Vivo has been continuously elevating the selfie game with its V5 lineup. From the game changing V5, to the dual camera V5 Plus, and the budget-friendly V5 Lite, these smartphones all offer a harmonious synergy of hardware and software which make them great value for money.

Now though, they’re at it again with the V5s, a phone that somehow stands in the middle of the V5 and the V5 Plus. In fact, it is technically still a V5 in so many ways: a 5.5-inch display, 4GB of RAM, a 13MP rear camera, and its signature 20MP selfie camera.

It does however, offer a few tricks up its sleeve such as a dedicated Hi-Fi chip for better sound quality, improved low-light photography, and a groufie mode which ensures that everyone’s included in the scene, among other features. But are these enough to justify the higher price tag? Or should you just forget it and get a V5? Let’s find out in this full review.

Design and Build Quality

One good thing about Vivo is that they give each handset the same premium look, feel and build quality, and the V5s is no exception in this manner. It feels very solid and has that touch of beauty and elegance that gives you confidence to take it to formal parties, gala nights and the like.

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Apart from the absence of lines in the back panel, the V5s is everything the V5 is: Power and volume rocker on the right, SIM card slot (Hybrid) on the left, speaker, and the headphone jack, speaker, microphone and microUSB port at the bottom.

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Even at 5.5-inches, the device is fairly easy to use with one hand, though you might want to put on a case as the back panel is a bit slippery.

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Display

The V5s has a 5.5-inch HD display which makes all the colors pop out as if you’re in crayon land. Apart from being vibrant, text also looks sharp, and brightness is more than ample.

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Now, some might argue that a 1080p display would’ve fit this device more, and in some ways, I do agree. But perhaps it’s not only a matter of keeping the cost down, but also balancing out power consumption and performance.

Performance

With so many devices using the MT6750 processor, we already had a hunch on how this device would perform. And true enough, it handles day to day tasks and even casual games like Mobile Legends with no issues.

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It’s only when you throw something like NBA 2K17 at it that it starts to show signs of struggling. Don’t get me wrong, the game is very much playable, and you can even get a smoother experience by dialing down the settings.

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Camera

v5s cam5 - Vivo V5s Review: A Worthy Upgrade? v5s cam8 - Vivo V5s Review: A Worthy Upgrade? v5s cam4 - Vivo V5s Review: A Worthy Upgrade?The V5 line is known for being capable camera phones for their prices, and the V5s is no exception. The 13MP rear camera managed to take decent quality photos in good lighting with good details and color accuracy.

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As expected, low light shots are a bit grainy and details aren’t as evident, but considering the price, you really can’t expect anything more I guess.

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Taking good looking selfies is the V5s’ specialty (or at least that’s what they say), and it somehow proves itself true on our tests, as our shots came out with good color reproduction, though I personally would’ve wanted more detail.

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There’s a selfie softlight feature that you can use for illumination in low-light selfies, and it actually works well.

v5s sys24 e1497466834637 770x433 - Vivo V5s Review: A Worthy Upgrade?The V5s has a Group Selfie mode which lets you fit in more people into one shot, and the way it works is somehow like how you would take a panoramic shot. You have to pan the device steadily to the left and right. It’s not the best way to do it if you ask me, but it does work.

It’s like saying “we can’t put in another lens for a groufie mode, so we’ll have you, the user, take the burden instead. At least you’re paying less.”

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The Bokeh effect still isn’t as refined as some areas are pixelated, and some areas which should be blurred aren’t and vice versa. Hopefully, these issues can be fixed with a software update.

The camera interface provides you with a number of filters and modes to play with, including a Professional mode for adjusting each individual element of your shot.

Sound

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The single speaker on the V5s can get quite loud with minimal distortion, and is seemingly more ideal for vocal and acoustic tracks, though bass isn’t evident.

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Got your attention, right?

The dedicated Hi-Fi audio chip does its job well of providing better sound quality when listening to headphones. By default, bass is present and punchy, while treble is just right without going too bright that it hurts the ear.

v5s hifi 1 270x480 - Vivo V5s Review: A Worthy Upgrade?As ideal sound signature is more of a personal thing, you can always do some tweaking by adjusting the settings on the Hi-Fi audio page.

Software

The Vivo V5s runs on Funtouch OS 3.0 on top of Android Marshmallow, with all the goodies that Vivo’s unique take on Android is known for.

You get the familiar features and apps like the control center-like interface that appears by sliding upwards from the bottom of the screen, smart split, which lets you view messages side by side with another app.

There’s also iManager which serves as your command center for managing performance and apps, and the double tap to sleep and wake feature, which I think should be a standard in phones that aren’t equipped with always-on displays.

As heavy as this skin looks, navigation and opening/closing apps is still pretty much smooth in general, which is a sign of good software optimization.

Battery

v5s batt test 640x360 - Vivo V5s Review: A Worthy Upgrade?The V5s has excellent battery life, and can take you through a whole day of light to moderate use without issues. Charging the device from empty to full takes around 2 hours, which is also above average.

Verdict

The V5s does indeed set itself apart from its predecessor, while maintaining the same level of quality and set of features that made the V5 great, at least for the most parts.

The display is as great, the design is slightly different and looks more refined and elegant, though I wish they used a triple slot tray instead of a hybrid one. The dedicated Hi-Fi chip does the job well, the software is well optimized, and the battery life is excellent.

It does however, suffer from a few “could’ve been better” scenarios, such as how you take a group selfie, and the use of a slightly more powerful processor would’ve been nice.

Is it unique enough to have a place in the V5 lineup? Absolutely. Would I suggest buying it over a V5? It all depends if you want more storage and are into group selfies, then go ahead. It is a good upgrade, but not worthy enough.

The Good

  • Design and Build Quality
  • Display
  • General Performance
  • Daylight Camera Performance
  • Well-Optimized Software
  • Sound Quality
  • Battery Life

The Not So Good 

  • Low-light Camera Performance
  • Method for taking groufies could be better
  • Same processor as the V5
  • Hybrid SIM tray

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Author

Emman has been writing technical and feature articles since 2010. Prior to this, he became one of the instructors at Asia Pacific College in 2008, and eventually landed a job as Business Analyst and Technical Writer at Integrated Open Source Solutions for almost 3 years.

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