The first wave of Android devices with iPhone inspired notch display has hit the stores. While the first working model was showcased by Asus (Zenfone 5 and Zenfone 5Z) at MWC 2018, Vivo has managed to introduce the first notch embedded Android smartphone in the Indian market.
Priced at Rs. 22,990, Vivo V9 is company's first flagship smartphone in the year 2018 and will be available from 2nd week of April, 2018 on Vivo E-stores, Flipkart, Amazon.in and Paytm mall.
Like company's previous products, Vivo V9 also sports a high-end front-facing camera to please selfie enthusiasts. The smartphone also features a dual-lens rear camera setup and runs the latest Google's software- Android 8.1 Oreo.
Its close resemblance to iPhone X might just make it a deal for price conscious consumers who are looking for affordable yet feature loaded Android handset. With that, let's find out what Vivo V9 has in store besides its iPhone X look and feel.
iPhone X Clone?
There's no other way to say it. Vivo V9 is largely inspired from iPhone X, and honestly, I don't mind it as the handset looks downright appealing. It is by far the most head turning design in Android mid-range price segment. Vivo V9 even offers slightly better in-hand feel than its closest competitor- OPPO F7 as it is sleeker and has better overall aesthetics.
Thanks to the edge-to-edge design, Vivo V9 offers an impressive 90% screen-to-body ratio. The result is, plenty of screen real-estate in a compact form factor that makes for an immersive reading and multimedia experience. However, unlike the notch on iPhone X that houses the smart Face ID hardware, Vivo settles for a less intelligent version of the same till the time Google rolls out Android P. For now, the notch on Vivo V9 is used for basic set of sensors and the earpiece.
As far as aesthetics are concerned, the edge-to-edge display combined with rounded edges and sleek profile also makes Vivo V9 quite ergonomic. Besides, the weight is very well distributed and Vivo V9 is also among the lightest (150g) handset we have tested till date in this price segment. But that's because the smartphone is mostly made up of plastic and fails to deliver a solid feel in hands.
My review unit came in Pearl Black color that with its glossy back looked quite appealing than the Champagne Gold variant. But then, you have to make peace with the smudges and fingerprints that can spoil the overall look and feel. You can use the bundled clear case in the package that will also protect the handset from scratches and other damages.
The rear mounted fingerprint scanner is quite snappy but is placed slightly upwards from our liking. The smartphone follows a standard button configuration. The power button and volume rockers are placed on the right side, whereas the hybrid SIM card tray is positioned on the left side. The 3.5mm headphone jack, a microphone, USB 2.0 charging port and a speaker unit is placed at the bottom of the handset. Sadly, Vivo V9 does not ship with the latest Type C port.
6.3-inch Full-HD+ (1080x2280 pixels) Display
Display is indeed the most interesting feature of Vivo V9. The 6.3-inch FHD+ screen goes from edge-to-edge and offers a pixel density of 480ppi. The IPS LCD screen is bright and punches vibrant colours; however it's a slightly reflective in direct sunlight that makes it difficult to read text and watch videos.
Reading books and news on web browsers is immersive, but the notch does get in the way of fullscreen videos. Besides, not many apps are optimized for the new unconventional 19:9 aspect ratio and you have to wait for some time to make the most out of this full screen design.
For now, you can browse web pages, use stock apps from Vivo (Calendar, notes, clock, etc.) and can navigate with Google Maps in edge-to-edge screen format. Most used apps like Facebook, YouTube, MX Player, Instagram, etc. just don't show the content in full screen.
The touch response is brilliant and the screen also comes with Eye protection mode.
Brighter and Vivid selfies
Vivo has also stepped up the selfie game by injecting the power of Artificial Intelligence in the handset's front-facing camera. The smartphone features a 24MP selfie camera that works on F/2.0 aperture and also has an AI-assisted beautify mode. It makes appropriate and relevant beautification enhancements wherever required to deliver lively selfies. Besides, you also have the option to manually set the level of beautification as per your liking.
