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Vivo Z5 Review – Vivo Achieves Perfection in Budget Phone Category

Q: Is the newly released Vivo Z5 worth of purchasing? What improvements does it have over the previous generation? What are the highlights? We will answer all of your questions in this Vivo Z5 review.

Upgrading from the previously released Z3, the new Vivo Z5 appears to be an upper-mid end flagship despite the relatively low pricing of 1598 Yuan ($227). The main highlights are the 48MP triple AI rear camera, Snapdragon 712 SoC, AMOLED display, large 4500mAh battery with a freaking 22.5W fast charge, and under-screen fingerprint reader. Moreover, it appears to offer better specs and quality than the same priced Redmi Note 7 Pro (1599 Yuan/$228) and slightly less priced Realme 3 Pro. It’s even better than the much expensive Xiaomi CC9/CC9e and other upper mid-end phones. Let’s dive into the details and get to know Vivo Z5 better in this review:

Vivo Z5 Review – A Worthy Mid-End Challenger!

A Flash From The Past

Before starting the Vivo Z5 review, let’s roll back in the past and see how well the Z-series from Vivo performed.

Vivo started the Z-series with Z1 priced at 1598 Yuan which is interestingly the same price as of the series latest successor ‘Z5’. The old Z1 was a surprise during its time of release. There were no official announcements, teasers, or any advertisement before its release. Interestingly, the first generation of the Z lineup was way ahead of other upper mid-end phones thanks to the Snapdragon 660 AIE processor, 4+64GB memory, 90% ultra screen-to-body ratio.

Then Z3 was released with the same price, featuring Snapdragon 710 AIE processor along with the vivo Dual-Turbo acceleration engine.

Now after 10 months of Z3 release, we have Vivo Z5 which debuted on July 31st. In comparison to the Z3 upgrades over Z1, Z5 has done major upgrades over Z3 despite carrying the tradition of the same price. These include much better 48MP triple rear camera, 22.5W fast charge for 4500mAh battery, AMOLED display, and Snapdragon 712 SoC with vivo Multi-Turbo technology. Most of us should be in doubt because of the upgrades done despite the same price tag. I mean there has to be some hidden downgrading as well. Hmm…Let’s see!

Specification Sheet

PhoneVivo Z5
ModelsV1921A, V1921T
Dimensions159.5 x 75.2 x 8.1 mm (6.28 x 2.96 x 0.32 in)
Weight187 g
BuiltGlass, Plastic
Screen Size6.38 inches, 99.9 cm2 (~83.3% screen-to-body ratio)
DisplaySuper AMOLED, Always-on Display
Resolution1080 x 2340 pixels, 19.5:9 ratio (~404 ppi density)
SoCSnapdragon 712 (10 nm)
Octa-core (2x2.3 GHz Kryo 360 Gold & 6x1.7 GHz Kryo 360 Silver)
GPUAdreno 616
RAM6GB/8GB
ROM64GB/128GB/256GB UFS 2.1
MicroSD cardYes, up to 256GB
Rear CameraTriple Rear AI Camera
48 MP, f/1.8, (wide), 1/2", 0.8µm, PDAF
8 MP, f/2.2, 13mm (ultrawide)
5 MP, f/2.4, depth sensor
Video: [email protected], [email protected]
Front Camera32 MP, f/2.0, Beauty Algorithm, HDR
Video: [email protected]
ConnectivityWired: Type-C, 3.5mm audio jack
Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, LE, aptX
A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, BDS
Network2G bands: GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 - SIM 1 & SIM 2
CDMA 800 & TD-SCDMA
3G bands: HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700(AWS) / 2100
4G bands: LTE band 1(2100), 3(1800), 4(1700/2100), 5(850), 8(900), 34(2000), 38(2600), 39(1900), 40(2300), 41(2500)
Battery4500mAh, 22.5W Fast Charging
OSAndroid 9.0 (FunTouch OS 9.1)
SensorsFingerprint (under display), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
AccessoriesUser Manual, Warranty card, SIM slot opener, Protective Soft Transparent Case, Type-C cable, 22.5W charging Head
ColorsThree: Aurora illusion, Bamboo Forest Night, Holographic illusion

