BLU Vivo XL Review

BLU Vivo XL Review
BLU Vivo XL Review
BLU Vivo XL Review
BLU Vivo XL Review
BLU Vivo XL Review
BLU Vivo XL Review
Introduction


A breakout year for the company, Miami-based BLU left its mark in the mobile space throughout 2015, but 'it's wasting no time in directing its momentum. In fact, it announced not one, but two new affordably priced smartphones that don't sacrifice in style during CES 2016.

We're checking out the cheaper of the two, the BLU Vivo XL, which chimes in with a devilishly hard-to-resist starting price of $149.00. Visually appealing from head-to-toe, it's undeniably fabulous that its design is a central focus, but let's cross our fingers that other aspects of the _phone_ aren't compromised.

The package contains:

  • BLU Vivo XL
  • Wall Charger
  • USB Type-C to USB Type-A cable
  • Stereo headphones
  • Silicone case
  • Screen protector
  • User guide

Design

If this is what we can expect from a sub-$150 phone, we have higher expectations from the competition.

BLU doesn't disappoint with the Vivo XL, thanks in part to balancing the combination of having a slick design, svelte construction (0.3in/7.5mm), and lightweight figure (5.4oz/152 g). Honestly, it's almost unfathomable to believe 'everything has been crammed in such a thin, compact body.

What draws us in the most to the phone's design is the mirrored finish of its rear casing. It's highly reflective and makes for a great mirror for those quick peeks of yourself, while a stitching pattern accentuates the Vivo XL's premium-esque looks. Specifically, BLU refers to the finish as liquid metal, but in reality, it's far from metal – more like a glossy plastic coating that covers everything.

Even though it seems like BLU emphasizes on design above everything else, there's still utility in mind – evident in the fact that the _phone_ features a removable battery, dual-SIM slots, and a microSD slot. What's most striking, though, is that a USB Type-C 2.0 port is present on the Vivo XL, ensuring that it's up to snuff with the times.

 

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Front view | Side view
BLU Vivo XL
BLU Vivo XL
6.11 x 3.24 x 0.3 inches
155.2 x 82.2 x 7.5 mm
5.36 oz (152 g)

BLU Vivo XL

Motorola Moto G (2015)
Motorola Moto G (2015)
5.59 x 2.85 x 0.48 inches
142 x 72.4 x 12.2 mm
5.47 oz (155 g)

Motorola Moto G (2015)

honor 5X
honor 5X
5.96 x 3 x 0.32 inches
151.3 x 76.3 x 8.15 mm
5.57 oz (158 g)

honor 5X

OnePlus X
OnePlus X
5.51 x 2.72 x 0.27 inches
140 x 69 x 6.9 mm
4.87 oz (138 g)

OnePlus X



BLU Vivo XL Review

Display

It's a throwback to the AMOLED screens of yesterday; super saturation and a weak brightness output.

In complementing its dazzling aesthetics, the 5.5-inch 720 x 1280 Super AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass 3 is absolute in garnering attention with its iridescent glow, over-saturated colors, wide viewing angles, and the typical deep black that AMOLED screens are known for producing. This, from what we can gather, embodies all of the typical characteristics of the technology.

While Samsung has perfected the technology, the one used by BLU here harkens back to the AMOLED screens of old. For example, it washes out and fades under direct sun due to its feeble peak luminance of 289 nits. And other qualities about it indicate an inferior screen here, like its colder ~8000K color temperature and over-saturated, unrealistic color reproduction. You know it's representative of AMOLED technology of the past, due to the amount of saturation produced by it – such as in how yellows appear greenish and teal leans on the bluish side.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
honor 5X 585
(Excellent)
7
(Good)
1:1251
(Excellent)
8021
(Poor)
2.19
2.9
(Good)
6.77
(Average)
Motorola Moto G (2015) 449
(Good)
19
(Poor)
1:1116
(Good)
7440
(Good)
2.27
5.87
(Average)
4.04
(Average)
OnePlus X 298
(Poor)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
8816
(Poor)
2
7.9
(Average)
8.12
(Poor)
BLU Vivo XL 289
(Poor)
15
(Poor)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
7944
(Average)
2.23
7.75
(Average)
6.03
(Average)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
BLU Vivo XL 48.1%
46.7%
unmeasurable
14.6%
1.3%
27.4%
44.6%
OnePlus X 66.4%
0%
unmeasurable
35.2%
0%
37.8%
60.8%
honor 5X 86.3%
85.7%
84.2%
6.6%
0.5%
12.4%
4.3%
Motorola Moto G (2015) 86.6%
84.2%
83.1%
7.6%
1.3%
32.7%
14.4%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


BLU Vivo XL Review

BLU Vivo XL Review
BLU Vivo XL Review
BLU Vivo XL Review
BLU Vivo XL Review
BLU Vivo XL Review
BLU Vivo XL Review
Introduction


A breakout year for the company, Miami-based BLU left its mark in the mobile space throughout 2015, but 'it's wasting no time in directing its momentum. In fact, it announced not one, but two new affordably priced smartphones that don't sacrifice in style during CES 2016.

