BLU has been a minor player delivering affordable smartphones to consumers, but they’ve never been in contention for being a flagship killer. Well, that may change starting with the introduction of the BLU VIVO XI+, which comes packed with all of the aforementioned features above, but at the fraction of the cost at only $350! Let’s dive in and see if this is really a serious contender.
No shocker here, it’s a premium design without the premium cost.
BLU has always found a way to deliver quality looking smartphones at significantly lower prices, so there’s not much of a shock that we’re finding that here with the VIVO XI+. Flaunting a glass meets metal design, there’s no arguing that the VIVO XI+ is a stunning looking thing. Although, it really shares a close resemblance to the OnePlus 6 with its polished front/back surfaces and curved edges. Usually, phones in this price range tend to be poorly constructed, but that’s far from the truth here with its premium looks and solid construction.
What’s really impressive is how they’re able to cram so many things into its already thin 7.8mm body. For starters, there’s a fingerprint sensor slapped on the rear, followed by dual-cameras, built-in Qi wireless charging, and even sensors near the earpiece that delivers facial unlocking. We don’t see these kinds of things in a phone under the $500 mark, so to find them here is pretty impressive. If there’s one thing missing from its design, it has to be a headphone jack, but we suppose that’s the one single compromise BLU had to make – albeit, there’s an included adapter for it.
The saturated colors do more bad than good
In keeping up with the trends, the BLU VIVO XI+ follows suit with an all-screen look. It’s a 6.2-inch HD+ 1080 x 2246 display protected by Gorilla Glass 3, with a 19:9 screen aspect ratio. That’s certainly wider than most others, but we have to point out the substantial notch with the display, which is indeed a distraction because it’s just as wide as the iPhone X’s notch, but it can be at least masked through the display settings.
While the specs are favorable for a device of its caliber, we really can’t say the same for the display’s actual characteristics. Unfortunately, it has an extremely cold color temperature of over 9000K and it tends to favor an oversaturated color tone, making it far from producing realistic and true-to-life colors. The saturation in particular is a bit overkill, seeing that it does more bad than good. The one bright spot is its peak brightness output of 525 nits, which is undeniably bright for a phone of this caliber.
Interface and functionality
BLU’s custom Android experiences were never really polarizing. However, what really infuriated users in the past was the lack of support in the form of software updates – so when you got the phone, the software that was preloaded was pretty much what you were getting for the life of the phone. That’s pretty crummy when you think about it, but that was reality.
Superficially here with the VIVO XI+, BLU’s skin running on top of Android 8.1 Oreo still looks plain and generic just as before, but the saving grace this time is BLU’s commitment in getting those updates. In fact, it’s being promised that it’ll get treated to Android 9.0 Pie when it arrives, which is a totally new and different strategy for BLU. Even though the experience suffices enough for basic things, the prospect of getting real software updates is definitely an unprecedented offering for BLU.
Processor and performance
Powering the BLU VIVO XI+ is an octa-core 2GHz MediaTek Helio P60 chipset coupled with a generous 6GB of RAM. The horsepower is enough to handle basic phone operations, such as the occasional email reply, surfing the web, and social media posts. We do notice that it’s not quite as tight with its responsiveness, but it’s not terrible either. However, it’s simply underpowered when it comes to gaming! The choppy frame rates make it nearly impossible to recommend for any form of 3D gaming.
Call it being extra generous, the VIVO XI+ is packing a whopping 128GB of storage, which is a ridiculous amount to wrap our heads around. We’re appreciative of it, but even more so when there’s an expansion possibility courtesy of its microSD card slot.
BLU has dabbled in the dual-camera configuration before, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we’re given the same here with the VIVO XI+. Being a bit more specific, it breaks down to a 16MP and 5MP combo, which like other implementations, conjures up depth perception and object focus to get those snazzy looking portrait shots. Meanwhile, the front-facing camera features a pixel crunching 16MP sensor. As for the shooting experience, it does come with an assortment of modes that diversifies its package.
We’re not sugar coating anything here, the camera’s performance is predictably disappointing – in comparison to what flagships produce with their cameras. The biggest thing about it is quite simply the lack of fine detail, it’s just devoid of any of it. When lighting is abundant, shots are more than sufficient for sharing on social media, but that’s about it! Under low light situations, the camera continues to exhibit weak details in the shot, which tends to give it a soft and hazy appearance. Making matters worse, images come out extremely dark – while colors appear dull and washed out.
The camera’s video performance doesn’t get any better, seeing that it suffers from the same issues that plague its still shot performance. Topping out at 1080p, which by itself is a disappointment considering there’s no option for Quad-HD resolution, videos once again lack any distinguishable fine details. Additionally, there’s far too much noise in the shot when shooting under low light, and when you combine the choppy frame rate, makes the footage almost unusable.
Surprisingly enough, the VIVO XI+’s 3000 mAh battery delivers great longevity – something we really weren’t expecting to find. Our real-world usage easily eclipses a full day, with the battery at roughly 25% capacity by the end of the night. Meanwhile, it manages to reach a mark of 8 hours and 14 minutes in our battery benchmark test, which is a fine result.
Over on the recharge side, the VIVO XI+ requires 122 minutes to get back to full capacity. That may not be the fasting time, but it’s nonetheless still swift. Even better, this is the first BLU smartphone we’ve come across to feature Qi wireless charging, which is a nice addition considering the budget nature of the phone.
At least it’s not downright terrible in this area. Placing phone calls with the VIVO XI+, voices exhibit some distortion through the earpiece, but the volume output is still loud enough to use in noisy conditions. Conversely, our callers mention that we sound a little distant on their end, which leads us to believe that the mics on the phone may be struggling to pick up our voice. For most people, the experience should be tolerable, but it’s certainly not the best either.
The BLU VIVO XI+ is a promising new smartphone from the company, mainly for the fact that they’re committed to finally delivering timely software updates. Beyond that, it embodies all of the practices that we’ve seen BLU put to strategy with its previous smartphones. On one hand, it certainly has a compelling package filled with flagship caliber features, like its Qi wireless charging, dual cameras, and premium construction, but its performance is still what’s holding it back from truly being a flagship contender.Without a doubt, the $350 price of the phone certainly undercuts many of the major players out there, including the OnePlus 6, but its performance in many key areas will probably keep most people from deciding to buy it. Two of the big ones include its choppy graphics processing performance, as well as the subpar results from its cameras. When we look at the overall picture, the BLU VIVO XI+ paints a picture of being a disruptive smartphone, but underneath the sharp looks and ample features, it’s still a phone that’s indicative of its low-cost price.
Hey, at least there’s an introductory discount for the phone, which drops its price to $249.99, but it’s only for a limited time.