Vivo V15: Long term test of the notchless display phone
Vivo is starting to carve out a niche for itself as a flashy, affordable, colourful character in the world of black, glass slabs. The V15 has stand out features of a full notch-free display and a pop-up camera. It comes in a sparkling red gradient with microdots resembling stars. But can it be the star in this fiercely competitive market dominated by the likes of Xiaomi and Samsung's A series?
The red is gorgeous. It has a shiny, chromed finish on the bottom but manages to do so without being tacky. The back consists of a fingerprint sensor very conveniently placed for the forefinger. A stack of triple cameras is placed on the top left. A bit of an odd positioning considering a centre alignment might have been more 'standard' but Vivo seems to go against most standards. The beautiful glossy back is a fingerprint magnet though and the being polycarbonate, it can take on scratches quite easily. What is odd though is that it features a micro USB port instead of the faster USB-C.
Tap on the front and the 6.53 inch 1080p screen lights up to give you a bezel-less display save for a bit of a chin on the bottom. That is a lot of screen that completely throws away everybody's favourite Apple flavoured notch. Frankly, notches are tiring. So where do they place the front camera? It pops up in the form of a, well, pop-up unit. The 395ppi density provides a very sharp display that is protected by Gorilla Glass 5. The display is also bright enough to offer very good clarity even in strong sunlight. So far, so cool.
Performance comes from an Octa-core MediaTek Helio P70 paired to 6GB of RAM. There is 64GB of storage with additional capacity to be added via the microSD slot along with two SIMs. Nice touch there to include all that without compromising any in the form of a hybrid tray. The Mali G72 provides perfect, seamless gaming for most casual button mashers like Candy Crush. Asphalt and PUBG though require a slight downward tweak to the graphics. Mid-level settings will ensure that the games run mostly without any lag. Framerate remains steady for the most part so your murderous rampages should go without a hitch until your internet service goes wonky.
The OS is Vivo's Funtouch 9 based on the Android Pie.
The Vivo V15 seems to be targeting the kings and queens of social media. The popup selfie is a 32MP f/2.0 unit takes great, clean, bright selfies even in low light. It uses the screen as a supporting light source to brighten up your face. While the images come out well lit all the time, they tend to be a little soft with a lot of finer details smoothed out. That could be because the ISO is boosted to get more light. Most people love the smoother, cleaner effect because, in selfies, it makes them look years younger. You can tone down or turn off some of those AI enhanced beauty features but I doubt most people will want to. Try the regular photo mode for that. Focus is quick and the selfie camera pops up smoothly without fail each time.
The rear three cameras include an 8MP f/2.2 wide-angle sensor that covers a 108 degrees field of view. Very useful when shooting a lot of objects in tight places, for example, covering an entire room layout.
A 12MP f1.8 primary sensor and a 5 MP f/2.4 depth sensor completes the trio. The wider apertures allow much better light absorption meaning the photos are usually well lit in low light conditions. You expect it to be a bit grainy but that is taken care of by the slightly overzealous software that smooths out everything.
Generally, the rear cameras provide excellent shots especially if you do some macro photography. I've shot some car models and the text and finer details do come out sharp. Colours though are slightly bumped up to create a more vibrant result. Portrait mode does a good job of separating the background while preserving finer details like fair or fur (in case of pets).
While still, imagery is quite excellent, video is average. It maxes out at 30fps and results in shaky clips if you are on the move because of the lack of image stabilisation. It cannot shoot 4K video either.
The 4000mAh battery can last a little over a day on average. Full Wi-Fi, data, social media usage all day can leave you quarter of a battery total charge by the end of the day.
Display: 6.53" IPS LCD, 2340 x 1080 pixels
OS: Android 9.0 (Pie), Funtouch 9
Chipset: Mediatek Helio P70 (12nm)
CPU: Octa-core (4x2.1 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4x2.0 GHz Cortex-A53)
RAM: 6 GB
ROM: 64 GB
Camera: Rear- 12 MP (24 Million Photosensitive Units), 8MP, 5MP, Front- 32 MP (Pop Up Selfie)
Battery: 4000 mAh Li-ion Battery
Price: Tk. 29,990/-
Is Vivo the new Motorola trying to break aesthetic grounds like no one else? It definitely has visual flair and the quirky pop-up selfie camera helps make it stand out, literally. That nearly bezel-less display is refreshing while the camera prowess is superb although I wish it would take down the software smoothing a couple of notches. The punchy colours though will prove to be a big plus for Instagrammers. Performance is excellent for multitasking and only shows hiccups for heavy games on high graphics. And it manages to do all that without exhibiting much heat.
Does it make it to the star among this category though? Good looks, a great camera and strong battery backup make the V15 an excellent contender offering a mixed bag of high-end goodies to a mid-range phone.