04
Jun
1

Once upon a time, Blu was pushing out low- to mid-range phones once every couple of weeks. Then a shift happened – the company stepped up its game and started putting out higher quality handsets, leading up to last month's release of the Life Pure XL – a Snapdragon 800-packing monster.

Fast-forward to now, with the launch of two new Blu handsets: the Vivo IV and Life 8. While the Life 8 is more of a "mid-range" octa-core device (1GB RAM, 1280x720 display, 8GB storage), the Vivo IV is another beast entirely. It's a high-end octa-core handset with plenty of bang for the buck.

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Specs

  • Display: 5-inch 1920x1080 Super AMOLED with Gorilla Glass 3
  • Processor: 1.7GHz Octa-Core MediaTek MT6592 with ARM MALI 450 GPU
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Camera: 13MP rear shooter, 5MP front
  • Storage: 16GB
  • Ports: microUSB, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Wireless: GSM HSPA+ 42 Mbps, 4G 850/1900/2100; WiFi a/b/g/n/ac, GPS, Bluetooth v4.0 with A2DP, Wi-Fi Hotspot, FM Radio
  • Dimensions: 145 x 70 x 5.5 mm
  • Battery: 2200mAh
  • OS: Android 4.2.2
  • Available colors: White-Silver, Rose Gold, Black
  • Price: $299
  • Buy: Amazon

As you can see, it's a little less spec'd out than the Pure XL, but if there's one thing to be said for this phone, it's dead sexy. The hardware is absolutely gorgeous.

Pros

Cons

  • Beautiful design
  • Ultra-thin 5.5mm design
  • Super AMOLED display
  • Excellent, super-fast camera
  • Glass on the back (though it is Gorilla Glass)
  • No LTE

 

Appearance, Hardware, and Build Quality

Not only is this easily the sleekest Blu phone I've ever seen, it's one of the sleekest phones on the market, bar none. It's crazy-thin (only 5.5mm), ultra-light, and just so damn elegant. The device itself is a little bit longer than the Nexus 5, but it's significantly thinner – the added length is required for the battery, of course. The front is coated in Gorilla Glass with the microUSB charging port on the top, microSIM slot on the right, volume and power buttons on the left, and headphone jack on the bottom. The sides are made of machined aluminum that feels good and looks great overall. The back is also coated in a layer of Gorilla glass, and the 13MP rear shooter sticks out of the upper left corner just slightly. I actually think the camera bump is a very nice-looking design element on the otherwise plain back, and the thin aluminum band around it is a very nice touch.

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Like most other Blu devices, the Vivo IV features menu, home, and back capacitive keys. This is probably my least-favorite part of the device, as I would prefer a little more customization to the buttons – I find little use in a menu button and would like to have a recent apps key instead. All's not lost, however, as a double-tap on the home button brings up the recent apps menu; long-pressing it launches Google Now (just like on the Pure XL and other new Blu devices).

While we're talking about the front of the device, let's take a look at the display. The Vivo is packing a 1080p Super AMOLED display, and it's quite beautiful. Like all AMOLED displays, it's very vivid, and colors are pretty saturated. If you're a fan of AMOLED panels, you'll love this phone's display.

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The case is on the phone in the last photo.

All Blu phones (or all least all that I've tried) come with a thin plastic hard case, but the one that comes with the Vivo is the first one I've actually liked. It's clear and thin, so it doesn't take away from the look of the phone while still adding a bit of protection and grip. It's also worth noting that, when the case is equipped, the camera bump becomes flush with the rest of the surface.

Speaking of, the device's 13MP rear shooter is pretty par for the course where Blu phones are concerned – they've always had pretty damn good cameras for the price. Like the Pure XL's camera, it also offers advanced settings for those who want to get the best out of their photos.

Screenshot_2014-06-04-15-41-58 Screenshot_2014-06-04-15-42-04

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Software and Performance

The Vivo's primary interface should be pretty familiar at this point: it's basically the same one that's found on the Life Pure handsets (Pure, Pure Mini, and Pure XL). It's a very simplified version of the Android launcher that's very MIUI/iOS-like. There is one static widget at the top that displays the weather, no app tray at all (all apps just go to the homescreens), and that's basically it. It's very simple and easy to use, but of course lacks the customizations options that most Android users want. Thankfully there are third-party launchers in the Play Store to add that extra bit of flare.

