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Vivo V-9 | My Experience and Honest Hand's on Review !


At last month's Mobile World Congress, Chinese handset maker Vivo gave a select group of journalists a sleek peek at its ambitious concept device that went for that all-screen look without settling for a notch to house its front-facing camera. But, it was called a "concept device" for a reason, because the phone isn't ready for mass production -- and may never be, due to the ambitious nature of that pop-up camera. Not even a month later, Vivo has launched in Beijing a new (almost) all-screen phone named the V9 that plays it safer -- by settling for that notch.

Familiar feeling
Let's just get it out of the way and address the elephant in the room: yes, the Vivo V9 has design language that's very obviously inspired by the iPhone X. It's a reality that we -- and I'm speaking as both tech writer and gadget geek -- should just accept now. Because other than Samsung and maybe Xiaomi (the latter's phones aren't widely available to the West anyway), every big Android release this year will likely have that same notch. The notch isn't going away until the tech improves to a point that phone designers can find a place to house the front-facing camera without resorting to awkward or hidden locations.
But you know what? Once I got over the fact that these notch Android phones are feeding fuel to the mainstream perception that iPhones are the only innovators in mobile, I didn't mind it at all. I even mentioned this in my iPhone X review -- the notch doesn't really get in my way unless I'm watching fullscreen videos, which makes up maybe 15% of my phone usage. Your mileage may vary, of course. Vivo has optimized the phone's software enough so the status bar up top accommodates the notch and doesn't have part of the clock or battery bar cut off.

The V9's notch.


There is a tiny bezel at the bottom, unlike the iPhone X, which doesn't.

I've been using the V9 heavily for four days now, and here are my two main takeaways:
  • There are rumors that Apple is looking to release a plus-sized iPhone X later this year with a screen north of 6.2-inches. After using the Vivo V9 I hope this is true because Vivo proved you can definitely cram a 6.3-inch display on a phone and still have it feel incredibly easy to use one hand. I much prefer the Vivo V9's size over the iPhone X's size. The iPhone X felt too small, the display content too cramped, even before I began using the V9. After it, it only cemented my belief.
  • I'm very, very excited about the OnePlus 6, because it's an open secret that OnePlus, Vivo, and Oppo are all owned by one company, and though the three brands do indeed work independently , they do share hardware design and parts, probably because they use the same assembly line. This means the OnePlus 6 will very, very likely look like the Vivo V9, and that would be ideal for me (and every tech writer on earth) because OnePlus' stock Android like set-up is flat out better than Vivo's Android skin, and OnePlus will use the latest and most powerful Qualcomm processor in that phone.
Mid-range specs 
Yes, that has been one of the shortcomings of the Vivo V9 during my testing: the phone looks like a million bucks -- that LCD panel is bright and vibrant and just big -- but with a Snapdragon 626 chipset inside, I know this is a mid-tier device. Now, a mid-tier device is fine for casual smartphone users, or those who don't want to spend too much on a phone -- V9 will be available on Amazon , Flipkart , Official Website of Vivo and on PayTm Mall App for 22,990 INR 
Other than the chipset, the V9 runs on 4GB of RAM and on Android 8.1. 
User Experience
But as always with Vivo phones, the unit comes pre-installed with about six or seven bloatware apps, and the phone doesn't have an app tray so you must have them on the homescreen. That about sums up Vivo's Android skin, dubbed FunTouch: it's heavily inspired by iOS, with the same shortcut toggles menu that pops up from the bottom of the display (like on non-X i Phones) and an all-encompassing search menu activated by swiping down on the home screen. For the sake of reviewing the phone as is I avoided slapping Nova Launcher on top of the phone, and the software experience is okay. It didn't drive me nuts, but I'm slapping Nova Launcher on it the second I'm done writing this review.
One software addition Vivo brought to the table is swiping gestures that replaces the traditional three button Android set-up. You may hear this and assume that this is yet another feature Vivo has swiped from Apple, but you'd only be half right. That's because Vivo actually introduced swipe gestures last year, before the iPhone X's release. But the new version of it found on the V9 has clearly borrowed some ideas from iPhone X's iOS navigation. Last year's Vivo V7 offered swiping gestures with no markings whatsoever, this year, there are these bars at the bottom of the screen just like on the iPhone X. You can also swipe left or right on these bars to jump between apps, and swipe up and pause to activate the recent apps overview panel. All of these swiping around work great though, and makes navigation on the V9 feel more 2018 than getting around on, say, a Samsung Galaxy S9 with its standard touch buttons. 
A.I. Inside?
In addition to that screen (which looks great, again) , Vivo's marketing this phone with A.I. prowess, but I'm afraid it's more in line with Asus' "broad definition of A.I." than a real A.I., like on the Huawei Mate 10 Pro. Vivo says the phone has an A.I.-powered camera with machine learning that can make for a superior beauty mode -- Vivo calls it "A.I. Face Beauty," but while the V9's beautifying mode does work, it isn't really noticeably better than any of the dozen of beautifying modes in Samsung/LG/Huawei/Xiaomi phones (Asian people really seem to care about having their skin brightened and eyes enlarged).
The phone is also said to use A.I. to optimize performance. Again, I don't doubt that Vivo does have software algorithm working to allocate resources and memory ... but this is not a new feature. Every phone has been doing this for years. Whether or not the V9 is better at it, remains to be seen. Right now, I can say the phone behaves reasonably well, but it's not as snappy as a phone with a more powerful processor like the Huawei Mate 10 Pro or Galaxy S9.
Sharp shooter
Since I don't know pricing of this handset, it's hard to properly evaluate the camera, but I can say that colors are accurate, dynamic range is slightly above average, and the camera focuses relatively fast. Of course, photo quality falls short when compared to an iPhone X or Galaxy S9. 
So far, battery life on the V9 has been very good. I'm getting around five hours of screen-on time each day, with enough battery to go all day. The "just" 1080p resolution helps, but Vivo's software is also aggressive at checking apps. I haven't encountered any broken push notifications, however.


The Vivo V9's camera bump is less noticeable than the iPhone X's.


The Vivo V9's fingerprint reader is fast and accurate.
So, let's talk about that notch again. As mentioned, it does get in the way of fullscreen videos, but only slightly so. And most apps have been optimized to account for the notch, though very few, such as Google Maps, actually fill out the space next to the notch. Other apps like Facebook and Instagram annoyingly just doesn't show any content in those two upper corner spaces.

Google Maps is one of the few apps that fills up the entire display.
For a clone, the Vivo V9 is a surprisingly refined package. The device feels very slick in the hand, with subtle curves on the back, and little things like facial recognition to unlock works very well. Whether or not this phone is worth it will go down to the pricing.
But again, the Vivo V9 has made me excited about the OnePlus 6. Imagine a Snapdragon 845 with clean Google software, on a device that looks like this 😍
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