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Hands-On with the Blu Vivo 5R

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Sep 15, 2016, 10:06 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Blu recently announced the Vivo 5R, a well-spec'd device that it plans to sell directly to U.S. consumers. We spent a few moments with it today. Here are our initial thoughts.

Vivo 5R 

Blu is working hard to make an impact in the U.S. market. The Vivo 5R is the sixth generation of Blu's Vivo line, which falls into the really affordable flagship category. The phone has a slim build, good materials, and a reasonably up-to-date spec sheet — and it's pretty darned cheap.

Blu chose metal and glass to form most of the Vivo 5R's outer body. The rear has a large aluminum panel that is sandwiched between two plastic pieces that allow wireless signals to pass through. The front is all glass. I like that the glass curves where it meets the metal frame, but this has become a common feature found on many phones this year. Blu sells the Vivo 5R in dark gray and black, or gold and white. Both color combinations at attractive. Blu gave the device some nice touches, such as chamfers along the metal edges, to give that little bit of extra shine.

Vivo 5R  

The phone is rather large thanks to the 5.5-inch display. That means it is tall and wide. The good news is the phone's depth is minuscule, allowing it to better fit into pockets. The build is very good, considering the $199 price point. Samsung, LG, and others use better materials and put the phones together better, but at three times the cost. Blu did a fine job assembling the Vivo 5R, which doesn't feel cheap in any way.

The full HD screen is bright and offers plenty of pixels. I was pleased with the color accuracy and rich contrast of the display. It's more than adequate for this class of phone. Blu includes three capacitive buttons below the screen for controlling the user interface. The buttons work well.

The metal frame wraps all the way around the outer edge of the phone. The SIM card tray is tucked into the left edge, while the volume toggle and screen lock button are on the right. The buttons both have good profiles, but travel and feedback was a bit mushy.

I'd call the rear panel a bit plain, but that's okay. The camera module is rather small and perched near the top of the phone's rear surface. It has a chrome rim. The fingerprint reader is positioned just beneath the camera module. The LED flash is crammed in between the two. You'll notice small holes drilled into the rear panel for the speakerphone.

Blu says the phone has a MediaTek 6753 processor, which has eight cores clocked at 1.3 GHz, and is accompanied by 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, and supports memory cards up to 64 GB. The phone's camera rates 13-megapixels and the front camera rates 8-megapixels and has its own LED flash. The Vivo 5R has a 3,150mAh battery with rapid charging, and it supports LTE for AT&T, Cricket, T-Mobile, and MetroPCS.

It runs Android 6 Marshmallow, but has Blu's UI tweaks. That means no dedicated app drawer and a control panel that slides up from there bottom.

Vivo 5R Interface  

The phone will go on sale from Amazon, Blu and Best Buy on September 21. For $199, it's quite an impressive phone.

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About the author, Eric M. Zeman:

Eric has been covering the mobile telecommunications industry for 17 years at various print and online publications. He studied at Rutgers Newark and University of Kentucky, and has a degree in writing. He likes playing guitar, attending concerts, listening to music, and driving sports cars.

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Sep 17, 2016, 2:22 PM

If only they would ...

Dear Blu: Please release a unit with dual front-facing speakers. Make as good as the Alcatel Idol 3 or the ZTE Axon 7. It would also need a 5.5" to 5.7" screen, reasonable quality. Do that and, all else equal, I will finally buy an American made phone. P.S. Thanks for your great phones.
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