Vivo V11 Pro review: has the chutzpah to take on the Poco F1 and Honor Play

Rating: 8.4/10

Yay: 

  • Unique looking design
  • Tapered back for a slim feel
  • Great daylight photography
  • Super AMOLED display with thin bezels

Nay:

  • Low-light photography 
  • Average battery life

Introduction

While the year 2018 has been an exciting time for smartphones, most of the “innovation” was limited to the pricing of the phones themselves. Well, Vivo is one of the very few brands, that actually brought real innovation this year. With its in-display fingerprint scanners and pop-out cameras, the smartphone space has seen a renaissance. Today, we take a look at the Vivo V11 pro – a phone that looks ravishing and makes innovation affordable for the masses. 

Vivo V11 Pro Design

Vivo phones are — how do I put this subtly — everything that the Poco F1 is not when it comes to design. This is a brand that always values good looks and aesthetics, over nerdy bland-looking sturdy designs. I think we can all agree that the Vivo V11 Pro, just like its predecessors, looks really good. Especially, in this Black-Blue edition. It’s apparently inspired by an artwork called the Starry Night by one of the most influential figures in the history of western art – Vincent Van Gogh. I don’t know if it is actually the case, but I am really enjoying the gold accents. I have never been a fan of the Gold colour – on phones or otherwise – but I think it has been very tastefully used here.

The Black-Blue shade also has a dual -one color, where the bottom part actually looks purple from every angle other than when you look at it straight. It’s trippy. However, now coming to the cons of that back. The rear is not made of glass but plastic, and hence it scratches easily. I have only used it for slightly over a week and it has already scratched up pretty well, to the point where one reflection will show it. That said, Vivo does include a case inside the box. So if you want the back to look like that forever, keep the case on. 

Talking ergonomics, the V11 Pro has done well on that part for the size. I don’t really like big phones but the tall 19.5:9 aspect ratio of the display makes it easy to hold and use, at least width-wise. It’s clearly past the threshold of one-hand usage, but it still is a well-controlled big phone.

The buttons also feel fine, and the tactile feedback is good too. But, since the back is slightly tapered, the sides are thinner and narrower than usual.  I am nitpicking here, but I myself love slightly wider buttons. That doesn’t mean that I had any problems with the buttons on the V11 Pro, it is just my critical opinion. 

Vivo V11 Pro Display

The display on the V11 Pro is easily one of the best features of this phone and I won’t be surprised if this becomes your sole reason to buy it. Now, there are a lot of things to talk about in the display.

Firstly, it’s a big 6.41-inch 19.5:9 aspect ratio display with Gorilla Glass 3 on top. It’s a Super AMOLED panel because you can’t really put an in-display fingerprint scanner inside an LCD display with today’s tech. Also, Vivo’s display is awesome because it is damn bright, I mean more expensive AMOLED displays surely get bright, but when I saw the V11 Pro, I was sure that Vivo hadn’t skimmed on the quality of the panel.

Quite honestly I had a ball with this display. I was using the incredible LG G7+ ThinQ (review coming up soon) before the V11 Pro and was smitten by its kickass IPS LCD panel. But after using the V11 Pro’s display, I am floored and it’s going to be difficult to go back to the G7+ ThinQ. I still prefer smaller form factors, but if there was any magical way to get the handling of LG and the massive display on the V11 Pro, I would be the first in line to buy that phone.

The display also has a cool color temperature, but I actually don’t mind it, and you get the option to change that in settings so I ain’t complaining about that.

Fun fact, the Vivo Nex had a screen-to-body ratio of 91.24% and the Vivo V11Ppro actually has a slightly higher ratio at 91.27%. This is achievable mostly because of slightly thinner bezels and a very, very thin bottom chin. 

The resolution is still FHD+ but that is more than enough for most use cases. Talking about the display, I’d go as far as to say, that after the Vivo Nex, the Vivo V11 Pro’s display has been one of the most impressive displays this year. 

