Phone

Vivo V7+ Review: Android Smartphone with Hi-Fi DAC

Vivo V7+ retail box

Vivo, the China smartphone brand, has made some of their mobile products available in the Singapore market. For a start, they brought in the budget Y65 (S$269) and the midrange V7+ (S$469). Vivo sent the V7+ to me for a one-week review and here are my impressions.

Vivo V7+ unboxing

According to Counterpoint’s latest research, Vivo was the fifth largest smartphone brand globally in Q3 2017, capturing a market share of 7.1%. Out of the top 5, Vivo observed the highest year-over-year growth of 32% in global shipments.

Design

The Vivo V7+ comes with the standard accessories – quick charger, micro USB cable, iPhone-styled earphones, and a transparent soft casing. The phone rear is metal, somewhat oil magnet.

Vivo V7+ SIM tray

The SIM tray supports dual nano SIM and micro SD card altogether, which is great news for heavy users, though the 64GB built-in storage should suffice for most users. Volume and power buttons are positioned on the right, with the fingerprint sensor at the back.

Vivo V7+ display

The 6-inch screen resolution is only 1440×720, but the 18:9 (2:1) aspect ratio is in line with all the latest smartphones, achieving an impressive 84.4% screen-to-body ratio. Text lacks sharpness, but it’s a trade-off for price value.

The phone runs on Qualcomm 8-core Snapdragon 450 in 4GB RAM, with its Funtouch OS 3.2 based on Android 7.1. Battery capacity is 3225mAh. With this hardware combination, battery consumption is very low and the phone can last more than a day of my kind of usage.

What I Don’t Like

I would like to talk about the weaknesses first, to get them over the done with. Not much, really, just the CPU is not as smooth, resulting in some slow response when executing tasks, but nothing that a casual user would worry. Fortunately, the camera operation is fast, and I will come to that later.

The other thing I do not like is the iOS-like homescreen launcher without a separate app drawer. It would be great if there is an option to switch between these 2 types, like other smartphone makers have offered. It also takes a bit of getting used to when it comes to pulling up the control panel from the bottom instead of the top which is reserved purely for notifications.

Vivo V7+ screen shots

Putting that aside, the Vivo V7+ has a lot to like, surprisingly.

Vivo V7+ Features

When most Android smartphones have similar software functions, I get impressed when makers provide additional values that could not be achieved by installing apps. Here are a list of features that make Vivo V7+ worth buying.

24MP Front Camera, 16MP Rear Camera

Vivo puts a high resolution camera in front instead of the rear, and the selfie quality is indeed pleasantly processed without looking artificial.

The camera does not have many shooting modes, but at least its pro mode allows sufficient manipulation of the shot settings. There are also over 20 filters to choose from – just click the icon to the right of the shutter button.

Vivo V7+ camera app

Under the Professional camera mode, I can adjust EV, ISO, shutter speed, white balance, and focus.

Vivo V7+ camera app

The rear camera also captures images that I can accept. There are sufficient details without looking over-processed. The exposure and the colour vibrancy are conservative, compared to LG V30+.

Vivo V7+ (top) vs. LG V30+ (bottom)
Vivo V7+ (top) vs. LG V30+ (bottom)

The good thing is the the highlights are preserved, and you can have more leeway in post-processing.

LG V30+ (left) vs. Vivo V7+ (right)
LG V30+ (left) vs. Vivo V7+ (right)

Night photography is surprisingly fast in capturing, with no lags, which I experienced on LG V30+. Exposure, again, is on the safe side.

LG V30+ (top) vs. Vivo V7+ (bottom)
LG V30+ (top) vs. Vivo V7+ (bottom)

The portrait mode for both front and rear offer separation between the subject and the background, given the scene is not too complex. It is certainly easier than having to manually blur out the background using separate apps and effort.

Vivo V7+ Front Camera Portrait Mode

It is also possible to capture up to 64MP resolution by selecting Ultra HD. In the test shot, I do observe more details from the 64MP image. It still looks digitally processed, but it brings out details that the 16MP lacks, especially the foliage.

Vivo V7+ sample photo

Hi-Fi DAC

The Vivo V7+ is fitted with the AK4376A audio chip, a premium digital-to-analog converter that puts the V7+ a league above the other smartphones. Like the LG smartphones, you can disable by tapping the Hi-Fi icon. The audio quality is clearly different compared to the standard audio processor, with higher amplification, improved spatial image, increased transparency at the high frequency and better bass response. Compared to the LG V30+, the V7+ is more transparent, and drives headphones better.

Vivo V7+ Hi-Fi screen shot

Smart Actions

Vivo V7+ has a handful of smart actions that are inspired from other smartphones. For instance, the Smart Click allows user to use the volume button to start an action. It also wakes up the screen to show phone status not unlike Moto Z. There is also the shake to turn flashlight feature, similar to Moto Z (but I cannot turn off the flashlight when I shake again). And of course, one of my favourite feature inspired by LG: double tap to turn off screen.

Vivo V7+ smart action screenshots

Super Screenshot

I also like the ability to capture scroll screenshot as well as screen recording with video.

Vivo V7+ super screenshot

Biometrics and Security

The Vivo V7+ supports fingerprint sensor as well as face unlock. They work quite fast and reliably.

Vivo V7+ fingerprint and face unlock

Vivo goes one step further by requiring user to set 2 security questions when configuring fingerprint unlock. The questions can be manually entered if you don’t like the recommended list.

Vivo V7+ security questions

Customise Navigation Keys

The ability to customise the navigation keys is a small but appreciated feature. Besides changing the order, I can also change the icon design.

Vivo V7+ navigation keys

Verdict

While the Vivo V7+ runs on modest processor specs and display resolution, the features which I have described above interests me. The design is up-to-date with metal body, 18:9 aspect ratio, and high screen-to-body ratio. The camera response and capture speed is fast and although the colour is muted, the exposure and details are above average which provides good post-processing leeway. The audio quality is one of the better ones that would impress listeners who are keen on transparent sounds. The phone also offers many customisation options and smart functions taken from LG and Moto which I favour. Finally, the price is very attractive and does not burn a hole in the wallet.

Summary Specs

Operating System: Funtouch OS 3.2 (Android 7.1.2)
Processor: Snapdragon 1.8GHz 8-core
Memory: 4GB RAM, 64GB storage
Camera: Front 14MP, Rear 16MP
Battery: 3225 mAh
Display: 6-inch 1440×720 pixels

 

Thanks Vivo Singapore for the 1-week loan.

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