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The chances are that you haven’t heard of Vivo, it is a Chinese smartphone manufacturer that makes quite a large range of smartphones, but until now it has focused on the main Asian markets. However, like so many Chinese OEMs, the company is looking to gain more recognition in the west. As part of its push westwards, vivo recently released two high-end smartphones: the vivo X6 and vivo X6Plus. Ash has done a fantastic unboxing/first look/travelogue for the X6 and now it is my turn to take a look at the X6Plus.
Like the vivo X6, when you take a quick look at the vivo X6Plus and you will probably think it looks much like another well-known phone, one which bears a fruity motif. That said, the device does look good, it seems well-made and thanks to the metal frame it has a premium feel to it. The buttons are responsive yet firm, however it is worth mentioning that the capacitive keys on the front aren’t back lit.
The device is quite big, due to its 5.7 inch display, however if you are used to handling large screen phones then it won’t feel out of place. For some context the vivo X6Plus is narrower than the HUAWEI Mate 8 (which has a 6 inch display) and narrower than the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge (AKA Note 4 Edge), however it is wider than the Samsung Galaxy Note 5.
Going around the phone, the volume rocker and power button are on the right, while the dual-SIM tray is on the left. At the top is the 3.5mm headphone jack and on the bottom is the micro-USB port and single speaker. On the back is the rear facing camera along with its flash LED, plus the finger print reader. It is the two bands that run across the back, near the top and bottom, that give the vivo X6Plus a certain iPhone-esque look.
Face the vivo X6 and you will be looking right into a 5.7-inch 1080p Super AMOLED panel. Sure, it’s lacking that QHD resolution, but I must say this display is very good. It looks beautiful and has great viewing angles. I really have nothing to complain about here.
Hardware and performance
As well as the crisp Full HD AMOLED display the vivo X6Plus also boasts 4GB of RAM, a finger print reader and quick charging. The only slight let down is the choice of processor. The X6Plus uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 615. The 615 is an octa-core processor with 8 Cortex-A53 cores, with four cores clocked at 1.2GHz and four cores clocked at 1.7GHz. Accompanying the CPU is the Adreno 405 GPU.
In terms of every day use these specs are adequate and most users won’t find themselves wishing for more CPU power, and because of the 4GB of RAM even some power users will find the X6Plus more than sufficient. However if you play a lot of 3D games, use CPU intensive apps or visit a lot of complex websites then the Snapdragon 615 will be under powered for you.
The use of a Cortex-A53 octa-core SoC is also reflected in the benchmarks. The vivo X6Plus scored 780 on Geekbench’s single-core test and 3143 for the multi-core test. For some context, those scores are lower than the octa-core Cortex-A53 Kirin 935 found in the HUAWEI Mate S, lower than the octa-core Cortex-A53 MediaTek Helio X10 found in the Redmi Note 2 and lower than the quad-core 32-bit Snapdragon 801. If you want to see more benchmark scores for some of 2015’s leading processors then check out my SoC showdown: Snapdragon 810 vs Exynos 7420 vs MediaTek Helio X10 vs Kirin 935.
I ran my custom written Terrain 4 benchmark and the vivo X6Plus scored 8.96 frames per second and managed to display a total of 2225 frames during the test run. By comparison the vivo X6 (with its octa-core Cortex-A53 MediaTek MT6752 and ARM Mali-T760 GPU) managed 10.07 fps and 2355 total frames. A faster, next generation phone like the HUAWEI Mate 8 manages 20.72 fps and 3348 total frames at the same Full HD resolution.
The fingerprint reader on the X6Plus is first class. It is fast, accurate and is certainly comparable with the lightning fast and reliable fingerprint scanner on the HUAWEI Mate 8. Like the Mate 8, you can wake and unlock your phone just by putting your finger on the reader.
The X6Plus has a 3000 mAh battery which delivers a great battery experience. Although it has a 5.7 inch 1080p display, the processor is quite conservative in its power usage, the result is that you will get all-day battery life, easily. Unfortunately Funtouch OS doesn’t include a battery usage page of any kind. So instead I did some battery tests. First I ran Goat Simulator to test the battery life while playing 3D games. According to my calculations you will be able to play 3D games for over 4.5 hours on the vivo X6Plus. That is quite an impressive number as some phones fail to give you a lesser screen-on time without doing any 3D (i.e. GPU) work. Turning to simpler tasks like watching YouTube over Wi-Fi or web browsing, I found that you will get at least 15 hours of both from this device. What that translates to is in fact a two day battery life (of course depending on your usage). So a big thumbs up for vivo for the battery life of the X6Plus.
