vivo made headlines when it first unveiled one of the thinnest Android smartphones in the market, the X5Max. The X5Pro, on the other hand, isn’t as thin (6.39mm vs 5.08mm). In fact, both devices have almost the same specifications, although the X5Pro is priced lower at RM1,599 (the X5Max goes for RM1,799). That being said, that price is still quite high for a Snapdragon 615-equipped smartphone.
Giving it the benefit of the doubt, I took the X5Pro for a spin and spent a good few weeks with it.
For a smartphone at this price point, I expected the X5Pro to have impeccable build quality, and true enough, it does. When I did my hands on with the smartphone, I noted how the rounded sides make it a very comfortable phone to hold. Ergonomically, this is definitely a plus point. Holding other smartphones with flat sides just doesn’t feel right after spending some time with the X5Pro. Top-notch design choice here.
The X5Pro’s glass back complements the overall premium construction of the device. While the rounded sides are a little slippery, I can get a secure grip of the phone thanks to the glass back. Speaking of the rear panel, the camera of the X5Pro does protrude a little bit. While it’s not as extreme as other thin devices (such as the Oppo R5 or the X5Max), it’d be nice to have it sit flush against the back and not have to worry about scratching the lens.
I’m quite a fan of the volume rocker and power button of the X5Pro. The buttons are responsive and tactile, which make them quite a pleasure to use. That being said, I would’ve preferred the power button and volume rocker to be placed at different sides of the phone to avoid accidentally pressing the wrong button. As a right-handed user, having the back button placed on the bottom right of the device definitely makes it easier to operate the smartphone with one hand.
In short, the vivo X5Pro definitely looks and feels like an RM1,599 device. In fact, I’d say it’s constructed like a flagship smartphone. Of course, good design can only go so far.
This is where the RM1,599 price tag of the X5Pro raises more than a few eyebrows. At this price point, consumers will be hoping for something more powerful than an upper mid-range Snapdragon 615 processor. Seeing how the Xiaomi Mi 4i only costs half as much for a faster version of the processor, RM1,599 for the X5Pro doesn’t seem like a reasonable price tag.
To be fair, the premium construction of the X5Pro somewhat warrants the asking price. It’s also equipped with a microSD card slot and a stunning 1080p Super AMOLED display. The deep blacks of an AMOLED panel is definitely something else, but more on that later.
vivo’s smartphones run on a version of Android called Funtouch OS. I’d start off with this: Funtouch OS is unlike any other version of Android that I have used before. It took some time for me to get accustomed to it. For one, the “options” capacitive button on the bottom left side of an Android phone would usually either summon the in-app’s options or the Recent Apps page, depending on the phone and Android version. With Funtouch OS, however, you’d have to swipe up from the bottom of the screen to access the recent apps page. Other shortcuts (such as turning on the WiFi or mobile data) are also found here instead of the notification shade.
While all these were unnatural to me at first, I kind of miss it when I switched back to my daily driver. It makes a lot more sense to swipe up from the bottom of the phone to access shortcuts rather than swiping down from the top – the gesture is intuitive and doesn’t require any sort of “finger gymnastics” to swipe down the notifications shade.
Of course, just like other versions of Android from a Chinese manufacturer, the app drawer is missing. Tons of bloatware that basically work the same as native Android functionalities are also present. Thankfully, apps that I deem unnecessary can be easily hidden from the home screen. Seeing how there’s no app drawer to store apps I rarely access, this is a godsend. Keeping the home screen neat has never been easier.
While Funtouch OS seems like a fine version of Android, the whole software experience is somewhat diminished by one thing: the X5Pro’s less than stellar hardware. Switching between apps takes longer than what is deemed appropriate (it can take up to three seconds or more), and apps such as Chrome or even Facebook just aren’t as fluid as I’d like them to be. Even the camera app sometimes take longer than usual to launch. For a smartphone that costs this much, it isn’t wrong to expect more.
To me, Funtouch OS is an interesting version of Android. But it’s unfortunate that my initial experience with it is hindered by the hardware of the X5Pro, which failed to provide the responsiveness or fluidity I’ve come to expect from a device at this price point. After all, other smartphones in this price range can offer a much better software experience.
In terms of battery life, don’t expect too much out of the X5Pro. Equipped with a 2,450mAh battery, it’s hardly a generous offering. Can it provide enough juice to power the smartphone for a full day? Sure; if you’re not much of a power user, that is.
Throughout my time with the device, I’m always conscious of how much battery I am left with. Usually, I would do a little gaming here and there throughout a typical day of usage. In the case of the X5Pro, however, I found myself having to second guess what I should or shouldn’t do, based on how much battery is left. Would I have enough battery on the drive home if I played a few rounds of Hearthstone? A power bank would help, but you know what’s even better? Not having to worry about battery life!
That being said, I can get a full day’s worth of use in a single charge, provided I limit my heavy web browsing and video consumption. If I only reply to messages with the phone coupled with moderate web browsing and spending some time watching videos on YouTube, the X5Pro can definitely last for a day. Seeing how it is equipped with an AMOLED display, using a dark wallpaper should theoretically extend its battery life as well.
