Logic Gates, 22 Sep 2016Rishiguru, I got a Canadian version of ZTE Axion 7 through a relative. The sound through the s... moreHad the honor to use ZTE Axon 7 for a day, courtesy one of my friends on visit to India. Sadly here, ZTE is not much bothered marketing their products, so we do not have the liberty to lay hands on their new phones including Axon 7. Impressions after a day's usage of an hour of web surfing, 3 hours of critical music listening over headphones and an hour of video left a very positive effect. Axon 7 is a solid product, a true flagship killer with a very polished user interface. Also great build quality and great display.
Since we are talking in context to audio I will come straight to the point. Hardware wise Axon 7 comes with two dedicated audio chips made by AKM. The AK4961 is for normal duty, which means powering the internal speaker, voice calls, earpiece & microphones. Sound and loudness through internal stereo speakers is excellent just like my Lenovo Vibe X3. So from internal speaker point of view Axon 7 is the clear winner over Vivo X5Max.
Now comes the most interesting part, its audio performance over headphones which audiophiles look out. For headphones Axon 7 packs another dedicated DAC, namely AK4490. With the HiFi mode in ON position I was listening to different genres of music. Headphones used were a high end RHA T20 and budget friendly Cowon EK2. From song number one, I found Axon 7 to be neutral sounding which is a big plus. Its low frequencies aka bass performance is good but it lacks the decisiveness and accurately timed punch found in X5Max. The mids are much thicker than X5Max, which translates to more warmer and more elastic sounding voice, more humane. But where it desperately fails to X5Max is in reproducing the high frequencies. It lacks the precision, the ability to remove layers of sonic glaze and provide the best possible separation of sound.
I know from the core of my heart it is very hard to beat the holy trinity of ESS Sabre ES9018 + ESS Sabre ES9601 + Texas Instruments OPA1612. All these in Vivo X5Max is powered by a dedicated power supply. This phone has the accuracy and the ability to resolve details from high quality lossless audio files which only my Lenovo Vibe X3 was able to come close to. X5Max have set the bar in terms of sound quality which is so high for phones, that none of the recently released Vivo's in India can even match its audio performance.
In terms of audio quality I will rank Axon 7 slightly above Vivo V3Max (which also comes with a previous generation AKM AK4375 DAC). Axon 7 & V3Max sounds more or less the same with same tonal signature as they both use DAC from the same vendor, AKM. Both are solid performers in terms of audio quality. Vivo X5Max though simply lives in a different plane and still is the BEST.
Later I found our good friends over Soomal, a highly regarded and respected audio related website in China are in-line with my views. You may go through their audio reviews to get a subjective as well as an objective analysis of ZTE Axon 7.
ATTENTION ALL VIVO X5MAX OWNERS!!!
Last week I have updated Vivo X5Max to the latest 'B' spec software version (B_2.3.3) available only from their service centers. Previously all X5Max owners were stuck with 'A' spec versions, A_1.20.26 being the latest. Request all X5Max owners to perform this update at earliest, and being a MTP update it will only be available in their service centers.
This update resolves the last long standing issue X5Max owners were facing from DAY 1, the absurd partition of its 16 GB internal memory into two segments. A tiny 5.5 GB portion was allocated for system space (OS installation, apps & games) and rest 9.5 GB was dedicated as phone memory for camera pics, movies & songs. The problem was after few software downloads this tiny system space used to get full and you get reminded of very low memory space. :(
However after the B_2.3.3 update, you get back the fully unified single phone memory of 16 GB!!! So now you can install as many apps and heavy games (over 1 GB each) without ever running out of phone memory. And for your songs and videos you can still use the phone memory or the discrete 128 GB memory card. Also I have observed the phone have become more liquid smooth in operation without any lags or stuttering during normal usage. Games like Asphalt 8 loads even faster so better memory management thatn previous versions.
A big thumbs up to Vivo for their concerted effort!!!
