In the smartphone world of today, the one that holds the key to the best selfie game is king of the realm.
Vivo, now among the top 5 smartphone makers in the world, has the distinction of offering unheard of front-facing camera features in their new models released in recent years.
With their latest flagship model, however, they’ve certainly took it up a “notch”.
Let’s take a deeper look at the new Vivo V9 which Manila Standard Tech was able to get its hands on recently.
At a glance, take a look at the specs of the phone.
Right off the bat, the V9 is a notable overhaul from its predecessor the Vivo V7 and V7 Plus.
The V9 boasts more interesting stuff than its now “little” brother V7, but offers the same initial price point at only P17,990. Then and there, you know it’s already a steal.
Sporting a 90% body-to-screen ratio, you get an in-your-face experience thanks to the massive 6.3-inch screen size.
But none can be more glaring a feature than the “notch”- a certain smartphone display feature that is all the craze these days which the new Vivo flagship phone has adapted from the iconic (and rather notorious) design of the iPhone X.
Though more than anything, the Vivo V9 certainly played this new staple of smartphone design to their advantage.
The V9’s interesting new notch is leaner compared to that of the phone where it got its inspiration from, but it blends well to bring balance to the phone’s display. Of course, this is an ergonomic step, to say the least, as the V9 only need its notch for the earpiece and the 24MP front-facing camera.
The phone is pretty slim, and even with a jelly case on, which comes free with the box, the phone is still very sleek and thin. In essence, Vivo could have made this thinner if they adapted a USB-C port and did away with the 3.5mm port, plus this could have given them the edge with fast charging technology. But, we don’t mind.
Looking at the whole of the screen, there’s still a wee bit of space for a slim bezel at the phone’s chin. Forgivable, even for bezel-less purists who still have 6 inches of the screen left to contend with. Bottomline is, if smartphones of today attend a digital gala, then this phone is dressed to the nines.
The phone is pretty lightweight even for its sheer size. Comprising only 150 grams, the phone is magically light for its size. Hand strain was never an issue, and the V9 is perfect for gaming which gives you a comfortable grip on the phone.
Although the back is made out of plastic, it does not diminish the “premium” feel that this phone gives overall. When we tried playing PUBG Mobile on the V9, one could really maximize their gaming experience without failing to push a button on a screen otherwise too small for your fingers. Same goes when playing racing games, where the stable feel adds to the gaming experience.
At the back and all around
The Vivo V9 kept it simple at the back. Notable is their vertical positioning of the 16MP + 5MP dual cameras and flash. You have the Vivo logo, and the fingerprint scanner with the “Designed by Vivo” mark on the bottom to complete the cast.
On the sides, you have the power and volume buttons all on the right. On the other side you have the nano sims and micro SD slot you’ll be able to open with the free pin ejector.
Display, Software, and Interface
Boasting Full HD + IPS display (1080 x 2280p), the icons are more plush, more vivid. Browsing pictures and watching videos is one delightful experience. The user experience did not diminish a single bit at the time the phone was with us as the built-in Touch OS is intuitive enough for every task.
You have native apps like Facebook, WPS, the Google family, and the Lazada app. The built-in keyboard, powered by their Touchpal software, is a nod to that of the latest iOS keyboard. But we opted to download the emoji keyboards available on the Google Play store, the native keyboard was good and easy to use, but hey, millennials need their emojis.
The interface of the phone inspires from the iOS of Apple. It has no app drawer so you have all your apps in the home screens. You can, however, bundle them together which makes for a clean interface. The movement of icons are smooth and navigation through apps and inner workings of the phone was a breeze.
We used the phone mainly for social media usage in updating our socmed pages and we did not encounter any lag or crashes in this department thanks to the processor this phone has.
The phone has its flaws, but no extreme downside in any way, as there were some hiccups when it comes to using RAM-heavy apps like Spotify running in the background while we played PUBG.
There were times when the phone would automatically go out of Spotify and into the home screen but does not necessarily lead to the app closing or crashing abruptly. Stunningly enough, we didn’t come by any lag when playing the likes of Asphalt 8, even if placed on the highest settings.
Performance and Battery
Powering the Vivo V9 is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 with a 2.2GHz octa-core processor. Considering there were better alternatives on the market, Vivo could have utilized the more advanced chips. But hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Snapdragon 626 held considerably well while multiple apps were open.
Though as stated above, the phone could still need a teeny wee bit of kick. In general, though, this phone is perfect for multi-taskers. This phone is highly recommendable to those busily engulfed in all their social media accounts while juggling tasks such as work emails, scheduling meetings, etc., you get the picture.
The Vivo V9 has exceptional battery life. Even with a typical 3,260mAh non-removable battery, the phone still had enough juice at the end of the day after non-stop activity coupled with heavy data usage. When we left the phone running overnight to play some background music on Spotify, the battery level remained in the 80s percentage after fully charging the phone. There were no significant instances the phone heated up to discomfortable levels, even with the data connectivity on all day. Certainly cool to the touch!
The V9 is secured with AI face unlocking features, a fingerprint scanner, pin, pattern, and password security features.
With the revamped face recognition on the V9, we were able to automatically unlock the phone in an instant with only minor non-detections. Although the face unlocking feature does not really work well in dim and unlit conditions, the fingerprint scanner at the back still provides stellar fast unlocking capabilities for optimum security and access.
We would not do any honor to this review if we went without stating the awesome cameras this phone has. Already a trendsetter in the selfie arena, Vivo cemented its place atop the hill with the 24-MP selfie camera with revolutionary AI technology. As opposed to the competition, the AI fares fairly well and the Face Beauty option produces selfie shots that fortunately don’t make our faces resemble any work of Madame Tussauds’.
You can experiment and goof around with the many downloadable AR stickers while capturing pics that seem to come out of prime lenses with the “bokeh” effect feature that lets you pull the aperture to as low as f2.0 for that creamy and bokelicious background blur. The phone also lets you shoot Live photos.
The back shooters produce decent photos in well-lit areas and are decent when it comes to lowlight situations. The cameras offer good contrast and high dynamic range for the best shot whether indoors or outdoors. The cameras also have the professional mode where you can adjust factors such as ISO, shutter speed, and aperture for a more bespoke shot for your artistic needs.
You can shoot up to 4K video and capture awesome slow motion and time-lapse videos as well. Although the 4K feature seems too “laggy” when we reviewed the footage, but the 1080p and 720p modes are exceptional.
As always, Vivo delivers in their impeccable selfie promise. The 19:9 “all screen” aspect ratio leaves us in awe, and the competitive price point is the proverbial cherry on top. The vibrant displays jump out of the screen, the smooth gaming experience was outright fun and exciting, and the refined cameras are a cut above the rest. Software and performance was a bit a slight concern, but can never be considered a deal breaker. Fast charging could have also been utilized with the Type-C port as is customary with some flagship phones of other brands, but you couldn’t really as for more in the juice department as the V9 is the workhorse of a phone that can leave you entertained and immersed for hours on end.
Design is gorgeous
Handsomely priced and is the most competitive in its price point
Selfie camera is the bomb
Smooth interface and navigation
Exceptional battery life
App glitches with heavy usage
Cameras in lowlight conditions