Vivo V9 Review - 19:9 Screen, Dual Cam, and A.I. Face Beauty!

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Last year, Vivo released the pretty popular V7 and V7+ in PH. Months later, Vivo builds on it with the new V9 with FHD+ and A.I. Face Beauty!
Vivo V9 Review - 19:9 Screen, Dual Cam, and A.I. Face Beauty!
Vivo V9 review!

The V7 and V7+ impressed us with pretty design, long lasting battery life and the best selfie camera of its time. Our only gripe with the two phones was the 720p display that polarized customers.

The V9 hopes to build on what made the V7 and V7+ great and improve upon it.

Vivo V9 Specs

Display: 6.3-inch FHD+ All Screen Display 2280 x 1080 w/ 2.5D curved glass at 400 ppi
CPU: 2.2GHz 64-bit Snapdragon 626 octa-core processor
GPU: Adreno 506
RAM: 4GB
ROM: 64GB expandable via microSD card slot up to 256GB (dedicated)
Back Camera: 16MP f/2.0 + 5MP w/ PDAF and LED flash
Selfie Camera: 24MP f/2.0 w/ A.I. Face Beauty and screen flash
Battery: 3,260mAh
OS: Android 8.1 Oreo w/ Funtouch OS 4.0
Connectivity: WiFi, 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, dual SIM
Sensors: Accelerometer, light, orientation, proximity, gyroscope, sound, magnetic
Others: Fingerprint sensor, face unlock, Colors: black, gold
Dimensions: 154.81 x 75.03 x 7.89 mm
Weight: 150 g
Price: PHP 17,990 (PHP 14,999 sale price)

Disclaimer: This is a loaned unit from Vivo Philippines but rest assured that our review will be honest and unbiased.

Unboxing / Accessories

Unboxed!
Unboxed!

Not much has changed inside the box. It still has the minimalist exterior box design with branding and feature highlights that add anticipation to the unboxing.

Inside is the V9, jelly case, 2A power brick, USB to micro-USB cord, headphones, documentation and sim tray ejector.

Build Quality / Design

New dual rear cameras!
New dual rear cameras!

From the outside, it looks and feels like the V7 but upon close inspection, the phone is more solid especially where the battery should be. This is probably a result of the slightly bigger battery. The panel is curved but is covered by a sharp chamfered edges. It feels good in the hands but it may feel sharp to some and it often felt like it would slip.

Good build and design!

The back plate on the other hand is textured so it helps to prevent slippage. We did the tap the plate test and suspect the backplate isn't metal but because of the bigger battery, it felt sturdier.
Top
Top
Bottom
Bottom
Left
Left
Right
Right

The screen is the highlight of this phone because it eats up most of the front part. It is finally 1080p but with a notch!

It's body is small for a phone w/ big screen. This curved glass also makes the phone feel even thinner than it already is.

The hardware buttons have a a satisfying tactile feedback. It's almost the same as the V7 but with subtle changes like the new dual camera set up at the back and the removal of the microphone on the top side.

On the notch itself is the LED notification, earpiece and the 24MP selfie camera.

Display Quality

Clear and sharp!

This phone sports 6.3-inch FHD+ All Screen Display 2280 x 1080 w/ 2.5D curved glass at 400 ppi and is the most immersive we've seen on the Vivo phone.

Completely immersive display but with a notch!

Being one of the very few phones with an immersive high screen to body ratio displays on the market today at this price point is a major feat. The display immerses you that as you stare at it, it draws you in more than the V7 ever did. This coupled with the FHD+ makes images and videos pop even more.

The notch is one of the smallest we've seen on a phone. At first it can be distracting but FunTouchOS is able to hide it well by making it disappear with black color or with color associated with the app that is on screen.

After a couple of days, you get used to it and you live with it but it doesn't deter the fact that it wastes space when watching videos in landscape mode because either you have a black unused display real estate or you watch videos with a notch on the left side.

It is also a 10 point multitouch display that will greatly benefit multitaskers and smartphone gamers alike! But we experienced tap registering on our phone's panel. There were times were it would register all 10, but most of the time it would register 6 or 7 points. We hope this is an isolated case.

