Vivo Xplay 5 Review – great build, good specs, but not a cheap


vivo xplay 5 unboxing and hands on

Vivo took longer than usual in the launch of their Vivo Xplay 3S replacement, but the Vivo Xplay 5 is out and has impressive hardware so is it worth buying?

Vivo like to really push the boat out when they launch their flagship phones. The Vivo Xplay 3S, for example, was the worlds first 2K phone, and the first Chinese phone to ship with a fingerprint scanner.

The Vivo Xplay 5 has a few firsts too. The first Chinese phone with a curved Samsung display, and the first phone to ship with a huge 6GB RAM (although our model is the 4GB RAM version).

Vivo Xplay 5 Review – Design

What do you get if you take the Vivo X6 Plus and give it a curved display? Yup, the Vivo Xplay 5 looks very similar to the majority of Vivo phones launched this year, but with the addition of a curved display .

vivo xplay 5 unboxing and hands on

Even with the curved panel, the design of the phone is typically Vivo with a white front panel, Vivo logo up on the top left corner, and the 3 Android navigation hardware buttons on the chin. Although Vivo wen’t for a curved display they didn’t opt to make the Xplay 5 a borderless design, and there are two white bezels either side of the display.

vivo xplay 5 unboxing and hands on

That curved panel might seem like a bit of a fashion gimmick (especially as there are no software changes to make the curved panel more functional) but it does mean that the very sides of the Vivo flagship are especially thin, leaving just a slim metal side on the left and right.

Interestingly the design of the Vivo Xplay 5 is like the reverse of the Xiaomi Mi5, however the build quality of the two phones couldn’t be any different. While the Xiaomi has a flimsy body, and loose physical buttons, the Vivo Xplay 5 has a very sturdy construction, wonderful fit and feel, and high-quality buttons.

vivo xplay 5 unboxing and hands on

The thin sides of the phone gracefully curve around and enlarge at the top and bottom of the phone, with the top getting room for a slightly off centre 3.5mm headphone jack and the base getting a USB Type C, speaker and microphone.

vivo xplay 5 unboxing and hands on

If you are familiar with the Vivo Xplay 6, 6 Plus are pretty much any other 2016 Vivo phone then the rear of the device is going to look very familiar indeed. The unibody CNC machined body is finished in a gold/pink finish, has two bands running at the upper and lower portions with all the functions in the top half of the phone.

vivo xplay 5 unboxing and hands on

Top left we have a slightly protruding 16 mega-pixel camera, with a dual tone LED flash to the right, then slightly above the centre middle of the Vivo there is a square fingerprint scanner.

Overall the design is elegant, and the build quality is up to the usual Vivo standards, but for a flagship phone it does appear to be rather uninspiring, and I would personally love to see an all black version of the phone launched to appeal to a wider audience (currently only white with gold or pink is available).

Vivo Xplay 5 Review – Hardware

There are 2 models of Vivo Xplay 5A available, our review unit is the Vivo Xplay 5 with 4GB RAM, Snapdragon 652 chipset, and a simple Vivo HIFI system with a CS4398 DAC and AD4527 amp. The more upmarket Vivo Xplay 5 Ultimate get’s 6GB RAM, a 2.1Ghz Snapdragon 820 chipset, and a more advanced audio set up with 2 x operational amps and 3 x DAC!

vivo xplay 5 unboxing and hands on

The rest of the specs are shared between both phones and it’s all pretty good stuff. Both versions of the Vivo have the same 5.43-inch 2K display (2560 x 1440 resolution), 128GB internal memory, dual SIM support, 3600Ah battery, 16 mega-pixel main camera with F2.0 aperture and 8 mega-pixel F2.4 front.

vivo xplay 5 unboxing and hands on

As already mentioned there is a rear fingerprint scanner, and it seems that Vivo have used the same scanner as they had with the Vivo X6 Plus which is excellent news. Of all the phones I’ve used over the years, Vivo really seem to have sorted fingerprint speed and accuracy better than the rest.

vivo xplay 5 unboxing and hands on

You are all going to wonder what that curved display is like on the Vivo Xplay 5, well this was my first prolonged experience with a curved screen phone and I quickly got used to the panel and enjoy the effect of size the curved edges offer. Compared to a traditional screen the curved panel just feels more open and roomy. However nice it is, Vivo haven’t really taken advantage of the screen and you will find no ‘edge’ style features in the current ROM builds.