Selfies come out crisp and show good amounts of detail in ideal light conditions. The smartphone's front camera can also record videos in 4K but you would need a tripod for smooth output as the handset lacks OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation) and EIS (Electronic Image Stabilisation).
Rear camera: Good performance in daylight
As far as rear camera is concerned, Vivo has used a dual-lens camera setup that uses one 16MP primary lens and 5MP secondary lens to achieve shallow depth of field. The camera offers a decent dynamic range and delivers impressive shots in daylight.
Good macro shots
Macro shots turned out really well, but the bokeh effect could use some refinements as the edge detection is not always pleasing to eyes.
The rear camera can also record videos in 4k format at 30fps and the output is quite crisp. The camera app also offers a variety of modes and filters such as Face Beauty, HDR, AR stickers and professional mode to let you experiment with the photography.
Good everyday performer but not a heavy duty device
Vivo V9 runs on the latest Android 8.1 Oreo out-of-the box, but the choice of a modest CPU- Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 chipset can be a deal-breaker for some users who prefer raw performance over vivid selfies and eye-catchy design. For everyday users, Vivo V9 will do just fine. The 2.2GHz octa-core CPU is paired with 4GB RAM to handle multitasking. There's no lag in screen navigation and apps load instantly. Casual games also run smoothly but you will experience judders and minor frame drops while playing graphical intensive games like Marvel Contest of Champions and Asphalt 8. I did not face any issues with call quality on Vivo V9 during my testing time.
Vivo V9 also uses AI to speed up the phone's everyday performance over time. The artificial intelligence takes care of phone's storage system and user's apps preference to offer best possible results.
Feature loaded Vivo FunTouch OS
The iPhone X effect can also be seen in the software department. Vivo V9 runs on Funtouch OS, which shares a very close resemblance to iOS and hardly looks and feels like an Android phone does. But it works without a lag and comes loaded with hidden features that show what can be done with the in-house custom software skin. The FunTouch OS offers a dedicated game mode that makes it possible to respond to messages from within the game screen. Audiophiles will love the immersive audio equalizer that comes loaded with various predefined modes powered by Deepfield audio. Besides, you also get other useful features like App clone, gesture support, one-handed mode, etc. to enhance the overall mobile user experience.
iPhone X like Gestures
Vivo has also added ‘Navigation gestures' that leave very little for iOS users to boast of their iPhone X user interface. You can enable the gesture mode from the settings menu that hides the on-screen buttons and let you control the handset just with swipes and gestures. I was delighted to see how well these iPhone X like gestures work on the handset.
Lastly, you also get a bunch of useful pre-loaded apps like Prime Video, Flipkart, Amazon, NewsPoint, WhatsApp, Facebook, etc. that can be uninstalled if required.
Overall, Vivo has done a great job this time with the software performance on its flagship handset.
Dedicated microSD card slot and 3,260 mAh battery unit
Storage and connectivity will not be an issue on Vivo V9 as the company has provided a dedicated microSD card slot that can expand the internal memory by upto 256GB. You can also use two nano SIM cards at the same time.
As far as battery is concerned, you will only need a charger by the end of the day if you play games and watch videos on a stretch. With moderate usage, Vivo V9 can last for a day on a single charge. Sadly, Vivo V9 does not support fast charging, which is a letdown at this price-point.
Vivo V9 stands out from the crowd and is bound to please users who care about design and aesthetics. It's the first Android handset in the market with iPhone X inspired edge-to-edge screen that works in its favor. The smartphone also offers a capable 24MP AI powered selfie camera and a decent dual-lens rear camera setup. Moreover, I am quite impressed by the software performance on this mid-range Android device.
What disappoints us is the lack of fast charging, average battery backup and the modest CPU that holds the handset back from being the best overall Android smartphone in sub Rs. 25,000 price-point.
For users, who cannot resist the iPhone X design but don't want to spend a fortune; Vivo V9 is a fair deal.