Design & Display

Starting from the front, Vivo Z5 uses a 6.38 inch 2340×1080 water-drop display. The screen is AMOLED and is equipped with an on-screen fingerprint. Super AMOLED + On-screen, not bad for a $227 price tag. Compared to the IPS LCDs which are commonly used under this price tag, AMOLED provides better viewing experience with higher contrast, brightness, and the whites are clearer. However, there’s no mentioning of Gorilla Glass Protection version from the manufacturer.

front scren

In terms of physical dimensions, it occupies a space of 59.53 × 75.23 × 8.13mm and weighs 189.6g. With a 6.39-inch screen, the one-handed operation is also possible.

Rear 2

To be honest, I don’t see any improvements in the water-drop notch and bottom chin for an increased screen-to-body ratio when compared with Z3. Since the screen size has barely increased, the chin is slightly thick making the ratio 83.3% from the previous 84% in Vivo Z3.

The vivo Z5 back adopts the same color process as a high-end flagship phone. It’s more likely resembles Huawei P30 Pro because of the multi-color gradient design. For the Aurora illusion color model with us, the back color gradually changes outwards from the reflective area. The upper reflective center is close to pink, and the downward transition gradually turns purple until the bottom turns blue. Combined with the glass built on the back, it’s one heck of a holding experience. If you want better design, motorized camera, and premium built quality, see our Vivo X27 review.

Rear of vivo Z5

Even on the budget-friendly phone, vivo still has not stopped pursuing the pace of color. Vivo Z5 officially provides three color options including bamboo forest night, aurora illusion and holographic illusion, with green, purple and white as themes respectively. The lack of regular black version seems to imply the nature of Z5.

The triple rear cameras are arranged in a vertical position. One can’t distinguish which one is the primary camera like Xiaomi CC9/CC9e, because of no details. Getting in details, the triple camera configuration is 48MP primary, 8MP super wide-angle, and 2MP in-depth sensor.

camera

At the rear bottom is the Golden logo of Vivo.

Vivo Z5 review - rear bottom

The chin isn’t narrow like I said before. However, the good point is that the rounded corners of the inner and outer arcs make the entire chin look harmonious.

At the bottom of Z5, the traditional 3.5mm audio jack has been retained. The audio jack has been retained in all models of Z-series. The most eye-catching thing is that the charging interface has been replaced with a Type-C interface. Thankfully, the phone doesn’t limit its connectivity and offers the latest interface along with retaining the old one as well.

Vivo appears to be generous in terms of accessories this time as the phone comes with a transparent soft protective case, card pin, data cable, and 22.5W power charging head.

accessories

Hardware & Performance

If you ask people which SoC should I pick for a budget-friendly flagship phone. Most will say that pick the one with the strongest performance. Well, who doesn’t want the best performance for the best price? However, remember that more performance means higher heat generation. There’s no use of a high-performance SoC if the phone doesn’t have good heat dissipation. And from good heat dissipation, I mean the cooling system and ventilation. Sadly, for a budget smartphone such as Vivo Z5 which is priced at below $250, one can’t have a cooling system because of limited process cost.

Although the vivo Z5 does not have a high-performance Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 series SoC. However, the Snapdragon 712 is not bad either. Powerful than every SoC in the 600 series and the under $250 price tag it delivers the best price-over-performance ratio. Moreover, the SoC is accompanied by dual-channel DDR4X memory and UFS2.1 flash memory, which is enough for users to achieve an incredibly smooth experience.

Vivo Z5 review - Gaming

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 712 uses the same 10nm process as the Snapdragon 710, as well as the Kryo 360 and Adreno 616 GPUs. In terms of performance, the main frequency of the Snapdragon 712 mobile platform is 2.3GHz, and the performance is 10% higher than that of the Snapdragon 710.