Even with a higher resolution display on the Vivo, the battery life is pretty good. It’s not up to the standard of the X6 Pro (with 1080 panel and 4000mAh battery) which seems to go on and on, but for a 2K flagship phone its not bad. I was getting almost 2 days of use from the Vivo under normal situations and a full day if I tended to really hammer, Google Maps for navigation, data and social media.

vivo xplay 5 unboxing and hands on

Anyone who know’s anything about Vivo will know that their phones often have amazing audio. The same is the same for the Vivo Xplay 5A which has audio on par with the X6 Plus. I would love to hear what all those extra DAC and AMPS produce in the Xplay 5 Ultimate, but I can’t imagine every wishing the standard Vivo HIFI system was any better than it already is.

Read Also:  Vivo Y75 India Launch Imminent, Specs Leaked Before Official Unveiling

Vivo Xplay 5 Review – Performance

Remember this is the 4GB RAM Snapdragon 652 version of the Vivo Xplay 5 so don’t expect benchmarks that will set the Chinese mobile industry on fire.

So while the 5A’s benchmarks are below what it’s Snapdragon 820 brother should be capable of, I never once wished for faster while using the phone. Funtouch is a very well optimised system and performance was top-notch throughout the review.

Vivo Xplay 5 Review – Camera

vivo xplay 5 review

Vivo made one of the best camera phones of all time a few years ago with the Xshot, so they know how to make camera phones, but they seem to have put the concept on a back burner for now. The last time I met with Vivo staff they informed me that they would focus on speed and audio for their current devices, which makes sense as Oppo (Vivo’s system company) recently re branded as a ‘camera phone’ company.

vivo xplay 5 review

The Xplay 5 has a 16 mega-pixel F2.0 camera on the rear with dual LED flash which is good. The lenses are also good, but the major missing feature is OIS. While Oppo have a 2 axis OIS and Xiaomi 4, the Vivo Xplay 5 relies on software based image stabilisation. You’re still able to take fantastic photos, but at this price customers expect a little more for their money.

vivo xplay 5 review

Focus times and speed of capture are exceptional and overall speed of use isn’t that far behind the Xiaomi Mi5. Daylight photos are what you would expect from a high-end phone, while low-light images require you to switch to night mode, or one of the other settings (in the feature packed Vivo camera app) to get the most of the camera.

Although I wasn’t blown away with the camera on the Vivo Xplay 5, I was happy with most of the photos I managed to capture with the device. Here are a few samples.

Vivo Xplay 5 photo samples

Vivo Xplay 5 Review – Funtouch

Funtouch is Vivo’s Android based ROM. Funnily enough the ROM is based on Android 5.1 in the 5A while the 5 Ultimate is listed as getting an Android 6.0 based ROM.

截屏_20160430_112623

If you read through my Vivo X6 Plus review then you will already know about the issues the Chinese version of the Funtouch ROM has, specifically that it does not have Google Services support. You can add Google using the MIUI installer tool method, but you need to keep downgrading the Play Store as with every update the Play Store will stop working (see more details and how to here).

截屏_20160430_112248

The rest of the Funtouch ROM is pretty much identical to the X6 Pro’s which means the notifications area is only for notifications, and your most used toggles are found by swiping up from the dock.

Other than the Google Play issue I also discovered that the Vivo Xplay 5 won’t support Android Auto (that said, only OnePlus phones appear to fully support this from the Chinese world of mobiles). The rest of the ROM is feature packed and well optimised which results in good battery life.

