Blu Vivo 6 preview: Hands-on with an affordable metal alternative
Blu might be a familiar name in the US, but its venture into the UK is only just starting. It’s starting from an interesting position too.
Launching on Amazon.co.uk, the phone immediately offered a Black Friday deal dropping from its regular price of £239.99, to a pocket-satisfying £184.99. That’s not a lot of money for a 5.5-inch metal phone, but sadly that offer has now passed and we’re back to the still rather affordable £240.
Blu Vivo 6 preview: Design
- Metal unibody design
- 153 x 75.3 x 7.6mm, 170g
Metal is becoming a common thing in smartphones. What was once the artistry of HTC, now seems to be the defacto standard. It’s something that brands like Huawei and OnePlus have picked up on, drawing down metal from a £600 phone, to a £400 phone. Now Blu pulls it down under £300, into a price band where you’ll usually be looking at plastics.
The cool metal is nicely finished, with neat chamfering to the edges that give the phone a look we find reminiscent of Huawei’s devices, like the Mate S. The Blu Vivo 6 measures 153 x 75.3 x 7.6mm and weighs 170g.
A soft rear curve and body-coloured antenna bands are the order of the day and despite the price point, it’s difficult to pick many faults with this design on first glance. It feels solid and good quality, even if the finishing around the display might not be quite as exciting as you’ll find on some more expensive models.
Blu Vivo 6 preview: Hardware and specs
- MediaTek octo-core chipset, 4GB RAM
- 64GB storage with microSD
- 3130mAh battery with rapid charging
Sitting at the core of the Vivo 6 is a MediaTek octo-core chipset with 4GB RAM. There’s also 64GB of internal storage, with support for microSD, if you want to expand this further.
We’ve not had the chance to fully test the performance, but that’s a good loadout. The choice of MediaTek is typical of more affordable phones, but the 64GB of storage is generous, as is the RAM.
There’s USB Type-C on the bottom of the handset, used to power the 3130mAh battery within. We’ve also not had the chance to test the endurance of the battery, but we’ll report back fully once we’ve spent some time with the phone.
There’s a fingerprint scanner on the front, flanked by touch dots. The fingerprint scanner offers unlocking as you’d expect, like the Samsung Galaxy S7, also doubling as a home button. The dots to either side offer your other Android navigation controls – back and recent apps – and the advantage of not using icons is that the functionality can be reversed according to your preference.
Blu Vivo 6 preview: Display
- 5.5-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels, 401ppi
There’s a 5.5-inch display on the front of the Vivo 6. This isn’t the highest spec display that you’ll find at that this size, but the 1920 x 1080 pixels results in a pixel density of 401ppi. That’s a common figure, as many devices a step down from flagship spec offer this – from the Moto G4 to the OnePlus 3T.
The display looks to be full of colour and vibrancy and for this price of handset, we’re impressed with its performance. We’ve seen better full HD displays at this size, especially some of those using AMOLED, but we’re happy with what we’ve seen so far.
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Blu Vivo 6 preview: Software
- Android Marshmallow
- Bundled Amazon and other apps
The Vivo 6 launches on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, but gives it a reworking in a similar fashion to brands like Huawei. The aim is often to enhance the experience as well as provide some degree of uniqueness to help the phone standout against rival devices.
Sitting on an Android core, however, there’s always the argument that the software doesn’t need changing or altering as it’s a solid base. The biggest changes around the home screen environment include a swipe up to access shortcuts and settings – a little like the iPhone – with the swipe down only offering access to notifications.
That doesn’t make a huge difference to use once you’re familiar with it, but in some ways to steps away from features that are perfect good or useful in stock Android. There’s no Do not Disturb access through the shortcuts, or the volume settings, although it still exists in the menu, making access a little harder, so it’s a feature you might never use to its full potential.
There’s also a range of bundled apps. These include Amazon apps – which we’d install anyway – and seeing as you’re likely to be buying this from Amazon, we’re not so offended. Then you have the addition of Opera as an alternative browser. If you’re a Google user, Chrome is likely your best bet and it’s also included, so the choice is yours.
Aside from some tweaks and changes – and bear in mind that there’s no apps tray either – there are some other apps that are fun, like the Chameleon app that will let you select a colour using the camera and create a theme. That means you can theme your phone after the outfit you’re wearing, or to match your shoes, bag, car or whatever.
There’s some duplication of other apps for entertainment, like music, video a gallery, in addition to the standard Android offering, which, as we’ve said, is now pretty sophisticated.
But overall it’s difficult to be offended by the changes made in this phone. It’s a nip and a tuck and first impressions don’t ring any alarm bells for us.
Blu Vivo 6 preview: Cameras
- 13-megapixel rear camera
- 8-megapixel front camera
The Vivo 6 packs in a 13-megapixel rear camera with phase detection autofocus and a flash. The pixels are small at 1.12µm, which might mean it’s less happy with low light conditions compared to some of the latest models out there.
The app is heavily customised and again as a Huawei feeling about it, with plenty of options, like HDR, a pro mode to give you manual controls, timelapse, slowmo and so on. One minor limitation on the video front is that it only offers up to 1080p video capture, missing out on the latest 4K richness.
The front camera is 8-megapixels offering beauty mode and a range of themes you can apply.
We’ve not had the chance to fully test the cameras, but we will report back with a full performance low down, once we do.
First impressions of the Blu Vivo 6 are good. This is a solidly designed and built Android handset that hits a number of important spec points with that big display, metal body, fingerprint scanner and ample storage and does so for not a lot of money.
We’ll be giving the Blu Vivo 6 a full workup as soon as we’ve had the chance to spend a little more time with this handset.
The Blu Vivo 6 is currently on sale unlocked at Amazon.co.uk.