BLU Vivo air LTE

February, 21, 2016

I finally got a new phone since my old one didn't work with the new service I was planning on using. not to mention there have never been any updates from that company. So it was time to move on. Today I'm doing a short review of the Vivo air LTE phone.

As I was looking for a replacement phone, I only had a few requirements. It had to be unlocked from the start. Hopefully keep the screen small so it wouldn't feel like I had a tablet as a phone. I'm a guy and usually just keep this in my pocket. The old one was starting to feel heavy. I wanted something smaller and lighter if I could find it. And most importantly with decent specs but affordable. Looking through the web I ran into the company BLU. I found their phones look pretty interesting and I started looking and reading about them. I found out that the company selling these Chinese phones are headquartered in Florida. I liked what I saw and figured I give them a shot since they are based here in the united states. I figured maybe I'll have better luck if they are here this time around. I looked through their site which has nice pictures but I wanted a way to compare the phones a lot faster than having to scroll down to the bottom of each phone page. So I emailed them asking about this and I never heard back. So the first impression wasn't great. I still like the hardware and figured if the phone is good, I hopefully won't need to contact them. It's nice to be able to get a hold of them if you do need them of course. So I thought I give one of their phones a try anyway.

I settled on the vivo air lte for a couple of reasons. I looked at the specs and like how thin it was. I also like that the screen was only 4.8 inches and my old phone was 4.7 inches. So not much height, although it's still not the smallest one out there. I was looking at the Moto e due to it's perfect size for my hand and pocket. Comparing specifications though, the Blu phones gave me more for my dollar. I was debating between this and the One life X due to all the frequencies and specifications. But the screen was just a bit larger than I would like. I hate carrying things and I would probably break a phone in my pocket with that size, specially since I usually get into my car with the phone in my pocket. The thin vivo air works great here as I'm not hitting the middle console every time I get into the car. This was a bit hard to decided on since both phones cost the same. The air gives you the small convenience and the One life x gives you a bit more phone. These are just the two I was looking at, but there are many other phones there to choose from. So here are the pros and cons. I have since found the vivo 5 is sort of the upgrade to the air with a larger screen, memory and sd card, but also cost a little more.

Pros:
 -Super thin at 5.1 mm. I'm still trying to get used to holding it after a day.

-It includes a plastic case which is nice and practically disappears once installed.

-It includes headphones which sound pretty decent and have a nice long cord.

-Lollypop 5.0.2 android the One life x has the 5.1.1 I think it was. So a bit more updated.

-Google voice works great on it.

-One screen protector also included

-2 Gigs of memory

-LTE 4G, but missing two other bands. I like to see all the needed bands built-in since I don't know which are supported or not. I believe this will also depend on where you live and city or rural area.

-Unlocked

-Physical buttons placement was just like on my old phone so that was nice. Power on the right and volume on the left.

-The control buttons are part of the screen. Some people like this and some don't. I liked them because I found that at one point I had taken the phone out of my pocket and was using it upside down. Since the buttons basically move with the screen, it looked like I had it right side up until I went back to the main screen which was upside down. This actually helps if you don't like the earphone at the bottom. When the phone is in my pocket at the park, I can just turn it upside down so the cord is up and out of my pocket on this phone.

-Love the metal design. It's square with rounded corners. I wouldn't mind a slightly thicker version with an even brighter screen, sd card slot, more memory, a faster cpu and finger print reader. CPU is fine, but you'll definitely want that with all those options. The vivo 5 is the newer larger version with a mediatek cpu. The air has a qualcomm cpu.

-I like the stock android without all of the extra stuff some companies put in them. The colors of these stock background are really nice that I actually have left it on.

-WIFI seems to connect faster on this phone than my previous phone which is nice. Both are Wireless N.

-The screen worked just fine right after putting the screen protector that was included. I like to do this this when I first get my phones since I keep them in my pocket and that usually protects them in case I have coins or anything else in my pocket. You still can't use this phone with gloves on though. I just used a shirt over my finger and sure enough it doesn't work.