When it comes to the fast charging the vivo X6Plus supports what vivo calls “dual-engine quick charging.” The charger is rated at 5V/2A and 9V/2A. That means at 9V it can charge the phone at 18 watts. To fully charge the 3000 mAh battery takes two hours, which isn’t that quick, however to get to 50% only takes 23 minutes, which is quite impressive. If you want to charge the battery to 80% then that takes 55 minutes. To go from 80% to 100% takes over an hour. If you are interested to find out why smartphones charge quickly to 50% or 80%, but can take over half of the charge cycle to add the last 20% then I recommend that you read my test: Qualcomm Quick Charge vs OPPO VOOC vs MediaTek PumpExpress+ vs Motorola TurboPower vs the others.
On the software side, we have vivo’s Funtouch OS, which although it is based on Android 5.0.2, is really heavily skinned. As with many of the Android variants from Chinese manufacturers, there is no app drawer which means you are left to organize everything into folders on the home screens. Unfortunately Google’s services like Google Play, YouTube and Gmail don’t come pre-installed. I was able to install Amazon’s Appstore without any problem and that got me access to a lot of apps. I then discovered that you can actually install Google Play from the vivo App Store. That gave me access to a bunch more app and services, however I often came across errors about apps not being compatible with the current device, sadly even Chrome wouldn’t install because Google Play says it isn’t compatible.
When you get over the non-standard Android look-and-feel, learn to speak Chinese for the apps that don’t work in English, and ignore the iOS aesthetic, then you will find that vivo did manage to add in some cool functionality. You can save screen shots with voice recordings; use smart motion actions (gestures) like draw ‘M’ for music or cover the phone with your hand to mute it when it is ringing; or shrink the screen or keyboard for one handed use. There are also quite a few options for the dual-SIM functions including setting a different ringtone to each SIM and setting which SIM is the default.
The camera app that comes with the vivo X6Plus is excellent. As well as offering a range of automatic modes including Night mode and Child portrait mode, there is also a comprehensive manual mode (which vivo calls Professional mode). You can change the white balance, ISO, and shutter speed, but most importantly you can do manual focusing. The camera is quite quick and there is a burst mode which allows you to take consecutive pictures. According to my crude timing you can take about 10 shots a second. The only limitation is that it stops after 20 shots, so that it can save the images.
As for the camera itself, I am undecided. The 13MP resolution is good, the noise levels aren’t bad for a mobile phone and the touch to set the exposure functionality works well. However I found that the colors in the photos are lacking in vibrancy. I say I am undecided in that I am prepared to give the camera the benefit of the doubt because it has been very cloudy and dull here while I have been taking my test shots and it could be the lack of clear sunlight that has dulled the images, however maybe I am just being too kind.
Anyway, here are some samples photos so that you can judge for yourself:
Just as I was preparing to publish this review, the sun came out, so I went out and took a few more sample photos. Here is an additional gallery of sample shots:
|DIsplay||5.7-inch Super AMOLED display, 1080p|
Full HD resolution
1.6 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615
Adreno 405 GPU
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, microUSB 2.0
Dual-SIM: 1 x micro SIM, 1 x nano SIM
2G GSM 900 / 1800
3G HSDPA: 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100, TD-SCDMA 1880 / 2010
4G LTE: 1(2100), 3(1800), 38(2600), 39(1900), 40(2300), 41(2500)
13 MP rear camera, 8 MP front-facing camera
Funtouch OS, based on Android 5.0.2 Lollipop
158.4 x 80 x 6.9 mm, 171 g
The vivo X6Plus is certainly an interesting device. The large 5.7 inch Super AMOLED display is very cool, but the overall skew towards mimicking Apple is a big negative and leaves me with a desire for some originality. Having said that if you are able to look past the design aspects then features like the 4GB of RAM and the fingerprint reader are solid positives for this device, the only thing I would want to change on the hardware side is the processor, something better than the Snapdragon 615 would seem appropriate for this device. As for the software, well, for Asia it is probably perfect, however those in the West will likely struggle with it.
The vivo X6Plus will initially be available in Asia for a price that should be around $550, however that pricing hasn’t yet been confirmed.