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The introduction of almost bezel-free phones like the Apple iPhone X has sparked the creation of an increasing number of phones boasting similar design solutions.

On the surface, the Vivo V9 seems to be one of those phones. But please don’t write the Vivo V9 off as such. It’s got more than enough interesting features and can definitely stand on its own merits.

We checked out the V9 and think that if you’re in the market for a midrange phone, then you should make a beeline for the Vivo booth to try it for yourself.

See what we mean in our review!

Compelling design, decent spec sheet

The V9 is a looker – no ifs, ands or buts.

The first thing to bring up is the V9’s display, a 19:9 edge-to-edge IPS LCD beauty that spans all of 6.3 inches. Capable of displaying 16 million colors, it’s clear, bright and sharp, and is almost certain to elicit a ‘wow’ from those who see it for the first time, especially in low light. (To be sure, high-end phones have been featuring killer displays for a while now, but the V9 is a midrange unit.)

The V9 also boasts minimal bezels, thus allowing Vivo to cram this sizeable screen into a relatively smaller body, and also showcases Vivo’s own take on the notch introduced and popularized by the likes of Essential and Apple.

The V9’s own notch is home to the phone’s notification light, earpiece, 24MP front-facing camera, and plethora of proximity sensors. The notch is nothing if not noticeable, but it’s really quite easy to get used to, and it might even grow on you.

The V9’s body also merits mention. It’s a unibody design that’s made of a very high-quality sort of plastic, and the whole affair’s been put together with some care; our test unit had no issues whatsoever. Sure, metal and glass phones do hold sway nowadays for various (valid) reasons, but with the V9, Vivo is showing tech consumers that they needn’t turn up their noses at plastic phones.

Flip the V9 over for a peek at its vertically organized dual main-camera setup, featuring 16MP and 5MP sensors and goodies such as phase-detection autofocus and dual-LED flash. The slightly recessed fingerprint sensor also resides at the phone’s rear.

The V9 can be had in either of two colors: a matte gold and a glossy black that beautifully highlights the phone’s curves (but makes it a little bit fingerprint- and scuff-prone – you may want to slip on the included case to stave off these unsightly marks).

Specs-wise, the V9 has been kitted out pretty decently. The phone is powered by the Snapdragon 626 chipset, and an octacore 2.2GHz Cortex A53 CPU and Adreno 506 GPU. It comes with 4GB RAM and also boasts 64GB of internal storage expandable via microSD. The V9’s battery is a 3,260mAh affair, and the phone runs Vivo’s own Funtouch OS 4.0 over Android 8.1 Oreo.

Oh, and the V9 still does come with a 3.5mm audio jack, if that matters!

Put through its paces

Give the V9 a whirl and you’ll see that it’s a good blend of style and capability. While in some areas it’s unable to match the performance of top-level smartphones, it’s still no less than capable of taking on nearly everything a user might need a modern smartphone to do.

Let’s start with the screen, which in practice isn’t just a showstopper but is also ace in terms of convenience. Thanks to the high resolution and boosted real estate vis-a-vis phones with smaller screens, you can do quite a bit more – you’d definitely have an easier time reading text, for example. We’d understand if a buyer told us that they chose this phone on the basis of its display alone.

And now on to the cameras for a bit. Vivo has a tradition of crafting good selfie-snapping smartphones, and the V9 proves itself worthy of carrying that particular torch. The 24MP front-facing snapper is powerful, fast, and accurate – with good depth of field effects – and also boasts some AI enhancements that can help you touch up your selfies nicely.

As for the V9’s 16MP + 5MP dual-lens main camera set, it’s less powerful and consequently less capable than its front-facing counterpart; while it does relatively decently in strong, even lighting, it struggles when the lighting isn’t too bright or is uneven.

The Funtouch + Android Oreo combo proved smooth, stable and responsive whatever we did with it, from simple day-to-day stuff like browsing the net and using social media to more processor-intensive tasks such as playing games, streaming movies, or watching video files. As befits the name, Funtouch is, well, fun thanks to the little details and features that differentiate it from other Android OSs.

Battery life proved in line with most other phones during our test period; we found ourselves having to top up by midafternoon most days (and by lunchtime or so during days when we used our test unit more liberally).

And you might be wondering about how we found the V9’s notch. We’ll say that we found that it took a little bit of getting used to at the outset, but by the second day of using our test phone, it wasn’t anything we were concerned about, and by the third day onwards we barely even noticed it was there.

The verdict

The Vivo V9 is a smartphone whose appeal for many might be based on its display, but we’ve found that it has plenty of other strong points that boost its appeal, from its powerful, capable front camera to the overall look and feel of Vivo’s own Funtouch and Android Oreo combo.

The good combination of nice screen and decent specs makes the V9 a good daily-use device that can still impress during those odd moments when you want to take a break from the grind and play a quick game or check your your social media feeds, for instance.

The V9 is a strong midrange smartphone that demands to be checked out!



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