We're checking out the cheaper of the two, the BLU Vivo XL, which chimes in with a devilishly hard-to-resist starting price of $149.00. Visually appealing from head-to-toe, it's undeniably fabulous that its design is a central focus, but let's cross our fingers that other aspects of the phone aren't compromised.

The package contains:

  • BLU Vivo XL
  • Wall Charger
  • USB Type-C to USB Type-A cable
  • Stereo headphones
  • Silicone case
  • Screen protector
  • User guide

Design

If this is what we can expect from a sub-$150 phone, we have higher expectations from the competition.

BLU doesn't disappoint with the Vivo XL, thanks in part to balancing the combination of having a slick design, svelte construction (0.3in/7.5mm), and lightweight figure (5.4oz/152 g). Honestly, it's almost unfathomable to believe 'everything has been crammed in such a thin, compact body.

What draws us in the most to the phone's design is the mirrored finish of its rear casing. It's highly reflective and makes for a great mirror for those quick peeks of yourself, while a stitching pattern accentuates the Vivo XL's premium-esque looks. Specifically, BLU refers to the finish as liquid metal, but in reality, it's far from metal – more like a glossy plastic coating that covers everything.

Even though it seems like BLU emphasizes on design above everything else, there's still utility in mind – evident in the fact that the phone features a removable battery, dual-SIM slots, and a microSD slot. What's most striking, though, is that a USB Type-C 2.0 port is present on the Vivo XL, ensuring that it's up to snuff with the times.


Front view | Side view
BLU Vivo XL
BLU Vivo XL
6.11 x 3.24 x 0.3 inches
155.2 x 82.2 x 7.5 mm
5.36 oz (152 g)

BLU Vivo XL

Motorola Moto G (2015)
Motorola Moto G (2015)
5.59 x 2.85 x 0.48 inches
142 x 72.4 x 12.2 mm
5.47 oz (155 g)

Motorola Moto G (2015)

honor 5X
honor 5X
5.96 x 3 x 0.32 inches
151.3 x 76.3 x 8.15 mm
5.57 oz (158 g)

honor 5X

OnePlus X
OnePlus X
5.51 x 2.72 x 0.27 inches
140 x 69 x 6.9 mm
4.87 oz (138 g)

OnePlus X



BLU Vivo XL Review

Display

It's a throwback to the AMOLED screens of yesterday; super saturation and a weak brightness output.

In complementing its dazzling aesthetics, the 5.5-inch 720 x 1280 Super AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass 3 is absolute in garnering attention with its iridescent glow, over-saturated colors, wide viewing angles, and the typical deep black that AMOLED screens are known for producing. This, from what we can gather, embodies all of the typical characteristics of the technology.

While Samsung has perfected the technology, the one used by BLU here harkens back to the AMOLED screens of old. For example, it washes out and fades under direct sun due to its feeble peak luminance of 289 nits. And other qualities about it indicate an inferior screen here, like its colder ~8000K color temperature and over-saturated, unrealistic color reproduction. You know it's representative of AMOLED technology of the past, due to the amount of saturation produced by it – such as in how yellows appear greenish and teal leans on the bluish side.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
honor 5X 585
(Excellent)
7
(Good)
1:1251
(Excellent)
8021
(Poor)
2.19
2.9
(Good)
6.77
(Average)
Motorola Moto G (2015) 449
(Good)
19
(Poor)
1:1116
(Good)
7440
(Good)
2.27
5.87
(Average)
4.04
(Average)
OnePlus X 298
(Poor)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
8816
(Poor)
2
7.9
(Average)
8.12
(Poor)
BLU Vivo XL 289
(Poor)
15
(Poor)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
7944
(Average)
2.23
7.75
(Average)
6.03
(Average)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
BLU Vivo XL 48.1%
46.7%
unmeasurable
14.6%
1.3%
27.4%
44.6%
OnePlus X 66.4%
0%
unmeasurable
35.2%
0%
37.8%
60.8%
honor 5X 86.3%
85.7%
84.2%
6.6%
0.5%
12.4%
4.3%
Motorola Moto G (2015) 86.6%
84.2%
83.1%
7.6%
1.3%
32.7%
14.4%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


Interface and Functionality

BLU sprinkles a few notable tricks with its interface, but don't expect it to entice power users.