Here are some of the benchmarking done:

AnTuTu Benchmark Test (To Check Overall Performance)
Intro: The world’s first mobile phone/tablet hardware performance evaluation tool can comprehensively examine the performance of various aspects of the equipment, including user experience, and visualize the ranking. It supports multiple mainstream platforms, running points can be compared across platforms. The test comprises CPU, GPU, Memory, UX, and finally the total performance.

Vivo Z5 review - Antutu Benchmark

The standard version of Vivo Z5 with 6GB RAM and 128GB ROM scored 184909 points marking it as a mid-end performance. It is slightly better than Redmi Note 7 Pro (179683 points). You know the benchmark results always vary. The 8GB RAM version will perform slightly better.

GeekBench Test (To Check CPU Performance)
Intro: Cross-platform CPU performance testing tools can accurately reflect the device’s CPU single-core, multi-core performance. Test load simulation of real-life application design, the result is more meaningful, but also to measure the GPU graphics computing performance. It’s a detailed test comprising of Single-core and Multi-core performance.

Vivo Z5 review - GeekBench

The single-core performance (1861 points) is incredible along with a good multi-core performance (5976 points).

3DMark Test (To Check GPU performance)
Intro: The cross-platform, cross-API 3D benchmark software accurately reflects the graphics performance of the device’s GPU. Multiple test scenarios can fully examine the OpenGL ES graphics performance of the device and perform battery life tests.

3DMark Test

The Sling Shot Extreme test scored 2110 points much better than Redmi Note 7 Pro (1900 points).

Androbench test (To Check Memory Performance)
Intro: AndroBench is a benchmark application that measures the 4K random storage performance of Android devices, including internal or external storage.

AndroBench

Vivo Z5 has a high storage speed (UFS 2.1) where the reading speed is around 500 MB/s.

In short, Vivo Z5 performance is probably one of highlight Vivo Z5 review. The SoC is slightly powerful than the SD 660, and 710. Further improvements are done thanks to UFS 2.1 and 6/8GB RAM which is much better than the standard ones which are eMMC 5.1 and 4GB RAM. The best part is that we get the best mid-end performance with the maximum battery life for such a low price.

Camera & Samples

Continuing our Vivo Z5 review, the Z5 is equipped with a rear-mounted 48MP + 8MP + 2MP AI smart triple-camera combination.

This is the first time that the Z-series adopts the high-end flagship camera configuration.

The primary camera is the Sony IMX582, which has 48MP ultra-high pixels and 1/2-inch large photosensitive area. It uses a four-in-one pixel technology to output 12MP photos of 1.6 μm large pixels.

Camera pp Z5

In other respects, the vivo Z5 continues the camera’s selfie light effect, beauty mode, AR shoot, AI portrait composition, AI scene recognition and other camera functions. The following are the samples of the vivo Z5 camera.

The vivo has a super-backlighting shot with a dynamic range of 12.3Ev and a super night scene mode that was launched on the flagship X27.

Vivo’s imaging algorithm is biased towards realistic style. Even if the AI ​​scene recognition function is turned on, the optimization of the photo is only the fine adjustment of saturation and contrast, which is well reflected in the night scene mode.

Daylight Samples

Night Light Samples

Camera Sample Night light
Normal Night light camera sample
Super Night Mode Turned On
Super Night Mode Turned On
Algorithms are often more important than lenses

Unlike the night scene mode in which competing products are committed to making the night into the “Daylight”, the night scene mode of vivo is biased towards the optimization of the photo, instead of generating a photo with a super dynamic range, so the whole shooting process will not exceed 3 seconds. Thus, the shutter speed is much faster than most phones with the night scene mode turned on.

Wide Angle Mode

Super Wide Angle Mode 1
Super Wide Angle Mode
Super Wide Angle Mode
Super Wide Angle Mode

The realistic style of micro-processing also makes the vivo Z5 have a more stable imaging algorithm. One does not need to worry about the exposure of the photo or the white balance which is one of my favorite parts about the camera.

