Review | Vivo V15 Pro smartphone

By Ajay Joseph

Flagship phones have traditionally been where all the fun is. But in the recent past, the midrange offerings have become so feature-packed, that it’s hard not to be excited about them. The Vivo V15 Pro is one such device that is worth the look. Between its catchy designs, triple camera setup, solid specs, and very competent battery, it could easily make the cut for many.

Design and Ergonomics  

To those familiar with Vivo devices, the V15 Pro keeps the usual simplistic Vivo V series design ethos. Thanks to its pop-up front camera — a feature first introduced by Vivo — and an in-screen fingerprint reader, the screen is truly edge-to-edge and looks splendid. No notch, no cut out, nothing!

Though some may complain of the now heavily used glass-looking plastic and two-tone color shades, I personally really liked the combination of the bold blue color and the triple camera layout on the rear. Though the camera unit which houses the three rear lenses, as well as the popup front camera, have a considerable bump, the way it’s designed with the black marking makes for a trendy gadget look. In my opinion, it is one of the best camera block designs to date.

The device features all its key buttons on the right, with a solo button on the left for the smart assistant. Also on the right is an additional tray for the micro-SD card. The dual SIM tray, micro-USB slot, and speaker are at the bottom, with the pop-up camera and 3.5mm audio jack atop. Good placement overall, albeit the lack of inclusion of a Type-C USB port in such a modern device.

It’s comfortable in the hand with its curved edges, thin and slick, and the pop-up camera, though not new, remains to be a head-turner. Does it still make for a cool party trick? Indeed it does; the cool Transformer-like sound that plays alongside the pop-up action adding to the spectacle. I took it to the office for a few days and my team couldn’t get enough of it.

Specs and Performance  

At the high end of the midrange, I gotta give it to Vivo for putting together as impressive a bundle. Packing the brand new Snapdragon 675 SoC, which is both super-efficient and fast, it leads the pack in its segment both in terms of performance and battery life. That coupled with 8GB of memory, provides for smooth snappy performance, with an excellent gaming experience as well. The 128GB storage is also ample and in line with expectations today for high-end devices.

The display is a huge 6.4 AMOLED, which looks good; not to forget the edge-to-edge implementation that makes it that much nicer. The in-display fingerprint scanner is competent and lights up when the device is picked up from a surface. The pop-up camera can also be used for face-unlock, which works well in a minimal 0.46 seconds. I tested this multiple times and the result was consistent and fast. That said, in low light, it did not work well, and needed for manual intervention in terms of a screen code. 

Also included in the kit is a hard case, which is custom-designed to compensate for the camera bump. While I wasn’t keen on using it, as it would add unnecessary heft, I’m sure for the clumsy folks it would be perfect.

In terms of cons, the device does not feature Gorilla Glass and is thus more prone to getting scratched. There is also no water-resist capability or certification. Lastly, while the speaker is decent, it is average at best in terms of quality.

Battery and Fast-Charging  

The included battery is a 3700 mAh unit, and the included charger is capable of Dual Engine Fast Charge, comparable to their previous gen. It is nowhere close to Oppo’s Super VOOC, but offers acceptable fast charging, taking around two hours for a full charge.

Thanks to the energy-efficient SoC and the large battery the device lasts pretty long, going well over a day if use is just medium. If use is minimal and mostly just via Wi-Fi versus a SIM being inserted, it lasted multiple days with ease.

Below is the Charging Matrix:

0% at 5.17pm

34% at 5.39pm

44% at 5.47pm

77% at 6.12pm

99% a little before 7pm

100 at 7.05pm

Let’s say the device was at 3% and then you hooked it up for a charge; it reached 28% in 15 minutes and crossed 50% in 30 minutes.

Software  

Out of the box, the Vivo V15 Pro runs Android 9 Pie, along with Vivo’s Funtouch OS 9. The OS has a semi iOS sorta feel, with the customizable control center being a pull-up from below, and the notifications remaining atop. Being a traditional Android user, this took a little getting used to. Frequently used apps are listed here, and the control center primary list can be configured.

The device comes preinstalled with some Vivo apps, which cannot be uninstalled. What’s nice though is that several Google apps can be uninstalled; thanks to this I got rid of many that I don’t use. One of the Vivo apps I appreciated was the Vivo phone catalog browser app that lists all the phones, with specs and features.

Special Funtouch OS functionality includes gamer-oriented features that let you suppress notifications and other distractions, including incoming calls which are notorious for causing a momentary lag in time-sensitive games. Also worth mention is the screen-capture options, and on-screen menu to access it. Especially useful is the feature to take long screenshots that span multiple screens. This is great functionality to have and something that Google plans to introduce with Android Q.

Camera  

I wasn’t expecting a triple camera setup in a midrange device, especially one that included a 48-megapixel primary sensor, but Vivo has managed to pull it off. Additional camera hardware includes an 8-megapixel sensor for Ultra Wide shots and a 5-megapixel lens for depth sensing. The front pop-up camera is a 32-megapixel sensor.

Details captured on the primary sensor are superb, and shooting using the Pro mode allows for some great pictures. I lent the device to a pro-am photographer who usually works with a DSLR, and he was very impressed with the Long Exposure and Higher ISO functionality, allowing for a lot of light to be captured in very dark situations. Manual focus adjustments afforded for some excellent depth of field effects.

Indoor Low-Light (High ISO)
Portrait Mode (Bokeh Effect)
Food with Bokeh Effect
Food with Bokeh Effect

While the level of detail captured on the 8-megapixel camera is noticeably lesser, the capability is nice to have, especially when taking landscape shots. Video can be shot at 4k at 30 fps but is too shaky as there is no image stabilization. Going down to 1080p there is competent image stabilization. Also included is a regular slow motion mode; no super slo-mo though.

Using 8-megapixel Ultra Wide Angle Lens (Cropped for Posting)

For those who love selfies, the 32-megapixel front camera is very good, capturing a lot of detail. Also available are a plethora of beauty features. Friends who are regular selfie experts commented on the feature set, and that the beautified photos looked more natural than Oppo’s implementation of Beauty effects. That said, even with the Beauty mode turned off, there are some minimal beauty effects being applied; meaning it’s impossible to take a fully natural picture on the front camera. 

Selfie using 32-megapixel front camera

Value  

Just when I was thinking Oppo had outdone themselves with the R17 Pro, here I am blown away by the Vivo V15 Pro. It’s hard to believe that the device has so much going for it at the price point of P 23,999. 

With the inclusion of the new Snapdragon 675 SoC, it packs some impressive hardware, putting it ahead of the competition. The only comparable device is perhaps the Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro, which is priced a little lower.

Conclusion  

It’s truly a great time to be a consumer, with so many competent offerings at so many price points. Go back a few years and such feature inclusions as covered by the Vivo V15 Pro were unheard of in the midrange space. The combination of the camera, battery, SoC, memory, and storage make for a great option that will satisfy many a discerning buyer; more so if you’re gamer thanks to the software inclusions. To put things in perspective, one of the people who tested this device wants to sell his four-month-old midrange Samsung device to get the Vivo V15 Pro instead.

Model: Vivo 1818

Price: P 23,999

Verdict: Features galore in a groovy-looking device

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