One obvious feature that is missing though is some way to make use of those curved screen edges. We’ve seen Samsung introduce side notifications etc, but so far Vivo have no ‘edge’ style features. So while the curved screen is nice to use, it isn’t a game changer and adds very little to the functionality of the phone.

Vivo Xplay 5 Review – Gallery

Vivo Xplay 5 Review – Unboxing and hands on

Vivo Xplay 5 Review – Conclusion

Overall the Vivo Xplay 5 is a very good premium smartphone. Build quality is undeniably good, and leagues ahead of the products most other Chinese phone makers are currently producing. On paper the specs look good (even for this version of the phone) and Vivo have done a good job to get all the hardware working well with their Funtouch system.

vivo xplay 5 unboxing and hands on

The only areas where I would really knock the phone is the lack of any edge features to really justify the use of the curved display, the lack of OIS the issues with Google Services and Android Auto.

At the end of the day the Vivo Xplay 5 is a premium phone that is designed to look and feel great while offering good all round performance. It’s aimed at people who want a phone that looks good and they don’t mind paying the premium for it.

If looks, audio, and build are what matter most and you don’t mind the premium you will love the Vivo, but if getting the most from your money is more important then them take a look at the ZUK Z2 Pro, or Xiaomi Mi5, but neither will feel as good.

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69 Comments

  1. MattD
    April 30, 2016

    Tl;dr:
    Usual good-but-extremely-overpriced vivo…

    They really are chinese apple…

  2. April 30, 2016

    Great phone but over priced, especially given SD652 – a mid range processor. However, despite the great build I wouldn’t pay their prices even if the phone had SD820. The build quality of other Chinese phones I have tried, Meizu Pro 5 and Xiaomi Mi 4C is plenty good enough for me.

    • Joel Adames
      April 30, 2016

      There is a 820 version, and they come at 128gb RAM. This phone obviously aims at a different tier of buyers not like me liking for a great deal, but more into attention to detail and beauty. If I had the money o would strigh go after the PREMIUM / ELITE version with all bells and whistles !!! …. but I’m poor. Jajaja

      • Yōsei
        May 2, 2016

        first smartphone with 128 RAM?

        • Max
          May 3, 2016

          ^ i lol’d at this.

        • Joel Adames
          May 7, 2016

          Sorry, thanks. Got it coming hahaha … Fixed it.

  3. Flavi
    April 30, 2016

    Was a Vivo phone actually featured in Civil War? I wonder which model..

    • Rob
      April 30, 2016

      They also had one in the film ‘The Martian’, again not sure what model it was.

  4. Roberto Tomás
    April 30, 2016

    I find the numeric ratings at the end in contrast to the text of the article. seems like hardware should be higher

    • Joel Adames
      April 30, 2016

      You mean results should be lower or higher ??? Optimization at the end can make the device feel much much better that what the benchmarks can deliver about the spec’s.

  5. jony_overlord
    April 30, 2016

    Hey andi, great review, i was wondering if the elite version will be available for review, and if vivo is good for software upgrades (at least for 2 years)?
    And if both versions will be available in gizchina shop?

    • Joel Adames
      April 30, 2016

      You should look for the review of the X6 PRO.

  6. Anirudh Ragi
    April 30, 2016

    Hi Andi, nice review, but one correction, you have mentioned USB Type-C but the pictures show that it is a Micro-USB Type not Type-C.

  7. Adam Irvine
    April 30, 2016

    Andi’s back!

    Where you been, not seen much from you recently..?

  8. MattD
    April 30, 2016

    Tl;dr:
    Usual good-but-extremely-overpriced vivo…

    They really are chinese apple…

  9. Moose
    April 30, 2016

    Great phone but over priced, especially given SD652 – a mid range processor. However, despite the great build I wouldn’t pay their prices even if the phone had SD820. The build quality of other Chinese phones I have tried, Meizu Pro 5 and Xiaomi Mi 4C is plenty good enough for me.