-Just tested the GPS offline today and it worked great. Some android devices have gps but they just never work.

Cons:
-No SD card option, this phone really needs it.

-Only 16gb of memory, the minimum should be 32 or 64 on a phone these days. Sixteen is just barely the minimum.

-Flat cables on power cord and headphones. I went for a light jog and found I could not put the cord over my ear in order to keep the earpiece from coming out of my ear. The flat cable just bounces right off your ear as it's on the stiff side. Because the flat cables get folded instead of wrapped/bend, mine came a bit broken I think. I have to wiggle it to make sure I can hear it where the flat part meets the plug. I hope they keep the earphones but change to round cables instead of flat ones.

-Screen not as easy to see out in the sun. My old phone still looks sharp out in the sun when at max brightness. This one was not with the same settings. This one has lower ppi than my old phone, but it still looks nice once inside.

-I'm still trying to get used to holding something this thin. It's a different feeling than something you can really hold on to, like the thicker phones that don't feel like you're going to drop it.

-I found the ear speaker to be a bit too low and this bugs me a bit. You can still hear through it, but mine sounds a bit blocked/muffled.

-Turning on the phone has a blinding start screen and loud music. Same loud screen when turning it off. Very annoying, but the good thing is you don't have to do this too often so I hope this gets addressed in the future,

-No wireless ac.

-Will there be any more android updates?

-I am not a fan of those play station looking icons for the menus. I still prefer the home button to look like a home, the menu button to still look like some type of menu button instead of a square and most importantly, the back arrow. The triangle on this phone tends to turn and well, that doesn't really tell me much since all sides are exactly the same. I have now realized it points down when you have the keyboard on to show you that you can minimize it. Also, the back button is on the left on this phone and my old one was on the right which I prefer since I'm right handed and hardly use the menu button.

-I have found that women like the larger screens. If you're a guy who carries your phone in your pocket, you prefer the smaller phones and the reason I chose this model which is the trade off I had to make vs the larger version phones with more space, sd card, etc. This is also a matter of choice of course. But since I was looking for something physically smaller, I chose this one.

-Short usb cable


 The packaging.




 Here's my old thick phone with the new thin vivo air lte to give you a good look at the difference. Yes, that's a massive difference in thickness at 5.1 mm. The new phone is also a bit wider than my old one which makes it a bit harder to hold with one hand. At least for me since I don't have large hands.

 What you get.


 The included accessories which was really nice to see. No one else does this that I can think of. So nothing else to have to buy unless you really want to or can't stand what you get. These are normally the things I would get anyway so this was perfect. I believe all Blu phones do this, but you may want to check first.




 The headphones with flat cables which I later found not to be such a nice thing.

 The length of the headphones was just perfect. Not short.

 The flat usb cable for the charger.

 The charger itself.

 Charger specifications.

 Rear plastic covering the glossy back. I put the case on it right after I took this off.

 The cover on the phone. The sticker is on a plastic cover. I tried just taking the sticker off to leave the plastic, but it was not going to happen as it was really stuck to it unfortunately.

 The included screen protector.


 I like this cover. Just keep in mind that it goes on a bit tight which works fine, but if you try to take it off, you have to be very careful or you could break. The button sides have no bridge on the top edge so this bends here easy. I think I read that people had broken this case and this is probably why. This one will not just snap off easily but you don't need to do that anyway since the battery is not removable and the the sim card goes in from the side. Just start taking if off the bottom instead of the top and you will be fine. Either way this is well designed and does fit great but due to the thickness you just have to be more careful with it.


 Installing the screen protector.

 This is the start screen that frankly is very annoying to have that white background blast every time you turn this on. It is blinding.



 The welcome screen.

 My wifi would not connect initially even though I was next to my router. A reboot I think fix this.