As you can see, the camera performance of vivo Z5 is far beyond the average level of mid-end camera category. We might see that most cameras give up in the low light environment but that’s not the case with Vivo Z5.

I expected that the white balance of the night scene often appears in phones under this price tag, the contrast is insufficient, but vivo Z5 has avoided it. The ultra-wide-angle mode brings a doubling of the frame size at a glance.

Vivo is known for providing one of the best selfie cameras. This 32MP front camera in Z5 is no exception.

Battery Life

One of the greatest highlights of Vivo Z5 is the massive 4500mAh battery upgraded from 3100mAh of Z3. Even Redmi Note 7 Pro has only 4000mAh battery. With the 10nm SD 712, the battery life is the best to be witnessed in the mid-end category. Here are some of the tests done:

1) Online Video Playback

Using the Bilibili website for online video, the phone brightness is adjusted to 50%, the volume is adjusted to 30%, and the playback video is 720P. The test time is from 18:30-19:00.

Vivo 5 review - online video playback battery test

After 30 minutes, the battery dropped from 20% to 16%. 30 minutes of online video playback only 4% of the battery was consumed. Looking at this, it can be played for more than 12 hours under the given environment.

2) Gaming Experience

We played KOG on this phone. The test time is 21:13-21:43.

Battery test gaming

After 30 minutes, the battery dropped from 8% to 2%. The game consumed 6% of the battery. Considering this one can play King of Glory for around 7 straight hours.

3) Charging Test

Despite being a mid-end phone, Z5 comes with 22.5W fast charging. Thus, the charging speed is quite good. Here’s a chart of the charging:

Vivo Z5 review - charging test

Vivo Z5 took only 105 minutes to fully charge from 0% to 100%. Looking at the 4500mAh battery, this is one of the fastest charging experience in the mid-tier budget phones category.  This vivo is equipped with the mainstream dual-engine fast charging technology for the Z5. One can easily charge the phone at night and get heavy usage for an entire day.

Features

The on-screen fingerprint reader and the vivo Multi-Turbo are the basic features of the phone.

1) On-screen Fingerprint Reader

The latest generation of fingerprint recognition is adopted by vivo Z5. As shown in the above figure, no matter whether the screen is on or off, the phone opens within seconds, and the recognition rate and recognition speed are no different from the traditional capacitive fingerprint.

The unlocking animation in vivo Z5 has been increased to 8 types, and the user enjoys a greater choice of freedom while improving the immersive visual experience when unlocking.

Vivo Z5 review - unlock animation effects

2) Gaming Performance

Vivo Z5 uses the ‘MultiTurbo‘ software optimization. This technology integrates the five Turbo technologies of Center Turbo, AI Turbo, Net Turbo, Cooling Turbo, and Game Turbo. It integrates network, heat dissipation, AI, games, and the underlying central core resources and optimizes them in multiple dimensions.

The vivo Game-Turbo is a vivo game acceleration engine jointly made by vivo and Unreal Engine and game developers. It is a system-level optimization solution for improving the performance of mobile gaming.

Vivo Z5 review - Gaming FPS

We played KOG and the newly optimized Chinese PUGB ‘Peace Elite’. KOG had an average frame rate of around 60 fps on high settings and 1080p resolution. Moreover, even a high spec demanding ‘Peace elite’ was around playable 30 fps.

Operating System

Moving to the OS section of this Vivo Z5 review, Funtouch OS is now six years old in 2019. Last year, the release of vivo X27 brought us the Funtouch OS 9.0 version, which is more beautiful and better. The vivo Z5 features the latest Funtouch OS 9.1, with the optimization of old features and the addition of new features.

OS

The most impressive thing about the OS is that the navigation gesture has finally added the option of returning from the side. If you don’t count the two iQOO products that have been released, the vivo Z5 is the first one with a side return gesture.