    • Joel Adames
      May 1, 2016

      There is a 820 version, and they come at 128gb ROM. This phone obviously aims at a different tier of buyers not like me liking for a great deal, but more into attention to detail and beauty. If I had the money o would strigh go after the PREMIUM / ELITE version with all bells and whistles !!! …. but I’m poor. Jajaja

    • Yōsei
      May 2, 2016

      first smartphone with 128 RAM?

    • Max
      May 3, 2016

      ^ i lol’d at this.

    • Joel Adames
      May 7, 2016

      Sorry, thanks. Got it coming hahaha … Fixed it.

  10. Flavi
    April 30, 2016

    Was a Vivo phone actually featured in Civil War? I wonder which model..

    • Rob
      April 30, 2016

      They also had one in the film ‘The Martian’, again not sure what model it was.

  11. Roberto Tomás
    April 30, 2016

    I find the numeric ratings at the end in contrast to the text of the article. seems like hardware should be higher

    • Joel Adames
      May 1, 2016

      You mean results should be lower or higher ??? Optimization at the end can make the device feel much much better that what the benchmarks can deliver about the spec’s.

  12. jony_overlord
    April 30, 2016

    Hey andi, great review, i was wondering if the elite version will be available for review, and if vivo is good for software upgrades (at least for 2 years)?
    And if both versions will be available in gizchina shop?

    • Joel Adames
      May 1, 2016

      You should look for the review of the X6 PRO.

  13. Anirudh Ragi
    April 30, 2016

    Hi Andi, nice review, but one correction, you have mentioned USB Type-C but the pictures show that it is a Micro-USB Type not Type-C.

  14. MaxPower
    April 30, 2016

    Lovely phone, too bad it’s doesn’t fall into my budget

    • Muhammad Yasir
      April 30, 2016

      *sigh*

  15. Adam Irvine
    April 30, 2016

    Andi’s back!

    Where you been, not seen much from you recently..?

  16. balcobomber25
    April 30, 2016

    Much better design than Mi5, camera is good not great, the rest is typical Vivo. Bring on a new Xshot!

  17. malifact
    April 30, 2016

    Thanks for the review Andi. The Gizchina.it review mentions you can see backlight leak in low light conditions or at night. Did you also notice this defect?

    • Joel Adames
      April 30, 2016

      That also happens to the LG G5 according to what I saw in review by “Erika the geek” bla bla bla.

  18. Bility
    April 30, 2016

    Andi, have you handle the ZUK Z2 PRO?

    • Joel Adames
      April 30, 2016

      We are all drooling to handle that sweet cake… But it is to soon.

      • Bility
        May 1, 2016

        The reason I asked that question is that Andi said ” this phone will feel batter than both Mi5 and ZUK Z2 PRO” so I wanted to know if he has handled this particular phone.

  19. Luis Martinez
    April 30, 2016

    Looking forward to the release of the elite

  20. yalok
    April 30, 2016

    Do they provide monthly security patch updates?

    • Joel Adames
      April 30, 2016

      … And they also provide a K-9 Rottweiler. Jejeje. Where have you been?

  21. MaxPower
    April 30, 2016

    Lovely phone, too bad it’s doesn’t fall into my budget

    • Guest
      April 30, 2016

      *sigh*

  22. balcobomber25
    April 30, 2016

    Much better design than Mi5, camera is good not great, the rest is typical Vivo. Bring on a new Xshot!

  23. GodZillaa
    April 30, 2016

    No edge features, no Google services, no OIS?
    Will not buy (either edition).

    In 2016, a flagship without Google services and OIS isn’t worth buying.

    • Joel Adames
      April 30, 2016

      Keep in mind this is aimed at the Chinese market in first place. At the Chinese wealthiest market I must correct.

    • Francis Sim
      May 22, 2016

      Google services are definitely not included by default if the models meant for Chinese market. If the product is introduced in India, Google services will definitely be available.

  24. malifact
    April 30, 2016

    Thanks for the review Andi. The Gizchina.it review mentions you can see backlight leak in low light conditions or at night. Did you also notice this defect?

