Over the past couple of weeks I have been using the BLU VIVO IV Android phone as my primary device. While I still remain skeptical of the Android platform for a lot of reasons (I’m not a fan of the UI for example), that could not detour me from this phone. BLU, a US-based company, has an outstanding device in the VIVO IV. It is sexy slim, solidly built and has some outstanding features that make this $299 phone (I picked mine up for $199 from B&H) one everyone should consider if they are looking for an affordable phone. While the BLU VIVO IV isn’t perfect, a lot of what I didn’t like about it can be adjusted through other apps available in the Play Store. It means you may have to do some customizing to get it the way you want it but performance wise, you are not going to be disappointed.
Let’s talk about the specifications of the BLU VIVO IV to start. A lot of this I covered in my First Impressions post but I’m going to rehash a lot of that because it somewhat covers the bases.
It is powered by a 1.7GHz Octa-Core processor with 2GB of RAM. It comes with 16GB of storage built in but that is not expandable. There is no MicroSD slot in this phone. For some that’s a deal
breaker but the reality is, for what I’m using this phone for, that should be plenty of storage.
It is a slim 5.5mm thin and is constructed of 98% aluminium and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 (on the front and the back of the chassis). It is a weights just 129g, 9g lighter than the new Samsung Galaxy S6. The construction gives the phone a good, solid feel in your hand but doesn’t feel like it is “floating” away either.
The BLU VIVO IV comes with a 13MP continuous autofocus rear camera that also has face detection and has a LED flash. The front facing camera is an impressive 5MP so selfies and video calls with Skype are not a problem on this phone. The rear camera can shoot 1080p video at 30fps.
Finally, is the display. It is a 5″ full HD Super Amoled display with a 1080×1920 resolution. It packs in 440ppi (Pixel Per Inch) so viewing videos and images on this display are nothing short of impressive.
Here is a complete rundown of the specifications of the BLU VIVO IV:
- Network: GSM/HSPA (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) (HSDPA 850/1900/2100)
- Dimensions: 145.1 x 70.2 x 5.5mm (5.71 x 2.76 x 0.22 in)
- Weight: 129g (4.55oz)
- SIM: Micro-SIM
- Display: 5″ Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen with 1080 x 1920 resolution and 441ppi. Supports Multitouch
- OS: Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) with upgrade to 4.4.2 (KitKat) available
- Chipset: Mediatek MT6592
- CPU: Octa-core 1.7GHz Cortex-A7
- GPU: Mali-450MP4
- RAM: 2GB
- Storage: 16GB, non-expandable
- Camera: 13MP Continual Autofocus, 4128 x 3096 pixels, LED Flash. Video at 1080p at 30fps
- Front Camera: 5MP
- WLAN: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, hotspot
- Bluetooth: v4.0
- GPS: Yes, with A-GPS
- USB: MicroUSB v2.0
- Sensors: Accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity
- Battery: Non-removable Li-PO 2300 mAh with 750 hours of standby time and 12 hours of 3G talk time
As I pointed out in my first impressions post, the VIVO IV doesn’t support LTE. For some, this is a deal breaker but in my case it wasn’t that big of a deal to me. Frankly, I’m on Wi-Fi 95% of the time and when I’m not, HSDPA works just fine for me.
I also need to make a correction to my First Impressions post a few weeks ago. In that I indicated that the Bluetooth stack in the VIVO IV did not support 4.0 LE (Low Energy). That is not correct. It indeed does support LE so you can attach things like your Fitbit tracker or UP! tracker with no problem.
The BLU VIVO IV is nothing short of sexy. It is a tiny 145.1 x 70.2 x 5.5mm (5.71 x 2.76 x 0.22 in) and weighs only 129g (4.55oz). It feels feather-light in your hand but thanks to the solid aluminum construction, it feels solid in your hand. The form factor also makes it easy to use this phone with one hand and it comfortably fits in a front or hip pocket on your pants or jeans.
The outside of the aluminum chassis is covered front and back with Corning Gorilla Glass 3. This harkens back to the iPhone 4 and 4S days but the advancements in Gorilla Glass have made it far more suitable today than it was just a few years ago. That glass coating makes the phone smooth to the touch with only the small bump for the camera and LED flash in the upper left corner of the back disrupting that smoothness.
BLU has done a great job on this phone in giving it a look and finish that screams luxury. It doesn’t look cheap and it has caught more than one person’s eye as I’ve carried it around these past few weeks.
The performance from the BLU VIVO IV was my first area of disappointment but it is not because of the phone itself. Keep in mind that it has an 8-core processor running at 1.7GHz. I get it, it’s
not the fastest processor out there but it isn’t a slouch and you couple that with 2GB of RAM and everything should scream. For the most part it does but the challenge is with apps themselves. Not all apps take advantage of more than 1 core and once you get into the quad- or octa- level, apps are rare to say the least. That means you have a whole lot of horsepower in this phone that never gets tapped. It also means that the phone takes a hit in one-core performance tests.