 After connecting, the first thing I noticed was an update! Yes, and update. Now this was looking a lot better. I let it do its thing with a smile on my face. It's nice to see updates.







 This is actually the second screen after the white background and logo. This also makes a loud sound every time you turn it on. Very annoying to say the least as it always blast off when turning the phone off and on. So if you ever want to be quiet, don't turn this thing on or off if you don't want to be found or stared at during a meeting.

 Here's the phone updating itself. I was pleased to see the update.



 A shot of the included file manager.

 Okay, then I ran into this problem. Man this was annoying, I just kept getting this and couldn't do squat no matter what. Eventually another reboot finished updating what it needed and things started working.
 Here's the new sim card I ordered. I decided to test us mobile. I was going to use ting, but I found that us mobile is similar to ting but with slightly better pricing. In both services you only pay for what you use. My old service provider Ptel went out of business so I had to get a new provider. I hardly use my phone, so I am always looking for something that works for me. This sim actually came from Portland, OR., even though they are located in Stamford, CT.



I thought I had this cut right and then I found I had to cut it even smaller which makes for a tiny card. By cut, I mean push out since it comes pre-cut to all sizes and you just choose the one you need. It gets hard to handle this tiny thing after that. Don't throw out the rest of the card as you may need that later if you ever want to use this card on another phone. Just a drop of glue on one of two edges may keep it in place so that it can be inserted in a different type of slot.


This is the sim card tool that comes with the vivo air lte.

 Another shot of this blinding screen. The circle is my lamp reflection on the screen.



 So here's one of the big down sides of this phone. After letting lollipop update many of the already included apps, I had basically used half of the 16gb memory. I decided to get this phone as I didn't have that much stuff stored on my previous phone so I thought I could get by with 16gb. I then added another 2.5 gigs of music and that brought this down even more obviously. I just got this two days ago so I'm still testing and trying to decide if I want to keep it. It does look beautiful though. I have now found that picking it up from a table is harder than you would think due to the thickness since you don't have much to grab to. I always end up sliding this off the table.

So is this the best phone out there...no, but this works better in my pocket, literally. Just make sure everything gets updated which took about two days getting all the apps updated since many of the included apps also had to be updated. I now keep my phones very plain and with just a couple of apps I may actually use. Too many apps require more rights than what they need and I have found this to keep my phone in good shape. Load a bunch of random apps and you will start to see problems.

To find their products go here. Their shop is through amazon, but this is their main site.
http://www.bluproducts.com/ 

 


 

Update: March 8, 2016
I have found one bad thing about having a very thin phone like this one. It tends to slip out of my pocket more times than I can count. I thought I had lost it in a theatre because it had fallen through the seat and I couldn't find it. My friend finally saw it under the seat. It also does this every time I sit in the car or any time I sit where it can slide right out. So I have decided to make a 3D printed case to hold it with the original case attached to it. Here's a preview of my design. It's been a while since I printed anything so I'm trying get the printer working correctly again. I am now on my third version though.




March 9, 2016
 I have been printing this because I really wanted something to hold my phone. I have this baofeng radio that I only use as a regular radio to listen to music and I really like the clip on it. It works beautifully, better than any phone clip I have ever had. So I took it off since it uses two small 2.5 mm screws. I don't have 2.5 mm nuts so I ended up using 2 mm nuts and screws instead and it still works fine. I may add a washer but I don't think it needs it so that was good.

 Here's why I like the clip. You can basically add it to any flat surface. It is spring loaded too. So easy to take off but still strong enough to keep it in place.

 My latest print, this is my 4th one. I needed to make the charger hole a little bigger so I just fixed that and a couple more tiny changes. Now printing the new version to make sure everything fits.

 The headphone jack is working fine.

 Here are the prints and and broken parts since I have been improving the design.

