First Impressions of The BLU VIVO IV Android Phone

Earlier this week I ordered a BLU VIVO IV Android phone from B&H Photo.  The idea behind getting this phone was really two fold.  First, I needed it for work to do some testing of software.  Second, when it comes to this blog, the reality is that right now Microsoft’s apps for mobile devices are far superior on Android and iOS than they are to Windows Phone.  That is going to change – soon I think – but in order for me to be a “Windows centric” site, I have to look at these other platforms for which Microsoft makes apps.

I will tell you though that I found the selection process for finding a new Android phone painful.  With iOS you get two choices on screen size and three choices on how much storage you want.  With Windows Phone, it is somewhat the same although you could argue there is a bit more variety available especially around screen size.  Then there is Android.  Not only do you have the normal screen size and storage capacity questions but you also have the question of what version of Android is on a device and if it is upgradable.  It is a bit of a nightmare and I will argue with anyone who tells me there is not fragmentation in the Android ecosystem due to the wide range of versions of Android running on devices.

But I digress.  I selected the BLU VIVO IV for several reasons.  First, spec-wise, it is impressive.  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.

Second, is the design of the BLU VIVO IV.  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

The thin size of the BLU VIVO IV
The thin size of the BLU VIVO IV

good, solid feel in your hand but doesn’t feel like it is “floating” away either.

Third, the camera.  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.

There were a couple of other factors that made me lean toward the BLU VIVO IV that I can’t dismiss.  First, there is the fact that BLU Products is a US company that is working hard to make their claim in the mobile market.  They have a wide range of devices for Android, a handful for Windows Phone (the BLU WIN HD LTE is my next phone review in a few weeks) and they are aimed at the mid-market.  Yes you can find better specs on other devices but the price point is hard to beat for what most of their phones have to offer which was my other deciding factor.  The VIVO IV is a great example.  I purchased this phone for $199.99. For what this phone has to offer, that is a great value.

Vivid Display of the Blu VIVO IV
Vivid Display of the Blu VIVO IV

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

One of the first things I had to do when I received my BLU VIVO IV was to upgrade to KitKat – or so I thought.  Although the packaging and all

Side by Side Blu VIVO IV Compared to a Nokia 1320
Side by Side Blu VIVO IV Compared to a Nokia 1320

indications where that I would have to upgrade from Jelly Bean to KitKat, that was not the case.  Android 4.2.2 was already installed but there was an update to it available which I downloaded.  There are a huge number of feature changes between Jelly Bean and KitKat that make that update almost a necessity.  For Windows Phone users, think of this as going from Lumia Black to Lumia Denim.  It’s that big of a jump.  BLU makes the upgrading process very easy and within 15 minutes I was up and running on KitKat.

Secondly, you have to keep in mind that all BLU devices are sold unlocked.  That means that when you pop your SIM into the phone it should pick up the MMS and other settings from your carrier automatically – but may not.  In my case, I am on AT&T and it worked automagically with no intervention required.  Just make sure you can surf the web and send SMS/MMS.  If not, you can get the AT&T network settings here.

Third, the phone does not support LTE.  Again, for some this is a deal breaker.  For me, not so much.  I’ve been using my Lumia 1320 from the UK since I returned to the US and it only offers me HSDPA, the same as this phone.  For me, that is plenty fast.

From a design perspective, the VIVO IV feels great in your hand.  The aluminum-meets-glass look and feel reminds me in some ways of the iPhone 4 and 4s but not nearly as thick or as heavy as those devices where in their prime.  The speedy processor and ample RAM makes the phone responsive and navigation is pretty seamless.  I will say that I’ve loaded up the Google launcher on this device for no other reason than personal preference.  The native launcher built in works just fine.

Front Camera, Speaker and Proximity Sensor of the Blu VIVO IV
Front Camera, Speaker and Proximity Sensor of the Blu VIVO IV
Outdoor Photo with the Blu VIVO IV
Outdoor Photo with the Blu VIVO IV

The camera in the VIVO IV is just… wow.  Keep in mind, my primary driver phone is a Lumia 1320 with a 5MP camera.  It’s okay but not brilliant.  The 13MP camera built into this phone is amazing.  Both indoors and outdoors the colors are crisp and the image detail is outstanding.  I do find the photos tend to go a bit warm but nothing horrendous.  Also, the camera app is really good.  You can have it give you basic controls or go into a professional mode where every aspect of the photo can be adjusted.  The photo to the left was shot last night at the Colorado Rockies game at Coors Field.  Click on it to go full screen on it to give you a better idea of the image quality.

One thing I have found on this phone that I don’t like is the fact it does not support Bluetooth 4.0 LE which means it won’t connect to my Fitbit Flex.  90% of the time this isn’t a big deal to me as I sync up with my Windows PC – but if I’m on the go for a day it could be a problem.  I’ll figure out how much of a problem next week while I’m on the go – a lot.

While it is early days with the BLU VIVO IV, I am impressed so far.  I’ll be using it next week as my primary driver and will see how it holds up on important things like battery life and overall functionality.  I’ll be posted a full review of it in a few weeks.

For now, if you want more information on the BLU VIVO IV, you can find it on the BLU Products website.  If you want to get one yourself, visit B&H Photo online as they have it at a great price of $199.95, $100 off the regular price.  It is available in Black, White/Gold and White/Silver.