BQ is one of the few non-Chinese manufacturers in our ranks. This Spanish brand is still considered a good alternative when it comes to smartphones with a good price-performance ratio. Nevertheless, the device is still “Made in China”, although probably not a branded OEM device. Aquaris V Plus is a middle-class device with a very convincing data-sheet. Discover what this smartphone has to offer in our review. Let’s take a look at the alternatives in the Chinese smartphone market to understand whether it is worth buying this smartphone or not.
Design and build quality
We could describe Aquaris V Plus’ design with the word “chic”. The slim aluminum casing fits well in the hand and looks very precious. Measuring 152.4 x 76.7 x 8.4 mm, the smartphone is one of the slimmer devices we tested and it is also very light with only 181g.
On the rear side of BQ, we find the main camera, the flash, and the fingerprint sensor. Luckily, BQ does not follow the general trend here and relies only on one lens with a good sensor. The rear camera protrudes slightly out of the casing, the thickness at this spot reaches 9.3mm.
On the front, above the 5.5-inch display, there are the front camera, the earpiece, the sensors, the front flash and a notification LED. This can be freely configured in the settings and it is possible to choose between the RGB color range. Below the display, there are the 3 common soft-touch buttons, which, unfortunately, are not illuminated.
On the right side, you will find the power button and the volume control keys. All keys are very stable attached to the casing and have a good feedback. On the left side, there is the SIM slot.
On the top of the phone, there are the headphone jack and a noise-canceling microphone. On the bottom, next to the Micro-USB port, there are the microphone and the speaker. The latter is very high-grade and delivers a clear sound even at full volume.
At first sight, the device makes a great impression. The build quality is perfect, nothing wobbles or creaks and even things like the notification LED work very well. The whole package would have been perfect only if the soft-touch buttons were illuminated.
BQ Aquaris V Plus scope of delivery
- Instruction manual
- Power plug
- Micro-USB cable
- SIM ejection tool
BQ Aquaris V Plus has a 5.5-inch Full-HD display with a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels. Obviously, with this value, one will not be able to recognize the single pixels. Colors are very strong and natural. Unfortunately, the display is not the brightest and in direct sunlight, it is sometimes a little harder to read. Although there is a setting in the settings that increases the maximum brightness, the display does not get much brighter. It is not possible to adjust the display with MiraVision on Aquaris V Plus. The touchscreen recognizes up to 10 points of contact simultaneously and responds quickly to every input. To protect the display against scratches, BQ relies on a Dinorex ™ glass, which is as resistant as Gorilla Glass. During the test phase, I could not scratch the display through normal use.
In order to give the smartphone a better feel, the display glass is slightly rounded, so we can say that we are dealing with a 2.5D display. Even if BQ speaks of an anti-fingerprint technology, during the test phase, we noticed that fingerprints are visible on the screen, even if they are not so quick to see. The finger slides very smoothly and pleasantly on the display.
Performance and operating system
BQ does not rely on a MediaTek processor for its Aquaris V Plus. Instead, BQ decided to install a Qualcomm Snapdragon 435. The Octa-Core is divided into two clusters of 4 Cortex A53 cores, each clocking at 1.4GHz and 1GHz, respectively. Graphics performance relies on an Adreno 505 GPU. The processor of our version is supported by 4GB of RAM, which clocks at 3.8GHz with a moderate speed. On board, there is a 64GB storage, which delivers a good performance with 159MB/s and 153MB/s of reading/writing speed. If the storage were not enough, you could expand it with a Micro-SD card. But then, you’ll have to do without the second SIM slot!
Although Snapdragon 435 is not one of the most powerful processors, it provides enough power for all daily Apps. Even medium-demanding games can be played fluently on the device.
The device made a good impression, but sadly, it all seems less positive when comparing Aquaris V Plus with the current Chinese top sellers. Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus, which costs only 140€, already overcomes mercilessly BQ, thanks to its Snapdragon 625. The difference is marginal when using simple apps, but as soon as it comes to multimedia or gaming, you’ll notice the difference clearly. The difference is even more drastic if one compares the device with Xiaomi Mi Note 3. In both CPU and graphics execution, the Snapdragon 660 processor delivers a more than three times better performance. Here you will notice the contrast even when using simple apps.Antutu Result Geekbench Multi Result Geekbench Single Result 3D Mark Result
All in all, BQ Aquaris produces enough power for using basic functions and multimedia. The system runs pleasantly fast. In comparison with the top sellers from China, however, it can not stand comparison.