Android Version: 4.4.4
vivo ROM: Funtouch OS_2.0
Software Version: PD1408F_EX_B_2.2.3
Kernel Version: 3.10.28
Compile Time: 30-06-2016
Rishiguru, I got a Canadian version of ZTE Axion 7 through a relative. The sound through the speaker is amazing. It has capability to play FLAC files which I had some of them 80's popular songs. I do not have much idea about the dedicated chipst inside but am definitely sure it would give a tough contest with my JBL J88A headphones. Apart from that the phone otherwise is a brilliant performer.
Latest Vivo ad by Ranvir Singh is the worst ad ever. His voice is foolish, sound is horrible & who wants such bangs to affect their ears, please make the ad mute to attract clients. I don't think u need an ad. Vivo goes by its name itself. Don't spoil your image by such horrible add.
Keng, 02 Sep 2016When will the phone be updated to Lollipop? With Lollipop, I can plug in with my external DAC.... moreNEVER.
Vivo never updates their phones with newer android versions. Personally I would love Lollipop running on my Vivo X5Max provided the iMusic default music player supports high resolution lossless FLAC audio playback. Else I like to stick to the current KitKat version.
When will the phone be updated to Lollipop? With Lollipop, I can plug in with my external DAC. Been waiting for sometime now.
AnonD-564605, 02 Sep 2016Very bad sound over headphone via sony headset...worst speacker outpot and lag is very much wh... moreDo you own a Vivo X5Max? I highly doubt as you are the first person in the world who states its sound quality over headphones are not good. Its time to get your ears checked.
Very bad sound over headphone via sony headset...worst speacker outpot and lag is very much when playing asphalt 8 and nova3...chipset is very old but prise is still high..u can found far better phones in market in same prise
RishiGuru, 12 Jul 2016"Lossless" is a relative term used by phone manufacturers to denote HiFi sound quality. But th... moreI have been following your posts for quite sometime and it seems you are a GURU when it comes down to audio in phones. As such I am quietly enjoying my time with my vivo x5max. Being audio inclined, this is the best smartphone you can have for quality over headphones. Built quality is second to none ans this phones thinness is awe inspiring. My cousins lenovo vibe x3 mave have better specs, but it does not posses the built quality, the camera quality and audio quality of x5max. I use shure headphones.
AnonD-295876, 12 Aug 2016X5Max why go through the dated cheapest and 2 year Old KitKat OS we have much much better opti... moreif you love music this phone is the king. My dad own x5max and i have never seen him more happy as he is a avid music lover. A phone of x5max stature should not be measured by just chipset and ram size. The designers have thought something more in x5max than just hardware. I use a vivo v3max and if you hold both phones x5max will win any day due to just looks and quality. display is out of the world in x5max. The only bad is it is very expensive.
RishiGuru, 11 Aug 2016Read this: http://www.gsmarena.com/headphone_jack_vs_usb_audio_which_is_better_-blog-19060.phpThanks! Went through the article. I think that both mobile makers and earphone makers will milk the new cash cow, relying on the novelty element and targetting the non-audiophile segment of the market.
AnonD-522054, 09 Aug 2016Which best camera between v3 max n x5 max? Please help meVivo X5Max produces significantly better still images than V3Max both under both direct sunlight and artificial light, thanks to the use of Sony Exmor RS IMX214 photo sensor with 6 lens configuration. On the other hand V3Max produces slightly better 1080p videos. Overall X5Max is the winner in the camera department and comes with additional ultra tough sapphire lens cover for protection against scratches.
I will say V3Max main & front camera is as good as Oppo F1 Plus, but X5Max is better than both. I own all three devices.
AnonD-295876, 12 Aug 2016X5Max why go through the dated cheapest and 2 year Old KitKat OS we have much much better opti... morePeople buy Vivo X5Max primarily for audio reasons. Its audio quality over headphones are unparalleled by any of the smartphones you mentioned. X5Max have extraordinary built quality and you will immediately feel the difference in hand when you hold it and compare it with say Moto G4 Plus. It is still the thinnest phone in the world and oozes panache.