Screenshot_2014-06-04-15-21-08 Screenshot_2014-06-04-15-21-14 Screenshot_2014-06-04-15-21-23

Also like the Life Pure devices, the IV has a customized notification shade. The "notifications" section of the shade is pretty familiar (it, um, shows notifications), but the "settings" panel is pretty sweet: it's packed with tons of different settings, and even offers several customizable options.

Where performance in concerned, the phone is snappy during every day tasks – surfing the web, switching between running apps, social networking, texting, etc. I haven't noticed any sort of lag during my time with the device, but I'm not sure I'd call it a speed demon, either. Don't get me wrong – it's quick. Damn quick. But after using the Life Pure XL, I can't help but draw comparisons to the Snapdragon 800, which is just blazing fast. Even though the Vivo is packing an octa-core chip, it just can't compete with the Pure XL. It's not slow by and definition of the word, and I'd have no problem using it as my personal daily driver, but the 800 just screams.

Conclusion

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Hands down, the Vivo IV is Blu's best-looking handset to date. Its beautifully crafted aluminum and glass body is super sleek, elegant, and incredibly thin – it is as premium as premium can feel. Of course, it's lacking LTE, which is a dealbreaker for some, and it's only running Android 4.2.2 out of the box. Blu is promising the update to 4.4.x by month's end for the Vivo, Life Pure series, and a few others, however, so it'll be up to snuff in that regard very soon.

Then there's the IV's price: it's $300. And, in my opinion, it's worth every penny. As long as LTE isn't a absolute must for you, then it's really hard to find a reason not to recommend this device to anyone looking for a no bullshit handset that won't break the bank.

The Blu Vivo IV is shipping to retailers like Amazon right now and should be available in the next couple of weeks.

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, and musician. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6- or 7-string, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • http://www.youtube.com/crisr82 Kristian Ivanov

    I'd personally add the Mali-GPU to the cons list aswell

    • psychoace

      Well the whole Mediatek SOC should be added to the list of cons altogether.

      • http://www.youtube.com/crisr82 Kristian Ivanov

        After trying a few minor-brand tablets, I personally have a policy not to buy anything Android-related unless the company proved they know how to optimize the OS for the hardware it's on, and knowing Mali-GPUs...yeah, I'll wait for a Nexus at this point

    • Iwan

      "...the upper left corn just slightly..."
      Also, the fact of having a corn on your phone.

      • Simon Belmont

        Haha. Well our phones do have kernels.

        That was a terrible pun. I'll just get my things and leave.

      • http://www.youtube.com/crisr82 Kristian Ivanov

        the wut?

        • Iwan

          The CORN.
          You missed it; it has evolved into a comparative.

  • http://www.anivision.org/ Christopher Bailey (Xcom923)

    I'm like "wow that looks awesome" then I saw NO LTE instant -100 pts for me

    • turdbogls

      yeah, its a big downer for sure. thankfully I am surrounded by really good H+ so I am still getting like 15down 5 up, which is fine for me. If I ever need a phone in a pinch, I will for sure look into Blu....I just keep forgetting about them :/

  • Alex S

    Not to be a nuisance, but the pure XL actually runs a snapdragon 800 chip not the 801.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      You're absolutely right. Corrected.

    • Android_Silver

      that's called TOTAL BRANDING MESS.
      Random letters, random numbers, random almostwords.

      Blu Vivo IV Life 8.
      Just to BLUr the market and lower the prices.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

        Hi,

        Wat

        -Cam

  • Jay T

    It'd be nice to have a little info on the battery life. That's always the downside for the "thinnest lightest" handsets. That's why I'm going for a Sony Xperia Z2, cause 3300 mah!

    • cory burke

      Agree. Need info on this. Cuz the size of the battery as specd is paltry - compared to other new entries on the market.

      • Jay T

        Well.... I'm using the Nexus 5 atm, and it gets reasonable battery life with a 2300 mah battery, so only slightly bigger then this handset. Depends how efficient the processor is, and how well optimised the software is.

        • Jesse Afolabi

          you can be sure that the processor is very efficient low power cortex A7 architecture so i expect the phone will go a whole day or better from light to hard usage......sure to beat the nexus 5 or even match up to the Z2

  • Simon Belmont

    Someday, BLU might actually release a phone with KitKat+ out of the box. SOMEDAY.

