Smartphones have become an indispensable part of our lives, and justifiably so. After all, from allowing users to connect and communicate with each other, to running full-fledged businesses, new-age phones can do it all. Now, it goes without saying that no device is a ‘one size fits all’, and depending on your usage and needs, you might prefer one smartphone over the other. Take Vivo’s latest handset, the V23 Pro 5G, for instance, which has been specifically designed with ‘online influencers’ in mind. In fact, the device ships with a dual front-facing camera, a snazzy colour-changing back, and much more. So, should you pick up the phone to build your online portfolio, or look elsewhere? Well, let’s find out in this review.
The Vivo V23 Pro 5G brings a lot of enticing features to the table. Unfortunately, the handset’s steep pricing, as well as a wealth of more well-rounded alternatives cast a tall shadow on the smartphone.
Vivo is no stranger to eccentrically-designed phones, but the company has outdone itself with the V23 Pro 5G. From a distance, the device looks the part of a run-of-the-mill Android phone and features a sleek frame that holds the phone’s curvy display and swooping back together. That said, up close, you’ll notice that the phone’s shimmery back starts to change its colour the minute sunlight impacts its surface.
To wit, Vivo has employed Fluorite AG glass in the design of the V23 Pro which reacts to UV rays and transforms the exposed bits of the phone’s otherwise golden coloured back to a teal/blue-ish hue. The colour-changing effect is as unique as it is mesmerising and you’ll be hard-pressed to find another phone with a similar design trait in the market. Suffice it to say, the V23 Pro 5G brings an innovative spin to a conventional smartphone design, and I for one am all for it.
Now, I’m sure you must have a lot of queries regarding the phone’s colour-changing back, so allow me to break down some FAQs below –
1 – Is the colour-changing effect available for the Stardust Black colourway of the V23 Pro as well?
Unfortunately, no. The Stardust Black variant of the phone doesn’t ship with a colour-changing back.
2 – Will the effect lose its efficacy down the line?
Per the brand, the effect should last around 18-24 months, by which most users usually switch or upgrade to a newer phone.
3 – Will the effect be visible under a case?
So long as you’re using a transparent case, the V23 Pro’s back should still change colour under the sun.
4 – How long does the effect last?
The colour-changing effect is temporary and the back of the phone will return to its golden state after five-seven minutes.
Rest assured, the V23 Pro’s colour-changing back is a showstopper, and buyers opting for the phone will find plenty of ways to customise it to their will. What’s more, the device is extremely lightweight too and tips the scales at just 171 grams. Coupled with its sleek girth of 7.36mm, the V23 Pro’s chassis paves the way for a superbly comfortable in-hand grip. I’d also like to add that both, the volume rocker, as well as the power button offer fantastic tactility. Moreover, the phone’s plastic frame didn’t flex despite applying pressure either. Vivo even managed to keep the phone’s camera bump in check, and the squarish module looks quite tasteful. Unfortunately, the device still wobbles when kept on a flat surface, so you win some and you lose some here.
The Vivo V23 Pro ships with an in-display fingerprint sensor, which worked quite well during my testing. The sensor has been positioned rather ergonomically too and I could comfortably reach it with my thumb. The smartphone also ships with facial recognition tech, which worked just as well, so no complaints here either.
As good-looking as the V23 Pro is, the smartphone’s design is not without its faults. For one, the device omits a headphone jack and doesn’t ship with a dual-speaker setup either. Furthermore, the smartphone’s AG glass back is quite slippery and the device tends to slip from pretty much any surface, no matter how minute the angle of the inclination. I should also add that the phone’s haptic feedback leaves a lot to be desired. Correspondingly, if you tend to draft long emails and messages on your phone, you might want to look elsewhere.
The Vivo V23 Pro ships with a 6.56-inch, FHD+, curved AMOLED display. The panel offers a refresh rate of 90Hz, which isn’t the snappiest even by last year’s standards, but is still a notch above devices with a 60Hz screen. Now, if you’ve never been an advocate for phones with a curved screen, then the V23 Pro isn’t really going to change your stance on the subject. To that note, the phone’s display, albeit stunning, suffers from poor palm rejection. What’s more, the panel ships with a rather chunky notch up top, which takes some time getting used to as well.
Thankfully, the screen offers ample brightness and maxes out at 800 nits, ensuring you can use the phone under the sun without squinting your eyes. Furthermore, the device offers fantastic viewing angles and I didn’t notice any erratic backlit bleeding around the display’s curved edges either. I’d also like to add that the device does in fact, support HD playback from OTT services like Prime Video. Unfortunately, for some odd reason, I couldn’t get the phone to install the Netflix app from the Play Store. I even tried installing an apk from Netflix’s official support page but the phone refused to run the app. I’ve reached out to the company for a comment on the same and will update this review as and when I have any more insights. For now, let’s move on and talk about the handset’s photography chops.
The Vivo V23 Pro features a triple camera array towards the back, comprising a 108MP Samsung sensor, an 8MP Omnivision UW sensor and a 2MP macro sensor. For selfies, the device gets a 50MP main selfie shooter which is assisted by yet another 8MP lens to snap wide-angle selfies or groupfies.