This is what the front and back look like. The hole phone with the case it comes with is in the new holder. I have designed this so I can keep the original case on it. It's small enough and it also prevents the back from getting scratched too. The two large holes allow me to push the phone out since the whole phone is encased on the holder. The reason the holder is towards the top is so that I can also put it inside my pocket and have it hold it in place so it doesn't slide out of my pocket like has been doing. Unfortunately I have found that the down side of this being so thin is that you can lose it pretty quickly too. The only problem so far is the M2 x 6 mm screws are still a bit too long. I really need to get shorter screws, but this will work for now.

 I got the dremel out and shortened those screws. This was my plan, to use it in my pocket so I don't keep losing it. This works great.

 I can use it like this too, but it may not stay put for too long. It should work if I have the headphones on though. With the shirt over it, it's almost not there. Until I can get the updated one printed out I can use this one. If you're wondering why this is red, it's the filament I had on the printer so I just used that. No other reason.

You can get the clip on ebay and all over from .99 cents and up. So that's even better as these are very common.


Update:
March 25, 2016
I finally got a chance to use the camera and I can say that the fact that this phone doesn't have stabilization really stinks. A lot of the pictures I take come out blurry unless I really stop and try to steady my hands.

Also, at night or in the dark, the pictures come out yellow most if not all the time. I'll post some samples below. The other annoying thing is that I can't swipe through the pictures right after taking them, I have to touch the small picture icon on the lower corner which is pretty annoying. This is all with the rear camera which is supposed to be the better camera on this phone.

This was under my car and it was starting to get a bit dark. Even with the flash I still could not get a good pictures until I used the flashlight on this first, then took the picture.


I took these two pictures in a parking lot tonight. Still, the same ugly yellow on this camera even with the automatic flash option on. So unless there is sunlight, all your pictures will come out yellow which is pretty annoying to say the least. At least on my phone. Sure I can force the flash, but you think it would work to begin with. Even with the flash on I still get yellow pictures. You can also see the first image that I took which is on the bottom here was actually pretty blurry too. I'll have to check with them to find out what is wrong with this as I just noticed all the pictures are yellow with or without the flash.

Okay I feel dumb now. I just took the phone out of my printed case and now it works fine. Darn it, I need to open that hole up more. The flash seems to bounce back on it, but I didn't even have the flash on some of the pictures so I'll make the hole bigger to keep the flash from bouncing back into the camera.


4 comments:

Brenda Lykkehoy said...

Nice review Jaime! I am considering either Vivo air LTE or Life One X (2016). I liked the size and weight of this quite well. However, I am with AT&T and not sure if this phone would work withe AT&T 4G/LTE. Any idea or suggestions?

Jaime Vigil said...

Thank you. I was torn between those two myself. Both phones are unlocked and the life one x has the extra frequencies that the air doesn't have. With that said, both should work using the lower common bands, but it's hard to say what will work the best since the icons also don't really say anything. At least I haven't used the internet with mine since I usually just use the wifi at home. With that said, I found out that the vivo 5 is the updated version of this, sort of. It has similar build and gives you more in size and storage. To make it simple if you want to keep a smaller phone this will do it. If the 4g is more important, then the life one x may be something that will probably work the best. I really don't know whether those missing frequencies really will make a difference or not since I don't use the web through the carrier. At least I haven't tried it yet. They just charge too much. The vivo 5 has the same frequencies as this phone. I read some negatives about all the phones including this one, so I say choose one base on what you feel is more important for you. Even though mine is short on space, I am now fine with it because it works better in my pockets. Even though I like the others too. I know how hard it is to choose since these are pretty new still. But that's the only thing I can suggest for now since I'm still testing it. I'll add the video links here too. Not the best videos but I tried to at least get the information out.

Brenda Lykkehoy said...

Thanks Jaime! This is helpful and I went ahead with the air LTE.

Jaime Vigil said...

You're very welcome. Enjoy the phone, just don't be surprised if people start staring at you when you use it. It's so thin that I noticed this a few times when I would take it out. It does get a bit attention since it's still very new. It's pretty funny since everyone is usually using a iphone.