Vivo is one of those smartphone brands known to bring interesting concepts into the hands of its users. One of those attempts involves playing around with how to get a big, almost bezel-less display without having to put in a notch. Their solution is to put a retractable camera into the phone. What started out as a concept is now slowly trickling into its product line. We see this in the new Vivo V15 Pro, which we got our hands on to test for you.

As eye-catching as you’d expect. The Vivo V15 Pro isn’t a device that tries to blend into the background. It might seem nondescript from the front, but like the unit I got to test, it comes in a striking Topaz Blue that has vein-like lines that run across it and shifts colors as you move the phone around. While it is made of plastic, the gloss gives it a more premium look. And while fingerprints do still adhere to it, it doesn’t seem to stick as much like with other phones. Since the phone curves into its side, it makes holding the phone in one hand much easier.

But it’s not a small device by any means. Even without the bezels, you still have a 6.53-inch display. And when the screen is on and without any disruptions, it still is a fascinating thing to look at.  Vivo put the speaker grille inconspicuously at the top of the phone, so that isn’t a distraction either. As for the camera, well, it hides into the phone when you aren’t using it, which could seem gimmicky, but it is the coolest part of the phone. Now, if only we got a smaller camera bump at the back. It guarantees that the phone can’t be placed flush on a desk, which is a pet peeve for me. But overall, the Vivo V15 Pro has no qualms about being flashy, and it suits it.

One way to mute the flashiness is with the plastic case that comes with the phone. It adds a bit of bulk, but it also seems to protect the phone a bit from unnecessary scratches.

What you gonna do with all that screen. I touched a bit on the V15 Pro’s display, but I need to talk about it more. It’s always refreshing in my eyes when I come across a notch-less display. I learned to tolerate notches, but when I have the option to be without them, then I’d choose that option in a heartbeat. The Super AMOLED Ultra FullView display on this phone is a delight. It’s sufficiently bright that you can use it outdoors. Colors are vibrant and you get a good contrast.

It’s built for watching videos and playing games, which this phone can handle. But what the V15 Pro does is usually play videos in its original aspect ratio, leaving you with black bars on the sides. But when you’re in apps like YouTube and Netflix, you can opt to fill the screen. But that would result in cropped videos. For games, too, sometimes it would be a bit hard to reach into the corners to select options.

A smooth ride. Positioned as a bit of an upper midrange device, you expect nothing but a great performance from this phone. And the V15 Pro does perform well. The phone runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 processor (which runs on the Samsung Galaxy A70 and Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro), FunTouch 9 based on Android 9.0 Pie, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of expandable storage. It would heat up just a tad when you’re playing graphic intensive games, shooting tons of photos, and the like, but it’s nothing to be concerned about.

The phone didn’t crash on me during that one-month testing period. Call reception is good. I can easily connect online with Wi-Fi or mobile data. It works as smoothly as I expected it to. Except there seems to be an issue with Instagram, where the screen blacks out for a second when I try to switch from one Direct Message to another. This could be an issue with the app itself and it’s something that can be resolved with a software update.

Playing PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) in its highest setting is possible here. It’s generally a good experience, too, except for when times that it’s hard to tap at the settings at the edges of the screen. If you use Vivo’s built in Game Cube setting, you can enjoy a disturbance-free gaming session, too. Game Cube optimizes the phone’s performance to make sure you get the most out of it, while keeping notifications at bay so you don’t miss any of the action.

There are a few pre-installed apps included in the phone outside of Google’s basic apps, which are removable. You do get sizable storage here, though, so a few apps might not worry you. But in case you need more, this does offer storage expansion via a dedicated microSD slot.

Audio from the bottom firing speaker isn’t anything to tweet about, unfortunately. Stick with using Bluetooth speakers or headphones. Thankfully, there is still a headphone jack here.

An extra feature some users might appreciate is the Jovi Smart Button at the left side of the device. It can call up Google Assistant or Search or even Vivo’s Image Recognizer.

A lot of tricks up its cameras’ sleeves. I mentioned Instagram earlier, which is an app you would want to use regularly with this phone. This phone’s cameras are designed to entice you to take tons of photos. You get a triple-camera setup in the back (48-megapixel main shooter, 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera, and 5-megapixel depth sensor) and the 32-megapixel retractable selfie camera.

With that hardware and Vivo’s experience with mobile photography, I had high expectations for this phone. And it delivered a solid, social media-worthy performance. You get great, clear, vibrant photos in well-lit environments. It loses its sharpness a bit when you take it in areas with less light. If you want the phone to do the adjusting for you, the V15 Pro comes with AI Scene Identification. It’ll tweak settings to optimize the photo for you. I tend to turn this feature off because some brands punch up the colors a bit too much for my liking. Vivo isn’t quite as aggressive here, but you’ll also do fine if you leave it in Auto.

