Vivo V19: These days, the new normal is to go to either Amazon or Flipkart and check out the specs of an Android smartphone before buying it. On the flip side when one is looking for an iPhone, literally no-one looks for the specs and usually, a purchase is made on the basis of what’s new or what’s in the budget. Well, Vivo’s new V19 is no iPhone but at the same time, it’s certainly a phone which will delight you even if it may not have the chest-thumping specs.
The reason for this is optimization. The Vivo has slightly older specifications if you compared it to phones that offered similar hardware qualifications. That’s particularly true for the Snapdragon 712 processor and the 48-megapixel primary camera that’s the basis of its four-camera array. Sure, you’ll have newer phones like Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 9 Pro give a newer processor and a similar 48-megapixel camera at half the price, but what you get on paper isn’t exactly your experience.
Firstly, a new processor suddenly doesn’t mean you’re going to have a quantum leap in performance because these days improvements are incremental at best. And even to derive the most of these incremental improvements you need to optimise the software to the hardware. That’s a process which can take a long time — numerous updates and perhaps even upwards of a year.
That’s why when you see news stories about software updates, most of them are about optimisations and fixing of all the gremlins in the system. And that’s how the Vivo is able to razzle and dazzle over a phone which is perceived to be superior by virtue of being newer, more powerful and affordable. It just works out of the box.
The software on the Vivo V19 is more attuned to the computing hardware on the phone which results in a fluid and supple user experience. FunTouch OS has also become more responsive, so much so that it’s definitely better than a Xiaomi phone running MiUI. The V19 also comes across a more refined phone in user experience with fewer jitters and almost no lag. It also doesn’t have ads which are a staple of MiUI that need manual intervention for removal. I’d wager that most people don’t have either the time, energy or know how to do that.
And gamers fret not. This phone can handle your PUBGs and Call of Duty’s of this world. Sure there will be the odd frame rate lag and maybe if you go bonkers the phone may become a little toasty but that’s nothing out of the ordinary. It will get the job done with good graphical fidelity.
In the camera department, you’ll get a similar story to what’s there with its daily performance. If you were to believe the specs, then you’d believe this phone to be a sub-par performer, but the reality is that Vivo has gotten really good at cameras and it’s just not the hardware but its software that makes cameras better on a smartphone good
The primary 48-megapixel camera is rock solid. It takes vivid photos that look the part, alongside having decent levels of detail and dynamic range. It shines in the dark with a very useful dark mode that even works for selfies in a highly impactful way. Then there are the other cameras which add a blend of dynamism and versatility at play. The ultra-wide camera will not impress a person who has an iPhone 11 but at less than half the price you’re getting something quite useful which is on par with other phones in the market.
The depth sensor allows for some jarring portraits which will definitely grab some attention apart from having adequate edge detection. Additionally, the macro lens is useful for getting close to subjects that would usually be out of focus. It can also shoot good video – it’s best used at the 1080p resolution rolling out the smooth video.
Selfie addicts will mostly be happy with this device thanks to its prodigious front-facing camera array that’s always taking Instagram worthy shots.
The one area where this phone well and truly is impressive — the screen. Unlike most phones having LCD screens, the Vivo V19 has an OLED screen which is delightful to view content on. Its 6.44-inch screen is huge for consuming all kinds of content — and it’s also super bright and has saturated colours. Yes, it is also usable in the Delhi summer.
Even though it doesn’t have a high refresh rate, the presence of OLED technology allows for better battery life thanks to the way blacks are displayed and also an in-display fingerprint scanner that works well. I’d take an OLED screen any day over an LCD with a higher refresh rate.
The battery also is incredible on this phone right up there with Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 9 Pro. Its battery is slightly smaller at 4,500mAh but it lasts and lasts. It also gets charged rapidly in 90 mins thanks to the custom charging solution Vivo provides in the box. The phone can easily hold a charge for more than a whole day if you use it normally while it will never leave hanging even if you drive the phone hard.
The design also is quite ergonomic without the sharp edge of the many phones that combine metal and glass in their construction. The compact nature of the design also helps pack a massive display in a small package.
There are issues though — the phone is certainly expensive at Rs 27,999. Top that up with the fact that the haptics is mushy at best, it’s not the nicest phone if you’ve to belt out a review like this phone just on the phone. The android skin also needs some work — it’s a little cluttered coupled with tons of bloatware. I used this phone by installing a third-party launcher called LawnChair with custom icons that resemble the interface on the Google Pixel.
If you can get around these quirks like the way I did, you’ll be very happy with this phone. It does the basics well and that’s what purchase should be about — not specs, especially so on Android when phones are changed every two years.