Vivo V9 Review
It’s only been a few months since Vivo launched the V7 and V7+ in the Philippines but it’s not going to stop them from launching something better. This time, they’re releasing a smartphone with a large 6.3-inch Full-View display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 chipset, dual rear cameras, 24MP front camera, and Android 8.1 Oreo – the Vivo V9. Can this smartphone capture the hearts and pockets of consumers? Find out in our review.
Before we dive in, you can watch our unboxing and hands-on video below:
Design and Construction
One of the first things you’ll notice about the Vivo V9 is the design of its display. If it’s familiar, that is because it has the same design concept as the Apple iPhone X.
What we’re looking at is a large 6.3-inch display with a “notch” right above it. The notch houses the earpiece, notifications light, and 24MP selfie camera. There are no capacitive keys here as it uses on-screen navigation buttons. The unit already comes with a pre-installed screen protector on top of the 2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 3.
Found at the left is the tray for the nano-SIM cards and a dedicated slot for the microSD card.
On the right are the volume and power/lock buttons.
Found at the bottom are the 3.5mm audio port, microphone, micro USB port, and loudspeaker.
Flip it on its back and you will see the protruding camera module that consists of a 16MP primary and 5MP secondary shooters and the LED flash. Also found here is the circular fingerprint scanner, Vivo branding, and two tiny plastic nubs to keep scratches away when you lay it on its back. This shouldn’t be an issue though if you’re using the clear case included in the package.
In the hands, you can immediately tell that the V9 is a well-made device. At 7.89mm, it’s thin which feels even thinner thanks to the sides that curve towards the edges. It’s tall, but can still be handled with one hand.
When it comes to materials, the V9 is mostly made of plastic but is solid and doesn’t creak when squeezed. It is also light at 150g despite its size. The unit that we have now has the Pearl Black color with a glossy finish. It’s beautiful and eye-catching that putting on the clear case feels like a disservice. The only downside here is that it’s a fingerprint and smudge magnet, which in turn makes it look ugly. Therefore, we’d recommend using the clear case and just appreciate its naked aesthetics every now and then.
Display and Multimedia
At 6.3-inches, the Vivo V9 puts it in the same league as other large-screened smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S9+, Huawei Mate 10 Pro, and ASUS ZenFone 5Z. It also sports a 19:9 aspect ratio which is different to the more popular 18:9.
Given the design of the screen, the V9’s FullView display seem more immersive. The Full HD+ resolution with a pixel density of 400ppi improves the experience as well. Colors are accurate, viewing angles are good, and the screen is vibrant enough to be comfortably used outdoors.
If you’re curious about how it would look when you play videos, it doesn’t extend towards the notch when using apps like MX Player. You’ll just get a straight black border at the top for undistracted viewing. This is not always the case though when watching videos on YouTube as it stretches towards the notch.
When it comes to audio, the down-firing speaker is loud and crisp. We have no problems listening when streaming from YouTube, Spotify, or Netflix, or when doing hands-free voice calls. What’s lacking though, is bass, which is not uncommon in smartphones. If you’re just casually listening, this will suffice, but we suggest using earphones or an external speaker for a better audio experience.
When it comes to imaging, the Vivo V9 uses a dual-rear camera setup consisting of a 16MP primary and a 5MP secondary to aid in bokeh effects which can simulate apertures from f/16 to f/0.95. Features include Professional mode, Panorama, Face Beauty, AR stickers, HDR, Live Photo, Ultra HD, PPT mode, Slow motion, and Time-Lapse.
Image quality is good with sharp details, high dynamic range, and accurate colors, especially in bright conditions. Autofocus seems to struggle a bit when it comes to macro shots and when shooting in dim environments so it’s better to use the manual tap-to-focus and give it a few seconds to adjust. The Bokeh effect works fine if there’s a sufficient space (at least 2m) between the subject and the background, but like most smartphones with this feature, the effect often looks artificial.
Selfies, on the other hand, is handled by a 24MP shooter. It also has the features of the rear camera but with extras like A.I.-assisted Face Beauty and Group Selfie.
As expected, selfie quality is good with sharp details and proper exposure. There’s a screen flash as well in case you need to shoot in low-light conditions. Face Beauty works as advertised and was able to enhance our selfies without erasing important features. Pores are still visible but wrinkles and blemishes are toned down. It actually looked like someone gave you a light makeover.