Auto mode

The V15 Pro also offers Portrait Bokeh option, which sharpens the subject and blurs the background surrounding the image. Most smartphone cameras offer this feature, but with the V15 Pro’s depth sensor, it lets you adjust the focus and blur after the fact. The feature is accessible in the Albums (Gallery) app. The bokeh effect is a bit too strong for my liking out of camera, but then being able to tweak it after you take the photo is the remedy you need.

Portrait mode

This phone also lets you take ultra-wide shots, which works best for landscape shots and the occasional group shot. You will lose a bit of the sharpness and detail with ultra-wide shots. But it might not be that noticeable unless you crop in. It also has that fish eye effect that some of you might like, while others don’t.

Ultra-wide angle mode

The V15 Pro also has its own Night mode, which combines multiple exposure settings to give you low-light images that have more vivid colors, less noise, and greater detail. You’ll need to hold up the camera for a few seconds until the phone takes the shot. It’ll try to balance out the highlights and it’s something neat to play around with. Unfortunately, this feature doesn’t work with the ultra-wide-angle lens.

Night mode

When it comes to video, you can record up to 4K at up to 30 frames per second. It also shoots 1080p at a higher 60fps. I tested out the 1080p recording and found its stabilization to be decent. Though, it’s not full-on professional quality.

Vivo is also known for its cameras’ selfie capabilities. And the pop-up camera isn’t just a gimmick but also a powerful selfie camera to use. It captures as much detail as possible with your features looking sharp. It smooths things out a little bit in Auto but not enough to make it seem fake. If you want a more polished, almost Photoshop-like feel, you do get AI Beauty.

Keep you safe. The V15 Pro offers the standard security options but has face unlock and a fingerprint sensor, too. Unlike the V15, the fingerprint sensor on in this phone is hidden underneath the display. A customizable animation shows where you need to place your finger on to unlock the device. It’s not as instantaneous as the usual fingerprint sensor but it works well enough. You need to make sure you hit the exact spot with a bit of pressure for it to read your fingerprint. It also doesn’t work when my hands are a bit wet. Face unlock isn’t the most secure option, but if you want to easily unlock your device, this is a quick option, too.

Easily lasts the day. The V15 Pro is one of those phones you don’t have to worry too much about losing battery at the end of the day. If used sparingly, you can eke out a full 24 hours out of that battery. Heavy use can still give you around 12 hours of juice. Pretty impressive, if you ask me. Even with Qualcomm Quick Charge out of the box, it’ll take around two hours to fully charge this phone. Now, if only Vivo equipped this with a USB Type-C port.


Form factor: 8.75

Build quality: 9

Ease of use: 9

Performance: 9.5

Value for money: 9

OVERALL RATING: 9.1


VERDICT

The Vivo V15 Pro does everything expected of it quite well. You can’t fault it much. Perhaps some might argue that it exists in a time when there are equally powerful devices at a lower price point, but it feels like you make less compromises here and that’s enough to justify the price.


SPECIFICATIONS

Display: 6.39″ Super AMOLED capacitive, 1,080 x 2,316 resolution

SIM: Dual nano, dual standby

Operating system: Funtouch 9 based on Android 9.0 Pie

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 675

GPU: Adreno 612

Memory: 8GB RAM

Storage: 128GB internal, expandable up to 256GB via microSD (dedicated slot)

Cameras: Rear – Triple 48MP main (f/1.8 aperture, 1/2″, 0.8µm, PDAF) + 8MP ultra-wide (f/2.2 aperture, 13mm) + 5MP depth (f/2.4 aperture), up to 2160p@30fps video; Front – Motorized 32MP (f/2.0 aperture), HDR, 1080p@30fps

Connectivity: & I/O ports: LTE; Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, WiFi Direct, hotspot; Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, LE, EDR, aptX; GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS; microUSB 2.0; 3.5mm audio jack

Other features: In-display fingerprint sensor

Battery: Non-removable Li-Po 3,700mAh, 18W fast charging

Dimensions & weight: 157.3 x 74.7 x 8.2mm, 185g

Color: Coral Red, Topaz Blue

Price: P23,999

About The Author

Nicole Batac
Managing Editor

Nicole calls herself an accidental techie that has learned to love all things consumer tech since she started with this line of work around seven years ago. In her spare time, she devours books, TV shows, movies, and a large amount of Japan-related entertainment.

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