Audio Quality

The Vivo V9 has a single speaker grill at the bottom. At max volume it can get loud with little distortion but with crisp details, wide range, and strong bass.

The speaker is louder and has wider range than the one in the V7/V7+. This makes it better for media consumption. Though it gets muffled easily when held in landscape mode. The phone would have cost more had Vivo added a second speaker. We just hope Vivo finds a way to do so in their upcoming phones.

The stock earphones however does bring justice. There is very little distortion in all volumes and the sound stage is decently sized. The trebles, the mids and the bass are well balanced. It is very good for the price you're paying for it.

We used our trusty RHA S500i and the earphones just sings. It brings out the deeper sound and crispier details in each tone. The DAC on this thing is so good.

We've never had problem with voice recording and voice calls. Our callers never had problems with it as well.

Battery Life

The phone is equipped with  3,260mAh battery with a more powerful 2A battery charger. The slightly larger battery with 6.3-inch FHD+ All Screen Display means that the display eats power at a faster rate.  We tried using our usual PC mark battery benchmark but it would always crash at the last minute before we could screenshot the results. The test would last for 12 to 13 hours with 20% battery left to spare then it would crash.

Insane battery life for the battery size!

This means that it effectively can run at least 13 hours as opposed to the 14 to 17 hours of the V7 and V7+.

We would unplug the phone at 8AM and come home at 6PM with 15 to 20% battery left. This was after a day of social media, web surfing, texting, calling, and more.

In our real world usage of email, texting, calling, youtube streaming, chrome web browsing, social media and transportation hailing apps, we got 5 to 6 hours of LTE on screen time. This is astounding given the fact that there are few phones that outperform this. Some of them are the ZF4 Max, and the Lenovo K6 Note but both of those have 4,000mAh and above battery capacities.

It has the standard low power mode and the super power saving mode. The Low power mode lowers performance to save battery life while the super power saving mode disables most features except for the essentials like contacts, phone, messaging and clock apps.

We wish we had the option to stop and turn-off the power saving prompt.

It takes 90 to 120 minutes to charge the phone from under 10 percent to full battery depending on how much battery was left when plugged in.

Camera

Dual cam
Dual cam

The V9 sports a 16MP f/2.0 + 5MP w/ PDAF and LED flash at the backYou'll find the regular Auto photo, HDR, high resolution mode (Ultra HD), professional, beauty, slow motion and time-lapse modes.
Pro mode
Pro mode

In pro mode you have ISO 50 to 3200 while you have shutter speeds from 1/12000th to 16 seconds of a second which makes this great for high speed action or super bright conditions and for 16 second long exposures.

Great cameras for the price!

In the camera settings you have the option to add geotagging and varying ways to release the shutter like touch, voice or palm releases. There are options to have electronic horizontal and vertical leveling, watermarks, histogram, 3/10 second timer and framing lines.

It produces vivid color images with good resolution and contrast. The f/2.0 aperture with its sensor is sufficient enough to provides low light images with acceptable levels of grain but at the cost of resolution. The loss of resolution is not that high but somehow noticeable. It still remains better than some of the competition. Color and contrast remains to acceptable in terms of low light. 

The 5MP sensor is most likely for depth information as there is no option to switch between the 16MP and the 5MP.

The flash on the rear camera can illuminate up to 5 feet which is on par with most phones right now.

Rear Camera Samples

Daylight 1
Daylight 1
Daylight 2
Daylight 2
f/0.95 bokeh test
f/0.95 bokeh test
Close-up
Close-up 1
Dim shot
Dim shot
Lowlight 1
Lowlight 1
Lowlight 2
Lowlight 2
Flash
Flash

In front, it has an 24 MP f/2.0 camera for selfies, and like other Vivo phones, we think that this is the main camera. It goes w/ the usual auto HDR, face beauty, and group selfie panorama modes.

It does have the blur or bokeh mode that dual cameras have popularized since 2017 but curiously, it can only be used with the selfie camera. It's no longer hidden hidden away in the face beauty mode it is available for both the selfie and main cameras.

The beautify still has an adjustable level of beautification from level 0 to level 6. We found level 6 too strong and our faces turned anime like.

