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Vivo V17 Pro Review - A few months after, still good for selfies and more?

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Back in October, Vivo Philippines has introduced V17 Pro, its latest V series mid-range smartphone.
Vivo V17 Pro Review - Still great for selfies and more!
Vivo V17 Pro

Based on its design and cameras, it builds upon the success of the V15 Pro, its predecessor.

Let us also note that the PH variant of the V17 Pro is different from the India release.

V17 Pro in India sports a 48MP f/1.78 Sony IMX582 primary shooter, 13MP f/2.5 2x telephoto secondary lens, 8MP f/2.2 120-degree ultra-wide-angle w/ 2.5cm Super Macro third camera, and 2MP f/2.4 portrait fourth camera.

Meanwhile, in PH, our unit has an unspecified type of 48MP f/1.8 primary camera. It is paired with 8MP f/2.2 120-degree ultra wide-angle + 2MP f/2.4 4cm macro + 2MP f/2.4 depth w/ LED flash.

The rest of the specs are similar.

Vivo claimed that this is the mid-ranger to get if you love to view a lot of social media and multimedia contents, take a lot of photos and selfies, and even vlogging.

A few months after it was first announced, let's see if it is still worth your hard-earned cash. 

Here's our long-term full review!

Unboxing/Accessories

Everything inside the box
Everything inside the box

Vivo V17 Pro arrived with a neat-looking Vivo box that contains the phone, the 18W USB wall charger, USB-A to USB-C data/charging cable, polycarbonate case, earphones with mic, SIM ejector tool, and paper documents.

Also, note that the screen of the phone along with its backplate comes with a pre-installed plastic screen protector. The case inside the package is one of the best-looking around for a freebie.


Build Quality/Design

Stylish build
Stylish build

Coming from the V15 Pro, the V17 Pro sports an upgraded build. Instead of using polycarbonate (plastic) materials, it now sports a more premium metal and glass construction.

Premium in every way!

In particular, it has a well-machined 3D curved glass back, a Schott Xensation UP glass 2.5D curved front, and a curved aluminum metal frame with chrome paint.

That's quite impressive as some similarly priced phones are still equipped with plastic bodies. Also, Vivo priced the V17 Pro lower at PHP 21,999 versus the PHP 23,999 original SRP of V15 Pro.

There's still no mention of any sort of water resistance though. It is good that it has a tough-looking FREE case and pre-installed screen protectors to avoid unwanted damages and hairline scratches.


Design-wise, it is simpler and neater-looking than the striking V15 Pro and that's a great thing. The 3D curved back highlights the classic Knight Black and Crystal White colorways. The Crystal White is so dreamy as it has different shades of colors from white, purple, light blue, and blue-green depending on the light source and how you look at it.

Beautiful screen with In-Display fingerprint reader
Beautiful screen with In-Display fingerprint reader

In front, the handset now has a bigger 6.44-inch display with a taller 20:9 screen aspect ratio. But it still looks fairly small at 159 x 74.7 mm, thanks to its flagship-like ultra-narrow bezels.
Pop-up
Pop-up

Vivo achieved this by using a motorized pop-up camera module to hide the selfie cameras, selfie flash, and earspeakers. Along with the pop-up cam, you'll see a microphone and a 3.5mm headphone slot on top.
On top when the pop-up cam is not in use
On top when the pop-up cam is not in use

If you will notice, it doesn't have a fingerprint scanner at the back as Vivo managed to put it under the screen of the phone.
SIM tray slot, mic, USB-C, speaker grill below
SIM tray slot, mic, USB-C, speaker grill below

Below, the device has the dual nano SIM tray slots, another mic, USB-C port, and the speaker grill.
Google Assistant key at left
Google Assistant key at left
Power key and volume rocker at right
Power key and volume rocker at right

At left, there's the Google Assistant button. At right, there's the power button and volume keys. The power key is not textured to make it easier to locate without the need of looking at it.

The handset weighs at 
201.8 grams. But, it is easy to hold, thanks to its ergonomic overall build.

It is simply one of the best-looking phones for the price.

Multimedia Experience

High resolution panel
High resolution panel

One of the key advantages of this handset is its display. It uses a 2.5D curved 6.44-inch big display with a tall 20:9 screen aspect ratio and a crisp resolution of 2400 x 1080 at 409 pixels per inch.

Unlike other similarly priced devices, Vivo didn't skimp on the quality of panel that they used for the V17 Pro. It uses a high-quality Super AMOLED panel with rich and punchy colors yet not oversaturated. Even if it is not at max brightness, sunlight legibility is respectable. Viewing angles are excellent as well.

