The vivo V20 Pro 5G features one of the slimmest designs at 7.49 mm.
Under the hood is a 7nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G SoC with Sub-6GHz 5G support.
The smartphone comes with 33W fast-charging support.
After the success of the vivo V19, the company launched its successor, the V20, towards the end of 2020. But this time around, vivo launched three models in the series, a strategy similar to what Apple and Samsung have been doing with their premium lineups. So, you have the mid-tier V20 SE, and the V20, followed by the affordable premium V20 Pro 5G that we are reviewing today. These three vivo smartphones are quite identical, with some differences in their design and hardware. The vivo V20 Pro 5G builds on the foundation of the vivo V19 while bringing key upgrades to take on the competition.
I have been using the vivo V20 Pro 5G for over three weeks now. It has impressed me in three key areas. The smartphone comes with a sleek form factor with a beautiful gradient back. The performance is more refined than its predecessor and, lastly, the camera experience is much improved too. I will talk about these points in detail in the review below.
Pricing and Strategy: vivo goes Apple, Samsung way
As mentioned above, there are three devices in the series. The V20 SE is priced around $290, the V20 around $350 and the V20 Pro 5G around $410. At this price point, the major competitors for the V20 Pro 5G are the Google Pixel 4a and OnePlus Nord. While the Nord and V20 Pro are powered by the same chipset and include 5G connectivity, the Pixel 4a comes with a stunning still camera, even if it does not feature 5G and a better chipset.
Talking about the company’s strategy, Senior Analyst Prachir Singh said, “vivo has been a dominant smartphone player in many emerging markets. It consistently holds top three positions in key Asian markets, such as China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines. One of the key factors in its success is the V-series smartphones. The new Vivo V20 series sports a super-sleek form factor, a beautiful design and impressive camera specifications. Vivo V20’s predecessor, V19, witnessed strong demand in India, Indonesia, Thailand and other SEA markets. The vivo V20 Pro 5G is the cheapest 5G offering from an offline-centric brand in India. Also, with the V20 and V20 SE models, vivo is offering the same design and key features at different price points to expand its market share in different price bands.”
In October 2020, vivo marked its official entry into the European market. The new V20 series may offer a unique proposition to the European consumers in the sub-$400 segment, helping the brand accelerate its adoption in the continent’s market.
Design: Striking Gradients and Matte Finish Translate into Premium Look and Feel
The V20 Pro 5G is undoubtedly one of the best-looking smartphones in the segment. It is sleek with a thickness of just 7.49 mm. The smartphone is also lightweight at just 170 gm, thanks to its plastic frame. It features a Corning Gorilla Glass 5 cover at the back with a smooth matte finish. This helps in offering a good grip while ensuring it does not attract fingerprints.
But the most eye-catching detail of the smartphone is its gradient back panel which looks quite flashy, especially the Sunset Melody color variant. Depending on the angle from which you look at, it throws different hues of violet, blue, pink and purple.
The rectangular camera module is on the top left corner. It features a triple camera setup and a dual-LED flash. It does have a small camera bump, but it is not as much as seen on most phones. In the lower half, below the camera module, there is vivo branding along with a 5G logo.
There are other subtle details of the smartphone design that are worth mentioning. The rounded edges ensure you get a better grip when holding the phone, whereas the curved corners ensure it does not look too boxy. vivo has also paid attention to finer details, like the power button, which comes with a textured finish to distinguish it from the volume rocker.
The Sunrise Melody color variant simply looks stunning.
Performance: Snappy and Reliable
Talking about performance, there are three things I would like to highlight – display, smooth functioning and battery life. Starting with the display, vivo has gone with a 6.44-inch E1 Pro AMOLED full HD+ display with a resolution of 2,400×1,080 pixels, 408ppi. There is a small notch on the top that houses the dual cameras, and while it does not bother you, a hole-punch cutout like the V19 could have been a better option.
Now, while the trend of smartphones with a 90Hz and above refresh rate is rising, sadly, the V20 Pro runs on a 60Hz refresh rate. Not that it is bad, but once you have used a phone with a high refresh rate, it becomes difficult to go back to 60Hz, as you feel like the UI is lagging.
But otherwise, the display is sharp and bright. Viewing the screen from different angles is no problem either. Whether you are scrolling through your timeline or binge-watching your favorite TV show, the screen will not disappoint you.
The AMOLED display offers deep blacks and vivid color reproduction but misses out on a higher refresh rate.
Moving on, the V20 Pro runs on the latest Android 11 with Funtouch OS 11 skin on top. It offers all the Android 11 goodies, along with vivo’s additions such as Jovi personal assistant, which works like Google Now feed. There is also the Ultra Game Mode with 4D game vibrations on supported games, eagle eye enhancement to make your games look better with color enhancements, tone mapping and detail sharpening. It also includes the high-performance eSports mode and do-not-disturb mode to keep those annoying notifications, calls and messages away when you are focusing on the game.
Under the hood is a 7nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G SoC with integrated Snapdragon X52 5G modem with support for the Sub-6GHz frequency band and Wi-Fi 6. There is an 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage. While it is not the fastest memory and storage around, it is good for its price point. The UFS 2.1 storage offers good read and write speeds while 8GB of RAM is more than enough to ensure smooth functioning.
During my usage, the phone ran smoothly without any issues. Even playing heavy-duty game titles like Call of Duty: Mobile or having multiple apps and Chrome windows open in the background, the phone did not show any signs of lag.
