The Apple iPhone X is a great smartphone, and perhaps the best among the current flagships since it sports a number of innovations all working seamlessly. So of course, it comes as no surprise that Chinese smartphone companies quickly decided to come up with a bevy of iPhone X clones. Vivo V9, a new mid-range flagship phone at a price of Rs 22,990, rips off the most frustrating thing of the iPhone X, the notch. Despite its obvious iPhone X-style design, the Vivo V9 smartphone does impress on many fronts. It’s also considerably cheaper than the Apple iPhone X. Will the Vivo V9 be your next smartphone? Let’s find out in our detailed review of the Vivo V9.
Vivo V9 specifications: 6.3-inch IPS LCD screen (2280 x 1080 pixels) 19:9 aspect ratio| Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 processor| 4GB RAM| 64GB storage, microSD support|16MP+5MP dual rear cameras|24MP front camera|3260mAh battery|FunTouch 4.1 UI, based on Android 8.1 Oreo
Vivo V9 price in India: Rs 22,990
Vivo V9 review: Design and display
The design of the Vivo V9 may resemble the iPhone X, but the similarities end once the phone is in your hands. Yes, it has a notch on the top of the bezel-less screen and features a vertically stacked dual camera module on the back. But, both the phones are miles apart in terms of build-quality. Unlike the iPhone X’s glass-and-steel body, Vivo V9 is made out of a plastic shell with a metallic finish. My review unit came in a Champagne Gold shade and picked up scratches within days of use. That’s not a good sign, however, thankfully the company does provide a free case in the box.
On the front is a 19:9 display with smaller bezels. Instead of an 18:9 aspect ratio as we have recently seen on the Galaxy S9 and OnePlus 5T, the display dominates the front, and even comes complete with an iPhone X-like notch above the screen. Vivo says the screen-to-body ratio is about 90 per cent.
The power and the volume buttons can be seen on the right, while the SIM tray is placed on the left. Surprisingly, Vivo V9 comes with a micro-USB port at the bottom and not a USB Type-C port. On the audio front, there’s a single, bottom-firing speaker that sounds really good. It’s loud and clear for a phone that’s priced under Rs 25,000. One of the plus points of owning the V9 is the headphone jack. The iPhone X, for that matter, doesn’t come with a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Flip the phone, and you’ll notice a vertically stacked dual camera akin to the iPhone X. The phone also features a fingerprint scanner on the back that felt fast and accurate in our testing.
The display is a 6.3-inch IPS screen and is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. It offers a resolution of 2280 x 1080 pixels. It’s still a 1080p panel, but this is a bit taller than an 18:9 aspect ratio. The display looks great indoors, although the screen is not great to use outdoors. Under the sun, I could barely read an email or send a text to someone.
Vivo V9 review: Performance and battery
Powered by a Snapdragon 626 processor and 4GB RAM, the Vivo V9 is essentially a mid-ranger. That’s not to say that the performance of the Vivo V9 is weak. The device can handle pretty much anything you throw at it. Vivo V9 opened demanding apps like Facebook and Twitter quickly. It also handled games with ease and without being getting hot. The Vivo V9 comes with 64GB storage, and you can also add a microSD card with up to 256GB. The AnTuTu scores were in the mid-range.
Like many smartphones, Vivo has added a facial recognition feature that uses the phone’s front camera to unlock the device. In my testing it worked flawlessly. In fact, it unlocks the phone in a fraction of seconds. While it can’t detect your face in complete darkness, it still can unlock the phone under fairly low lighting conditions. Also, it can unlock the phone even if a user is wearing glasses.
Running Android 8.1 Oreo, Vivo V9 ships with the company’s own FunTouch 4.1 UI on top. The UI is not compelling enough; icons and settings are almost a copy of iOS. Plus, there are a bunch of unnecessary apps preloaded on the device. To take advantage of the taller screen, Vivo has added a gesture-based navigation, similar to what we’ve seen on the iPhone X. This swipe-based gesture navigation works without any delay or lag. But not many apps are optimised for a 19:9 aspect ratio display and narrow screen with the notch. This should happen over a few months.
Battery life on the review unit I was testing was fine. I was able to get a day of battery life on a single charge. Unfortunately, the phone doesn’t offer a fast charging mechanism, unlike the Moto X4 or Honor 8 Pro.
Vivo V9 review: Camera
Vivo V9 boasts 16MP and 5MP snappers at the back placed vertically, along with a single LED flash. The results were fairly impressive in my testing, considering the price point of the phone. The V9 did a good job in capturing the subject outdoors. As seen in the picture of the iconic Statesman House in the heart of Delhi’s Connaught Place, I was impressed by how much detail the phone captured.
In much dimmer conditions, Vivo V9 didn’t disappoint either. When zoomed in, there’s definitely noise and that’s okay. The V9 does a fine job in blurring the background, but not quite as good as expected. In addition, there’s a 24MP front camera for taking selfie. It has also got an AI-powered beautify mode. The 24MP front snapper is decent enough for self-portraits and video calling.
Vivo V9 review: Verdict
Vivo V9 cannot compete with the likes of Samsung Galaxy S9 and iPhone X, and no one expected it to. At Rs 22,990, Vivo V9 targets the masses. The handset should appeal to anyone who is looking for a well-rounded smartphone that is equipped to handle anything. Vivo V9 competes with the Oppo F7, Moto X4, and Honor 8 Pro.