Vivo V3 Max Review - Beauty With The Beast

The V3 Max is the latest flagship phone from Vivo in the Philippines, a relatively unknown brand outside China and India but has great strides in the industry since 2009. As matter of fact, it is now 5th best selling smartphone brand in the world.
Vivo V3 Max review

The release of the V3 Max is the company’s first high-profile launch in the Philippine market. It bundles up a great set of aesthetic features and powerful components under the hood for a very affordable price. To make things sweeter, Vivo dropped the SRP of the V3 Max as an early Holiday treat to Filipinos.

Now at PHP 13,990, it is the most affordable Snapdragon 652 octa core powered handset in the country.

Disclaimer: This V3 Max is a loaner unit from Vivo Philippines for an honest review.

Vivo V3 Max Specs

Display: 5.5 Inch FHD 1920 x 1080 resolution w/ 2.5D curved arc screen and Gorilla Glass protection at 401 ppi
CPU: 1.8 GHz 64 Bit Snapdragon 652 octa core processor
GPU: Adreno 510
RAM: 4 GB
ROM: 32 GB ROM expandable to via micro SD card slot up 256 GB
Back Camera: 13 MP f/2.2 w/ PDAF and LED flash
Selfie Camera: 8 MP f/2.4
Battery: 3,000 mAh w/ Quick Charge 3.0
OS: Android 5.1 Lollipop w/ Funtouch OS 2.5
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 n/ac, 3G, Bluetooth, LTE Cat. 7, GPS, A GPS
Sensors: Accelerometer, proximity, compass, gyroscope
Others: Fingerprint sensor, AK4375 HiFi chip
Dimensions: 153.9 x 77.1 x 7.58 mm
Weight: 168 g
Price: 16,990 Pesos (PHP 13,990 sale price)

Unboxing / Accessories

The box
The box

The box includes a 2A charger, a micro USB data/charging cable, a pair of standard earphones with mic, a silicon case, and an OTG cable.
Accessories inside
Accessories inside

Vivo tries to cover the basics in one package and with the addition of the OTG cable and the silicon case, which we don’t see part of the standard package often, users would no longer need to buy additional components anytime soon.

Build Quality / Design

View at its back showing the camera and fingerprint scanner
View at its back showing the camera and fingerprint scanner

The construction of this handset is composed of metal unibody frame that feels refined and tough. On top, there's a layer of 2.5D curved Gorilla glass for better viewing angles and display scratch resistance.

The back of the phone has the camera, Vivo logo, flashlight and finger print scanner. The finger print scanner is amazingly fast and accurate and works without waking the phone from stand-by mode.

The front of the V3 Max shows the front-view camera, proximity sensors on top and the capacitive android buttons at the bottom which do not have any backlight functionality. This makes it hard to use the phone in the dark if the user is not used to the locations of the buttons.
Headphone jack on top!
Headphone jack on top!
Speaker, micro USB port, and microphone below
Speaker, micro USB port, and microphone below
Right side of the phone showing the volume rocker and power button
Right side of the phone showing the volume rocker and power button

The design of this handset is simple yet elegant. Though a lot of phones nowadays showcase the slim and curved-corner exterior, the V3 Max stands out and shows its great design. It is a slender phone with rose gold paint finishes on its’ side panels and back plate. Though, it would be nice to have the same metallic finish on the font panels as well instead of the white plastic-like finish.
Given that, fans of great phone aesthetics will not be disappointed with the look and feel of this machine.
The volume and power control buttons are on the right side of the phone while the other side houses the hybrid SIM tray. The primary slot accepts micro SIM while the secondary one accepts a micro SD card for storage expansion or a Nano-SIM for dual-SIM capabilities. The 3.5 mm audio socket is found on top while the micro USB port, microphone, and speaker can be seen at the bottom.

Display Quality

Great screen for its price
Great screen for its price

The V3 Max poses a 5.5 inch full HD LCD Display with 401 ppi. The screen’s sharpness and brightness are above par compared to other full HD displays. It features good levels of color contrast and tone. The V3 Max display may not be the most vivid screen out on the market, but it is hard to complain anything about it.

The V3 Max features a 10 multi-touch screen and a multi-window functionality. Though the screen shows more of an IOS design because of the FunTouch OS running with Android 5.1 Lollipop, the V3 Max still feels more like an Android phone than anything else. 

Audio Quality

One of the major highlights of the V3 Max is its audio quality. The speaker of the phone does its job with minimal distortion even on max volumes. Given it’s position on the bottom left side of the phone, the speaker output is clear and of high quality.

With its AK4375 HiFi chip, the V3 Max poses superior audio experience compared to its competitors in the mid-range market.
Audio is precised, highly detailed, and fun sounding. True HiFi on a smartphone!
Listening to audio files at a higher bit rate or using better quality earphones may make the difference the HiFi Chip creates more noticeable. It has proper bass slams, depth, and clarity. Given that, the V3 Max would be an excellent choice as a primary music player.