The resolution is still one of the highest in the market today. The colors, the contrast and the punch are good.

Selfie bokeh is better than ever. It's still not as great as the Samsung Galaxy S9's but the but it does have creamier background blur effect now. It can still be extended digitally up to f/0.95. Face beauty mode has a more natural look as well.

Surprisingly the increased grain in low light doesn't affect resolution too much but it does have this magenta cast when it's really dark.

Otherwise, the way this handset handles low light is staggering for a phone! One of our pictures were taken in a close to pitch black room with little light coming from the windows and it managed to raise the exposure with decent amount of grain and some magenta cast but the resolution is still high!

It even has a nice softlight LED flash that gets really bright! It is so bright that it tends to overexpose our selfies. This should be fixed in a future firmware update.

Selfie Camera Samples

No A.I.
No A.I.
With A.I.
With A.I. level 6
With A.I. level 1
With A.I. level 1
Dim selfie
Dim selfie
Night selfie
Night selfie
Selfie flash
Selfie flash

For videos the main camera can shoot up 4K but with no control of the frame rates. The video from the main camera are sharp with vivid colors and good noise control. It is one of the best video footage at this price point.

The selfie camera can shoot up to 4K and the quality of video is better than the main camera. The low light video and the noise control is also superior. We are happy to say that this is one of the best selfie camera for video today.


Video Samples


Performance

Good scores!
Good scores!

The phone packs the 64-bit Snapdragon 626 octa-core processor with 4GB of RAM and the Adreno 506 GPU. The 626 is an upgrade from the V7's 450 but the phone uses the same GPU and the same RAM capacity.

Capable performance for the price!

The processor, GPU and the 4GB are powerful enough to push that 6.3-inch FHD+ display with any app thrown at it that we never experienced lag or drop in framerate.


In our NBA test, it plays smoothly even on high settings. But, our concern was with the touch panel where it wouldn't register some of our taps. This also occurred with other apps and we think it is an isolated case with our review unit. 
Polished UI!
Polished UI!

Equipped with the latest Oreo Android 8.1 based FunTouchOS 4.0, the interface is a huge refinement of the Vivo UI with polished elements and wallpapers. It still retains what we love about FunTouchOS which it combines the great things from Android and iOS in one package.
New features!
New features!

Multitasking was one of the bigger updates to Android lately but unlike in the previous FunTouchOS on the V7 and V7+, the multitasking is fully implemented and allows for most apps that support it.

New features like the CloneApp and smart click to add functionality and improves ease of use are welcome additions given that the competition have these features already.

Fingerprint scanner is fast, accurate and instantaneous. We have no problems with it. We liked that it was moved to the back of the phone but after registering for the face unlock access, we almost never use the fingerprint sensor now.

The accuracy and seamlessness of the face unlock access makes the simple tap of a finger on the scanner feel like so much effort. It is slightly faster than the one on the V7/V7+. It would miss one out of ten times though but a second try usually fixes this quickly.

The only time it would fail on us is when there is no light illuminating our face where the camera couldn't see our face clearly.

You can only record one face but I wanted it to save my face with my glasses and without. So during the limited time in face recording, I wore my glasses at the beginning and took out my glasses in the middle and it saved both. It registers my face with and without glasses! 

Telephone connectivity is good with strong signal and steady 4G data connectivity. There's the usual WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS as well that never failed us.

Pros - Immersive All Screen Display, good overall performance, over 5 hours of LTE screen on time, best selfie camera so far, face unlock access is so convenient, great main camera, great speaker quality
Cons - Notch is distracting, loss of dedicated LED Flash for selfie camera

Verdict

The Vivo V9 is a beautifully designed phone that has an FHD+ 6.3-inch display with great speakers, great back camera, and an greater 24MP that takes great pictures even in low light.

Yes, it's priced at PHP 17,990 but there is no other phone with that offers the same immersive display with the camera and battery life right now.

We highly recommend this phone from Vivo!

Build / Design - 4.25
Display - 4.25
Audio - 4.25
Battery - 4.25
Camera - 4.25
Performance - 4.25
Average - 4.25 / 5
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