Arguably the best screen for the price!

For me, it is arguably the best screen for the price. The 20:9 screen aspect ratio will also help users enjoy watching movies and maximize the screen further.

For low light use, it has an "Eye Protection" mode that makes the color tone warmer to relieve eye fatigue. Like other phones, you can also adjust the screen color to cool or warm.

Auto brightness is accurate and has a low brightness anti-flicker feature. There's a universal "Dark Mode" that works even on non-native apps.

Of course, this device has 10 points of touch for easy typing and swiping.
Great viewing experience
Great viewing experience

Vivo is always proud of the quality of its audio and V17 Pro is no different. Despite having a single speaker only, its performance considered as good for the price. It can deliver clean tunes, crystal clear vocals, and good instrumental separation. The Bass response is also quite tight and the speaker can go loud. Just don't expect it to have the sub-bass and soundstage of other higher-end phones with better stereo speakers.

Since it has a 3.5mm headphone slot, you can still use your good old wired headphones. It has enough power to drive most earphones and some basic headphones with ease. Signature is a bit warm and as long as you have good headphones or earphones, you will enjoy high-quality audio.

For calls, the earspeaker is loud and clear. Just fine. For audio recordings, it has two microphones. There's one on top and one more below. There's noise, but the audio recording quality is decent for the price.

Cameras

Quad-camera setup
Quad-camera setup

At the back, the V17 Pro has a total of four cameras. It highlights a 48MP f/1.8 primary camera paired with an 8MP f/2.2 120-degree ultra wide-angle camera, 2MP f/2.4 4cm macro camera, and a 2MP f/2.4 depth camera. Completing the setup is the LED flash in the middle of the lenses.
Camera UI and features
Camera UI and features

As mentioned in our previous post, these cameras are designed with versatility in mind. It has several filters, HDR, Ultra-wide, Portrait, Bokeh (f/0.95 to f/16), Super macro, and Night mode. It also has a Pro mode with settings to adjust EV (-3 to +3), ISO (50 to 3200), S (1/12000 to 30s), WB (2300k to 7500k), and manual focus.

Like most modern phones, it has AI optimizations to enhance your shots.

Here's what we think about it.

Rear Camera Samples

Normal
Normal

As expected, the V17 Pro can take shots with plenty of details using its primary 48MP camera with fast and accurate focus. On a gloomy day shot, it retained the colors without overexposing the shot. It simply looks natural.
2x zoom
2x zoom

Unlike the Indian V17 Pro, the PH V17 Pro doesn't have a camera sensor with optical zoom. But with the help of its software and the large 48MP sensor, it can still do up to 2x lossless zoom. It is detailed and not that noisy for a digital zoom for daylight shots. It also retained consistent colors versus the normal shot.
Ultra-wide
Ultra-wide

Vivo 17 Pro also has a 120-degree ultra-wide mode if you want to a wider field of view. It is a decent ultra-wide camera with less distortion. Details are decent in daylight and some indoor scenes. It also has a pretty wide dynamic range.
Daylight well-lit
Daylight well-lit
Daylight well-lit ultra-wide
Daylight well-lit ultra-wide

In daylight, as expected, the shots are impressive for both the main and ultra-wide cam.
Super macro
Super macro

The macro cam is alright, but not super impressive. To avoid grain, take macro shots in well-lit scenarios. Also, make sure to have steady hands.
Portrait mode
Portrait mode

Using the portrait mode, the primary camera is assisted by the depth sensor to allow users to take images with a good bokeh effect. Its depth estimation is considered as one of the better for the price. Of course, do not compare it with big cameras. But for a phone, not bad.
Indoor 1
Indoor 1
Indoor 2
Indoor 2

As long as there is decent artificial light, taking high-quality indoor shots is possible using the V17 Pro. Again, I liked this camera phone's color reproduction and exposure.
Auto in the dark
Auto in the dark
Normal vs Night mode
Normal vs Night mode

In the dark, thanks to the pixel binning tech of its 48MP sensor that combines four pixels into one, it can take decent low light images that aren't that noisy. We noticed that exposure control is still nice and dynamic range is still decent. But of course, with the help of the night mode, it'll take an even better night shot.
Night mode 1
Night mode 1
Night mode 2
Night mode 2

It lessened the grain coming from the auto shot and it doesn't look too artificial versus older types of night models. There is still room for improvement, artifacts could be lesser, details could be sharper, but it simply has one of the best Night modes for the price.

Those who love taking nightscapes will surely enjoy this mode.
Ultra-wide low-light 1
Ultra-wide low-light 1
Ultra-wide low-light 2
Ultra-wide low-light 2

However, while it can take respectable wide images in the dark, the Night mode is not present on the ultra-wide cam. Hopefully, they can push an update to make that feature available in the future. Other similarly priced phones or lower already has that feature.

