Technology can go from cutting edge to mainstream in the blink of an eye, and there’s no better example of this than our smartphones. Features like face unlock, pop-up cameras and all-screen displays – initially relegated to flagships and concepts – now make an appearance even on affordable devices. Vivo, which pioneered the in-display fingerprint sensor with the X21 (review) and carried it forward with the NEX (review), is now bringing this tech to the mid-range with the V11 Pro. Packing in some solid specs and goodies like a water drop notch, face unlock and a 25MP AI selfie camera, the V11 Pro is quite the package. I’ve used the phone for over a week, and here’s what you need to know about the device.
Specs at a glance
|1080 x 2340 pixels
|Quad core, 2.2 GHz + Quad core, 1.8 GHz, Snapdragon 660
|Up to 256 GB
|3400 mAH, Li-ion, Non removable
|Dual SIM 4G
|Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS
|Android 8.1 Oreo
With so many smartphones looking like they came off an iPhone X production line, it’s unusual to find a device that can hold its own on the design front. The Vivo V11 Pro has no problems in this department. From the fullscreen display to the illuminated in-display fingerprint scanner to the ombre back panel – it’s crafted to make heads turn. The V11 Pro is available in Gold and Starry Night colour options, but the latter is what I’d choose any day. The panel is a gradiented midnight blue, and the subtle sparkle makes for a realistic starry effect. I was pleasantly surprised to find two SIM card slots and a dedicated microSD card slot on the device. Disappointingly, Vivo has chosen to go with the older micro-USB standard for the V11 Pro, but the good news is that the company doesn’t skimp on a 3.5mm audio jack.
The V11 Pro is a big phone, with a 6.41-inch display that can make one-handed usage next to impossible. Vivo’s cut down on the bezels significantly, with just a thin sliver at the chin. The water drop notch at the top is far less noticeable than traditional notches, and displays the status bar on either side, along with select notification icons. The notch blends seamlessly into Vivo’s own apps, but third-party apps aren’t optimised for it, so you have a coloured bar at the top that cuts off some of some screen real estate. On most apps, the colour of the bar matches (or at least tries to match) the colour scheme of the respective app, so it doesn’t appear too obtrusive. The Super AMOLED 19:9 screen features full HD+ resolution, and displays rich, saturated colours. The OLED panel is what enables the fingerprint sensor to work, and illuminates the sensor as soon as you pick it up. The V11 Pro also has an always-on display feature, which displays the time, date and select notification icons. You can enable this in settings.
The fingerprint sensor is set up the conventional way, and you can choose from a series of effects that appear when you unlock the phone. A fingerprint sensor that sits right in the display feels like a page out of the future, but in real life I found the experience to be less than satisfactory. You need to apply pressure to unlock the phone, but you can’t press too lightly or too hard – it has to be just right, and for some reason I couldn’t get it right on several occasions. Because the fingerprint sensor is located on the screen, you need to make sure your finger is positioned correctly – the phone never unlocked if I tried with the tip or sides of my finger. Add to that the slight delay it takes for the screen to unlock, and I found myself wishing Vivo had opted for a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor instead. The good news though is that the Vivo V11 Pro also comes with face unlock, which I can vouch works seamlessly. It’s instantaneous, and works at an angle, in the dark or even if you’re wearing sunglasses.
The V11 Pro carries forward the AI selfie camera of its predecessor, the V9 (review). The camera takes stunning selfies and can make anyone look good – and I say that as a sleep-deprived mom of a six-month old. Even though I turned the beauty mode off, it’s obvious that Vivo is applying some beautification effects, because I couldn’t see my dark circles in any of the photos I snapped. The camera also features a Portrait mode, which creates a bokeh effect with a blurred background. You can choose from various lighting effects like Natural, Studio, Stereo, Monochrome, etc while using Portrait mode. The rear camera consists of a 12MP f/1.8 unit paired with a 5MP depth sensor in a vertical setup. Both the front and rear cameras feature Vivo’s AI tech, which automatically recognises the scene and enables a suitable shooting mode. The rear camera produces sharp and detailed images in daylight, especially for close-ups. The backlit HDR mode works well for the most part, but tends to create artificial results in harsh lighting. In low light, images look washed out and grainy. The portrait mode on the rear camera works well, although I noticed visible softening around the edges. The bottomline is that the cameras aren’t for purists, but for the average user who wants an Instagram-worthy shot, you’ll be more than satisfied with what the Vivo V11 Pro offers.
Software and performance
On the software side of things you get Vivo’s FunTouch OS 4.5 atop Android 8.1 Oreo. While I’m not the biggest fan of FunTouch, it offers some useful features like gestures for navigation, split-screen mode and one-handed mode. The split-screen mode was particularly useful, displaying a floating icon for notifications from apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and messages. Tapping on the icon while you’re using another app opens the respective app in split-screen mode. It works seamlessly and is a great way to multi-task too.
Powering the V11 Pro is a Snapdragon 660 SoC, paired with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Out of the box, my unit had about 52GB of free space. You can bump up the storage via microSD, and also connect a flash drive via USB OTG. The smartphone fares well in day-to-day performance, and I didn’t notice any app crashes or freezes during my usage, even with multiple apps running in the background. The V11 Pro handled gaming well enough, but I did notice a few jitters and frame drops during PUBG gameplay. The 3,400mAh battery on the device offers ample juice to get you through an entire day. In my personal usage, the phone lasted me a day and a half on most occasions. In our battery drain test, the V11 Pro lasted a total of 14.5 hours.
As far as mid-range smartphones go, the Vivo V11 Pro is a well-rounded offering. Honestly speaking, my only gripe with the phone was the glitchy fingerprint sensor, and even that’s offset by the presence of face unlock. The competition for the V11 Pro includes devices like the OPPO F9 Pro (first impressions) and the Nokia 7 Plus (review), which offer similar features in the same price band. The POCO F1 (review) though, is the one Vivo should be worried about. Packing in flagship specs like a Snapdragon 845 SoC and 6GB of RAM at a starting price of Rs 20,999, it pretty much decimates the competition. That said, the POCO F1, like any new Xiaomi device, isn’t easily available, and that’s where the V11 Pro has a distinct advantage. Which one you ultimately choose is up to you, but either way, you won’t be disappointed.
Editor’s rating: 4 / 5
- Gorgeous design
- Excellent selfie camera
- Face unlock works seamlessly
- All-day battery life
- In-display fingerprint sensor needs more work
- Rear camera struggles in low light
- Priced on the higher side
Photos by Raj Rout