If you are looking for best chipset, more RAM look somewhere else as Vivo is primarily designed for audio lovers.
RishiGuru, 08 Jul 2016X5Max was Vivo's most expensive handset ever released in India at INR 33K. Their is a reason w... moreX5Max why go through the dated cheapest and 2 year Old KitKat OS we have much much better options like Moto G 4 Plus Redmi Note 3 ,Le2 at cheaper price than why we opt for the X5Max.
Krish, 11 Aug 2016Thanks Rishi, Its always good to hear from you. Will do as suggested. There was one other ... moreRead this: http://www.gsmarena.com/headphone_jack_vs_usb_audio_which_is_better_-blog-19060.php
RishiGuru, 10 Aug 2016My suggestion will be to stick with a pre-owned Vivo X5Max. I most of the time see a X5Max pop... moreThanks Rishi,
Its always good to hear from you. Will do as suggested. There was one other query I had missed in the earlier post.
How is the new Type C connector with regard to delivering sublime audio. Will it become the future standard. The mobile industry may prefer it on account of its pin structure being exploited for other purposes ( eg. Body sensors etc).
But will it really be a big deal for the audiophile? Will FLAC files sparkle after this and become the standard? Will there be duplication of the electronics (DAC,amp etc) leading to price increases?
Will look out for your future posts on this.
Anonymous, 10 Aug 2016Hi! Rishi,
Your reviews with reg to earphone mobile audio are among the best. I constantly... moreMy suggestion will be to stick with a pre-owned Vivo X5Max. I most of the time see a X5Max pop up in OLX or Quikr at prices ranging between INR 12 ~ 15K. With X5Max you not only get the best audio hardware but also one of the most intuitive music player in business which enriches your music listening experience. The "i-Music" player is simply great, easy to use and can handle high bitrate lossless FLAC audio files.
None of the other internationally released Vivo phones can come close to the audio performance of X5Max. The Vivo V3Max, V3, X5Pro, V1Max and Y27L comes with the standard AKM AK4375 integrated DAC cum headphone amplifier which produces decent sound. But these phones simply cannot compete with the holy trinity of ESS Sabre ES9018 + ESS Sabre ES9601 + Texas Instruments OPA1612 found in X5Max. Another factor to count is if your audio collection consist of audio FLAC files then only X5Max & Y27L will be able to play them with i-Music player. Android Lollipop used in Vivo V3Max, V3, X5Pro & V1Max cannot play FLAC, but you can install third party apps like VLC to listen to FLAC.
Lenovo Vibe X3 is a phone with great hardware but comes with patchy software updates. Vibe X3 is simply not as stable as X5Max even though it has more RAM and better processor. Audio quality is as good as X5Max, it uses ESS Sabre ES9018 + 3 X Texas Instruments OPA1612. It does not comes with any audio player other than Google Play music which does not support FLAC playback. So the audio experience leaves a lot to be desired in comparison to X5Max.
RishiGuru, 10 Jul 2016Please find the answers to your questions below:
1) Both Vivo X5Max and V3Max support only ... moreHi! Rishi,
Your reviews with reg to earphone mobile audio are among the best. I constantly read. Even the technicals are lucidly presented. While I long to plug into the Vivo X5 max or the Len vibe K3, budgetary constraints are an obstacle right now.
I am NOT a camera buff.
My phone is first and last a music player on which I enjoy my huge collection of music. After this I use it to access my various personal
databases, network with friends etc.
So if I am ready to compromise on camera, display and other features, can you suggest me phones with vivo like audio but at lower price (10-15k).
In view of the time constraints you may have, a list of 5 models in descending order of audio quality will suffice. Other details I will gather from your other posts and reviews. As suggested by you earlier I am also looking at the pre-owned Vivos.
Thanks and cheers!
Krish ( email@example.com)