If you are looking for a phone that cost under S$500, you have a ton of options from various manufacturers to choose from. Some come with top of the line processors, Honor 8 Pro for example, while some have ginormous displays, like the Mi Max 2.
The phone we will be taking a look at today has a whopping 24MP front facing camera, targeted at selfie lovers. This device is none other than Vivo’s V7+, available at M1 and Singtel for S$469 off contract. Is it worth your money? Let’s find out.
Summary – Great Hardware, Unrefined Software
- Eye-catching design
- Case & screen protector included
- Dedicated Micro SD slot + 2 SIM slot
- Beautiful 5.99″ 18:9 display
- One of the best rear cameras under S$500
- Impressive 24MP selfie camera
- Still using Micro USB
- Low screen resolution
- FunTouch OS 3.2 feels unpolished
- A single charge can last a full day with moderate usage
- Headphone jack too quiet, possibly due to faulty review unit
- Bottom firing speaker is loud but not very good sounding
- Performance is alright for price, can be better
Pricing & Variants – Only Black and 64GB?!!!
Only available in Black, with 64GB ROM and 4GB RAM. Case and screen protector included.
Phones these days comes in a variety of colors and storage options, but there is only one version of the Vivo V7+ you can buy, at least in Singapore: Black with 64GB storage and 4GB RAM.
For some people, 64GB of storage is not enough, but it is the most you will find on a phone at this price point in Singapore. But for most people, it should be more than enough, especially if you store your photos and videos on Google Photos.
V7+ comes with quite a bit of accessories, including wall adapter, cable, earphones and a clear jelly case. A screen protector has also been applied, so you do not have to pay more to get the basic stuff. I wish more manufacturers would do this.
Design – Generic… But Eye-Catching!
Very familiar design, but silver accents gives it an appealing look. SIM tray has 2 nano SIM slots plus a dedicated Micro SD card slot, no need to compromise.
Looking from a distance, the Vivo V7+’s rear may remind you of the iPhone 6, OPPO R11 or even the Mi A1; it is the same old boring design used on numerous smartphones by various manufacturers in the past three years. Hmm…
But take a closer look and your will absolutely fall in love with this design. The two silver stripes forming each antenna line, as well as the silver accent line going around the sides of the phone, really stand out from the black metal housing. Beautiful!
Apart from the antenna lines, you will also find the rear camera with a single flash, Vivo’s logo and a squarish fingerprint scanner on the back. (Plus some really faint writing at the bottom) The V7+’s rear design is clean and simple.
As usual, the power and volume buttons are located on the right. To the left, we have a SIM tray. This is no regular SIM tray or hybrid SIM tray. It has two slots for nano SIM cards, plus a dedicated slot for your Micro SD card. Awesome!
On the top sits a microphone hole. But the bottom is really packed, with a headphone jack, another microphone hole, Micro USB port and a single speaker grill. Micro USB on a device close to S$500 in 2018? A little disappointing if you ask me.
Keeping up with the latest trend, Vivo equipped the V7+ with a 5.99″ 18:9 display. Above it sits the selfie camera with a single flash, as well as the earpiece, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor and a green LED notification light.
Display – Low Resolution, Otherwise Great
Not very sharp, but good colors and viewing angles. 18:9 screen ratio allow apps to display more content.
The 5.99″ 18:9 HD+ IPS LCD display is kind of like a 5.5″ 16:9 HD display stretched vertically. The resolution is a bit low, but it isn’t very noticeable as long as you do not pixel peep, or in layman terms, look at the screen too closely.
Otherwise, this display is not a bad one. Colors look vibrant, with fairly deep blacks and good white balance. Viewing angles are great and the display is bright enough to be seen under sunlight. The 18:9 ratio brings a couple of advantages:
In games like 王者荣耀, you get a larger field of view, allowing you to spot further enemies. But for some games, The Fishercat for example, developers cut of the top and bottom instead, so you are actually seeing less with 18:9.
For web surfing and typing of documents, the benefits of an 18:9 screen ratio are much more obvious. With a taller display, your browser and note apps are able to display more words, which makes reading and typing a lot more convenient.
L – 18:9 (Vivo V7+), R – 16:9 (Lenovo A7000)
Vivo V7+ uses on-screen navigation bar as it doesn’t have capacitive buttons below the display. On-screen navigation bar eats up a portion of your display, which makes the shift to 18:9 a little pointless, but Vivo has a solution to that: swipe gestures.