    • Joel Adames
      May 1, 2016

      That also happens to the LG G5 according to what I saw in review by “Erika the geek” bla bla bla.

  25. Bility
    April 30, 2016

    Andi, have you handle the ZUK Z2 PRO?

    • Joel Adames
      May 1, 2016

      We are all drooling to handle that sweet cake… But it is to soon.

    • Bility
      May 1, 2016

      The reason I asked that question is that Andi said ” this phone will feel batter than both Mi5 and ZUK Z2 PRO” so I wanted to know if he has handled this particular phone.

  26. Luis Martinez
    April 30, 2016

    Looking forward to the release of the elite

  27. yalok
    April 30, 2016

    Do they provide monthly security patch updates?

    • Joel Adames
      May 1, 2016

      … And they also provide a K-9 Rottweiler. Jejeje. Where have you been?

  28. GodZillaa
    April 30, 2016

    No edge features, no Google services, no OIS?
    Will not buy (either edition).

    In 2016, a flagship without Google services and OIS isn’t worth buying.

    • Joel Adames
      May 1, 2016

      Keep in mind this is aimed at the Chinese market in first place. At the Chinese wealthiest market I must correct.

    • Francis Sim
      May 22, 2016

      Google services are definitely not included by default if the models meant for Chinese market. If the product is introduced in India, Google services will definitely be available.

  29. Joel Adames
    April 30, 2016

    Never saw the price … Can someone say it again?

    • Francis Sim
      May 22, 2016

      Vivo Xplay 5 is RMB 3,698 which is around US$564 at the moment.

  30. Joel Adames
    April 30, 2016

    Great to see Andi still has it. Hey Andi!!!.
    I love that screen more so being 2K i love that as my eyes are very discerning and I do enjoy it at 2K. I think mos likely you bought it yourself. If I could I would have gone for the top tier one. But it is what it is. Being expensive I give as granted being VIVO.

  31. Joel Adames
    April 30, 2016

    Great review, love good reviews!!! Cheers Andi

  32. Joel Adames
    May 1, 2016

    Never saw the price … Can someone say it again?

    • Francis Sim
      May 22, 2016

      Vivo Xplay 5 is RMB 3,698 which is around US$564 at the moment.

  33. Joel Adames
    May 1, 2016

    Great to see Andi still has it. Hey Andi!!!.
    I love that screen more so being 2K i love that as my eyes are very discerning and I do enjoy it at 2K. I think mos likely you bought it yourself. If I could I would have gone for the top tier one. But it is what it is. Being expensive I give as granted being VIVO.

  34. Joel Adames
    May 1, 2016

    Great review, love good reviews!!! Cheers Andi

  35. bizjonny
    May 2, 2016

    everything is perfect except the price…. isn’t it too much over priced???

  36. bizjonny
    May 3, 2016

    everything is perfect except the price…. isn’t it too much over priced???

  37. Francis Sim
    May 22, 2016

    Camera looks great which is a classic feature of Vivo. I think Andi understated the Google Play Store issue. An downgrade with every Play Store update means we are essentially running on an outdated Play Store. I am not sure how Vivo structured their ROM but Google services always have a hard time with their products. Vivo phones are not easy to root based on my experience with Vivo X5 Pro.

  38. Francis Sim
    May 22, 2016

    Camera looks great which is a classic feature of Vivo. I think Andi understated the Google Play Store issue. An downgrade with every Play Store update means we are essentially running on an outdated Play Store. I am not sure how Vivo structured their ROM but Google services always have a hard time with their products. Vivo phones are not easy to root based on my experience with Vivo X5 Pro.

  39. Kenshi_BLind
    February 27, 2018

    i know this is an old review but i thought it would be nice to give some “updates”
    i have the Xplay5 a and it has some of the stuff it was missing at launch namely
    Android 7.1.1 (FunTouch OS 3.1)
    Curved Edge screen ( faster way to launch apps or access contacts using the curved screen)