BLU employs its own interpretation of Android here with the Vivo XL, which is currently running on top of Android 5.1 Lollipop. Yes, we're kind of disappointed that it's launching without the latest version of the platform, and unacceptable too at the same time, but it's mentioned as being upgradeable to Android M. Although that might be regarded as a comforting idea, we're curious to see if BLU will follow through with that pledge – knowing fully that the software in its phones rarely sees upgrades.

The experience itself follows the implementation used by many Chinese makers, as in eliminating the apps panel entirely and placing everything on the homescreen. Functionally, BLU provides some useful tricks to deepen the experience, like its various smart gestures (double tap to turn on the screen) and “super screen shot” feature. It's not trying to be a mega-Android experience, so the features that are in its arsenal don't come off as overpowering or redundant.

Comparing it to other prized Android experiences, BLU's interpretation is a tepid one at best, combining the core fundamental features of the platform, while sprinkling on a few of its own. Needless to say, it suffices for basic things, but work is still needed to entice power users.

System Performance

Impressively tight with basic tasks, it falls apart over on the gaming front.

Synthetic tests are one thing, but a phone's real-world performance is another. To that degree, the BLU Vivo XL persists in delivering tight and slick responses with its hardware – an octa-core 1.3GHz MediaTek 6753 processor based on 64-bit architecture, combined with 2GB of RAM and the MALI-T720 GPU. Even with a dynamic wallpaper and a cube-like transition effect on for the homescreen, the handset shows off incredible responsiveness.

However, that responsiveness is isolated to basic operations, seeing that it falls apart when it comes to graphics processing. We were hoping for some sort of considerable gain with this hardware combination, but at the end of the day, the phone is riddled with choppiness to the point of being unusable for gaming.

Hey, for a sub-$150 smartphone, there's nothing wrong with it being outfitted with 16GB of internal storage – more so when there's expansion available courtesy of its microSD slot.

Performance benchmarks

AnTuTu
Higher is better
OnePlus X 40173
BLU Vivo XL 36079
honor 5X 35183
Motorola Moto G (2015) 22406
Vellamo Metal
Higher is better
OnePlus X 1542
BLU Vivo XL 925
honor 5X 1108
Motorola Moto G (2015) 1224
Vellamo Browser
Higher is better
OnePlus X 2661
BLU Vivo XL 2604
honor 5X 2327
Motorola Moto G (2015) 2186
Sunspider
Lower is better
OnePlus X 1285.5
BLU Vivo XL 1299.8
honor 5X 1171.7
Motorola Moto G (2015) 1361.8
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen
Higher is better
OnePlus X 23
BLU Vivo XL 19
honor 5X 15
Motorola Moto G (2015) 9.6
GFXBench Manhattan on-screen
Higher is better
OnePlus X 10
BLU Vivo XL 8.4
honor 5X 6
Motorola Moto G (2015) 3.9
Basemark OS II
Higher is better
OnePlus X 1185.66
BLU Vivo XL 837
Motorola Moto G (2015) 581
Geekbench 3 single-core
Higher is better
OnePlus X 910.33
BLU Vivo XL 622
honor 5X 696
Motorola Moto G (2015) 528
Geekbench 3 multi-core
Higher is better
OnePlus X 2415.33
BLU Vivo XL 2658
honor 5X 3028
Motorola Moto G (2015) 1554
View all


Camera

A bleak outlook on this front.

On the back, there's a 13-megapixel sensor that features 5-element sapphire blue lenses, f/2.0 aperture, Phase Detection Auto Focus (PDAF), and an LED flash. For the front, it chimes in with a reasonable wide-angle 5-megapixel camera.

The focus extends into the interface as well, wherein it's crammed with a ton of shooting modes and a manual one as well. Definitely, there's plenty to tinker around with for casual shutterbugs, especially with how various parameters can be adjusted with the manual mode.


Image Quality


BLU wants to paint itself as a serious contender, but the biggest hump it needs to leap over is the lackluster performance from its cameras, which unfortunately, befalls the Vivo XL as well. At most, the camera is able to capture average images when the lighting situations are right, but the results can sometimes be in the subpar range. There's just not enough fine detail, resulting in photos appearing splotchy at times – with noticeably cooler color tones. Things don't get any better under low light, as its quality is accompanied with the typical set of degradations, but made worse because of its inability to focus properly.


Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
OnePlus X 2
3.2
711
543
BLU Vivo XL 2.5
No data
623
546
honor 5X 3
3.5
556
506
Motorola Moto G (2015) 3.4
5
658
641
View all


Video Quality


Turning our attention to its video recording quality, which tops out at 1080p, the BLU Vivo XL also fails to impress in this area with its forgettable qualities. Much like with still image capture, videos just lack a decent level of sharpness and detail to make them attractive to the eyes. Additionally, the lack of continuous focus, the shakiness, and the artifacting elements when panning don't help its cause. Interestingly, there's an anti-shaking setting that attempts to stabilize the footage, but all it does in reality is crop the video and use software tricks to guise its usual shakiness – albeit, the end result still appears a bit artificial.



Multimedia

Same old, same old.

BLU's media gallery works in the same capacity as others, so photos are arranged in a grid-like layout. We do, however, enjoy the expansive editing tools that are at our disposal.

While there's generally little bloatware baked in with this, BLU does happen to throw in its own music player. It's not fanciful or ornate by any capacity, but the core functions are intact. The speaker grill on the back of the phone produces a reasonably loud output of 76.3 dB. However, it sounds a bit narrow and thin when the DTS mode is disabled. With it on, though, there's a slight focus on the lower audio ranges, but still lacking substance to keep us attuned.

Thankfully, the phone's processing power is effective in playing videos smoothly and without any glitches. Combine that with the iridescent Super AMOLED display, we have no qualms with the overall experience. It even features a useful multi-tasking mode that plays a video in its own, separate window.

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
BLU Vivo XL 0.602
honor 5X 0.52
OnePlus X 0.44
Motorola Moto G (2015) 0.377
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
BLU Vivo XL 76.3
honor 5X 73.7
OnePlus X 73
Motorola Moto G (2015) 78.5
View all


Call Quality

Even with some minor issues, it's still a relatively okay experience.

BLU Vivo XL Review
Generally speaking, the BLU Vivo XL is able to handle phone calls. Through the earpiece, voices have good volume and clarity to them. On the other end of the line, however, our callers mention hearing voices that sound a little bit robotic – though, it doesn't make them entirely inaudible. Lastly, the speakerphone produces sufficient volume, but tends to cast a little bit of muffling. All in all, it suffices for the occasion.

Battery

One of the longer-lasting phones from BLU.

BLU Vivo XL Review
Just because it has one svelte profile, don't think for a moment that its battery capacity is compromised. Inside, it's carrying an ample sized 3150 mAh battery, and when that's paired with its 720p screen, delivers surprisingly good battery life.

By the end of most days, we find it right around the 50% mark, which is magnificent for BLU. Conversely, it manages to put up an on-screen time of 7 hours and 40 minutes in our custom benchmark test. Despite that, it's not one of the faster recharging devices of late, seeing that its USB Type-C connection requires 203 minutes to achieve full charge.

Battery Benchmarks

Battery life (hours)
Higher is better
Motorola Moto G (2015) 8h 3 min (Excellent)
BLU Vivo XL 7h 40 min (Good)
honor 5X 6h 54 min (Average)
OnePlus X 5h 57 min (Average)
Charging time (minutes)
Lower is better
Motorola Moto G (2015) 251
BLU Vivo XL 203
honor 5X 170
OnePlus X 121
View all

Conclusion


A lot can be surmised about a phone under the $150 range, just because most people are inclined to believe that compromises are made in order to reach such a low cost. Well, for starters, the BLU Vivo XL doesn't look like a $150 phone, but rather, one that can easily pass for something $300+. The attention to its design is utterly commendable, and when you add in the fact that it has dual-SIM slots and is unlocked, it definitely increases its value and worth to the consumer.

BLU's recipe is once again in full view here with the Vivo XL, a classy looking phone that won't cost you a fortune to own. The savings alone are undeniably savory, but there's still some work to be done in order for it to truly become a benchmark in its class. While there are some noticeable improvements over its previous efforts, like battery life and call quality, it still fails to generate greater success in the camera and software departments.

Now, if you're strapped for cash, this makes for a great starter phone – even as a backup to your main one. Just know that it's currently exclusive to Best Buy if you're planning on picking it up, where it's attached with an even more attractive price point of $99.99 for a limited time only!

Software version of the review unit:
Android Version: 5.1
Build Number: BLU_V0030UU_V07_GENERIC
Kernel Version: 3.10.65+




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