The V-series from Vivo has grown from strength to strength starting from mass-market offline-centric mid-rangers to now a trensetting, performance beast that pushes the boundaries of industrial design and ergonomics. It’s a spec-monster this time packing lots of high-end hardware inside, and a mysterious colour changing design, setting the tone for the new year. I’ve been using the phone for a past week and I gotta say, the V series has never looked so good —
Build and Design
The Vivo V23 Pro has a fascinating design. One of the colour variants, the Sunshine Gold, can change colours. It’s shimmery gold when indoors, but turns turquoise blue in the sun within 5-10 seconds. It’s the result of using fluorite AG glass that exhibits fluorescence under ultraviolet light, and looks fantastic. Only, good luck explaining to the police what colour your phone is, if it gets lost or stolen. Jokes aside, the colour changing property works even if you use a transparent case, while a stencilled case would etch the design in fluorescence when exposed to UV light (for eg, the sun). It’s quite an unique application, not seen before in a smartphone design, and is a good reason to check out the V23 Pro in the store.
But aesthetics aside, the V23 Pro is also one of the slimmest smartphones you can buy today. It’s just a millimeter thicker than the Mi 11 Lite NE, and feels super comfortable in hand. It’s top-heavy though, with a large camera module taking up a lot of space and weight, so be careful of it toppling over your hand when using one-handed. Happened with me. True story.
All this would have fared fine for 2022, if not for an iPhone-like notch in the middle of the display. The V23 Pro features dual selfie cameras (and dual flash LEDs) housed in a cut-out interrupting the display. I believe it should have been avoided, but the pros of having two selfie cameras far outweigh the con of an aged design choice.
The rest of the design is pretty standard. No headphone jack, single speaker, and an in-display fingerprint sensor that works quickly to unlock the phone. The frame is built of aluminum and feels sturdy while the edges of display and the rear glass panel curve to form a slim grip.
Overall, the V23 Pro scores high in keeping things unique, and the slim profile goes a long way in making it highly ergonomic.
Display and Audio
The Vivo V23 Pro features a generously large 6.56-inch AMOLED display with 90Hz refresh rate in 18:10 aspect ratio. It’s a full HD panel with HDR10+ certification. But the 90Hz refresh rate feels inadequate for a high-end smartphone these days, considering the technology is now available in phones under Rs 10,000. It’s easy to get past if you’re coming from a 60Hz display, but feels like a sore downgrade from a 120Hz display available in many budget smartphones today.
Nevertheless, the display is usable enough when indoors or at night. Not so much under the bright sun, as it can only hit peak brightness of 800 nits and up to 1300 nits in high brightness mode. You’d have to keep the brightness at max when using the phone outdoors, but even then, the colours feel washed out. It’s decent for using social media, or playing games, but not so much for watching movies or editing content. It’s also a curved panel, and carries all the flaws of the design, including the discoloured edges. The display is clearly not the phone’s strongest suit, but that’s okay. If display is the priority, you can go for the Moto Edge 20 Pro (review) or the OnePlus 9R (review). The V23 Pro’s display is functional, just not the best in class.
The audio output is actually quite good for a single-speaker setup, but it’s just loud. There’s no channel separation or anything, so it’ll be great for taking calls on loudspeaker, and watching dialouge-heavy content, but not so much for listening to music or playing games. There, the output is loud but booming with no way to separate the streams of sounds.
The Vivo V23 Pro runs on the MediaTek Dimensity 1200 and is available in 6GB and 8GB variants, with 128GB storage. The hardware is further augmented by 4GB virtual RAM. It’s the latest marketing gimmick from brands that utilise part of the storage to hold background apps in memory longer than usual. The feature won’t improve the overall responsiveness of the smartphone, but it does allow for more apps to be open simultaneously in the background.
The Dimensity 1200 in this price range feels too little for too much, to be honest, considering you have smartphones running on the Snapdragon 870 and even the Snapdragon 888. But nobody else can change colours, can they? That’s what you’re essentially paying for, in the Vivo V23 Pro.
Although, being the best shouldn’t necessarily be the goal while developing a product. As long as it’s functional, there’s no reason to regret. And the Vivo V23 Pro doesn’t disappoint. I could go about my day daily driving the V23 Pro with no hassle whatsoever. That said, the performance lags far behind its rivals in this price range —
Now while it gets outperformed and outnumbered by its rivals in sporting flagship SoCs, the Vivo V23 Pro is quite good at handling games. CoD Mobile ran at Very High graphics with Max FPS, and if not for the curved edges, it would have worked as a fine gaming phone. I also tried PUBG New State, which ran at , giving no frame drops or janks whatsoever. The SoC is optimised for 90FPS gameplay, as seen on the Realme X7 Max, but Vivo didn’t go for such optimisations, as the focus was clearly on the next section.