With swipe gestures, you can swipe up from the bottom left of the display to bring up control center, bottom middle to go home and bottom right to go back. To enable it and hide the navigation bar, carry out the following steps in the Settings app:
“Navigation keys” > “Hide navigation keys and use sliding gestures”
Performance – Not Fantastic, But Good Enough
Day to day tasks run smoothly, capable of playing most graphic intensive games without any major issue.
Vivo V7+ is powered by the Snapdragon 450 processor, the same one found in the Redmi 5, with 4GB of RAM. How does it perform? I carried out a couple of benchmarks and played a couple of graphic intensive games to find out.
In Geekbench 4, V7+ scored 765 for single core and 3910 for multi-core. In AnTuTu, the V7+ also did pretty well with a score of 75047. These results are better than the Redmi 5’s, but you can find something a lot more powerful at a similar price.
But Benchmarks do not necessarily reflect real world use. How is it like to use the V7+ for day-to-day tasks and gaming? V7+’s UI was butter smooth and most games ran without any major issue. If you do not play a lot of games, this should be good enough.
Rear Camera – Full of Surprises
Produces great photos and excellent videos for its price. Has numerous useful modes, including one that interpolates 64GB photos. HDR not working properly.
V7+’s rear camera is a 16MP shooter with f/2.0 aperture. It doesn’t sound very impressive on paper, but pictures taken with it have plenty of details and true-to-life colors. For portraits, there is a beautify mode which works pretty well.
Click on image to view in full resolution
Photos tend to turn out brighter than it is in real life. The second row of photos above were shot when the sky was turning dark, but they looks as if they were taken half an hour earlier. You can see that these photos aren’t as sharp though.
Video recording max out at 1080p on the V7+, the highest resolution for the Snapdragon 450 processor. Videos are not very stable, but their quality is excellent, without over-sharpening like on other mid-range phones in this price range.
There is a HDR mode on the V7+, but I found photos without it to have a lot more accurate colors and overall, better looking. Take a look below. If not for the labeling below, most people would have guessed that the ones on the left are HDR.
L – HDR disabled, R – HDR enabled
Strangely, images taken with HDR also seem to have smaller file size every single time, unlike what we normally see on other phones. (I tested it multiple times) I have a suspicion that Vivo accidentally mixed up HDR on and off.
A really cool feature in the V7+’s camera app is “Ultra HD”, which combines multiple shots into a 64MP photo. It really works! While it is not as sharp as an actual 64MP camera, it definitely is a lot more detailed than the normal 16MP photos.
L – Ultra HD (click on image to view in full res), R – Cropped
My mind was blown by the results. With regular 16MP photos, you will never be able to crop in so much and still be able to read the words. Note that you will have to hold very still when taking 64MP photos and file size for 64MP photos is much larger.
At night, photos turn out noisy and blurry, expected, but colors are preserved really well. On a large display, these photos look kind of bad, but if you are only going to use them for Instagram, half of the low-light photos should turn out good enough.
Click on image to view in full res
I was really surprised by the quality of V7+’s videos at night, especially slow-mo videos, which even costlier phones struggle with. The V7+’s video may not be very sharp, but colors of the lights are accurate and the amount of noise is acceptable.
Front Camera – Great Selfies Even at Night?
Capable of Instagram-worthy selfies, even at night.
Under well-lit conditions, the Vivo V7+’s 24MP front facing camera can take excellent selfies, as long as you lower the exposure. The camera app loves to overexpose selfies, which helps a lot at night, but you will want to tone it down in the day.
And of course, since this is a selfie-focused phone, you do get some really cool features on the selfie camera. There is a bokeh mode, Face Beauty 7.0 aka beautify and even HDR. The selfie below was taken with bokeh mode and beautify on.
At night, the Vivo V7+’s camera struggles a little with blur. But somehow the V7+ manages to make selfies really bright without introducing too much noise and beautify still works well.
Audio – Did I Get a Faulty Review Unit?
Headphone jack a little too quiet, might be due to faulty device. Bottom speaker loud but meh sounding. Microphone and earpiece works well.
Vivo boasts that the V7+ is equipped with the AK4376A Hi-Fi audio chip which is suppose to be pretty good, but I was very disappointed at the results I got. The level of detail is pretty good, but at its max volume, it is just 50-70% as loud as other phones.
But checking with Chester from Music Photo Life, it seems that I may have received a faulty review unit. The headphone jack of his could produce audio that is quite loud when Hi-Fi mode is enabled. I might have to retest this in the future.
The bottom firing speaker is slightly louder than the Redmi 5’s, but the sound distorts quite a bit at max volume, resulting in sound that is thrash like the Redmi Note 4’s. It is good enough for watching videos, but I would not use it for music.
