Vivo, a brand that you simply cannot miss as they have painted almost every town blue, has yet another smartphone for you to flaunt. The Chinese smartphone brand has brought in a different angle to that hidden selfies camera, a second time in a row. Yes, the front camera was taken away from the face on the previous flagship — the Nex — and now on yet another upper-mainstream smartphone, the Vivo V15 Pro. But does this smartphone impress enough? Yes, unlike the predecessor Nex, it definitely does, especially with the peeping camera on the top and the take-home price.
The Vivo V15 Pro comes in an all-blue shade that has gradient lines all over the rear panel. The phone comes in two colour variants — Topaz Blue and Ruby Red, and both have a different ‘Spectrum Ripple Design’ as Vivo likes to call it. Tilt it against the light and it shines through, definitely trying to make a statement. However, if you choose to use the bundled smartphone case, you will probably lose out on flashing that shiny back. But, nevertheless, the hard smartphone case is tough enough and sturdy to ensure that your investment stays safe. Reason — the phone is a bit too slippery, especially when opting to use it with one hand during selfies.
Moving on, the plastic rear panel (yes – not glass!) has a completely different look — at least when comparing it with most phones out there. The camera array is vertically placed towards the left and protrudes a bit outwards since it also houses the selfies camera that slides up and down when called for. This seems a bit scary to handle when using without a case, and you probably know why we say that.
The rear camera setup here consists of three different sensors. The main or primary sensor is a 48MP quad pixel eye that can take a high-resolution true 48MP photo or combine four pixels within (pixel binning) to create an effective 12MP shot, but with remarkable results. The second sensor is an 8MP AI-enabled super wide-angles sensor that allows you to capture more than what conventional cameras can see. And lastly, the third camera has a 5MP sensor that allows for those bokeh effects to give you classic portraits that stand out from the background.
Flip the phone over and the front is a different look altogether — yes — no more ugly notch. Vivo has managed to slip away the selfie camera into the body, behind the display, that pops up when called for. This camera sports a massive 32MP sensor, which makes this smartphone the first in the world to have a 32MP selfie camera, and that pops up with grace. Sadly, there’s no dedicated flash or OIS that can manage to counter shaky hands.
The front has a large Ultra FullView display panel that is patented by Vivo. The display is a 19.5:9 ratio-based 6.39-inch Super AMOLED full HD+ panel that is almost edge-to-edge making this phone almost bezelless. There is a very slim chin that is present, but it is not as prominent. Vivo has also managed to make massive changes to the sensors that run necessary detections for the UI and are neatly tucked beneath the display itself. The earpiece also takes its place, neatly sandwiched between the display glass and the frame, with a very thin speaker grille barely noticeable. Lastly, an in-display fingerprint sensor takes its place on the bottom half. This sensor has improved over the previous generations and is now faster than before with some cool animations too.
The right side sports the volume and power buttons, while the left sports a discrete button for calling up Google’s Assistant. The bottom has a micro USB charging/data slot alongside a mono speaker grille and the SIM / micro SD card slot.
Heading down below the hood, Vivo V15 Pro is the first phone to employ Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 675 SoC. This chip is based on 11nm technology and sports eight cores clocked at 2GHz. Clubbed along is an Adreno 612 GPU and 6GB of RAM with a whopping 128GB of storage that can be expanded even further by adding up to 256GB micro SD cards. Fuelling all of this hardware is a 3700mAh battery with Dual-Engine Fast Charging and powering the entire package is Funtouch OS 9 that is based on Android 9.0. The phone weighs around 185g and is 8.2mm slim. Bundled along with the phone is a hard protective case, a pair of earphones and the standard micro USB cable with a power adapter.
As for the performance, the user interface is good enough, but one will need a lot of getting used to if you are upgrading from another brand. However, the UI is definitely smooth and all thanks to the ample RAM and intelligent AI-based hardware that drives it from the inside. During our use we did not find any sluggish behaviour or mishaps; however, it will completely depend if the phone is driven to the edge with multiple apps installed and the storage filling up in time. It is completely subjective from person to person and will depend on individual usage, accordingly. However, given our experience with previous Vivo smartphones, the UI seems to keep up in shape even after prolonged use.
But what concerns us is the unwanted bloatware that Vivo has been pre-installing on these babies. While some apps such as Facebook and WhatsApp could be counted as useful, apps such as Newspoint, Amazon, Paytm, Phonepe, UC browser, WPS office which definitely is an eyesore for most out there.
Playing casual games, streaming media or making calls, The Vivo V15 Pro will last you well throughout the day till you find that charging cable at night. The battery life is decent and you won’t find yourself beating the rush to get to that power plug for sure. Gaming is smooth and you can play around with most high-end games with ease, but make sure to keep those settings to medium or moderate to keep them running flawlessly and longer, and cooler.