Vivo’s V-series has been defined by its cameras, and the V23 Pro is no different. It rocks a 108MP camera at the back and a 50MP dual camera unit up front. That’s almost as many megapixels as the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, but here’s proof once again that having the most number of megapixels doesn’t always result in the best photos. Here’s my takeaway of the camera performance of the V23 Pro —
1. The 108MP camera of the Vivo V23 Pro is the only usable one in the rear camera stack. It produces sharp details, but with slightly muted colours that may look a bit bland in front of many phones that oversaturate the tones, but I like it. The V23 Pro keeps things neutral.
2. The primary camera, however, is best used for taking wide landscapes. The lens has a smaller plane of focus, so you can’t get too close to a subject, making it agonisingly difficult to capture photos of flowers and other macro objects with the details from the 108MP sensor.
3. Instead, the camera forces you to switch to the 2MP macro lens, and the result is even worse. There’s hardly any details and the edges are muddied with artifacts. The best case scenario would be to use the 2x digital zoom (resulting in a bit of overprocessing) or shooting the subject from afar using the high-res mode, and then cropping it in post-production.
4. Primary colours like red, blue and yellow come out quite good from the V23 Pro, which when contrasted against bland backgrounds tend to pop out in the frame. However, they are far from being accurately represented. The reds look much deeper than normal, while the blue come out a shade lighter.
5. The ultrawide lens is good enough when there’s enough light. There’s a noticeable inconsistency in the colour science between the two cameras, which I figured would be addressed after the excellent X70 series from Vivo.
6. The V23 Pro’s lowlight shots are strictly average. Shots taken using the night mode come out bright, but lacking in details. The night mode also can’t control the noise in the photos, but credit where it’s due, the shutter operation in low-light situation is one of the fastest I’ve seen.
7. Living subjects are generally handled well by Vivo phones, and the V23 Pro is no different. The portrait mode has excellent subject separation, but it also applies beauty effects by default.
8. The V23 Pro takes some of the best selfies in this price range. The 50MP camera up front brings out the facial details with precision, and there are a bunch of cool styles and effects to explore. Some like the party mode, make fun application of the dual flash modules to create a light-trail effect on the face.
9. The front camera setup can also shoot 4K 60 FPS HDR videos with stabilisation, as well as portrait videos at 1080p, making it great for budding content creators and vloggers. You can capture from both sides simultaneously as well. It also has a built-in teleprompter.
The Vivo V23 Pro is one of the first phones from Vivo to come with Android 12-based FunTouch 12 out of the box, but while the latest build of Android feature some of the biggest change in design, FunTouch 12 is mostly the same, with some incremental changes.
There’s a new media widget offering universal music control, a revamped quick reply from notifications, and a green light indicator for when sensitive elements like camera, microphone is used. Curiously missing is Android 12’s theme engine that allows you to set colour tones for individual elements based on the wallpaper’s colour pallette.
None of the Android 12 widgets are present either including the useful conversation widget. Slowly, it’s starting to dawn on me that most of the cool Android 12 features might be restricted to the Google Pixel and some other stock Android phones. Phones that rely on third-party skins may not see the big visual makeover that we’re expecting.
The Vivo V23 Pro features a 4300mAh battery inside the slim chassis. An impressive feat considering the phone hardly heated up during my time of usage. As for the batter life, I regularly got well over 7 hours of screen-on time while daily driving the phone, which is largely impressive and almost at par with the OnePlus Nord 2 (review).
It comes with a 44W fast charger out of the box that tops up the battery in less than an hour. It goes from 0-50 in just 30 minutes.
Should You Buy the Vivo V23 Pro?
The Vivo V23 Pro is not an easy choice to make. It’s extremely alluring with its colour-changing glass design, ergonomic hand-feel and the lofty camera specs, and may appeal to someone who treats their phone as an object of beauty. It’s also a cool product for the fashion-conscious, and quite functional too. The powerful front camera is perfect for making Instagram Reels and posting OOTD selfies, while the slim, colour-changing design is bound attract eyeballs in a party.
However, if you’re looking for good performance, the V23 Pro will surely disappoint. The Dimensity 1200 is decent for daily use, but isn’t the fastest SoC around. With a notch interrupting the display, it’s also not conducive for watching videos, and there aren’t enough features to appeal to an audiophile.
So the Vivo V23 Pro performs well as a mass-market product aimed at offline buyers with a strong focus on the design. First impressions of the Vivo V23 Pro would be hard to dismiss, but do keep in mind the shortcomings in the performance and display.
Vivo V23 Pro38990
Design and Build6.4/10
What Is Good?
- Colour changing design
- Slim build
- Capable selfie camera
What Is Bad?
- Poor price to performance ratio
- Average display
- Single speaker audio
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