days it dropped to four hours. Typical usage included moderate browsing, gaming, social media interaction and consuming multimedia at 50% brightness with location services enabled. This may vary between users, so it is advisable to carry the charger along with the smartphone to recharge before the end of the day. Unfortunately, the microUSB 2.0 port does not support fast charging and a wireless charging option is also not present.

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At the end of the day, a budget smartphone offering the above in addition to expandable storage and support for dual-sim cards says a lot. Priced at Dh559 via Souq, the Blu Vivo 5R is suitable for a variety of users. In addition, a case, screen protector, the USB “on the go” adapter and the headphones out of the box enhance the value for money provided by the company. While the phone may not compete with high-end flagships, it is a great option for consumers on a tight budget.