While the X5Pro falters in terms of software experience and battery life, its display sure isn’t a disappointment. For me, nothing quite beats an AMOLED panel when it comes to displaying satisfyingly deep blacks. However, while the blacks are fantastic, the same can’t be said when the display had to display whites. In comparison to an LCD panel, the X5Pro’s AMOLED display has cooler whites. Is it a dealbreaker? Hardly; though someone who’s sensitive to these things would take notice. On the other hand, the great contrast is yet another positive trait of an AMOLED panel.
As a smartphone that is touted for its high audio quality, the X5Pro performs pretty well in this regard. Unfortunately, I’m not much of an audiophile, but listening to music with a pair of earphones with the device is quite enjoyable. There is a clear difference between the audio quality of the X5Pro when I used the same pair of earphones with another device.
As for the mono speaker, it does not crackle at maximum volume, and it gets pretty loud as well.
In my hands on of the vivo X5Pro, I was impressed at how responsive the camera is. After spending some time with it in real life usage, I can safely say it’s one of the most responsive cameras I have ever used on an Android smartphone. However, launching the camera app sometimes take longer than expected; I’m putting my money on the processor causing this issue.
As with other smartphones, the camera performs well in good lighting. Images are sharp, and colour reproduction is pretty good as well. The responsiveness of the camera definitely improves the overall user experience of photographing with the X5Pro, especially when it comes to taking that “right” shot where timing is crucial.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said in terms of low-light performance. While the camera is still very responsive (no perceivable lag or unnecessary refocusing when taking multiple shots), the final images are quite disappointing for something at this price point. Does it look good? Sure, but the colour reproduction could have been better. More often than not, images look washed out and duller than they actually are.
Is the X5Pro a good shooter? Well, yes and no. While the camera is responsive regardless of the lighting condition, the low-light performance could’ve been better, especially in the case of colour reproduction.
Competition for the vivo X5Pro? I don’t even know where to begin, but I’d try with one of the most obvious choices right now: the OnePlus 2.
Okay, to be fair, the OnePlus 2 hasn’t even arrived in Malaysia yet. But (and this is a very big but), if the retail price of US$329 (which comes up to about RM1,260) for the 16GB model is priced accordingly here as well, it’s extremely hard to recommend the X5Pro over the OnePlus 2.
Even though the 16GB model of the OnePlus 2 doesn’t cost as much as the X5Pro, it’s in a completely different league from the latter. Even the OnePlus One is arguably a better device than it (although the X5Pro’s camera performance is probably better). That being said, the X5Pro does have expandable storage, while both the OnePlus 2 and its predecessor do not have this feature.
Other than the OnePlus devices, there’s also another smartphone that is arguably a better buy than the X5Pro: the Xiaomi Mi Note. For RM1,549, you’re saving RM50 while also getting a superior Snapdragon 801 processor, a whopping 64GB of storage, and 3GB of RAM. The Mi Note also has a larger 5.7-inch 1080p display.
Before someone says “it’s not fair to compare a Snapdragon 615 smartphone with a Snapdragon 801/810 device”, I’ll compare it against other equally spec-ed smartphones as well: the Xiaomi Mi 4i and the Oppo R7 Lite; both of which are also powered by a Snapdragon 615 processor. It’s worth noting that the Mi 4i has a faster version of the chipset.
In terms of display size, the X5Pro’s 5.2-inch display trumps both the Mi 4i and R7 Lite’s 5-inch display, not to mention the fact that the R7 Lite only has a 720p display. Design-wise, it’s a toss-up between the X5Pro and R7 Lite, which both feature premium construction of metal and/or glass (though I’m leaning towards the X5Pro’s rounded sides). The Mi 4i has a plastic body, which isn’t exactly premium.
What the Mi 4i lacks in premium construction is made up by its very affordable price tag of only RM749, while the X5Pro and R7 Lite goes for RM1,599 and RM1,298 respectively. Basically, consumers will be paying (considerably) more for the “premium-ness” of the X5Pro and R7 Lite, whereas the Mi 4i has a less premium construction in favour of a much more affordable price tag.
The vivo X5Pro is a premium smartphone; in the sense that it has a premium construction of glass and metal coupled with a good design language. Unfortunately, the same premium experience does not extend to the performance of the smartphone, even though its price tag warrants a better usage experience.
Is the vivo X5Pro not worth a consideration? Well, not exactly. On one hand, it doesn’t offer a good performance to price ratio, which automatically make it a no-buy for me. On the other hand, it’s a well-designed smartphone which exudes a premium vibe, coupled with a very impressive Super AMOLED display.
In other words, the X5Pro is probably targeted at folks who look beyond getting the best bang for buck in terms of performance. Instead, it’s for consumers who want a nice, compact, well-designed device that looks good and performs just like any other mid-range offering.
The only problem is, it costs too much to *only* offer mid-range level performance. You’d have to seriously ponder this question before purchasing the vivo X5Pro: does its design warrant the high asking price?