I ran the GeekBench 3 app on the VIVO IV and the results were exactly what I expected. First on the single-core tests, the phone performed decidedly average. Nothing really to write home about. However, on the multi-core tests, it screamed. In fact it was in the Top 5 of the devices tested in the GeekBench app. The key in my mind becomes the apps themselves. If you have a contemporary app that even uses two cores, you will feel the benefit of the processor in the VIVO IV and it will smoothly run those apps.
Even when you are running an app that doesn’t take advantage of the cores of the processor, the BLU VIVO IV is helped by the fact that it has 2GB of RAM onboard. This is a huge help and when you are running multi-core apps, it aides in the smooth running of them. Likewise, you can have a lot of apps open in the background and still not suffer lagginess.
Sporting a 5″ Super AMOLED display, the BLU VIVO IV is stunning to look at for long periods of time. It has a resolution of 1080 x 1920 resolution and 441ppi so it is easy on the eyes. Because BLU designed this phone with a thin bezel on the sides of the display, you can easily take advantage of typing on it with one hand or two. It feels comfortable either way. The display supports 1080p HD videos so you will see smooth, crisp colors when viewing it.
I personally think that the 5″ display is the right size for just about anyone. As readers will know, I’ve carried a Lumia 1320 Windows Phone for over a year now with its 6″ display. It’s beautiful as I put in my review of that device, but it is big. This 5″ size seems just right and given the overall design of the VIVO IV, it just works not only for viewing but for easily holding the phone to do that viewing.
Memory & RAM
I have mentioned it a couple of times already but the 2GB of RAM in the BLU VIVO IV is a great bonus. It allows you to have multiple apps open and easily move between them. It also gives a performance boost to apps, especially graphic intense apps like games.
From a storage perspective, the VIVO IV has 16GB of storage built in but it cannot be expanded. There is no microSD slot on the phone which will turn off some users to this phone. As I put in my first impressions on this phone, for me, 16GB is more than enough. I don’t store a lot of music but stream it (mostly from Xbox Music out of OneDrive) so having a load of on-board storage isn’t that big of a deal to me. At this point I have 82 apps installed on the device and I have just over 9GB of storage left. It is hard for me to say “16GB is enough for you” because you may be different in how you use your phone. I suspect however that the majority of readers would be fine with 16GB day-to-day.
Perhaps the single most impressive feature of the BLU VIVO IV is the 13MP Autofocus camera. It is amazing. The quality of the images are what you would expect and the color depth and
richness of them is superb. I have taken many shots with the camera indoors and out and remain very impressed with it. I have posted a couple of photos to the right that you can click on to get the full size images.
The front facing camera is not shabby either. It is a 5MP wide angle which produces outstanding images.
The image to the left is a selfie I took with it.
The built-in camera app of the VIVO IV is pretty good and gives you the ability to have everything done for you automatically or provides you some manual controls. It isn’t bad and for the vast majority of users it will fit the need well.
The 2300mAh battery that is built into the BLU VIVO IV performs well. It is a non-removable battery and based on my daily use over the past two weeks, I was able to make it throughout a normal business day with no problem. That generally consisted of 1-1.5 hours of phone calls, a little bit of web surfing, Facebook, Twitter and Outlook for my email. I also had Bluetooth enabled for my Plantronics headset and my Fitbit Flex. By the end of the day I was generally sub-20% remaining on the battery.
BLU has done a good job of leveraging the CPU saving capabilities of KitKat in their ROM so you can throttle down the CPU and other services to preserve battery life. Even with all of these turned off however I was still able to make it through a complete day.
Android KitKat 4.4
All indications from the BLU website and even the vendor I purchased it from, B&H, indicated that the VIVO IV came with Jelly Bean (Android 4.3) installed but that an update to 4.4 was available. To my delight I found that it already had KitKat on the device although it did need to be updated to the latest ROM from BLU. That process was quick and simple and the latest build takes me to 4.4.2. Ideally it would be great to see an upgrade to 4.4.4 or even Lollipop but given that this device has been out for several months, I seriously doubt it will happen. Still, it’s nice to dream.
Overall the BLU ROM on KitKat is pretty good. They have included a number of apps to get you started but of course you can go to the Play Store and customize your experience easily. Out-of-the-Box though I would say that the vast majority of users will be just fine.
The BLU VIVO IV retails for $299.99. I was able to get mine for $199 from B&H in New York. For what this phone has, it is an outstanding value.
The BLU VIVO IV represents my first Android device and I have to say I’ve been very pleased with it. The power and performance are outstanding, the cameras are stunningly good and it feels and looks super sexy thanks to its ultra-thin design. It is certainly one that if you are looking for an affordable but luxurious phone that you should have on your short list.