The vivo V19 is one of the best phones I have used in 2020. It is also the first vivo phone to go through my hand, and I am still pleasantly surprised at what it brings to the table. My earlier skepticism was centred on the software side of things, because having used a series of manufacturer skins, I have to come to appreciate a less obtrusive approach because while phone makers add key features on top of Android, the experience isn’t always the best. This does not mean that I do not have my reservations about Funtouch 10.0, but they did not come into the way of me enjoying every day with the V19.
With that out of the way, the vivo V19 is as packed as you would expect a KES 41000 phone to: it has a near upper mid-range silicon with plenty of RAM and internal storage that can be supplemented with a microSD card while not sacrificing the second SIM slot; it has a beautiful and expansive Super AMOLED display that is serviced fine with a humongous 4500 mAh cell. Speaking of the juicer, it fills ridiculously fast using the packaged 33W brick, and this essentially makes it the fastest charger you can get for a phone out of the box in Kenya.
vivo V19 Specifications and Price in Kenya
|Resolution||1080 x 2400 pixels (~409 ppi density)
20:9 aspect ratio, 800 nits brightness, HDR 10
|Platform||Operating System||Android 10; Funtouch 10|
|Chipset||Qualcomm Snapdragon 712|
|CPU||Octa-core (2x2.3 GHz Kryo 360 Gold & 6x1.7 GHz Kryo 360 Silver)|
|Internal||128GB/256GB UFS 2.1|
|Camera||Main||48 MP, f/1.8, (wide), 1/2.0", 0.8µm, PDAF
8 MP, f/2.2, 13mm (ultrawide), 1/4.0", 1.12µm
2 MP, f/2.4, (macro)
2 MP, f/2.4, (depth)
video: 4K at 30fps, 1080p at 30 and 60fps
|Front||32 MP, f/2.1, 23mm (wide), 1/2.8", 0.8µm
8 MP, f/2.3, 17mm (ultrawide)
video 1080p at 30fps
|Type||Li-Ion | 33W fast charging(0% -54% in 30 minutes)|
|Colors||Piano Black/Gleam Black, Mystic Silver/Sleek Silver|
|Features||indisplay fingerprint reader, USB Type C, Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, LE|
There are a couple of missteps that have been made by the phone: for instance, I have been using the Galaxy S10 more than a year and I find the size to be perfect, so anything slightly bigger is a minor inconvenience for me, but that is a personal problem. Even more personal because the majority of phones out there are huge slabs of glass and metal/plastic, so the V19 is likely going to get a pass for a lot of people in the size department.
The second issue is mostly about software: dark mode, while excellent, does break some apps (more of that in a moment, I swear). Also, setting default apps is a feature that vivo has tucked so far away in the Settings app, which is not a user-friendly approach for many. I mean, the vivo browser is functional, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. It took me a couple of minutes before setting Chrome as default.
The third issue is about the cameras. Don’t get me wrong, they are excellent for the price. Very good as evidenced in the attached samples below. You get six lenses (two on the front), and all have varying different focal lengths so if you are the creative type, you are going to get a wide range of images if you so choose. However, the processing didn’t appear right to me. Some images, mainly those backed up by the AI-powered scene optimizer mode, were excessively over-sharpened and reminded me what Samsung phones used to do back in 2015. Of course, these are issues you can fix by toggling off the AI feature.
Now, right off the bat, the intro makes it obvious that this is one of the easiest reviews we have ever done, so let’s dig slightly deeper into the offerings of the V19.
Every part of the V19 that you can see screams modern. The display is immersive and good looking and is only interrupted by the dual selfie snappers that are shifted to the right side.
The back has this gorgeous colour that vivo calls Sleek Silver. It is good and different. If screaming colours are not your thing, vivo offers the V19 in Piano Black as well.
The back is also not busy: just the vivo branding on the bottom hand-side, as well as a rectangular camera bump that houses four sensor and an LED flash.
The bottom side has a USB-C opening, a single speaker grill (no dual speakers here), and yes, there is a 3.5 mm headphone socket.
The left side has the dual-SIM and microSD card slots. All buttons are on the right side. They are click-y as you would expect, and I have nothing but love for them.
Oh, the display has an in-screen fingerprint scanner that works 100% of the time. It is very fast and embarrasses the ultra-sonic one in the S10. However, optical fingerprint scanners are going to drive you crazy at night because the light that reads your print is can be quite bright.
The front cameras can also be used for face-unlock. As we have come to expect from face-recognition systems made by Chinese OEMs, the one on the V19 is blazing fast, and I use it all the time.