If in pitch black condition, use the flash. It has a pretty decent flash.
Selfie camera UI
Selfie camera UI

On the front, the V17 Pro is one of the few with dual front cameras and that's a good thing. In particular, the V17 Pro boasts pop-up camera module housing the 32MP f/2.0 Samsung ISOCELL GD1 primary selfie camera and 8MP f/2.2 105-degree ultra-wide-angle secondary selfie camera. Vivo even managed to add a selfie flash there.

A versatile selfie shooter!

As expected, it has several selfie modes to choose from. It has auto HDR, several filters, customizable Face Beauty, Ultra wide-angle, Bokeh, Portrait, and Night modes. Yes, you read that right, its selfie cam has its own night mode.

Plus, to ensure that you will maximize the use of the selfie cam always, it will remind you if you need to clean its lens.

Selfie Camera Samples

Detailed selfies
Detailed selfies

As expected, it has a strong primary selfie cam. The V17 Pro is one of the best selfie phones regardless of price. Thanks to its 32MP primary camera, it takes shots with plenty of details.
Portrait, ultra-wide
Portrait, ultra-wide

It has the sharpness to match most high-end selfie cams and its selfie portrait mode is respectable. The AI Face Beauty might just make your face look a bit too soft, but you can always turn that off or lessen the beauty effect.
AI Face Beauty, ultra-wide

This setup also has a mode that most selfie camera phones don't have, an ultra-wide feature. The ultra-wide cam will basically let you fit more people in one frame. Plus, its overall quality is pretty decent and it has great color reproduction and consistency.

Indoor selfie (normal and ultra-wide)
Indoor selfie (normal and ultra-wide)

As expected, indoor shots with dim yellowish lighting are still quite detailed. The primary 32MP shooter got the image with sharper details and truer colors. The wide selfie cam performed nicely as well as it got respectable sharpness and wide dynamic range. The white balance is just a bit off, but it is forgivable.
Portrait mode in the dark
Portrait mode in the dark

In low light, selfie performance will suffer a little as it will have a bit more noise. Your selfies could have softer details as well. But for me, it is still better than most selfie cams out there.
Night mode selfie
Night mode selfie

In addition, it has a secret weapon that most selfie phones don't have, a Night mode for selfies. Like the Night mode at the back, it will let you take a long exposure selfie for about 2 seconds. It will stitch multiple photos together into one detailed and well-exposed selfie in the dark.

In pitch-black conditions, you can even combine the Night mode with its soft light LED flash to produce nice selfies in the dark.

My only comment is I also want to use the Night mode using the ultra-wide selfie cam. Sadly, that feature is not available for this phone yet. I hope that there will be an update on that.

For videos, it can shoot up to 4K 30fps and 1080p 60fps using the primary camera and up to 1080p 30fps using the wide camera. The 4K video mode is highly detailed, but stabilization is only applicable to 1080p 30fps mode. The wide camera shoots decent videos as well. The selfie cam can take 1080p 30fps on both the normal and wide cams. It is one of the rare selfie shooters that can take an ultra-wide selfie videos.

Video Samples


Performance/UI

Benchmark scores 1
Benchmark scores 1

One thing that I didn't like about this device is its use of the same Snapdragon 675 chip found on the V15 Pro. While it has a lower release price tag at PHP 21,999 versus the PHP 23,999 of the V15 Pro, an upgrade wouldn't be complete if you won't upgrade the chipset.
Benchmark scores 2
Benchmark scores 2

Why? To keep up with the competition. Most phones with a similar price tag or lower are already equipped with Snapdragon 700 series chips like the Snapdragon 712 or even the Snapdragon 730. There are even phones with late 2018 to early 2019 flagship chips such as the Mi 9T Pro (Snapdragon 855) and Huawei Nova 5T (Kirin 980).

Lower-end chipset, but respectable performance

Fortunately, it has a pretty good actual performance. It can still open a lot of apps with ease (thank you 8GB RAM), store a lot of files (128GB UFS 2.1 storage, sadly not expandable), and even play some heavy games on high-settings. Frame drops on some games like NBA 2K20 and Call of Duty Mobile aren't that noticeable as well.


Maybe the reason behind that is Vivo's use of a speedier UFS 2.1 storage and its software optimizations.

It even has an Ultra Game Mode feature with Game Assistant to enable pop-up for game-related optimizations, game slider for quick controls, allow to enjoy hands-free background calls, reject calls, block notifications, and more.