    Probably the day they stop using those MediaTek SoCs. Just a guess. The BLU XL has a Snappy 800 and I bet it'll get KitKat right away. Just you watch.

    • Rob

      They won't. Because BLU is not a phone manufacturer. All they do is take Chinese phones from Gionee and Nibiru and rebrand them. the BLU Vivo IV is the rebranded version of the Gionee Elife S5.5, and the BLU Pure XL is a rebranded version of the Gionee Elife E7. Go compare their specs and designs.

  • Mkvarner

    How is 1 GB RAM not a con? It must have been terrible using the device if you are a heavy user.

    • Simon Belmont

      Possibly because it has 2GB of RAM? Not 1GB.

      Honestly, I'd much rather have 3GB of RAM and just go with a quad-core CPU to offset the cost. Those octo-cores don't really add that much performance.

      • Mkvarner

        Haha, my fault :)

      • ximen

        yes,but if so,its sales performance will face high risk。

  • Rev. Kyle Vanhove

    It's tough to want to buy a phone that is almost guaranteed to never get an update. I'd like to see Blu got the Oppo route and open it up to 3rd party ROMs like Cyanogen or Paranoid Android.

    • Simon Belmont

      Yeah. It's kind of sad that every time I read about a new BLU phone, it only has Android 4.2.2, and it ALWAYS is promising an update to KitKat in the future (not one has been updated....ever).

      Le sigh @ MediaTek SoCs. There's your problem.

      • Faglord

        >le sigh
        Please don't do this, it only makes you look like a retard.

  • Noob.

    Pulldown and settings look like MIUI to me.
    That random orange in the Settings while everything's blue, judging on screenshots so far. Ew.

  • Serotheo

    Isn't this just a rebranded Gionee Elife S5.5?

    • Mandeep Singh

      Yeah

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

        Kind of. The Gionee has a 5.5" display. The Vivo IV has a 5" display. The design is basically the same though.

        • JWort93

          Actually despite the 5.5 in the name, the Gionee Elife S5.5, does have the same 5" display. http://gionee.co.in/portfolio/elife-s5-5/

          • http://www.animenews.biz Humberto Saabedra

            It's the same phone. BLU is just another Gionee customer that makes slight changes to inventory for the US and Latin America. Strange that A-P doesn't emphasize this fact.

          • Rob

            Exactly. What people here don't seem to realise, BLU is not a phone company. It doesn't deserve to call itself a phone company, because they did not make a single phone in their store. They just take Chinese phones, slap a BLU logo on it, change the system language to english, and sell it at a higher price.

            You can take ANY BLU phone, google it, add the word "chinese phone" or something similar to the end, and there will be proof that the BLU phone is just a rebranded version of a Chinese phone.
            The BLU Life Pure XL with the Snapdragon 800 which everyone seems to praise, is the rebranded Gionee Elife E7. The Vivo IV in the article is the Gionee Elife S5,5. Name me any BLU phone, and I'll find you the true version of it.

          • http://www.animenews.biz Humberto Saabedra

            It wouldn't surprise me if the Chinese manufacturers like Gionee would be more willing to modify their lineup for international sales. It would have been nice if BLU had the Elife S5.5 modified to add an microSD slot.

    • MyLeftNut

      A lot (most) of BLU phones are re-branded phones from other manufacturers, that's why I don't really give them any credit for design "choices."

    • http://www.androidnext.de/ Frank Ritter | androidnext.de

      Yes. Also, in Europe this phone is called AllView X2 Soul: http://www.androidnext.de/news/allview-x2-soul-gionee-elife-s5-5-europa/

  • RMBRKFLD

    I need those icons.

  • Anthony Evans

    add LTE and be worth it to me

  • Andrew Sheng

    Does this device have NFC or USB OTG?

  • Kyle Cordiano

    It is a gorgeous phone. Hell I bought the Life Pure XL but returned it when Blu delayed the update to Kitkat as that is not a good sign.

  • Fellwalker

    Is there any point in octacore prior to the operating system of android supporting 8 threads of parallel processing?

    Glass back? NO THANKS. it is the worst bit of my broken backed nexus 4.

  • Chocolate Dinosaur

    Where can I buy this? Is it out?

  • Phuong Nguyen

    This or the nexus 5?

  • geewhiz

    if they shipped with stock or cyanogen they'd have a chance at being interesting