The iPhone 7 that isn't - vivo V5 Plus looks like it has rolled off the same production line as its Cupertino inspiration. Yet, it costs half that and it isn't half bad.
Vivo didn't get the memo that the two cameras should go on the back and made a dual selfie shooter. But then what good is a portrait mode really, if you can't make self portraits with SLR-like blurred backgrounds? Exactly.
Okay, the 20MP resolution of the front-facing camera is all about marketing, no one prints billboard-sized smartphone selfies. But the bokeh effect genuinely works - of course, within the limits of what can be done in software. But when it gets it right (cause it's obviously not flawless), it can look spectacular. So the V5 Plus delivers on its greatest promise.
Aside from its chief claim to fame, the V5 Plus is a balanced package without any major flaws. The FullHD 5.5-inch display may not be great in bright sunlight and its color accuracy may not be strictly accurate, but brightness and contrast are aplenty.
We can't complain about battery life either - video playback longevity is only above average but if you're mostly browsing the web or doing voice calls, you'd enjoy great endurance. Not a performance champ, the Snapdragon 625 chip is more than enough for everyday tasks, and some may not even notice the lowly framerates in heavy games.
Oh, and we've gotten to a point where even midrange SoCs like this one can do the number crunching for 4K video recording. The V5 Plus's 2160p footage is alright, 1080p does the job too. As for stills, the rear camera doesn't disappoint and despite a fair bit of noise shoots quite likable images.
The V5 Plus' major issue is price. You may be able to get two of them for the price of an iPhone, but it's not the iPhone it's competing with. For what vivo is charging you can get some pretty competent midrangers from big-name makers, and why not even a proper flagship from vivo's sister company OnePlus.
Marginally more expensive, the OnePlus 3T is significantly more powerful, particularly in the graphics department - definitely a better choice for mobile gaming. The two phones trade victories in battery life disciplines, with the vivo lasting longer on the web, and the 3T being better in video playback.
The 3T's software that looks like stock Android, yet offers plenty of customization, would likely be more universally appealing, but if you want the iOS experience on Android, nothing will beat the V5 Plus. Only, it's based on Marshmallow, and we can't see that changing anytime soon. Or at all, really. The 3T's selfie cam isn't bad, but the V5 Plus has that bokeh going for it, and even if the 3T's rear camera is superior it's not so to the point of being a decider. All things considered though, you must really love selfies (and also youself), to pick the V5 Plus over the 3T.
Next comes the Moto Z Play. Similar hardware and more battery and it's no wonder the Z Play outlasts the V5 Plus in all tests. The AMOLED display is also brighter and performs better in the sun, the rear camera output is finer, and it's vanilla Android too, for those that like their OS the way Google intended it to be. Oh, and the Z Play is, in fact, slightly cheaper. No creamy bokeh selfies on it, though.
Then there's the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4, and things are looking even worse for the V5 Plus. Same chipset, same display, more battery, less than half the asking price. Of course, the Redmi isn't as posh (though definitely better looking than the rock-bottom price would suggest), can't record 4K video and has a measly single 5MP camera on the front, but the price difference is just too huge to ignore.
The Oppo R9s shares some of its DNA with the V5 Plus, but there are a few differences - microSD slot, better rear camera with a wider f/1.7 aperture and dual pixel autofocus, AMOLED display. The V5 Plus snatches the win for selfie camera, of course.
The Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime has been hugely popular, because it's a lot of phone for little cash. It runs on Samsung's own Exynos 7870 chip, itself made on a 14nm process as well, so it should be very efficient too - it certainly is inside the J7 (2016). The Prime lacks bells and whistles like bokeh effects, and its top version only comes with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage (expandable, though), but again, it seems like a better deal than the V5 Plus.
It's easy to see the vivo V5 Plus as an iPhone-copying one-trick pony, an expensive one at that. The thing is, it's pretty great at that one trick, and reasonably good at them other tricks. There's no escaping the copycat boos, and there are much better deals to be had, but it wont be a stretch for vanity to defeat common sense here.