For connectivity, it is complete with dual-band WiFi, Band 28 700MHz 4G LTE, and Bluetooth 5.0 tech. It also has dual SIM slots and let us note that it has a strong overall signal reception to let you perform basic phone tasks like call, SMS, and browsing the net with ease.

You also get the usual OTG connectivity and basic phone sensors like light, accelerometer, and gyroscope. The In-Display fingerprint scanner is now faster and more accurate than ever. It is the speediest among mid-range phones for me as well. It also has a face unlock that will assist the In-Display fingerprint reader in case it will fail for 3 times straight.

As expected, it has OTG. It is also complete with sensors found on most modern phones.

Both the fingerprint scanner and face unlock are fast and responsive.

For battery, it has an upgraded 4,100mAh battery versus 3,700mAh of V15 Pro. In our tests, it performed incredibly well.

Under heavy usage (WiFi or 4G data always on, browsing the internet most of the time, taking a few photos and videos, and playing games occasionally), it lasted from 8AM to 10PM with 25 percent left in the tank.

It simply means that if you are not a heavy phone user, it can simply last for more than a day on a single charge.

The other upgrade is it now has USB-C port (finally), a port that supports faster file transfers and faster-charging speeds. In particular, it has the 18W Dual Engine fast charging tech.

You will only need about 1.5 hours from 0 to 100 percent. That's fast for a phone with a big 4,100mAh juice.
V17 Pro UI
V17 Pro UI

The software is very similar to what we experienced with the V15 Pro after the software upgrade. Performance is fluid and it is still iOS inspired.
Notifications and shortcuts

It runs with Android 9.0 Pie OS with Funtouch OS 9.1 skin with a few non-removable bloats, i Manager app for optimizations, Jovi Smart Scene (a smart assistant), and a Kids Mode with anti-addiction, eye strain prevention, and more.

You also get navigation gestures an Easy Touch to make using and navigating the phone easier.

Pros - Stunning design, beautiful 20:9 AMOLED display, strong battery performance, a lot of RAM, USB-C fast charging, great cameras for photos especially selfies
Cons - Non-expandable storage, same Snapdragon 675 chip, no night mode for ultra-wide for back and front ultra-wide cams, 4K video stabilization needs improvement

Vivo V17 Pro Specs

Display: 6.44-inch 2.5D curved Schott Xensation UP glass protected Super AMOLED screen w/ FHD+ 2400 x 1080 resolution at 409 ppi
CPU: 2.0GHz 64-bit Snapdragon 675 AIE octa-core processor
GPU: Adreno 612
RAM: 8GB LPDDR4X
ROM: 128GB UFS 2.1
Back Camera: 48MP f/1.8 + 8MP f/2.2 120-degree ultra wide-angle + 2MP f/2.4 4cm macro + 2MP f/2.4 depth w/ LED flash
Selfie Camera: 32MP f/2.0 Samsung ISOCELL GD1 sensor + 8MP f/2.2 105-degree ultra wide-angle w/ LED flash
Battery: 4,100mAh w/ 18W Dual Engine fast charging
OS: Android 9.0 Pie w/ Funtouch OS 9.1
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz/5GHz), 700MHz 4G LTE, Bluetooth 5, A2DP, LE, OTG, GPS, A-GPS, dual SIM (nano)
Sensors: Accelerometer, light, orientation, proximity, gyroscope, sound, magnetic
Others: In-Display fingerprint sensor, face unlock, UBS-C, dual mic, Colors: knight black, crystal white
Dimensions: 159 x 74.7 x 9.8 mm
Weight: 201.8 g
Price: PHP 21,999

Verdict

Apart from its use of the same chip and the lack of a microSD card slot, the Vivo V17 Pro is an upgrade coming from the Vivo V15 Pro. It sports sleeker and more premium metal and glass construction, taller display with faster In-Display fingerprint reader, and a lot of cameras for a more versatile mobile photo and video experience.

Against the competition, despite its respectable actual overall performance, it falls short against the speed of some similarly priced devices. Why? Most mid-rangers are already equipped with Snapdragon 700 series or better and they are speedier and more feature-rich than the aging Snapdragon 675 of this handset.

But, it has the advantage of having a full-screen 20:9 display for a more cinematic aspect ratio and a dual selfie camera.

Overall, we think that it is a great handset for its purpose. While there are other phones with higher specs for the price, we would recommend it to those who are looking for a premium-looking phone with a great screen and capable cameras, especially for selfies.

Build/Design - 4.5
Display - 4.5
Audio - 4
Battery - 4.5
Camera - 4.25
Performance - 4
Average - 4.29/5
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