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Vivo V23 Pro Review: Expensive For A Pretty Looking 5G Selfie Phone
Vivo kicked off 2022 with two new V-series smartphones - the V23 and the V23 Pro. Both are selfie-centric value flagship offerings with the tried and tested formula- premium design and good front-facing cameras, which has worked pretty well for the series and the brand. The new V-series handsets take the trend even further by adding some cool design features, higher refresh rate screens, and some hardware upgrades in the camera department.
- Premium Design
- Vibrant Curved Display
- Capable Selfie Camera
- Smooth Performance
- Android 12 Out-Of-The-Box
- No OIS (both front & rear camera)
- Lacks Stereo Speakers & SD Card Support
- Rear Camera Performance Could Have Been Better
- Poor Haptic Feedback
With such advancements and some other external factors, this year's V-series handsets are priced quite higher than their predecessors. The V23 costs Rs. 29,990 for the base variant (8GB + 128GB) and Rs. 34,990 for the 12GB + 256GB variant. The V23 Pro on the other hand retails at Rs. 38,990 for the 8GB + 128GB model and Rs. 43,990 for the higher 12GB + 256GB variant, which seems pretty steep if you consider the entire package.
Is the V23 Pro more than just a premium-looking handset that clicks good selfies? And should you pay Rs. 39,000 for the handset when the OnePlus 9RT comes in the same price bracket with a 120Hz display, faster charging, and Snapdragon 888 SoC? Let's find out.
Vivo V23 Pro Design- Changes Its Color
Vivo's V-series offer one of the best looking handsets in the market. Like every year, the new V23-series brings two stunning smartphones with sleek chassis and eye-catchy finishes. However, the headline feature this year is the color-changing glass back panel. Available only on the V23 Pro's Sunshine Gold color variant, the V23 Pro features a layer of color-changing Fluorite AG glass that changes its shade under sunlight.
The Gold color turns into shades of green, blue, and cyan when the handset is exposed to UV light. Sadly, we couldn't test the feature since our Stardust Black Color variant skips the color-changing glass.
Better Durability Required Than A Cool Party Trick
In my opinion, color-changing glass isn't something that should drive your purchase decision. It's merely a party trick and offers no big value to real-life usage. I wish Vivo could have made the V23 Pro more durable instead of giving such a cosmetic feature. The handset lacks any official IP rating and must be protected from dust and water damage.
Vivo V23 Pro Build Quality & Ergonomics
As far as the fit and finish are concerned, the V23 Pro feels durable and very premium. The smartphone is very sleek, just 7.36mm, and weighs 171 grams, making it easy to carry around with one hand without any fatigue. The in-hand grip is just fine but I would recommend using the handset with a third-party case since the sleek chassis and curved edges don't go well with ergonomics.
Ports & Buttons
The phone comes with a Type-C charging port, standard volume rocker & power button (on the right) and a nano-SIM card tray positioned at the bottom along with the lone speaker unit. The curved display gives a premium touch to the front-fascia, something hard to find in this price bracket. I know a lot of folks who prefer curved displays over flat ones and they will dig the V23 Pro's look and feel.
How Good Is The Selfie Camera?
- The V23 Pro has pretty capable front-facing camera hardware. The selfie setup comprises a 50MP, f/2.0 primary sensor accompanied by an 8MP f/2.28 wide-angle sensor. The primary sensor takes impressive portraits in outdoor lighting. Skin textures come out natural and sharpness is pretty good. Check out the above selfie to notice clarity and sharpness. You can even make out individual hair strands.
- The 8MP sensor lets you capture group selfies. The field-of-view is pretty big but at the cost of some fine detailing.
- You can record crisp 4K videos with the selfie camera for Instagram Reels or YouTube; however, the lack of OIS is a big miss for a handset touted as an ace selfie handset.
- To step up the selfie game, Vivo has added two LED lights on either side of the big notch. The lights can be set to stay on (Spotlight on) to capture bright selfies in extreme low-light situations.
- The difference in pictures shot with lights on and off is pretty evident and can be seen in the above image.
- While the image quality isn't mind-boggling, it's better to have two dedicated light sources to help you capture some good low-light selfies.
Feature-Rich Camera Software
There's plenty to experiment with modes and filters. You can change the style, apply a real-time filter, tweak the bokeh effect and apply all sorts of beautification elements to customize the selfie image output. You can disable everything for a natural-looking output.
Rear Camera Performance
- The 108MP primary sensor is the only thing good about the triple-lens camera setup. It captures crisp images with good contrast. Images are sharp and have a natural depth-of-field. The dynamic range is good but could have been better.
- The colors looked a bit artificially saturated in some shots; however, you can make adjustments in real-time with the help of a newly added tool- Effect Master. The skin tones looked decent though.
- Moving on, pictures tend to get soft around the edges, both in 108MP high-res. Mode and in 12MP pixel-binned mode. It isn't very prominent in the pixel binned images but the softness becomes evident in the high-res shots that tend to have a clear depth-of-field effect.
HDR Performance Could Have Been Better
- The HDR performance seemed a bit off as images turned out underexposed and required some post-processing. A software update should fix it.