OS Gesture

Compared with the previous sliding back gesture, the side return is more convenient. However, we must note that to avoid the conflict of the sliding gesture, Funtouch OS changes the gesture of calling the shortcut center to slide from the top right of the screen, and the lower left is the notification bar, which is different from other brands.

It is also worth mentioning that it does not need to distinguish what QR code is. After scanning, you can jump to the corresponding application to further simplify the operation process.

 OS QR scan

Although vivo does not have a gaming phone, Funtouch OS is not inferior in terms of game convenience operation. In addition to the notification bar, the user can also hang up the screen, and even use the built-in countdown reminder to do other things before the game starts.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • FHD+ AMOLED Display
  • Balanced Performance
  • Type-C interface with 3.5mm audio jack retained
  • Under-Display Fingerprint Reader
  • Budget-friendly price
  • Incredible camera performance (well-optimized algorithms)
  • 4500mAh Long battery life
  • The fastest charging phone in the mid-end category

Cons

  • Almost the same (slightly decreased) screen-to-body ratio as Z3
  • Almost no change in design from Z3
  • Could have used SD 670/675 or SD 730

Our Verdict

Ending the Vivo Z5 review, vivo has done its best in the cost-effective route. Previously, vivo used to be expensive and slightly behind in the price/performance section. Although, I still feel that the price/performance could be even better like an SD 670 or 675 would have been better, however, it’s perfectly fine under the $250 price tag. Indeed, since there is a choice, there will be compromises.

Vivo Z5 successfully boast over SD 712 performance, 48MP triple rear camera with excellent algorithms, a 32MP front selfie shooter with Vivo’s self-made beauty algorithms providing the best camera experience on the mid-end category. Moreover, it’s one of the fastest charging phone in the mid-end category charging a freaking 4500mAh battery within 105 minutes. The battery life is probably better than Redmi Note 7 Pro and Realme 3 Pro.

Featured

Besides, 6.39-inch waterdrop screen, 22.5W dual-engine fast charge, 4500mAh battery, flagship-level gradient color design, and Type-C interface further adds value to the phone.

For the users who want to buy a phone under $250 with balanced performance, the best rear camera and front selfie experience, and long battery life with least waiting time for charging, the vivo Z5 should be your first choice. Comparing with the other competitive phones under this price tag, we can say that:

Vivo seek perfection in the budget-friendly, mid-end category with the new Z5.

Price & Availability

Vivo Z5 is available in China at the moment. It has four variants:

  • 6GB RAM + 64GB for 1,598 Yuan ($227)
  • 6GB RAM + 128GB for 1,898 Yuan ($269)
  • 6GB RAM + 256GB for 1,998 Yuan ($283)
  • 8GB RAM + 128GB for 2,298 Yuan ($326)

We will update once it’s available for global purchase.

Hope you liked the Vivo Z5 review. Any question about the phone? Let us know in the comments!

Featured
Vivo Z5 Review – Vivo Achieves Perfection in Budget Phone Category
Summary
For the users who want to buy a phone under $250 with balanced performance, the best rear camera and front selfie experience, and long battery life with least waiting time for charging, the vivo Z5 should be your first choice.
Design & Appearance
7
Screen & Display
8
Hardware & Performance
7
Camera & Samples
8.5
Features
8
Connectivity
8.5
OS
8
Battery Life
9.5
Price
9
Price over Performance
8.3
Reader Rating1 Vote
8
The Good
FHD+ AMOLED Display
Balanced Performance
Type-C interface with 3.5mm audio jack retained
Under-Display Fingerprint Reader Gimmick
Budget-friendly price
Incredible camera performance (well-optimized algorithms)
4500mAh Long battery life
The fastest charging phone in the mid-end category
The Bad
Almost the same (slightly decreased) screen-to-body ratio as Z3
Almost no change in design from Z3
Could have used SD 670/675 or SD 730
8.2
Total Rating