Vivo V9 Review: A Rounded And “Top-Notch”experience

Vivo V9

Vivo has now established a massive footprint across India. Wherever you go, you see a Vivo hoarding. They have been launching devices regularly and in many ways are the harbingers of the selfie-centric paradigm shift in smartphones. Their latest offering is the Vivo V9 – the first android phone with a notch to get released in India. We spent considerable time with this device and here is our review

Here are the key specifications of the Vivo V9

Dimensions (mm) 154.80 x 75.00 x 7.90
Weight (g) 150.00
Battery capacity (mAh) 3260
Removable battery No
Colours Pearl Black, Gold
SAR value 1.38
Screen size (inches) 6.30
Touchscreen Yes
Resolution 1080×2280 pixels
Processor 2.2GHz octa-core
Processor make Snapdragon 626
Internal storage 64GB
Expandable storage Yes
Expandable storage type microSD
Expandable storage up to (GB) 256
Rear camera 16-megapixel
Rear Flash LED
Front camera 24-megapixel
Operating System Android 8.1
Skin FunTouch OS 4.0
Wi-Fi Yes
Bluetooth Yes, v 4.20
Headphones 3.5mm
FM Yes
Number of SIMs 2
SIM Type Nano-SIM
3G Yes
4G/ LTE Yes
Supports 4G in India (Band 40) Yes
SIM Type Nano-SIM
3G Yes
4G/ LTE Yes
Supports 4G in India (Band 40) Yes
Compass/ Magnetometer Yes
Proximity sensor Yes
Accelerometer Yes
Ambient light sensor Yes
Gyroscope Yes

The phone looks like an exact replica of the iPhone X and that is definitely no coincidence at all. The design department at Vivo has not tried to be very creative and that can be seen clearly. If you are looking to impress people into thinking that you have an iPhone X but can’t afford it, this is the phone for you.

Having said  that, the device does bring with it a relatively new design with ‘near bezel-less display’ and almost edge-to-edge design to the android world if you look at it literally. The V9  is the first Android-powered phone in India with “the notch” like we said earlier.  And it would very practical to expect a deluge of android phones with a notch going forward. This mad race to copy everything that Apple does is doing more harm than good to the android ecosystem. The notch is not exactly a great thing to have, but then again, we cannot predict for sure how the users are going to react to this new trend.

On to the other things about the phone. Vivo has added a dual camera setup in an iPhone X-like vertical setup towards the top left corner of the smartphone, along with an LED flash unit. The front camera has been moved to the notch . The back is glossy and it is a bad idea to use it without a cover or a case.

There aren’t any physical or hardware navigation buttons on the front and this has been done to reduce the size of the bottom chin and the company has gone with software navigation buttons instead.They have also added an iPhone X-like gesture-based navigation system that reduces the navigation buttons to small lines in the bottom of the screen, increasing the effective screen estate for the content. While the notch is an acquired taste, the gesture-based navigation is simple and easy to use. It does make the experience better.

The dual SIM slot tray along with a dedicated microSD card slot is located towards the top on the left side of the device. This means that you don’t have the choose between an additional SIM or a microSD card. This is a good option.The power button and the volume rocker  are on the right side of V9. Towards the bottom of the device, there are the microUSB port in the middle, with a 3.5 mm headphone jack and a speaker grill on either side. All in all, the design will not win any awards, but it is practical and works for daily use.

The phone has a 6.3-inch screen with FHD+ resolution and a 90 percent screen-to-body ratio with an iPhone X-like notch on the top, The V9  is powered by  a Snapdragon 626 SoC with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB internal storage. Like we said, there is an option to add a microSD card with up to 256 GB capacity for expandable storage with the help of a ‘triple card slot’. It comes with a 16 MP rear camera sensor with an f/2.0 aperture and a 5 MP camera sensor for sensing the depth. A 24 MP camera sensor is on the front of the device.

The phone has a microUSB port, OTG, GPS, dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v4.2 and headphone jack. It would have served the company well to have gone with the USB Type-C port instead, given that the phone has all other things right from a premium experience angle. This is a tad bit disappointing.

The display is a 6.3-inch IPS LCD screen with a 19:9 aspect ratio and an FHD+ resolution of 2280 x 1080 pixels. With that notch, you get a 90 percent screen-to-body ratio.  But the jury is still out on the notch though. But then, like it or not, the notch is here to stay and looks like we don’t get much of a say about that. So letting it grow on you is the only option left. The display has good viewing angles when it comes color reproduction on the screen. However, the brightness goes down a tad bit  if viewed from a few angles, effectively reducing the overall impact of the edge-to-edge design. From an experience standpoint, this sort of undoes what the company has tried to achieve with the notch on top. The display is reflective and the sunlight visibility suffers due to this.

The V9 runs Vivo’s Android 8.1 Oreo-based Funtouch OS 4.0 out of the box along with the March Android security patch. Vivo has gone completely overboard by making Funtouch OS 4.0 as visually close to iOS as possible. From  the icons to notification bar to the toggles, you will be excused for thinking that you are using an iPhone. Imitation it seems, is the best form of you-know-what.

The phone also comes with an updated ‘Game Mode’ so that you can play games without any notifications disrupting your experience. You can set a select number of contacts whose calls can notify you while you are in Game Mode. ‘Picture in Picture’ is supported for a select number of apps. The ‘Game Mode’ also comes with a new ‘Gaming Keyboard’, which reduces the size of your keyboard. This is a nifty feature if you are an avid gamer on your phone. The UI gives you an option where you can call a contact directly by putting your phone close to your ear if you have opened the contact details, message thread or call details for that particular contact.  It also helps answering the call by holding the phone near your ear when you see an incoming call.

The camera specifications have been listed out already, so we are not going to get into that. In our use the rear dual camera set up was adequate for churning out pictures under normal lighting conditions. The images are well fleshed out and the colors are crisp. There was a tad bit of over-saturation of reds and oranges that randomly appeared on images but it was not regular enough to bother us. The front camera churns out very good selfies and the company claims that there is embedded AI that helps with images. The images are not that impressive in low-light and night conditions. Here are a few pictures we took with the phone.

The phone supports VoLTE calling and calls are fine without any drops or issues. The battery runs for about 11 hours on a single charge. The audio output is good and the bass is good, The high volume output is a bit on the shrill side though. Overall, nothing to complain about though.


At a price of INR 22,880/- the phone is good value for money, It looks and works just like the iPhone X. All in all, a well-rounded and “top-notch”experience. But it has stiff competition from Redmi devices and the OPPO F7 though.

About Shakthi

I am a Tech Blogger, Disability Activist, Keynote Speaker, Startup Mentor and Digital Branding Consultant. Also a McKinsey Executive Panel Member. Also known as @v_shakthi on twitter. Been around Tech for two decades now.

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