- The sensor also manages to click good images in challenging lighting conditions.
- Low-light shots show vivid colors but some unwanted sharpness is visible.
Below Average Macros & Decent Wide-Angle Pictures
- Like most 2MP macro sensors, the one offered on the V23 Pro captures uninspiring shots.
- The images lack clarity and the sensor is mostly unable to capture the natural colors. It ends up offering washed out pictures even in broad daylight. The above image does not show the vivid yellow color of the flower.
- The same is true for the 8MP wide-angle sensor to some extent. It also captures average wide-angle images. If you feed ample light to the sensor, you will manage to capture some decent pictures.
- The V23 Pro can record 4K 60fps videos with EIS-backed ultra stabilization. You can apply filters to the footage but the stabilization shifts to standard from ultra. While the footage comes out clean, the stabilization isn't quite impressive. The lack of OIS again limits the phone's potential.
Multimedia Experience On Vivo V23 Pro
The V23 Pro flaunts a vivid full HD+ display that feels responsive and produces vibrant colors. The color reproduction and contrast levels come close to flagship-grade displays from top-of-the-line smartphones from Vivo, OnePlus, and Samsung. You are greeted with lively colors, good contrast, and deep blacks resulting in immersive video playback and gaming experience. However, the big notch at the center accommodating two camera sensors comes in the way while watching videos.
There's no escape from a notch this big if you want the best-in-business selfie camera. Moving on, the screen ensures good peak brightness that allows for a comfortable viewing experience in ample indoor lighting and outdoors. I could easily read text, make calls and use camera features under direct sunlight.
Lacks The 120Hz Refresh Rate
The V23 Pro skips on the cutting-edge 120Hz refresh rate and offers a 90Hz OLED panel. If you haven't used a 120Hz panel before, you aren't missing out much but if you are paying almost Rs. 40,000 in 2022, you deserve a 120Hz panel.
For instance, the Xiaomi 11i HyperCharge offers a 120Hz panel at a much lower price. The newly launched OnePlus 9RT, which is a direct competitor of the V23 Pro also boasts a 120Hz refresh rate E4 AMOLED screen.
No Stereo Speaker Setup
The V23 Pro also fell short of our expectations in terms of audio performance. The single speaker setup only gets mildly loud and lacks a punch. And you can only enjoy music via a pair of wireless headphones/TWS earbuds as the phone comes sans a 3.5mm headphone jack. Vivo could have placed a second speaker unit to offer better audio delivery at this price point.
Vivo V23 Pro Performance
The MediaTek Dimensity 1200 is a very capable chipset that reflects the performance of the handset. The V23 Pro easily handles light to heavy tasks without showing any performance issues. It feels blazing fast with general tasks and does not break a sweat even with demanding jobs. I could use Slack, PDF reader, edit videos in the native gallery app, and check my Twitter and Instagram timeline at the same time with no lags or glitches whatsoever.
Sails Smoothly With Both Light & Heavy Tasks
The phone didn't show any alarming heat signatures with prolonged gaming and media streaming. One factor can be the chilly winter season in the Delhi NCR that helps the device maintain an optimal temperature. Nevertheless, the V23 Pro performed pretty well in our tests. You can play the most demanding games on this handset without any performance drops.
It is worth mentioning that the device has a very mediocre haptic response. The vibration motor just couldn't match what most brands are offering in this price bracket.
FunTouch OS 12 Based On Android 12
The software is smooth for most of the part and comes loaded with nifty utilities and s a great set of personalization features. These include- Phone Clone, Ultra game Mode (Game Assistant, Esports mode), Eye Protection, Smart Motion, host of animation features (Lock screen, Charging cable, face unlock/fingerprint, etc.) Gestures work just fine and the UI looks pleasing with its neat typography and minimal appearance.
Vivo's FunTouch OS has evolved but is still marred by some unwanted apps (bloatware) such as Josh, Moj, Hot Apps, Hot Games, Koo, Angel One, Bitbns Pay, etc. Thankfully, most of these useless apps can be uninstalled from the handset.
Battery Life & Connectivity
The V23 Pro can easily last a day and not more than that if you make a lot of calls, stream videos, and spend long hours on Snapchat and Instagram for selfies and videos. This is due to the modest 4,300 mAh battery cell, which isn't quite big but is kept smaller to give the handset a sleek and sophisticated look.
It recharges from flat to 100% in about 52 minutes with the help of bundled 44W fast-charger in the box. As far as the connectivity is concerned, the V23 Pro supports Bluetooth 5.2, a dual nano-SIM card, dual-band Wi-Fi, and about seven 5G bands.
The costliest V-series smartphone from Vivo is most suited for consumers who prefer good-looking handsets that click good selfies. Even for such a package, the asking price of Rs. 39,990 (and Rs. 46,999) comes across as slightly expensive. The lack of OIS (for both rear & front cameras), average rear camera performance, No IP-rating, etc. are some deal-breakers.
If you are planning to spend Rs. 40,000- Rs. 45,000, you must explore the market before making a purchase. Some options that you can consider are the newly unveiled OnePlus 9RT, the upcoming Xiaomi 11T Pro, OnePlus 9R, and the Realme GT Neo 2.