Aquaris V Plus has an almost pure Android 7.1.2 system, which has been extended by BQ only by some features. The design is similar to the standard Android. So we find an App-Drawer on board and the apps are stored as usual in the menu. The system is generally very fluid and without problems.
We didn’t find any bloatware or malware during the test phase. The BQ Plus App is the only app that is preinstalled and sadly, it can not be removed. Unfortunately, there are few special functions! You can only start the camera by double clicking on the power button or wake up the display by lifting the smartphone up – but nothing more. Useful features like Tap to Wake or even the 3-finger screenshot are completely missing. In my opinion, BQ should have made more effort to integrate more extra functions used by many people and nowadays considered standard functions.
The camera is definitely one of the highlights of this smartphone. The 12MP main camera by Sony delivers very good pictures. The colors are strong and the subjects are nice and sharp. The focus and also the trigger act very fast, which makes taking pictures with BQ really fun. However, the pictures’ quality slightly decreases under artificial light, in this case, the focusing time is longer and the images are blurred. According to BQ’s website, recordings can be saved in RAW format, but I could not find a setting for it. The camera does not have a 4K mode for videos but does have a slow motion and fast motion function. Using the slow motion mode, the resolution decreases a bit. Here, the phone records only 480p with 120 FPS, which leads to blurred images.
The front camera has a Samsung sensor and shoots photos with 8MP. The quality was surprisingly good for a front camera and the usual unsharpness was minimal. Also, the colors seem relatively real, which is why the camera is perfect to take selfies.
BQ equips Aquaris V Plus with a good camera and creates a good middle-class device (at least in this area). Its quality can be compared with a Xiaomi Mi Note 3. However, in this case, you won’t have a dual camera or 4K recordings.
Aquaris V Plus supports all important 4G, 3G, and 2G frequencies. So the Band 20 is also available. The reception was always very good and it never came to unwanted disconnections. The call quality was very convincing. The conversation was transmitted clearly and the earpiece worked really well. You can insert two Nano-SIM cards in the slot or you can extend the storage with a micro-SD card, but then you’ll have to do without the dual SIM function.
Also the rest of the equipment is impressive. All modern WIFI standards are supported. In fact, BQ supports WLAN b/g/n/ac and dual-band (2,4Ghz and 5Ghz). Furthermore, also Bluetooth 4.2 and NFC are supported, both of which did not cause any problems.
Aquaris V Plus has plenty of sensors. Next to the proximity and brightness sensor, there is a gyroscope and an e-compass. Thus, pedestrian navigation is guaranteed. For car navigation, you will have GPS at your disposal. The device connects to the satellites within a few seconds and there was never any mislocalization. The fingerprint scanner works incredibly well. It unlocks the smartphone without problems within a second. Small downside: when the display is off, it sometimes needs a little longer to unlock the device. Initially, I used the wake-up function, which turned on the display as soon as I picked up the device. The sensor then had no problems to unlock the smartphone instantly. If you do not use this function, the device will need a second longer to unlock the display. Nevertheless, it still unlocks the display reliably in 10 out of 10 attempts.
BQ Aquaris V Plus houses a 3400 mAh battery, which provides enough power to get through the day. If you don’t use your phone too much, you could also get two days of battery life. Those who use their smartphone very often will have to charge it once a day. Thanks to QuickCharge 3.0, the smartphone also charges very quickly and the battery will be fully charged after about 1.5 hours. We tested the battery capacity and we can confirm a value of 3250mAh.Battery lifetime Result Unit: hours
Compared to the current Xiaomi smartphones, Aquaris does not stand out of the crowd, since the newer-generation Snapdragon processors deliver far more energy. However, smartphones like Mi Note 3 and Redmi 5 Plus are very strong competitors. Comparing BQ to LeEco Le Pro 3 Elite, which also has a slightly older processor, the smartphones show a roughly equal run time.