The entire package is well-woven, and as mentioned, a lot of people are going to like this design because it is different: there aren’t many phones out here with dual selfie cameras, with this quality of a display that is easily usable on a sunny day, and allows you to slot in your two SIMs and external memory card at a go.
As said, different companies have a varying approach to the manner they present software to users. The majority adds all features they can think of to the Android experience. We appreciate the features when they help us do a thing or two better, but that is not always the case because some software elements come in the way of an enjoyable experience. Is that the case here? Not really, but there are issues we have to talk about.
Funtouch 10.0 is a neat skin on the whole. It allows you to use an app drawer if having apps strewn over home screens is not your thing.
The skin supports gesture navigation, and vivo does them well, much better than what I have on the S10.
Quick settings also highlight some of the features you get with the V19: you can record your screen, use split-screen, enter into Ultra gaming mode or dark mode, and so forth.
There is a feature called Jovi that gives you a tutorial about camera modes, and a Smart Scene feature that is bundled with Digital Wellbeing and a setting that reminds you to drink water.
Other software elements are normal. The arrangement is not the best, and there are chances you are going to miss what you might be looking for. However, the best option is using the search bar at the top to identify a setting you want to adjust.
In typical form, there are many themes in here. You can also download fonts if you so choose.
Like other manufacturers, vivo has a V-Appstore that has some popular titles and many games. I do not understand why vivo chose to include the store when Play Store is serviceable. App duplication is not something we should be talking about in 2020.
Now, let’s talk about the dark theme. The V19, and other vivo phones force apps that do not have dark-mode natively to go lights out. One of such apps is Facebook and so far, so good.
Twitter supports dark mode, and it appears it clashes with system-wide dark mode. I say this because it blurs some text, especially in the quoted replies field. Check the attached image.
Another issue is how the V19 has buried default apps settings in the OS. You have to search for it, and do a couple of clicks before changing anything (just go to Settings>Applications and Permissions>Permission management>Default app settings).
Have I also mentioned that using a third-party screen replacement app is nearly impossible? It will work, but after a while, the launcher will crash (as tested with Nova Launcher Prime).
Nevertheless, these are trivial issues you can live with or wait until vivo sends an update.
Speaking of updates, vivo sent two minor updates the day I received the V19. I hope the company maintains the spirit in the coming days.
Lastly, and this is going to make a lot of people happy, there aren’t any ads here. You know those devices that you spend a lot of money on and still interrupt your experience with ads? This is not one of them.
In the introduction section, I talk about my love for this camera, and how you can fix some issues such as over-sharpening or super poppy colours that make some images look fake, for the lack of a better word. Just disable the scene-optimizer mode especially when you are taking pics of food.
And since I am always on a mission to civilize, make sure you disable beauty mode when taking selfies. Alright? I knew you would listen to me.
Otherwise? The camera is great. Here are some samples I snapped at Kikuyu, Kenya.
I hardly talk about performance because of two main things: Android as an OS, and chip development have peaked. We have entry-level chipsets that perform admirably, and high-end ones that knock our socks out. The Snapdragon 712 octa-core silicon in the V19 is an upper midrange SoC, meaning it is a level or two below top performers. However, it performs as good as a high-end chip, and for normal day to day use cases, you are going to appreciate its speed. In fact, you cannot tell much of a difference with, say the Exynos 9820 on my S10. That is how good these chips have gotten.
Summarily, there is enough oomph to keep your daily phone tasks on their toes. The tasks are also complemented by a generous amount of RAM at 8 GB.
It is excellent. One, the size is huge (4500 mAh), and charges crazy stupid fast (54% in 30 mins, tops off by the hour). Expect to do a whole day with it. frugal users can get an extra half a day.
Standby time is also excellent (you only lose about 3% overnight).
I did not know that the V19 was going to be a good experience because I have never used a vivo phone before (my colleagues have). It also turns out that an upper mid-range chip, ample memory, a huge battery and an excellent screen make a good recipe for a great device, especially if it is going to cost KES 41000.
Of course, there are some issues in store. The software could use some polishing. The cameras, while excellent, tend to over-sharpen images, especially when you are photographing food. These are issues that can be fixed with a software update, which I hope vivo will keep up with.
Should you buy the V19? Absolutely. There isn’t any phone I can name that has this form of fast-charging (rivals come close). I also cannot a phone that has an eye-pleasing display that can do 1200 nits (as advertised). Lastly, its entire packing is attractive, and is even better under then Mystic Silver coat of paint.