The earphones are of a generic kind and would not really utilize the HiFi chip embedded within the V3MAX.

Calls on the stock headset microphone is lousy and noise. Fortunately, the built-in microphone on the phone works well for calls and other audio recordings.

Battery Life

PC Mark's work battery life score
PC Mark's work battery life score

The V3 Max houses a 3,000 mAh battery capacity that's a standard for phones with 5.5 inch screen. However, we weren't so happy with its PC Mark battery benchmark result at just 4 hours and 11 mins. Based on daily usage tasks, the V3 Max battery could be sustained for a whole day. This is entirely based on the type of usage. High usage on the display and graphics like heavy games would drain the battery much faster.
Battery life should be better.
What is really amazing is the double engine charging functionality that speeds up the charging time tremendously. From a drained out mode, the V3 Max only needed 2 hours to reach full battery capacity. With that, heavy usage would not be a problem at all.

Camera Quality

Main camera behind
Main camera behind

The V3 Max isn't a known shooter, but it has capable cameras on paper. At the back, there's a 13 MP sensor w/ fairly bright f/2.2 aperture, PDAF (phase detection auto focus), and single LED flash.

There's the basic HDR that can be used rescue stills, panorama, professional mode (up to ISO 3200, 16 secs shutter speed, has guides, and levels), fast (time-lapse), slow motion, and Ultra HD up to MP. It also captures images fast, can focus near, and even produce background blur.

One of the great modes that I personally like is the PPT mode. A lot of people take pictures of presentations instead of writing down notes. Unfortunately, the results ultimately end up warped and crooked. This features allows you to process the pictures immediately to make sure that the borders are even.

In terms of picture quality, this shooter offers a great deal in the camera department for the price range. It manages to get great shots with excellent color, tone and sharpness regardless of the mid-range specifications. We also enjoyed its manual and HDR modes that you would really appreciate for this phone to have especially on low light. As long as you're in a well lit environment you won't have a problem at all.

Rear Camera Samples

Daylight sample
Daylight sample
Indoor with daylight
Indoor with daylight
Macro test (good background blur)
Macro test (good background blur)
Food in dim light
Food in dim light
Another one in dim light
Another one in dim light
Flash test, it is pretty bright
Flash test, it is pretty bright

The 8-megapixel selfie cam w/ f/2.4 aperture size performs well in bright conditions but susceptible to blur and noise in low light. If taking selfies are your thing, you would appreciate the make-up mode. Then hopefully, its lack of screen flash isn't a deal breaker for some.

Selfie Camera Samples

Beautify 100%
Beautify 100%
Beautify 50%
Beautify 50%
Beautify 25%
Beautify 25%
Selfie camera isn't that wide
Selfie camera isn't that wide
Videos shot with the V3MAX are in full HD 1080p. The end product is acceptable but may suffer from jitters while it is focusing on subjects.

Performance

Antutu and Geekbench scores

The V3 Max is powered by a 1.8 GHz 64 Bit Snapdragon 652 octa core processor from Qualcomm with the potential to be flagship grade. There is 4 GB of RAM that does not recant and 32 GB internal storage that can be expandable to 128 GB.

The V3 Max triumphs in this category and is a serious competition to most other phones within the price range. The phone works well with having tasks and playing high performance games. The generous amount of RAM allows users to run multiple apps simultaneously without much performance degradation. Note however that the phone tends to heat up doing high performance tasks and games.
Arguably, this handset is the speediest at this price!
This beast poses a 72,864 score in Antutu and 2421 multi-core score in Geekbench which is impressive given the mid-range specs and does great in the graphics department as well thanks to the Adreno 510 GPU.
Its iOS like interface
Its iOS like interface

As for the OS the V3 Max comes in with an Android 5.1 with FunTouch OS 2.5 on top. The FunTouch OS makes the aesthetics have more of an iOS feel. There is no app drawer and the settings panel is brought out by sliding up from the bottom. However, this leave little room for customization. Widgets are useable in the main screens and not limited to the notification panels.

Then Vivo V3 Max also has a screen recording functionality that allows you to record what is being done on the screen. This is very helpful in creating tutorials and How-To videos.

In terms of connectivity, the phone hangs on to signal well and is able to connect to 4G and WiFi excellently. OTG works, has gyroscope for VR / AR, and its fingerprint scanner is one of the fastest around.

Pros - Well built, excellent performance for the price, high accuracy fingerprint scanner, video recording feature, decent cameras, good music experience with its dedicated HiFi audio chip
Cons - Lack of backlighting for the capacitive keys, back panel could be easily scratched, battery life could be better, still on Android 5.1 Lollipop OS, no screen flash for selfies

Verdict

Vivo has released a real game competitor with the V3 Max! Given it's mid-range specs, the V3 Max delivers performance just a tier below a flagship phone. It is fast, elegant, and has enough battery to keep you going throughout your day. With a price of PHP 13,990, the Vivo V3 Max really gives you the bang for the buck. It is that good!


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