Who would have expected two Chinese brands owned by a common company will innovate various smartphone technologies? Well, that's what happened in 2018 as Vivo and Oppo jointly introduced several new features with its smartphones. At the start of 2018, Vivo introduced a concept phone called Vivo APEX with a motorised front-facing camera. Later in the year, Vivo introduced the industry's first motorised camera phone to the public in the form of Vivo Nex. The Vivo Nex saw a lot of attraction from the users thanks to its bezel-less design, flagship hardware and a massive battery. Today, Vivo has begun its 2019 journey with the Vivo V15 Pro and the pop-up selfie camera is making its way into the V series. This might raise some eyebrows as the Vivo 'V' series of phones are the best-selling models in the sub-Rs 30,000 price point. Introducing a mechanically moving part on a smartphone which is made for the mainstream audience is something very unusual from a popular brand, but Vivo has pulled it off with the V15 Pro.
Besides the pop-up selfie camera, the Vivo V15 Pro also comes with various exciting features like the 48MP rear camera, industry's first 32MP selfie camera, triple rear cameras and it's also the company's first phone to boot Android 9 Pie software out of the box. And topping all this package is the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 Mobile Platform, which offers better performance than the Snapdragon 710 SoC that's found on the Nokia 8.1 and Oppo R17 Pro. On paper, the Vivo V15 Pro seems like a complete package, but what about real life? Well, I have been using the V15 Pro as my primary phone for a while now and here's what I everything I noticed so far.
Vivo V15 Pro First Impressions: Design and Display
When it comes to design, Vivo and Oppo are the pioneers; They were the two brands who introduced gradient design to the industry which is followed by other Chinese brands too. The latest launch from Vivo, the V15 Pro, also comes with gradient back in two colour options- Topaz Blue and Ruby Red. Vivo is calling the design of V15 Pro as 'Spectrum Ripple Design' and similar to the case with other smartphones with gradient back, colours dance across different angles.
As for the button placements, we have the power button and volume rockers placed on the right side, microSD card tray and Smart Assistant button on the left, Micro USB port, SIM card tray and speaker grille are present on the bottom. To the top, we have the pop-up selfie camera and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Yes, Vivo has retained the headphone jack, but it has used a Micro USB port on an upper mid-range smartphone.
Overall, design wise, the Vivo V15 Pro is a looker and it's easily one of the best looking phones in its price range.
Moving onto the display, the V15 Pro has a 6.39-inch Full HD+ screen on the front with an aspect ratio of 19.5:9 and a screen-to-body ratio of 91.65%. Vivo has tried its best to trim the bezels, but there's a noticeable chin. From the front, the Vivo V15 Pro looks identical to the Vivo Nex, except for the selfie camera which now pops out from the right side. As for the quality, it's a Super AMOLED panel rendering deep blacks and accurate colour reproduction. The sunlight legibility is decent too, but the screen attracts a lot of fingerprint smudges which affects the viewing experience in daylight conditions. With its nearly bezel-less screen, watching videos or playing games on the handset becomes a lot more intrusive.
Vivo V15 Pro First Impressions: Hardware and Software
Vivo has integrated the best possible upper mid-range hardware on the V15 Pro. It's the first phone with Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 Mobile Platform to launch in India and it works in tandem with 6GB of RAM. The phone comes in a 6GB+128GB storage variant along with a dedicated microSD card slot which supports up to 256GB SD cards. Talking about real life performance, app load times were faster and PUBG Mobile game loaded faster as well. Vivo has optimised the software very well as it managed to keep more than six apps in the memory. But it's very early to judge the performance of the handset, so we'll be pushing the final verdict on the V15 Pro performance as well Snapdragon 675 SoC performance in our full review.
Another hardware feature which Vivo has implemented on several of its smartphones is the in-display fingerprint scanner. The V15 Pro also comes with an in-display scanner and it's as faster as the one present on the OnePlus 6T. The Vivo Nex and V11 Pro also arrived with an in-display scanner, but they were very slow in unlocking the handset. The OnePlus 6T changed the dynamics of an in-display scanner as it was quicker than any other phones available in the market. The V15 Pro manages to match the OnePlus 6T in this aspect. Also, there's the software-based Face Unlock functionality, but it's very cumbersome as every time you unlock the handset, the selfie camera will pop up to recognise your face.
In terms of software, the V15 Pro is the first phone from Vivo to come with Android 9 Pie-based FunTouch OS 9 out of the box. The software experience is similar to what we've seen in the Vivo phones launched earlier. FunTouch OS is a heavily skinned version of Android and it doesn't offer any app drawer, but thankfully, unlike Huawei, Vivo is allowing its users to install third-party launcher apps to enjoy the app drawer. The phone comes with some third-party apps such as Facebook, Amazon Shopping, NewsPoint, UC Browser among others; All of these apps can be uninstalled, but there are some system apps such as iMusic, iTheme, Vivo App Store which can non be uninstalled.
The Vivo V15 Pro sips juice from a 3700mAh unit and it also has support for the company's Dual Engine Fast charging. As for the charging speeds, Vivo promises 24% of charge in 15 minutes. While we did not test the charging speeds, we did observe the battery life and it's impressive so far.
Vivo V15 Pro First Impressions: Cameras
There are a lot of things to like on the Vivo V15 Pro, but on top of all, we have the cameras. The Vivo V15 Pro is the world's first smartphone with a 32MP selfie camera and it's also the company's first triple camera smartphone to launch in India. On the rear side, the V15 Pro has a 48MP primary sensor (48MP quad-pixel sensor, but it's 12MP effective pixels). There's an 8MP wide-angle sensor with 120-degree field-of-view and a 5MP sensor for capturing depth information.
As expected with Vivo's camera app, it has a lot of Artificial Intelligence (AI) baked into it. Firstly, let me talk about that pop-up selfie camera- it opens a tad faster than the one present on the Vivo Nex, and in daylight conditions, it captures selfies with excellent details.
Vivo has gone with triple cameras for the first time, so it has to optimise the camera app as well. The camera app is full of features and the user interface is a pure rip off of iOS camera app. Users can switch between Photo, Video, AI Beauty, AI Stickers, Night, Panorama and Pro modes by swiping on the camera app's home screen. On top of the camera app, there are the options for turning on the flashlight, HDR mode, Portrait light effect, Live Photo and the Settings icon.
Lastly, above the shutter button, there are six options- Image Recogniser using Jovi AI assistant, Timer mode, AI scene mode, portrait mode with depth adjusting option, wide-angle camera and the option to switch between camera aspect ratios. Overall, the camera app offers a lot of features and they can be easily accessed too. Take a look at the samples posted above which seem promising for now.
Vivo V15 Pro First Impressions: Conclusion
Summarising, the Vivo V15 Pro is an excellent offering from the Chinese handset maker. It ups the ante in every aspect when compared to the V11 Pro; With the V15 Pro, you get an in-display fingerprint scanner that's as fast as the one seen on the OnePlus 6T, it offers decent performance for a mid-range smartphone, has a 3.5mm headphone jack and a dedicated microSD card, and the cameras seems promising too.
But the Vivo V15 Pro has a challenge and a drawback. The challenge which Vivo will face is regarding the promise of pop-up selfie camera on how long it will survive, while the drawback is the usage of Micro USB port. Besides these two, the V15 Pro is a good phone which takes on the Nokia 8.1 and the Xiaomi Poco F1.
As for the pricing, the Vivo V15 Pro comes in a single variant with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage which will retail for Rs 28,990 in the sub-continent.