The vivo V5 Plus comes with a 16MP camera on its back, the sensor mated to a 26mm-equiv. f/2.0 aperture lens. On the front, however, is where the real head-turner is - a 20MP+8MP setup 'co-engineered' with Sony to deliver detailed selfies with blurred backgrounds. The lenses on the front are 26mm-equiv. f/2.0 as well.
The camera app interface is simple, yet functional and will be familiar to anyone who's picked up an iPhone. Swiping left and right (or up and down in landscape orientation) switches between basic stills, beautification mode, panorama and video. The separate video mode means you get to preview coverage before hitting record, something you can't do when you have a shared viewfinder for stills and video.
The flash toggle, HDR toggle, mode selector and settings menu are up top in portrait, so they pretty much require you to use both hands, but the front rear camera switch is down next to the shutter release making for easy single-handed use.
Photo enthusiasts will be pleased to find a Professional mode, and it's one of the better made ones we've seen. It gives you access to a lot of manual controls, including exposure compensation (-2EV/+2EV in 1/3EV increments), ISO sensitivity (all the way up to ISO3200), shutter speed (as long as 32s), white balance by presets and manual focus.
There's also a number of grid and spiral overlays to assist you with framing, and if that's not enough, you also get a digital level. These are only available in the Pro mode though, which is a shooting mode itself. What that means is you can forget about shooting HDR, for example, with the level or grids on.
The V5 Plus captures overall likable photos with sufficient detail, though it is missing some definition in intricate high-frequency detail like foliage. Colors are pleasantly saturated, a little warm too, but in a good way, if you will. Dynamic range is decent, but not all that great and combined with a slight tendency to underexpose (we liked the shots better with +1/3EV to +1/2EV exposure compensation) means you'd be getting a bit darker shadows.
Our Photo compare tool is a good place to check out how the V5 Plus fares against any competitors in the controlled environment of our test lab. We've pre-selected the OnePlus 3T and Moto Z Play, but you can pick your own battle.
HDR mode on the V5 Plus gets a toggle in the viewfinder, with on, off, and auto positions. If you activate it manually, or leave it in auto and the phone decides to engage it, an HDR icon appears in the viewfinder to let you know.
vivo's approach to HDR processing is focused on bringing out the lower midtones, and preserving highlights, while the absolute darkest shadows remain black. This results in images that still have plenty of contrast, but also more visible detail in the midtones.
The Panorama mode on the V5 Plus enjoys the privilege of being one of the modes available with a swipe on the viewfinder, instead of being buried in the shooting modes pane.
Panoramas are around 3,200px tall, and there's a good amount of resolved detail. There are no visible stitching issues (with stationary subjects) and exposure is even across the frame. Admittedly, there isn't much color this time of the year to begin with, but we also can't help but feel that the panoramas are a bit desaturated.
We'd go ahead and call the 20MP front facing shooter of the vivo V5 Plus its primary camera. Co-engineered with Sony, as vivo is keen to point out, the setup also includes an additional 8MP cam for depth sensing. There's also a fill light to assist in the dark.
The bokeh mode is what we're here for. We're pleased to report it actually works, and we properly torture-tested it with a subject that badly needs a haircut and has plenty of stray hairs to mess up the algorithm. They do, to be fair, but with careful framing and a few extra tries (and non-hobo hair), you can achieve excellent results.
You get a live preview of the the effect too, though it's later, on the PC screen, that you'll be able to spot the flaws. You can also adjust the focus point and the value of the simulated aperture (f/0.95 to f/16) post-shot, in-phone, so you can experiment after the fact.
The fill light is useful too. This shot below was taken at our studio in the same lighting used for the lowlight shot in the Photo compare tool - a very dim 28lux measured at the poster. It's not super sharp, but it's infinitely better than nothing.
The V5 Plus can capture 4K video - another advantage of the Snapdragon 625 chipset. Naturally, 1080p recording is also supported. There's no stabilization though, you're on your own.
2160p videos are encoded with a bitrate around 42Mbps, while FullHD gets 17Mbps. Audio is recorded in stereo at 128Kbps.
4K footage is nice and sharp with minimal amount of static. Colors are slightly warmish, but saturated and pleasing overall. Contrast is good too, but there is a minor tendency to underexpose.
1080p video is rather pedestrian quality in terms of detail, though it's largely identical to the 4K in other respects.
You can, of course, download untouched video samples, the way they came out of the V5 Plus. We've uploaded on our server a 4K video (10s, 52MB) and a 1080p video (10s, 23MB) for you to examine in detail.
The examination can then continue in our Video compare too, where you can compare the V5 Plus' output to any phone we've tested. We've pre-selected the OnePlus 3T and the Moto Z Play, but picking a different set takes just a few clicks.