The Apple iPhone X, just like other iPhone devices before it, gets a lot of attention. At its launch, it also set the tone for smartphones going forward, just as Apple has done in the past. From dropping the 3.5mm headphone jack to the infamous notch, Apple defines the way things are to be. Other smartphone manufacturers tend to follow suit, simply because the marketing machinery of the world’s most valuable company can spin anything into desirability.
It’s only been a few months since the iPhone X was unveiled, and Android smartphone makers have already taken its trademark notch forward as a concept. Asus, Oppo and now Vivo have showcased new devices that integrate that very notch into the design, while others such as OnePlus are expected to follow with similar devices. One of the first devices to officially launch in India with this design is the Vivo V9.
It’s clear that Vivo is trying to build an iPhone X clone with the V9. However, when it comes to price, Vivo is being anything but a copycat of the Apple way. Priced at Rs 22,990, the Vivo V9 is a much more affordable option than the iPhone X. But is there more to this phone than just its striking similarities to a very expensive smartphone? We take a look.
Looks like it, but does it feel like it?
I don’t need to tell you this, just look at the picture above. The Vivo V9 is designed to look just like an Apple iPhone X. There are small differences though, which will help a trained eye spot its identity. For one, the edge-to-edge screen stretches to the ends on only three out of four sides. The bottom of the phone has a slim strip on non-screen space; this is something that no Android phone has succeeded in doing away with.
The second difference is the size of the notch itself. The iPhone X has a significantly larger notch, with small screen zones on either side. The Vivo V9’s notch is much smaller, with exactly three components on it, closely packed together. The proximity sensor, earpiece and front camera are placed closely next to each other, and the earpiece is particularly small, but entirely functional. Its small size only means you need to be precise when placing the phone to your ear during calls.
The similarities extend to the user interface. The phone runs on Android 81. Oreo out-of-the-box with Vivo’s FunTouch OS 4 on top, but we wouldn’t blame you for thinking it’s iOS (at least at first glance). From the control center gesture to the app icons, the Vivo V9 is clear with its design language.
However, the Vivo V9 doesn’t feel like an iPhone, or indeed any premium smartphone. While many premium phones and even a lot of affordable devices use elegant combinations of metal and glass, the Vivo V9 is unapologetically plastic. Although the glossy finish might make you think you have a glass-backed phone, picking it up and feeling it might be disappointing for a lot of people. The back is also a grime magnet, so you’ll need to clean it often to keep your phone looking nice.
That screen, though
The screen of the Vivo V9 is of course, its biggest attraction. With a 6.3-inch (2280×1080 pixels) screen, the phone sports a tall 19:9 aspect ratio. It’s quite a pleasure to use a phone that’s practically all screen. You also get the advantage of a large screen in a phone that is about the same size as a regular 5.5-inch screen phone. It’s sharp, clean, and gets things right.
The phone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 SoC, along with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. While the Snapdragon 626 is a capable chipset, it’s also old now, and has been antiquated by numerous superior options. Further, a smartphone at this price powered by an old chipset sounds a bit expensive, but the price is somewhat justified by the screen and design of the phone. Interestingly and in tune with the fashion of the year, the Vivo V9 also comes with face unlock.
The camera setup of the phone is also capable on paper, with a dual-camera setup at the rear comprising of a 16-megapixel primary and 5-megapixel secondary sensors, with a 24-megapixel front camera. The dual-camera setup at the rear enables portrait/bokeh shots, while the front camera achieves a similar effect with AI capabilities. Some of the pictures we took look impressive at first glance, and we’ll go into the details in our full review of the phone.
The Vivo V9 isn’t the most capable smartphone in its price segment, and you’ll indeed find better devices on paper (such as the Moto X4) if you’re looking purely at specifications. However, the Vivo’s appeal goes beyond its specification sheet. While you’re getting a capable smartphone as such, the real reason you’ll want to buy a Vivo V9 is because of its looks. It’s a beautiful phone with a screen that puts it a step above everything else in its price segment.
At first glance, the Vivo V9 is ideal for anyone looking for a phone with a great screen, and does fairly well when it comes to photography as well. Selfie-enthusiasts in particular will be impressed with the features of the phone’s front camera. We will of course bring you the full low-down on the Vivo V9 in our full review.