Vivo launched their latest smartphone model V9 few weeks ago. We have already published a quick 0verview and initial impressions of the device, you can read it here. I have been using this device as my daily driver for about a week, so I feel I can give a full review of my experience with it. The device is a mixed bag of feelings, I come away being impressed and disappointed while using it. However, Vivo has done a great job by upgrading the cameras and the display. Considering it is the first smartphone with a FullView 2.0 screen, the display is one of the most significant unique selling points of this smartphone.
|Display||6.3-inch, 19:9, LCD display with 2,280 x 1,080 resolution|
|Chipset||Octa-core Snapdragon 626 chipset|
|Storage||64GB of Internal Storage | Expandable up to 256GB|
|Software||Android 8.1 Oreo with Vivo’s Funtouch OS 4.0|
|Camera||16 + 5MP dual rear camera with f/2.0 apertures, and a 24MP with f/2.0 aperture up front.|
Design & Build
We can say that the Chinese manufacturer Vivo has revamped its entire concept of a midrange smartphone design, from head to toe. The Vivo V9 smartphone has gotten a definite design change, concerning its preceding smartphones in the same V-series lineup. As we have seen in the previous Vivo V7 and V7+ smartphones which were launched last year, the company has tried to keep up with the 18:9 display (actually it is 19:9 this time, considering the notch area too). The bezels on the edges have improved a lot (well, they have reduced to a narrow line I meant) and give a really borderless immersive experience while using the smartphone. One of the most notable, as well as blatant copies of the iPhone X, is the notch on the top of the display, which makes the Vivo V9 unique among the competitors. The front-facing sensors including the selfie snapper and the proximity sensor are mounted on the notch area on the top portion of the display. However, the V9 is not the only smartphone in the Vivo with a “notch”. Nevertheless, many manufacturers including Huawei and OPPO have implemented the same in some of their devices.
Let me talk about the rear panel of the smartphone. The camera placement of the device does not make much difference from other devices, as it matches with the contemporary trend among smartphones. The vertically placed camera section at the top left edge has a little jut out despite the thinner body. The body panel has a metallic finish which makes a premium feel while holding the hands, but it is made of plastic. A fingerprint scanner, as usual, is placed in the middle. Coming to the other aspects of the smartphone’s design, the design looks as same as of any other Vivo devices. Every port including the Headphone jack and the USB port have paced at the bottom along with the speaker grille. The USB port is placed upside down as usual, which may feel a bit difficult for the typical users. While c0onnecting external devices or USB drives using OTG (On-The-Go) adapters, the reversed alignment is a real difficulty. But in most cases, it acts the same, no worries.
The smartphone weighs just 150 grams, which is still lighter than many other smartphones including Xioami Redmi Note 5 Pro. The device has enlarged a little in terms of body dimensions, including the height and width. The Vivo V7 was just 149.3mm tall whereas the V9 is 154.8mm taller (the width has also increased proportionately). The SIM tray port is given at the left edge, which can hold two SIM Cards and an SD Card at a time.
One of the main drawbacks that a Vivo user had to bear all the time was the low-resolution display panel, which the company gave only up to HD+ resolution. Vivo has finally given its customers a display not to be ashamed of, not perfect but better than before. This time, the company has done the best part replacing the bad-old display with a Full HD+ display having a pixel density of 400ppi. The smartphone display has an odd resolution of 1080 x 2280 pixels, which is because of the taller screen ratio and the chin which cuts a little portion from the top. Whilst including the display area adjacent to the notch which mostly acts as the status bar, the smartphone display has 19:9 aspect ratio. The screen size of 6.3-inches does not make much ‘bigger’ feelings on the hand but may feel uncomfortable with the edge mistouch due to our holding-position.
The colour accuracy of the display is not the perfect still; considerably a renders out the essential colour tone and concentration. The manufacturer seems to have optimised the Operating System or the top sin to work perfectly with the notch design and to make the accurate vision in the curved corners. The saturation level of the display too not bad.
Out of the box, Vivo V9 runs Android 8.1 Oreo skinned with Vivo’s own ecosystem Funtouch OS 4.0 which still takes after the iOS with several gestures and visual features. The control panel or the quick setting ware can be drawn from the bottom of the display, just like in the Apple’s iOS. The notification panel window is drawn from the top. The on-screen navigational bars are customizable. The Vivo has included a navigational mode based on the swipe gestures on the bottom edge of the display which reminds us of the iPhone X gestures. From the setting panel, you can also access a bunch of gestures and other accessibility features which allows launching apps by using gestures, sleep or wake the smartphone by using air gestures, waves, etc. The Whole ecosystem has been called a ‘bloatware’ many times before due to its amount of pre-installed apps while booting. This time too, the count has not been decreased but the apps can be installed. Tere are few pre-installed apps including Amazon Shopping, Amazon Prime Video, Flipkart, Newspoint, UC Browser, WPS Office, Facebook and WhatsApp.
The software supports screen splitting to make the real-time multitasking possible. Also, the device has a PiP Mode (Picture-in-Picture mode which lets you run apps over another one on a floating pane. For example, you can chat with your friends on WhatsApp while watching youtube e videos in a floating window that can be resized, moved or removed. As similar to the Parallel Spaces or Multiple Accounts, the Vivo has an alternative name Cloned Apps. Only selected few can be cloned through this method. The user experience is notable in the Vivo V9, but the notch may make some disturbance to a few.
According to the official specs sheet by the brand, the Vivo V9 smites the entire market with a dual-camera setup on the rear sporting a 16MP sensor plus, a 5MP secondary lens. The secondary lens is a telephoto lens, just like the other smartphones in the same segment. On the front, the selfie snapper holds a 24MP sensor with beauty mode and Vivi’s other key features.
