- Sleek, durable design
- Crisp, bright screen
- Fingerprint sensor
- Average performance and battery life
- Budget camera
Blu Vivo 6 Review: American phone manufacturer Bold Like Us is hitting the UK with the new Vivo 6 handset, a £240 mobile that boasts a 5.5-inch Full HD screen, Sony-manufactured 13-megapixel camera and fingerprint sensor. Here’s our full Blu Vivo 6 review.
You’ve probably never heard of Blu (‘Bold Like Us’) before, but this Florida-based tech company is making waves when it comes to unlocked mobile phones. You can buy Blu smartphones direct from Amazon with no ties to any UK network, and its latest handset is the great value Blu Vivo 6.
The Vivo 6 offers most of the same specs as the OnePlus 3 and Moto G4 Plus, including a 5.5-inch Full HD screen and a fingerprint sensor, plus a 13-megapixel Sony sensor camera. And at £240 it’s a hundred quid cheaper than the OnePlus, and an even match for the top-spec G4 Plus.
I’ve used the Blu Vivo 6 as my full-time handset for a week now and here’s my in-depth review.
Blu Vivo 6 Review: Design
The Vivo 6 doesn’t look too dissimilar to the OnePlus 3, offering a neatly crafted metallic frame complete with some lovely chamfered edging. The phone packs a decent weight, but isn’t too chunky (although the rear camera lens does jut out a little from the surface).
Our review sample was the rose gold model, which is every bit as pink as the rose gold iPhone 7. It’s nice, if you like pink.
At 5.5-inches, the Vivo 6 is of course best handled with two mitts. You can get away with one-handed use thanks to Blu’s Android tweaks (more on these later), but like other 5.5-inch devices, I wouldn’t particularly recommend it in case the thing slips from your grasp.
Thankfully the Vivo 6 seems pretty hardy. A bit of rough treatment hasn’t left any scratches or scrapes on the various surfaces. And the good news for clumsy types is that you get two screen protectors and a rubber cover bundled in the box (see our unboxing video below).
The Vivo 6 isn’t waterproof of course, so don’t go dropping it in the bath or anything.
Blu Vivo 6 Review: Screen and media
That 5.5-inch Full HD IPS screen is a perfectly fine panel for kicking back with a movie on the move. That high-def resolution means video and images look pleasingly crisp, while the Vivo 6 pumps out quite vibrant visuals too. The OnePlus 3 still has the edge in that department, but there’s not as much in it as you’d think.
On maximum brightness you can comfortably see what’s going on, even on a super sunny day. Viewing angles are nice and wide too, if a pal wants to watch a bit of YouTube with you.
You get two speakers mounted on the bottom of the phone, either side of the USB port. These are impressively powerful, able to blast out clear audio even over loud street noise. They still sound tinny of course, but we’ve heard a hell of a lot worse at this price point.
Like the OnePlus 3, you get a generous 64GB of storage space packed inside the Blu Vivo 6. However, unlike the OnePlus 3 you can actually expand this storage with a microSD memory card. That’s great news if you want to carry around a massive media collection.
Blu Vivo 6 Review: Features and OS
The Vivo 6 runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow (hopefully due an update to Nougat soon), complete with Blu’s own custom overlay to spruce things up a bit. And it’s not a bad UI at all, although it commits one sin which really twists our knickers. See it in action in our full unboxing and setup video below.
For the most part, Blu’s overlay simply changes up the general aesthetics and adds a few helpful new features for easier one-handed use. For instance, flick your finger up from the bottom of the screen and you’ll uncover an iPhone-style Control Center, complete with quick-access settings. This saves you from reaching up to the top of the phone if you want to toggle something like WiFi or Bluetooth.
You can also pull up some app shortcuts by flicking your finger left or right across the fingerprint sensor, which is built into the home button.
What annoys us about Blu’s overlay is the way the apps tray has been slashed, meaning all of your apps need to be stored on your desktops. We’re also not fans of the ugly boxes that appear around app icons, or how folders really don’t look like folders.
Thankfully, if you don’t like Blu’s software, you can download a new launcher instead and get a more vanilla Android experience.
Definitely no complaints when it comes to the fingerprint sensor, though, which is just as fast and accurate as the OnePlus 3’s and Moto G4 Plus’ scanner. Just push the home button and the scanner automatically reads your print and unlocks the Vivo 6, all in under a second. It rarely fails too, for a frustration-free experience.
Blu Vivo 6 Review: Performance and battery life
Where the Blu Vivo 6 really shows its budget roots is the performance.
A Mediatek P10 processor is packed inside this phone, the same chipset that made the Sony Xperia XA such a pain to use. The Vivo 6 scored the same AnTuTu result (which for the geekier readers was a score of 46797), which is about what we expected. However, at least the Vivo packs a respectable 4GB of RAM, so everyday running isn’t anywhere near as bad.
There’s definitely a longer pause when you tap an app before it flashes up on screen, and I saw a couple of glitchy moments where the phone struggled to remember what it was supposed to be doing. But on the whole, the Vivo 6 enjoys respectable budget performance. You can also play games like Asphalt Extreme with a reasonably fluid frame rate.
Battery life is pretty average for a 5.5-incher. You can expect a day of regular use per charge, so the Vivo 6 basically needs to be plugged in every night. Thankfully there’s Quick Charge support, so you can give the phone a boost whenever needed.
Blu Vivo 6 Review: Cameras
On the rear of the Vivo 6 you’ll find a 13-megapixel rear camera, boasting a Sony-made sensor. Phase detection autofocus and laser focus mean your shots take almost the instant you tap the shutter button, but don’t get too excited. This is most assuredly a budget snapper.
In good light you can capture some decent-looking photos with plenty of detail packed in, whether it’s an up-close macro shot or a landscape photo. However, if the lighting is against you then you can expect grainy or blurry results. Low light shots in particular lack finer detailing, while shots of a street at night are often scuppered by Michael Bay levels of lens flare, no matter which camera mode you use. And if you’re trying to shoot animals or small children, get ready to sift through a lot of blurred images.
You can shoot up to Full HD video with the Vivo 6, and the results are perfectly fine for home movie purposes. Again, the lens struggles with awkward light, but you can generally get some decent footage if shooting in daylight. Audio is picked up clearly, even from a distance, although the image stabilisation leaves something to be desired.
Around the front of the Vivo 6 is an 8-megapixel wide-angle shooter that’s pretty good for impromptu selfies.
Blu Vivo 6 Review: Verdict
The Blu Vivo 6 offers solid value for £240 and is at the time of posting on offer for Black Friday. Media fans will appreciate the spacious and sharp 5.5-inch screen and buckets of storage, while the responsive fingerprint sensor is a welcome security boost.
Performance and battery life are typically limited however, while the camera also struggles when lighting conditions aren’t just right. If that bothers you, you’re better off paying a bit extra for something like the Samsung Galaxy A5 or OnePlus 3.