When it comes to video, the V9’s rear and front cameras can record up to 4K resolution at 30fps in MP4 format. Quality is good with sharp details, accurate colors, and contrast. It doesn’t have video stabilization though, so it’s very prone to shakes.
OS, UI, and Apps
Running the software side of the Vivo V9 is FunTouch OS 4.0 which is based on Android 8.1 Oreo with a February 2018 Android security patch level. If you’ve used a Vivo smartphone before, the experience is pretty similar and easy to navigate. The only difference is the positioning of the network signal, clock, data/WiFi, and battery level indicators given the notch.
The UI uses multiple home screens to house the apps. Swiping down from the top will reveal the notifications drawer while swiping up from the bottom brings out the shortcut keys.
Inside Settings, users can change the order and styles of the navigation keys, or choose to use navigation gestures instead of keys so you can navigate the UI similar to how you would on an iPhone X.
As for other features, it has Game Mode for uninterrupted gaming, Smart motion for gesture-based controls, Smart Split for split screen or picture-in-picture mode, One-handed mode, App Clone, Smart click for quick app launches using the volume keys, and Face Beauty for video calls.
When it comes to apps, the V9 has Vivo’s native apps like the V-Appstore, iTheme, iManager, EasyShare, and Vivo app to view the company’s products. Google’s own apps are here as well, along with pre-installed apps like Lazada, Facebook, and WPS Office, which you can uninstall. All in all, you’re getting 49.40GB of usable space out of the 64GB. You can expand it using a microSD card or USB OTG.
Performance and Benchmarks
Powering the Vivo V9 is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 octa-core chipset, Adreno 506 GPU, and 4GB RAM. So far, we’re happy with the performance as UI navigation and transitions are smooth, apps launch fast, and we had no issues juggling between multiple apps in the background. While the fingerprint scanner and face unlock feature are very snappy and responsive.
Gaming shouldn’t be a problem as we were able to play Tekken, Rules of Survival, and Mobile Legends in their highest settings without crashes, lags, or random reboots. Check out our benchmark scores below.
* AnTuTu v7 – 88,226
* PC Mark – 5,051 (Work 2.0)
* 3D Mark – 474 (SSE – OpenGL 3.1), 423 (SSE – Vulkan)
* AndroBench – 301.17 MB/s (Read), 219.09 MB/s (Write)
* Vellamo – 2,463 (Multicore), 1,610 (Metal), 2,134 (Chrome)
Connectivity and Battery Life
When it comes to connectivity, the V9 packs the usual stuff like 4G LTE, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, and GPS. So far, mobile data is fast and calls are loud and clear. GPS works as advertised as we never had problems using apps like Google Maps, Waze, Uber, or Grab.
Battery-wise, the V9 uses a 3,260mAh battery pack and we’re getting around 9 hours of mixed usage which consists of constant WiFi connectivity, heavy social media browsing, photography, and some gaming. PC Mark’s battery bench rated it at 11 hours and 38 minutes, while our video loop test got us 11 hours and 44 minutes of playback which is above average. Charging, on the other hand, takes 3 hours from empty to 100%.
Vivo has once again stepped up its game when it comes to releasing powerful mid-range devices. Compared to the V7+, the V9 is definitely more powerful, looks better, and comes with features that are normally found in more expensive devices.
Those who prefer a more immersive screen will like its FullView display, while those who are fond of selfies will enjoy the 24MP front camera with A.I. Beauty technology. Mobile gamers, on the other hand, need not worry as it can handle the popular games in the Play Store. So can the Vivo V9 capture the hearts of smartphone users? Our answer is yes.
Vivo V9 specs:
6.3-inch FHD+ (2280 x 1080) FullView IPS display, 400ppi
2.5D Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 octa-core CPU
Adreno 506 GPU
64GB internal storage
microSD up to 256GB (dedicated slot)
16MP + 5MP (f/2.0) dual rear cameras with LED Flash
24MP (f/2.0) front camera
GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
micro USB 2.0
FunTouch OS 4.0 (Android 8.1 Oreo)
154.81 x 75.03 x 7.89 mm (dimensions)
Pearl Black, Gold
What we liked:
* Large FullView screen
* Attractive and solid build
* Good front camera
* Good performance
* Dedicated microSD card slot
* Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box
What we didn’t:
* Still uses micro USB instead of Type-C
* Fingerprint and smudge magnet
* No video stabilization