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Vivo V9 Review: A user-friendly phone with features that count but with a few misses

The Vivo V9 was officially launched on March 23

Suchayan Mandal 23 March 2018, 7:50 PM
T2 Review
The Vivo V9 unboxed

The Vivo V9 unboxed Image: Suchayan Mandal

You don’t expect Vivo to be a brand with firsts. However, the Chinese smartphone manufacturers are known to wait it out and come up with polished and optimised products. China’s dominating brands generally launch their flagships at the same time amidst cut-throat competition, with most of them sporting almost the same features with a few tweaks here and there. With Vivo V9, launched today in Mumbai, the situation doesn’t change much as it closely follows in the footsteps of the Oppo F7, which was unveiled this Monday.

It won’t be an exaggeration to say the V9 is one of the best-built phones from Vivo. Right from the looks, feel, camera and smoothness of operation, V9 outshines its nearest rivals. Priced at Rs 22,990, this phone gives the mid-segment phone users a phenomenal value for money. Its bezelless screen, sleek design, dual camera on the rear add to the premium-ness of the phone.

Here's the T2 Online review of the Vivo V9.

First look:

V9 First Look

Vivo V9 comes with a 6.3-inch Full HD Screen, dual Camera at the rear (16MP + 5MP), a wide-angle 24MP front selfie camera with Face Unlock feature. The volume rocker and power button are on the right and Sim-card Tray on the left. The speaker grill, USB port, and 3.5 mm headphone jack are placed at the bottom. The rear cameras are vertically aligned, one above the other, on the left side of the back panel. The fingerprint scanner is placed at the top centre of the back plate, underlined by Vivo’s logo.

What makes you feel good while handling the phone is its detailing. The antenna lines have been extended and seamlessly suit the design ethos of the phone. Between the screen and the rear, there is a sleek glossy border that makes the phone look classy. There are three colour options available – Pearl Black, Champagne Gold and Sapphire Blue. The phone weighs 150 grams, lighter than iPhone X.
V9 comes with an array of pre-installed apps like Facebook, Whatsapp, Flipkart, Amazon, Prime Videos, Newspoint and UC Browser.

Vivo is being generous with the in-box accessories and the V9 comes with a screen protector, a silicone transparent cover and a travel charger included in the package. The bundled earphones look exactly like Apple’s airpods.

Display:

V9 Display

When it comes to the smartphone's USP, the V9's display definitely tops the list. The 6.3-inch FHD display is the first thing you notice when you pick up the phone. The IPS display is crystal clear. In general, IPS displays, despite having a good viewing angle and true-to-life colour reproduction, are bad when it comes to brightness and contrast ratio. Surprisingly, Vivo has taken care of the niggle quite well. Colours look like as they should, black levels are deep, viewing angles are really good. A Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protects the screen.

Camera:

V9 Camera

Vivo’s cameras have always emerged as solid offerings in the mid-range price segment. Vivo doesn’t disappoint on that front with the V9 either and to be frank, the V9 optics are rather exciting. There's a dual camera setup in the rear (16MP + 5MP). There are tons of features to choose from while trying to get the perfect shot or video. The V9 offers Ultra UD, Slo Mo, Time Lapse, HDR, Shot Refocus and Bokeh modes.

You can shoot a 4K video as well. The camera quality is rather good for the price range and is definitely a step-up from its predecessor- the V7. It's not quite in the OnePlus 5T league, but the OnePlus flagship is also priced almost Rs 10,000 higher.

The optical zoom feature is best left alone. Low light photo quality is surprisingly decent.

The 24MP front camera comes with face beauty feature, which will definitely appeal to selfie lovers. The Vivo V9 also boasts of AR stickers feature, which gives Snapchat kind of animations to the selfies. You can also use Face Beauty mode while on a video call. The Face Beauty feature is AI-driven and machine learning has been used to identify user’s age, gender, and skin tone. It does work surprisingly well.

Under the hood:

Vivo V9

The Vivo V9 is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 — a mid-range octa-core SoC with eight ARM Cortex-A53 CPU cores clocked at up to 2 GHz, an Adreno 506 GPU. For the uninitiated, this chip supports dual camera and is the same CPU that runs Moto Z2Play and Samsung Galaxy C7 Pro. V9 packs 4GB DDR3 RAM and has 64GB memory, which is expandable up to 256GB. The phone packs a 3260mAh battery and runs Android Oreo (8.1) with Funtouch OS 4.0. Besides, V9 supports 4G LTE, nano-sized Dual Sim, Bluetooth 4.2, USB 2.0.

User Interface:

Thanks to Vivo’s Funtouch OS, the V9 UI brings some nifty goodies for users. The features include customisable gestures, communication drawer with bottom-to-top swipe, a security centre, lock screen resize, options for long screenshot, eye protection, among others. The OS visuals look quite inspired from Apple iOS.

Performance:

Vivo V9 is smooth without any noticeable lags. There are no heating issues even after playing HD games like Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour, GTA Vice City, Need for Speed Most Wanted for hours. In a week of use, we didn’t find any lag even during heavy multitasking. Sound quality is decent and good for home use. To unlock the device, V9 is empowered with features like Face Unlock and Fingerprint Unlock.

The V9 also has a nifty feature that enables it to automatically lower the ringing volume once the front camera picks up your face.

Misses:

No phone is perfect and V9 has its own flaws. Vivo missed out on Fast Charging option. In an age of heavy smartphone usage where battery runs out fast, a fast charging technology should have been a great bonus, especially considering the phone doesn't come with a marathon battery. Given the current usage requirement, a 3800 mAh or above battery capacity could have suited better.

The Face Unlock feature of V9 is a bit slow and is mostly a hit or miss. We faced multiple rejections while trying to use Face Unlock in broad daylight.

Also, the back side of the phone doesn’t look as premium as its front. When you turn it over, you expect a glass-like surface like Oppo F5 or similar, but that’s where it disappoints as the rear looks more or less like V7.

The front camera doesn’t come with a dedicated flash and rather relies on moonlight effect, where the screen gets lit with a white light, in low-light scenarios. For a phone being marketed as a selfie-centred device, a dedicated front flash would have been welcome.

Should you buy it?

The Vivo V9 has been priced aggressively, and with an MRP of Rs 22,990, it will be competing in quite a crowded market. However, Vivo V9 does have most of the bells and whistles to make it attractive for tech-savvy buyers and is a solid performer at its core. You can definitely opt for it.

Read more:

Here's what Nokia 8 Sirocco may cost in India

iPhone X on a budget? Here's a look at the Vivo V9 ahead of its India launch

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