Also read: Redmi 6 first impressions: Xiaomi’s most affordable dual camera smartphone is here

Vivo V11 Pro Software

Vivo’s take on Android is called Fun Touch OS, but how fun is it really? Well, it is a lot of fun, for sure. The OS is a vibrant take on the bland Android that enthusiasts including me, love to no extent. That said, I didn’t mind using Vivo’s Fun Touch OS, it is quite a feature-packed skin on Android.  The apps laid out on the home screen is not my cup of tea, so I quickly put the Evie launcher on top, which has by the way recently become the launcher of choice for us here at Mr. Phone.

Talking about Vivo’s home screen, apart from the apps all on homepage, the universal search works well. And, the left side of the home screen also has something called the Jovi page. This page is like your personal feed, with your calendar favourite apps, weather etc. I didn’t really use it much, but it’s there for people who want it. 

Moving to the settings, it is obviously packed to its gills with features. You get the option to change a lot of settings and really customise the way things look. You have the option to switch between navigation buttons or gestures, I prefer gestures so I use them. And while everything works smoothly for me, I noticed one bug. When you are on the home screen and want to switch to the recent apps screen it refuses to do so. You have to do this weird swipe up and right to get to the last app. I’m pretty sure it’s a small bug and will be fixed by a software update. 

It’s a feature-packed OS and there are a few cool things. For example, there’s a motorbike mode, which I think is a very India-specific feature. This mode will reject all incoming calls while you are riding and will only let you pick up calls when you have stopped and are not moving. 

You can change the colour temperature according to your liking. And coming to the lock screen tab, this is where you can tinker with the always-on display. While it’s mostly inspired by Samsung, you can do a lot of things and make it look exactly like you want to. 

There are also Fhemes, and a big store to customise to make it look like yours. Now let’s talk about the fingerprint and the face unlock. The fingerprint scanner is an in-display scanner, which is one of the most unique features of the V11 Pro. And, it’s a great feat that while no other brand has released a true consumer phone with an in-display scanner. Vivo has already sold millions of units with working in-display scanners.

For me, it was not the best experience and I still prefer the fingerprint scanners at the back. Even the accuracy wasn’t great for me. But it’s definitely faster as I asked others around in the team to check it out and it’s definitely a good scanner.

We also have Face unlock and not a normal face unlock but a more secure one assisted by an infrared illuminator. It works pretty well and even in the dark with that IR scanner. I’ve had no problems with face unlock. The Settings panel also gives you an option to turn both of them ON at once.  This means that as soon as you bring it up to unlock and put your finger, it starts recognising both and unlocks as soon as one of them is verified. It’s just faster and ensures that your phone unlocks with ease every single time.

There are also these tiny visual tweaks. For example, like when you unlock the phone, there are colourful stripes that run down the top and bottom of the screen. It looks magical, I must say. I am not one to fall for gimmicky software, but yahoo, me pighal gaya!

Vivo V11 Performance

The Vivo V11 comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 inside coupled with 6GB of RAM. This SoC is a perfectly capable processor for a Rs 25,999 price tag. And the Nokia 7 plus, which was recommended by all reviewers this year, had the same processor at a similar price, But then the Poco F1 was launched with a SD845 SoC.

So if you are a performance-lover then the Poco is the obvious choice. But that doesn’t by any means mean, that the Vivo V11 Pro is slow. I have been using the V11 Pro as my only phone for the last two weeks and I don’t miss using an SD 845 phone. I’m sure they have more raw power when it comes to playing heavy games and doing heavy duty work, but for a normal user who does gaming on the side, the 660 is very capable. 

There are drawbacks, though. When playing PUBG, for e.g., the Vivo V11 Pro topped out at medium graphics whereas the Poco F1 and the Asus Zenfone 5z can easily play at high graphics. Apart from that, I didn’t feel a difference in gameplay really. If you want to see a detailed performance comparison let me know in the comments. 

But, I want to take a strong stand here. And, I think it’s mostly a fault of reviewers. Most reviewers are tech nerds and value performance over anything. Hell, if I had to buy a phone at 25k I’d buy the Poco F1, only because I’m a tech head. That said, I can’t recommend a Poco to everyone. If someone other than a tech head, a normal consumer asks me, I’d recommend the V11 Pro over others purely because it’s a better overall package.

So, my final verdict on the performance part is this. If performance is a priority over anything else get the Poco, if not then the Vivo V11 Pro shall serve you with gumption. 

