The vivo X5Max ships in a square retail box with a few luxury touches. All the accessories come individually wrapped. One small box houses the AC adaptor rated at 5V/2A and a USB cable.
The in-ear headphones are packed in another box complete with a model number and detailed specs - a nice touch for an otherwise regular piece. They have a single-button remote, but no flat cords.
Additionally, there's a frosted plastic bumper cover for the back of the smartphones, which wraps around the corners as well. Why you'd want to put it on a device you bought for its slim profile is a question we're not prepared to answer.
The vivo X5Max is crazy thin, we've already established that. It measures 153.9 x 78 x 5.1mm (or 5.08mm if you want to split hairs) and slimness aside, is a pretty large device for its 5.5-inch display. The engineers simply needed room to fit all the innards somewhere and the phone inevitably had to grow in footprint.
There's a good 5mm worth of bezels on either side of the display, and the overall dimensions of the X5Max are more or less the same as the 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 4. That said, the X5Max is still shorter than the iPhone 6 Plus, though equally wide, so it's not massive after all.
At 156g, the X5Max feels a bit heavier than you'd expect from such a thin phone, but the metal build has had its say and it's a very solid slab.
The vivo X5Max is built inside an alloy chassis, a single solid piece of aluminum. Most of the back is made of stainless steel, vivo claims, with an anti-fingerprint treatment and it is smooth but not shiny. It doesn't tend to get particularly greasy and even when it does accumulate dirt it's easy to clean up.
There are a couple of plastic strips, top and bottom, which are made of soft matte plastic and likely match the antenna placement, but also serve to house the camera module and loudspeaker.
The camera module sticks out a good 2mm from the back panel, there was no way around it with such a slim profile. To vivo's credit, it is a fast f/2.0 lens and the designers did well to mask the bump by raising the white plastic halfway around the assembly.
The speaker has a couple of raised dots to keep it from muffling, but they can't help with the sizeable camera bump, and the device will wobble on a table if you touch it anywhere along its left edge.
The vivo logo is vertically centered, and we can't decide if the shiny letters have been aligned less than perfectly, or the offset is a design touch. Then again, we might have spent a touch too long staring at details.
The front greets you with the 5.5-inch display surrounded by generous bezels, though we've seen worse, and here they're at least justified by the slimness. There's also a millimeter-wide black frame around the display, which you won't notice when the screen is off, but is a bit of an eye sore once you fire it up.
At least vivo has utilized the bottom bezel with three capacitive buttons, relieving the screen of such duties.
We've never been particular fans of extreme tests, but we couldn't resist subjecting the phone to a mild twist. You shouldn't expect military grade sturdiness out of a 5mm-thin device and it does deflect a bit, but does so without making a sound. Overall, it's surprisingly rigid, as long as you don't abuse it.
The vivo X5Max relies on capacitive buttons in the bottom bezel for navigation in a Menu/Home/Back arrangement. Above the display there's the earpiece in the middle with the 5MP front camera to the left and the proximity/ambient light sensor on the other side.
The back features the 13MP camera in the top left corner, joined by its single-LED flash and a secondary mic midway between the two. The speaker mesh is mostly a design element, as the actual speaker is no more than a quarter of its length and is situated in its right end.
The right side is home to the volume rocker and the power button towards the top and the card slot closer to the bottom. The card tray is made of metal as well, and despite its miniscule thickness is quite sturdy. It will take a micro-SIM and a microSD card or a micro- and a nano-SIM card, but never all three at the same time.
The left side is completely bare.
There's a microUSB 2.0 port in the middle of the bottom plate, joined by the primary mic. Up top you'll find the standard 3.5mm headphone jack, a feature Oppo didn't find enough room for on its 4.85mm-thick R5.
When holding the X5Max you're constantly amazed at how thin it is, it just doesn't get old. You touch nothing but metal and glass pretty much any way you hold it and it feels refined and expensive. Its edges are a bit sharp on the front and the display is recessed a fraction of a millimeter so 2.5D-spoiled fingers may not be impressed at first.
Single hand operation is helped by the slim waistline and the non-slippery surfaces, but it is a large device, so it's best operated with two hands.