The hardware along with the software is well-optimized to offer smooth performance.
Lastly, we come to battery life. The 4,000mAh battery lasts more than a day with moderate usage. With heavier usage, the phone will still last a full working day before requiring a charge. The 33W flash charge feature charges up to 60% battery in about 30 minutes. A full charge takes about 75 minutes, which is not bad at all. My usage included one hour of gaming daily and about three hours of social media including Instagram, WhatsApp and Twitter. Net surfing and watching videos on YouTube for about 40 minutes was also a part of the routine. With all this usage, I got close to six hours of screen time quite often. But the battery life is very subjective and will differ from person to person, based on individual usage.
The vivo V20 Pro 5G offered a good screen time of around six hours on a single charge.
Cameras: Capable Shooters in Every Lighting Condition
With its range of smartphones, vivo has focused on the front camera, and the V20 Pro 5G continues to do so with an improved sensor and AI enhancements that let you click even better selfies. There is a dual-camera setup on the front, featuring a 44MP main sensor of f/2.0 aperture, paired with an 8MP secondary sensor of f/2.28 aperture with an ultrawide lens. For better focus, the company is using Eye Auto Focus to track and focus on your eyes, rather than the face. This helps in clicking clear selfies, despite the lack of auto-focus.
The Eye Auto Focus feature is quick and accurate in locking focus.
In terms of quality, the main sensor captures some good-looking detailed selfies. With AI optimizations and beauty mode turned off, the camera retains the skin tone. But if you want to hide those blemishes, turning on the beauty mode is an option. But, while this mode adds skin smoothening, the result looks too artificial at times.
What is impressive here is the backlit compensation for underexposed images, especially the ones shot against the sun. This is where most cameras fail and result in clicking dark images. But vivo has fine-tuned the algorithms to click better images in challenging situations like these. Below are some camera samples in default and portrait modes, shot against the harsh sun just before setting. It is also worth mentioning that the edge detection in portrait mode works well, without making it look too artificial. Though, the portrait mode does make the skin look a little brighter.
The 44MP front camera clicks detailed selfies with realistic skin tones, even when shot against the sun.
vivo has also included a night mode where a burst of photos is captured at different exposures in three seconds to stitch them into a brighter, clearer image. But it depends on the lighting conditions. If you are in an ambient light environment, such as a restaurant or a pub, you will be in a better position to click good photos than in a darker environment. But these photos are passable on social platforms.
The secondary ultrawide-angle camera is a hit and miss. While it lets you capture more from the scene, the drop in resolution is noticeable. Still, the photos are decent enough to share on social media.
Moving on to rear cameras, the smartphone comes with three sensors. The primary one is a 64MP Samsung GW1 sensor with an f/1.89 aperture. The other two sensors are 8MP with an ultrawide lens and a 2MP mono lens which gets activated when you enable the Graded B/W filter in the camera app. While the idea of having a dedicated mono sensor is good, a higher resolution could have been better.
The Samsung sensor can click good photos in daylight conditions with ample details and a good dynamic range. Just like the front camera, the rear camera also captures bright photos even when shooting against the sun. As the phone does not have a dedicated telephoto lens, vivo is using the main sensor to click a high-res image and then crop it to offer up to 2X digital zoom. It works well and offers a lossless zoom. The 8MP sensor with an ultrawide lens is also well-tuned, and you will not see any disjoint in the color science when clicking ultrawide, wide and zoom shots. Below are a few samples.
The 64MP main camera and the 8MP ultrawide camera click good, detailed photos in good lighting conditions.
In low-light conditions, the camera does a good job, especially in the night mode. Below are a couple of shots I clicked in default and night modes. As you can see, the default picture looks dull, and the fan grill is also not clearly visible. With the night mode on, the photo looks crisp and detailed. Some purple fringing is noticeable, but that is the result of the bright red light from the opposite building.
The ultrawide lens also doubles as a macro lens when clicking close-up photos. vivo is also using this lens to add DSLR-like bokeh effects to portrait photos. The edge detection is good as well.
With the increasing number of people getting into vlogging, and more using short-video apps like Instagram Reels and TikTok, videos have become more important today. In the V20 Pro 5G, both front and rear cameras allow you to record 4K videos at 60fps, and the quality is quite good. There is also a mode that allows you to record videos with both front and rear cameras simultaneously. But, while this mode is fun to use, the resolution is restricted to 1080p at 30fps.
Conclusion: The One That Ticks Most Boxes
vivo has done a good job with the V20 Pro 5G in terms of design, fast-charging battery, and offering the latest Android OS. The smartphone is also 5G ready, which adds to future-proofing for buyers in the emerging markets, and could prove to be an entry point for vivo in existing 5G markets like Europe where there is a Huawei gap left to be filled.
Both front and rear cameras are capable of clicking good photos, especially in backlit conditions where the camera is facing against the sun. The smartphone maker has also added some fun modes such as dual recording, portrait lighting effects and dual aperture to add a little dash to your photos and videos.
However, low-light quality can be improved. Using a telephoto lens instead of a mono lens could have been a better idea. The other option could have been to go with a higher resolution mono lens to click brighter photos with low noise, just like what Huawei did in some of its P and Mate series smartphones. The other complaint is not having a high-refresh-rate display, which could have made the vivo V20 Pro an even more attractive option in the segment.
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