Thankfully, the microphone and earpiece both do a good job, so you can enjoy your phone calls on the V7+. Voice recordings done with the V7+’s microphone sound natural with good enough volume. The earpiece is loud and clear.
Battery Life – Small Battery, Acceptable Endurance
Easily lasts through a day with moderate usage. Heavy usage will drain its battery to zero by late afternoon.
Vivo V7+ is powered by a 3225mAh battery, which isn’t a lot for a phone this size, but it keeps the device light. How is battery life on the V7+? To find out, I conducted two tests: one with moderate usage and another under more intensive workload.
Brightness is set to auto and SIM card was inserted in the phone throughout the entire test duration. There is no screen-on time indicator on the Vivo V7+, but we can subtract the phone idle duration from the “time on” of RF service to estimate SOT.
Under regular usage involving some light gaming, web and social media surfing plus some YouTube watching, the V7+ had 20% battery remaining by 10PM. Screen-on time was approximately 6h 21min, which is not bad for a 3225mAh battery.
- Total duration 16h 19min
- Screen-on time 6h 21min
- 3h light gaming (The Fishercat, Royal Blade and Big Hunter)
- 54min browser
- 30min Facebook
- 30min YouTube
Playing graphic-intensive games, watching some videos and leaving WiFi on the entire time, the V7+ got drained to 5% battery after 10h 11min of use, with a screen-on time of 4h 44min. The phone was down to all the way to 1% battery before 6PM.
- Total duration 10h 11min
- Screen-on time 4h 44min
- 2h 21min PUBG Mobile
- 40min OPUS: Rocket of Whispers
- 25min YouTube
Under regular usage, the V7+ should get you through a day with a little bit of juice left. But with heavy gaming, it will struggle to last through the entire day. If that happens and you only have an hour to charge your phone, how much juice can you get?
Using the wall adapter that came in the box, which is regular 5V 2A, the V7+ charged from 1% to 52% in an hour, which should be enough to get you through the rest of the day.
Software – Feature Packed But Unrefined
Feature packed, but some features not properly implemented and the Settings app is really confusing.
Vivo V7+ runs Vivo’s own FunTouch OS 3.2, based on Android 7.1 Nougat. FunTouch is drastically different from stock android, with a ton of added features and a redesigned UI, similar to other Android skins from China, like MIUI and ColorOS.
The default look for FunTouch OS 3.2 is colorful and fun, but if you do not like it, you can always change customize it in the i Theme app, from app icons and fonts. Bloatware is minimal and some of the pre-installed apps can be uninstalled.
Unlike stock Android, quick toggles are not found in the notification shade. Instead, they are located in the control center, similar to iOS, which appears when you swipe up from the bottom of the display. From here, you can also control recent apps.
FunTouch comes with a handful of cool and useful features, like facial recognition, the most versatile one-handed mode I have ever seen and also the S-capture feature, which lets you take screenshots of various shapes and sizes.
But after using V7+ as my daily driver for a few days, all I can say is that FunTouch is still very unrefined; many features are not well thought out and executed. Also, the Settings app is probably the most unorganized one I have ever seen.
While I love the one-handed mode, the gesture to access it is very bad. It requires swiping from one edge to the middle, and then back to the edge. The phone would register it as a regular swipe in the process and that is very annoying.
Split screen works with a very limited number of apps. Ironically, most of Vivo’s own apps do not support it – not even basic apps which you would expect it to work with, like Notes and Email. This is almost as good as not having split screen at all.
Next, the naming of some features and phrasing of instructions can get really confusing. In FunTouch, battery usage is known as “Rank”, beautify is known as “Face Beauty” and for no reason, Vivo named some of their apps with an “i” in front.
These issues do not sound very significant, but FunTouch OS will be a lot more enjoyable to use once they are fixed. But even in its current state, FunTouch OS is not a bad Android skin, so I will not let it stop me from recommending the V7+.
Note: To use USB OTG, you have to enable it in Settings. It will disable after a short while of non-usage. It is a little troublesome, but it keeps the information in your phone safe.
Conclusion – Perfect Shot Indeed!
When discussing about how “worth it” a phone is, people often only look at specs, but specs do not always reflect how good a product is. Software, battery life and camera – all of these require real life testing before you know how good they are.
The Vivo V7+ isn’t very attractive on paper, but after using it for a couple of days, I have come to really appreciate it. It may not have the most powerful processor nor the best battery life, but its cameras are among the best in its price range.