Now, having used the company’s X-series of phones, I had high hopes for the V23 Pro in the camera department too. Unfortunately, shots snapped from the phone’s primary sensor leave a bit to be desired. In fact, if you scroll through the gallery attached below, then you’ll notice that the images shot during the day exhibit lacklustre detail. The same is evident if you look at the image with the blue generator grid wherein, the tree towards the left-hand side of the frame appears straight out of a watercolour painting. The leaves, in particular, have no texture, and the flower pots towards the bottom right appear mushy too. Thankfully, the sensor’s colour science isn’t too over the top and the scenes are usually rendered authentically. As for lowlight, the smartphone’s main sensor does a passable job of retaining the details in the scene. That said, the photos turn out quite grainy, even with the night mode enabled.
Interestingly, the V23 Pro snaps excellent closeups with ample details and natural-looking colours too. That said, there’s a noticeable colour temperature disparity between the standard and the macro lens. In fact, images shot with the macro sensor appear washed out. The photos from the device’s ultra-wide sensor aren’t up to scratch either, with the sensor struggling to expose the frame correctly. Furthermore, the details in the shot are far and few in between too.
On the bright side, the smartphone’s 50MP selfie shooter clicks remarkable selfies. Now, I usually turn all the custom features off but, if you’re looking to post a flawless self-portrait on social media, then you’ll find a treasure trove of beautification features with the phone that might come in handy. What’s more, the phone offers a one-of-a-kind dual-flash array above the selfie camera module that drastically improves the quality of lowlight selfies.
That’s not all, as you can even change the style of the emanating flashlight to a warmer or a cooler tone to best suit your needs. You’ll also get a multitude of different portrait style modes, including the party portrait style which you can use to spruce up your selfies that much more. The company has even bundled a handy teleprompter mode which should come in clutch for when you have to do brand callouts or talk about the fine points of a project in front of a camera.
Performance, Battery Life and Software
Devices backed by MediaTek’s Dimensity 9000 SoC are just around the corner, though Vivo has stuck with the tried and tested Dimensity 1200 processor to power its latest contender. To wit, the Dimensity 1200 was among the most VFM SoCs of 2021 and the chipset continues to impress, netting remarkable scores in synthetic benchmarking apps. To give you a better picture, the phone secured 6,57,442 points in Antutu, as well as 553 and 2,506 points in GeekBench’s single-core and multi-core tests.
Furthermore, the device handled multitasking briskly too, which can be accredited to its speedy UFS 3.1 storage and LPDDR4x memory that drastically reduced the load times when I was jumping between different apps. That’s not all, the smartphone could run graphically demanding titles at competitive settings too. In fact, I could max out the graphics and FPS settings in PUBG: New State. Furthermore, BGMI ran at the HDR graphics and Ultra FPS preset without any hiccups. Now, you will have to tone the settings down to the ‘Smooth’ preset to hit 60fps in the game. Even so, I didn’t notice any drastic frame drops during heated gun battles. That said, much like some other Dimensity 1200 SoC phones, the V23 Pro also heats up under strenuous loads. In fact, the device throttled to around 77 percent of its total performance in our CPU Throttle test, which is among the lowest I’ve seen thus far.
Software-wise, the V23 Pro ships with the company’s FunTouch OS v12 that works on top of Android 12. Over the years, the company has streamlined its user interface and while the custom skin is still riddled with bloatware – I’ll admit, the UX feels a lot more welcoming and user-friendly. What’s more, the brand has even incorporated a tonne of customisation features and users can sift and choose from a variety of animations for the lock screen, the fingerprint sensor, and more. Unfortunately, the smartphone’s default launcher doesn’t support third-party icon packs as of yet so you will have to either slap a custom launcher or use the icon packs from the phone’s built-in theme store. Other than that, the device also gets some nifty software utilities, including an app locker, a built-in screen, and call recorder as well as support for Always-On display and a dedicated dark mode.
The V23 Pro is fuelled by a 4,300mAh cell which, unfortunately, didn’t quite see me through the end of a heavy workday. In fact, I had to plug in the phone around the 6 PM mark, with my usage comprising watching YouTube videos, relaying audio to my Bluetooth earphones, and staying connected with my colleagues and friends by means of a myriad of social media and networking apps. Thankfully, the smartphone ships with a speedy 44W charger that charges the device in a little under an hour (55 minutes, to be precise).
The Vivo V23 Pro starts at Rs 38,990 for the 8GB RAM variant, and buyers eyeing the 12GB model will have to shell out Rs 43,990. For the price, the smartphone brings some innovative features to the table, including a colour-changing back, as well as a capable set of selfie cameras. That said, the smartphone’s pricing pits it against more powerful and feature-rich devices backed by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 processor. The iQOO 7 Legend, for instance, retails for around the same price and offers better performance, more capable rear cameras, and much faster wired charging. Consequently, I’d recommend the V23 Pro to ardent selfie enthusiasts. For everyone else, the market is ripe with more well-rounded options.
Editor’s rating: 3.5 / 5
- Stylish design
- Innovative colour-changing back
- Fantastic selfie cameras
- Gorgeous display
- No 3.5mm headphone jack
- No stereo speakers
- Average battery life