Moving on to the call quality. I had no problem with the sound quality of calls but I had a lot of dropped calls on the phone. It was never really a problem with other phones I’ve reviewed in the recent past. Well, I’ve never had such a problem with any other Vivo phone in the past so I’m pretty sure this exists because we own a pre-production unit and the retail units will probably be perfect. Although, do let us know if you face the same problem. 

The sound quality through the headphones is great because Vivo generally does a good job with its DAC. While playing games on this PHONE is an amazing experience, I’ll ask you to do that wearing earphones. Primarily because, it already is slim pickings on bezels, and when playing a game you are pretty much guaranteed to cover up the single speaker. And while the speaker itself is pretty respectable for a single speaker, it’s just an uncomfortable experience when playing games. 

Also read: Poco F1 by Xiaomi review: don’t think it, just buy it

Vivo V11 Pro Cameras

Okay so now coming to the cameras, the Vivo V11 Pro has a 12MP f/1.8 sensor and a 1.28-micron pixel size. Plus a 5MP camera with a f/2.4 lens for depth information. The front camera has a whopping 25MP f/2.0 lens for sharp selfies.

That’s fairly good camera hardware for the price, so then how does it perform in day-to-day usage? I must say, I am impressed. I, like most of you, was never a fan of Vivo products. But then recently, Vivo seems to have picked up their game. And starting with the X21 in India, I have been thoroughly impressed by the cameras. 

The X21 had a great camera, albeit with slightly weak lowlight performance. Same is the case with the Vivo V11 Pro. In fact, it looks like they’ve used the exact same hardware from the X21. The daylight pictures look very good. I was able to click some very good looking pictures with it. By default the dynamic range was good, and turning on the HDR mode made it even better. The night shots were again not too great. I think Vivo still needs to work a lot on the low-light photography, but overall it was a good experience. 

Click on this picture to view full size images and videos

I am not a big selfie taker, but the selfies were fun too. There are a lot of cool stickers and fun features, which the Mr. Phone team had a lot of fun with. I am very hopeful about these cameras.

Vivo V11 Pro Battery

The Vivo V11 Pro comes with a 3400mAh battery, which is not good, not bad. The size is not that big a problem, but the fact that the display is so big and bright, obviously affects the battery life. I would’ve loved to see a slightly bigger battery, even if it meant increasing the thickness a bit. But, it’s a Vivo phone and I understand that most Vivo customers would prefer a sleek design over thick phones. Let me know if that’s not the case below.

Now, there’s however one thing that did impress me, and it was the fast charging. I mean it charged up my battery from 0 to 100 in about an hour and a half. Although if you see the charging time till 80% it was much faster. The 80% to 100% charging time was slower probably to help from damaging the circuit. This is still as fast as OnePlus’ Dash charging and I am really impressed. I was a little sad that you get a Micro-USB port but the fast charging tech is a bonus. 

The tech the company has used is called Dual Engine fast charging. So basically, when every other phone charges using a single circuit and chip, the Vivo V11 Pro uses separate circuits and chips. This means that the battery is getting power simultaneously from two sources, which increases the speed significantly. It’s an 18W charger, and I am very impressed with the charging speed. 

Conclusion: Should you buy it?

Now, the strongest competitors for the Vivo V11 Pro are the: Poco F1, and the ZenFone 5Z. If performance is a priority then you should definitely get the Poco F1.

Now, if you want performance but also want a premium design, can make do with a small-notched screen, and are ready to play the extra bucks then get the Asus. Or, even the OnePlus if you can go higher. However, if you want to have a modern phone, tiny bezels possible, big displays, stylish design, a great processor that’s still capable and only do casual gaming, then the V11 Pro is a great package at a well-justified price. 

Sreehari

Sreehari is in love; in love with technology. His enthusiasm for new gadgets can be seen in his videos. He single-handedly built Mr. Phone's YouTube channel and continues to persevere with Nitesh in making world-class tech videos. Sree - as everyone calls him affectionately - is also a big fan of Artificial Intelligence and Industrial Design. If he is not working on gadget reviews, Sree is a trained Carnatic singer. When you meet him, do to request for his rendition of Kabira by Arijit Singh.