The phone does not heat up either, and probably thanks intelligent heat dissipating and management hardware that Vivo has kept in mind. Multi-tasking is great too — you can use two apps simultaneously with split screen modes, easily and smoothly — thanks to Vivo’s own Funtouch UI and Android’s Pie that makes this possible.
The user interface can be unlocked with various methods apart from the regular PIN code method. The fingerprint scanner and the face unlock option are also available, but you can use the face unlock only if the fingerprint scanner is enabled. Unlocking the device seems fairly faster with face unlock than the fingerprint option alone. The face unlock pops up the selfie camera and scans your face within 0.46 seconds and disappears into its housing, instantly unlocking your phone for you. In the event of low light (or in a dark environment) or if you are not facing the camera, the fingerprint sensor needs to be used to further unlock the device.
The fingerprint sensor also requires a bit of pressure to unlock, which we found a bit annoying, but in due course of time, we have gotten used to it and it really did not matter as much thereon. The fingerprint scanner also has three cool animations that can be used while unlocking. The selfie camera also pops up to some cool audio effects too that can be changed from the settings or turned off completely. If you plan to own one of these devices, make sure you play around with most of its animations and audio effects to get your favourite one set.
The selfie camera uses a precise micro stepper motor to help it pop out of the housing. This is done very smoothly and instantly. It usually stays inside when in normal use and only pops out when you need it for face unlock or when using the camera in selfie mode. The camera can withstand rising up, up to 300,000 times without any glitch, states the brand. Vivo claims that you can use the pop-up camera almost 100 times a day or for a total lifespan of 8 years, without having to bother about malfunctions. They also state that the camera housing is pretty strong and can withstand up to 120kg of pressure without breaking — however, we never dared to negate that.
Coming to the performance of the cameras, the rear sensor seems to perform with excellent results. However, we did find a few areas that did not impress us. Being one of the first smartphones to feature higher megapixel sensors, the Vivo V15 Pro’s 48MP sensor performs as stated. In fact, the three are used together almost simultaneously and flawlessly when you require it. Simply access the camera app and shoot and the camera UI takes care of the sensor switches. Photos turn out vibrant and colours pop out crazily. Images are pretty sharp and clear, especially when shot in broad daylight. Colours look very natural and thanks to the vibrant display, they look rich on the phone itself. Indoor shots with sufficient lighting also look great with sharp focus, great colours and adequate white balance.
However, low light photography takes a bit of beating. Using the night mode option is good enough, but we have seen better results than what this baby can capture. However, it’s not as bad, and cannot be termed as unusable either. The professional mode gives you an advantage over the white balance, ISO and shutter speeds to manage your shots personally. However, you can also leave it to the AI scene detection mode to manage it all. Focusing is fast and spot-on, except when you are a bit too close to the subject.
Other modes, such as portrait framing using AI, make it very convenient for those who are bad or weak with photography skills. The camera’s AI kicks in automatically to train you to put the subject in a particular spot in the frame to make your photos look more professional. This mode guides you to focus on the subject and also takes the photo automatically within 3 seconds without you needing to actually trigger the shutter button. The wide angle mode is pretty awesome but looks more like a zoomed out photo. However, it does a great job of getting more into your frame. The 8MP uses an f/2.2 sensor to capture those wide shots in a single frame.
Portrait mode is also pretty good, but the edge detection is a bit off if your subject if not human. We also did find that certain human portraits with protrusions such as hair or ears, or in certain areas, especially where the backlighting merges with the subject. Nevertheless, the camera does a good enough job on the whole.
Check out a few more sample shots from the rear camera below.
Other modes that need to be addressed are face and body shaping modes and AR stickers which also makes use of the AI intelligence. Face and body shaping can help you edit your human subjects by altering the image to make him/her look thinner, taller or more tweaked. While this mode is fairly new, you will find that the images can be noted as “edited” and not realistic. The selfies camera is remarkable — thanks to a massive 32MP sensor that Vivo has managed to cramp inside that hiding popup cube. Photos look vibrant, sharp and clear. Beauty mode is turned on by default and kept at 50%, so you may need to alter it according to your preference. Selfie mode also gets face modification using AI power. You can make yourself look thinner, or narrow down your chin/jawline, make your eyes look smaller or larger, slim down your node, lips and a few more. While they are definitely artificial mods, they work out good enough to keep you occupied and happy.
To sum down the entire experience, we would say that the Vivo V15 Pro is definitely out there to make a statement in both style and performance. The first one to sport a large 32MP selfie camera that too in a ‘pop up’ style, The Vivo V15 Pro is definitely remarkable in the upper mainstream segment, especially when with a Rs 28,990 price tag. If you are looking for a smartphone that can offer good performance with a near-premium design and under the Rs 30,000 budget, the V15 Pro should be on your top list....