Rear camera samples:
Talking specifically about the rear camera, the output images have not been much improved, except having a secondary sensor for zooming. The camera User Interface has kept to the same old design. Anyways, the company has managed to add specific trending features like Portrait Mode and AR Stickers. The AR Stickers could be placed anywhere in an image which may look gorgeous than emojis. We have tested the smartphone’s main camera in almost every conditions and most outcomes were satisfying. In normal daylit condition, the images taken were filled with optimal light and fewer grins all over the image. But in some cases, the exposure levels have gone too far and made the image much whitened overall. The photos taken against bright light brings no uniform exposure distribution across the frame. The smartphone camera has both autofocus, touch focus and manual one in Professional Mode. The Autofocus rate is impressive, but it fails to get a specific focal length and blurs out the entire canvas during night condition. We cannot take night light images easily sometimes without choosing Night Mode. Manual Exposure locking can overcome the issue to an extent.
The camera provides several modes for the photography including Night, Ultra HD, PPT, Time-lapse, Slow motion and professional modes. In the professional mode, you can manually set almost every camera presets like Exposure Value, ISO, Shutter speed, White Balance and Focal length. At the same time, the PPT mode can be used to capture images of papers or books to scan and save them as ebooks. There is a portrait mode given to the rear camera options (thanks to the secondary depth sensor) where you can also use the face beauty mode. Vivo offers an AI-powered, Machine Learning adapted software technology in the camera department. The Machine Learning will learn more and more from the pictures you capture. That is more you capture images with the device’s camera, it will get improved gradually. Even after capturing the images, you can set the focus using “Refocus” option, which is really a software trick like in any other smartphones. The video recording capability goes up to 4K resolution. Still, it lacks even an EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization).
Front camera samples:
Coming to the selfie snapper, we could consider the 24-Megapixel sensor on the rear as a good option for capturing higher resolution images. The selfies taken using the front camera looks good, and as being a selfie-centric device, the company has tried to implement the better technology. The sensor loves the excellent lighting, but the beauty mode in the camera software seems a gimmick and ruins the images. Even though the V9 has a smart beauty-mode which predicts the age, skin type and other characteristics of the person and applies the appropriate beauty settings, it still lacks the detail and originality in beauty mode (it won’t be a problem if you are not addicted to “Beauty-Selfies”). Checkout the camera samples.
The Vivo V9 performs well for a midrange device. The smartphone has the Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 626 System-On-Chipset under the hood, clocked up to 1.8GHz. Aside from the powerful midrange processor, the device has 4GB of RAM which can carry out the multitasking easily without any lag.From our user experience of over a week, the smartphone did not feel as a money-wasting thing as it does not lag or does not have any stumble along the run. The smartphone runs buttery-smooth in normal daily life usage. But while coming to the heavy gaming, it still does not make up to the mark.
The Operating System Skin is not made heavy, and the higher amount of RAM makes the UI run with a serene performance. While coming to the temperature management, the new Snapdragon 626’s 14nm FinFET manufacturing technology helps to hold the heating issue to an extent. On the storage phase, you are availed with a 64GB of Internal Storage, as well as an SD Slot provided in the external slot which supports up to 256GB.
The User Interface performance is well optimised for the notch design and the 19:9 aspect ratio of the display. As we have run the performance test on several popular benchmarking platforms, the smartphone seems to outperform many smartphones in the same category, but still, a bunch of devices have gone a little far ahead of the Vivo V9. You can check out the major run results from the benchmarking platforms including AnTuTu, Geekbench, GfxBench below.
The Chinese smartphone manufacturer offers a 3260mAh battery pack to juice up the smartphone. After a long period of usage, we felt like the battery capacity is not quite enough for the other features provided on the smartphones including the display and the dual camera. The device could hardly struggle to extend for battery life until the end of the day, which many users may find an uncomfortable fact in this phone. If you are an average user, uses the smartphone for some browsing, texting and other necessary things, you will have to connect the smartphone back to the charger a little way before the end of the day. Also, we got only the maximum of 8 hours and 36 minutes of Screen-On-Time (SOT) in the video loop test. In case you are unaware, the video loop test is done by playing a specific FHD video in an infinite loop using certain apps.
The Vivo V9 is shipped with a travel charger adapter provided within the box. Unfortunately, there is no branded or specific fast charging technology given. But the adapter has a current output of 2 Amperes, which helps in comparatively faster charging.
From our experience using this phone for a week, we can safely say the phone performs well, we didn’t experience any lag and it performed everyday task pretty smoothly. Let me be clear though if you are a heavy gamer this wouldn’t be the device I recommend for that. All in all, we think the Vivo will give you your monies worth. The device has a decent sheet of hardware specifications on the board, powered with a “not-bad” chipset on the motherboard. The display panel is topped with a 2.5D glass, but again, no explicit mention about any toughened glass on the top. Also, the USB port is placed upside down, and no USB type-C yet.
If you are in seek of buying a smartphone at some above-midrange price tag with decent quality and premium build, then the Vivo V9 is for you. But the battery backup is a notable issue if you are a heavy smartphone user. Even though the smartphone is made of plastic, the gold colour device has a metallic finish, and the black variant shows off a glass-metal finish on the rear. Many love the unique display notch, but some hate it due to the weird cut on display. Don’t worry; it eats the extra unnecessary portion of the entire screen.
You can purchase the smartphone in India from Flipkart at Rs. 22,990 with many offers on selected Debit/Credit Cards, Exchange Offers and instalment plans.