It’s difficult to walk in Samsung’s shadow, especially when you know the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer is about to make its biggest bet in just a few weeks. Vivo, on the other hand, has never shied away from a challenge, and it has taken a chance right at the start of the year to kick off 2022 in style. Despite the fact that the Vivo V23 is a mid-range model, it appears to be interesting on paper, so we gave it an opportunity to prove itself in practise.
Almost all smartphone makers, whether it’s the design of the camera bump or the phone itself, rely on a few tricks to stand out these days. The Vivo V23 5G is no exception, but it luckily avoids becoming too flashy or ostentatious to throw off potential buyers. Its selling point, in fact, is that its party trick is almost too slow and unpredictable to be a selling point.
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The back panel is composed of Flourite AG glass, which gives it a rough feel, but the UV reactive colour utilised by Vivo on the Sunshine Gold variant sets it apart. In a nutshell, when exposed to UV light, this golden blue colour transforms into a variety of blue tones and other hues.
The gradation isn’t uniform, but it’s slow and gradual enough to be a live art exhibition, changing the Vivo V23’s back into an abstract art painting. Unfortunately, the Stardust Black model lacks this feature, making it a little plain and forgettable.
Moving to the sides, the Vivo V23 adopts an almost flat-edged design that’s becoming increasingly fashionable, thanks in no small part to Apple. With the exception of a small curve where the display and rear glass meet the mid-frame, it is perfectly flat.
In contrast to its Pro sibling’s polycarbonate construction, the phone’s frame is made of “aerospace aluminium,” which gives it a stunning shine. If the phone’s sides are left unprotected, however, they are more vulnerable to damage.
Display and Audio
Vivo’s indirect homage to the iPhone continues on the front of the phone, where the 6.44-inch display is also nearly flat. The notch on the phone’s forehead, which feels antiquated by today’s standards, may cause most users to miss this piece. Despite its existence, the screen has noticeable bezels, maybe as a compromise to set it apart from an iPhone.
The Vivo V23 features a usable AMOLED screen, but it doesn’t leave a lasting impact in terms of display quality. It has a sufficient maximum brightness for outdoor use, however it struggles in direct sunlight. This has an effect on its HDR performance, which isn’t quite as fantastic as we’d hoped but still acceptable.
The phone supports HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG formats in this regard, but not Dolby Vision.
The screen has a maximum refresh rate of 90Hz, which is virtually normal by now, but Vivo’s FuntouchOS looks to be having trouble applying the correct refresh rate at the right time or with the right programme.
The audio output of the Vivo V23 5G, like its display, is adequate but not spectacular. The single down-firing speaker and the lack of a stereo setup are to blame for part of the problem. Although there is no headphone port, Vivo has included a USB-C to 3.5mm converter for those who require it.
Performance and Battery
It’s difficult to categorise the Vivo V23 as a mid-range phone, especially given its extensive capabilities, which include a maximum of 12GB of RAM. The difference is due to the Dimensity 920 chipset, which is a newer 5G CPU from MediaTek that lies just below the premium Dimensity 1200 option. The performance of this silicon is “good enough,” but not exceptional, as is the case with other parts of the phone.
In simulated benchmarks, it trails high-end flagships powered by the Snapdragon 888 or even the MediaTek Dimensity 1200, which powers the Vivo V23 Pro. The Vivo V23, on the other hand, continues to impress in practise, and it can even handle most games without missing a beat or a frame.
Its heat management is actually quite impressive, and even during extended gaming sessions, the phone does not become too hot to handle.
Like any other phone, the Vivo V23 prioritises its cameras, but not in the way you may think. The main cameras on the phone are acceptable, but their output is typical of a mid-range handset. The fact that they’re surrounded by an absurdly large camera bump doesn’t help matters either.
The main 64MP sensor, for example, has just basic PDAF and no optical image stabilisation. The main camera uses a Quad-Bayer filter by default to pixel-bin the image down to 16MP, although the quality suffers slightly as a result, especially in terms of making colours look soft and large swaths of the same hue look essentially noisy.
You may get better results if you utilise the full 64MP resolution, but colours in both cases appear muted compared to real life. This, oddly, goes against Chinese manufacturers’ usual practise of oversaturating colours.
The main camera is supplemented by an 8MP ultra-wide shooter and a 2MP macro camera. Both perform a decent job, but nothing exceptional or noteworthy. There is no separate telephoto lens, but the main 64MP camera can zoom up to 2x with substantial quality loss.
Performance in low light is surprisingly good, albeit some overprocessing may occur to compensate for the lack of light data. Unfortunately, the night mode is hit or miss, but the ones that work look great.
The Vivo V23 shines brightest in the selfie camera, or at least the main 50MP sensor. There’s also a front-facing 8MP ultra-wide camera, although it does the same thing as the back camera.
However, megapixel numbers aren’t everything, and Vivo’s breakthrough comes in the form of two LED lights hidden in the display’s opposing corners, flanking the notch. This “Dual-Tone Spotlight” provides much-needed flash lighting, and the tones may be adjusted in the camera app to suit your needs.
The Vivo V23, thankfully, runs on a version of Funtouch OS that is currently based on Android 12. This means that new owners of the phone will not have to wait for the latest Android OS to be released. It also means that a number of Android 12 features, particularly those related to privacy, such as notifications when the camera or microphone is engaged, are currently available.
On the other hand, Funtouch OS 12 abandons the almost vanilla appearance that previous incarnations strove to replicate. The experience now appears to be more customised than ever before, departing significantly from stock Android. For example, the Quick Toggle icons have a set square shape that cannot be changed regardless of theme.
Vivo’s Android skin comes with a slew of unique features, including the obligatory “Ultra Game Mode.” It not only eliminates unnecessary distractions, but it also boasts a unique feature that allows the game to continue to play even when the screen is switched off. Of course, this will deplete your battery quickly, but it might be beneficial for games that don’t require your complete attention all of the time.
The Vivo V23 5G is a sleek smartphone with a fun party trick that tells you how much UV light you’ve been exposed to. It’s a mid-range phone on the inside and out that delivers sufficient performance while cutting a few corners. The phone would be underwhelming if that were the end of the storey, but that isn’t the case.
The model is designed at a $400 price point, putting all of those features in a more favourable light. Because of its appealing design, decent performance, and inexpensive price, the Vivo V23 5G is a tempting alternative to its Pro counterpart. Those who enjoy selfies and vlogging, in particular, will appreciate how the company went above and beyond to produce a fantastic product.