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vivo V3 and V3 Max first impressions: speed demons clad in metal

|April 6 2016 |Android Phones, Dual-SIM, 4G, 4G LTE, First impressions, Vivo

“vivo’s latest offerings epitomise beauty with brains”

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Chinese smartphone brand vivo entered the Indian market towards the end of 2014, and within this period it has established itself as a known brand thanks to its focus on the offline space, rather than many of its counterparts who mainly target the internet audience. The company is also relying heavily on promotion, and it’s sponsoring the ninth edition of the upcoming IPL tournament. Taking things to the next level, it announced its brand ambassador for the county – which is none other than Bollywood heartthrob Ranveer Singh.

At the gala event in Mumbai, vivo also introduced two new offerings – the V3 and its sibling, the V3 Max. We were present at the event and got a chance to check out the devices. Here’s how we’ll sum up our experience.

While the vivo V3 and V3 Max share their names, they are quite different from the inside. From the outside, they feature stylish eye-catching designs thanks to metallic construction. As their names suggest, the V3 is a compact handset thanks to a 5-inch display, while the V3 Max is a phablet owing to its larger 5.5-inch screen size.

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Both smartphones are a delight to hold, although the V3 will please those who like a compact form factor. It can be operated single-handedly with ease. The V3 Max on the other hand, is larger and would require two hands for reaching the corners. The V3 Max is also a little more bulky due to the metal build. However, both the V3 and V3 Max are slim devices.

Up front, the vivo V3 and V3 Max are dominated by the display panels, with the space above being occupied by the earpieces, front-facing snappers and a few sensors. The capacitive navigations keys are available below, and are non-backlit.

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The power switches and the volume buttons are available towards the right, while the left spines hold the ejectable trays. However, the phones differ in this case – while the V3 offer a dual-SIM slot, the V3 Max come with a hybrid SIM slot. Along with the support for dual-SIMs, you can also extend the storage on the V3 with the dedicated microSD card slot available on the top.

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The 3.5mm audio sockets are available up top, whereas the micro-USB ports are available at the base along side the microphones and the speaker grilles.

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At the back of the vivo V3 and V3 Max, you get the primary cameras along with LED flash and fingerprint readers towards the middle. The 360-degree scanners are quite fast, with the company promising that they’ll unlock the handsets in 0.2 seconds when the screens are on and 0.5 seconds in case they’re off.

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The vivo V3 features a resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels on its 5-inch display, while the V3 Max, with its 5.5-inch screen, seems to be better with a 1080p resolution. The screens are crisp and offer natural colours. However, we couldn’t help but notice that the screens were extremely reflective, which affected their viewing angles as well along with outdoor visibility. The panels are protected by a layer of 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass.

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On software side of things, both the V3 siblings feature the brand’s custom FunTouch OS 2.5 running atop Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. The interface is fairly similar to other Chinese skins, with all the apps present on the homescreens. There are other similarities too, such as the i Manager app, which gives you at-a-glance status of the device’s security, data, storage, etc. Another important thing to note is that the interface offers the recently-opened apps, along with quick toggles when the overview button is long-pressed, instead of showing recent apps in the notification shade. The phones also support various gestures. The only difference between the two is that the vivo V3 Max supports split-screen functionality, letting you use two apps like Facebook and WhatsApp simultaneously.

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The vivo V3 is equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 616 octa-core processor, which is mated to 3GB of RAM. The vivo V3 Max goes a step further by being equipped with Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 652 octa-core chipset, with its four high-power cores humming at 1.8GHz. The CPU is paired with 4 gigs of RAM, and the combination should fly through anything thrown at it. Both phones seem quite powerful, and during our brief session, they felt zippy without any lags whatsoever, although the V3 Max will surely draw the speed freaks.

In the storage department, the vivo V3 features 16GB memory on board, out of which around 9.6GB is available to the end user. Its brother, the V3 Max gets double the amount of flash storage, offering approx. 23.5GB for use. As mentioned before, both devices support memory expansion with the use of microSD cards.

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The phones share similar camera hardware – a 13-meg shooter at the back and an 8MP snapper for capturing selfies. The camera interface is very minimal, though you do get various modes. The vivo V3 and V3 Max focus quickly with the PDAF technology, and shutter speed is also fast. The images seemed to be quite detailed in the outdoor conditions, though we’d like to reserve our comments on the image quality till we test the mobiles over a variety of conditions.

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The vivo V3 is juiced up by a 2,550mAh battery, while a 3,000mAh battery pack fuels the V3 Max. The capacity should ensure that they last a day of use, and in case you want to extend the battery life further, you can enable various battery-saving modes. The V3 Max also supports Qualcomm’s Quick charging technology for charging up quickly.

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For connectivity, the vivo V3 and V3 Max support 4G networks, along with the usual options like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS.

The vivo V3 and V3 Max will go on sale soon across the offline and online stores. The brand also seemed to have worked upon its pricing strategy this time around, unlike earlier, when its devices used to be positioned in the premium tier. At Rs 17,980 for the V3 and Rs 23,980 for the V3 Max, they come across as solid options in their respective segments. The V3 Max seems to be more bang for the buck, as it’s among the most affordable phones offering 4GB of RAM and some nifty features.

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That’s not to say that they won’t be up against some tough opponents. The vivo V3 will have some loaded, yet compact-and-cheaper alternatives such as the OnePlus X (review) and Lenovo Vibe S1 (review). The vivo V3 Max on the other hand, faces popular devices like the OnePlus 2 (review | FAQs) and the recently-launched Xiaomi Mi 5 (first impressions).

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