Going by the latest report from IDC for Q1 2019 the top five smartphone brands are Xiaomi, Samsung, Vivo, Oppo, and Realme. While all five have done a spectacular job with their latest phones, I feel it is Vivo that is really pushing what is possible in terms of innovation and uniqueness of its phones. And that I believe also reflects in the IDC report which shows that compared to the Q1 2018 the shipments rate of Vivo phones more than doubled (108 per cent) in Q1 2019. The credit for the increase also goes to the Vivo V15 and Vivo Y series.
Vivo has been making some stunning phones lately regardless of the price segment. Design and camera are two aspects that Vivo takes very seriously for all its phones. And the V15 is no exception. The phone ticks all the right boxes as far as the design is concerned. It comes with gradient finish and in funky colours like Royal Blue, Frozen Black, and Glamour Red. For this review, I used the Red variant.
I love how the Vivo V15 looks. The dual-tone design adds to the overall aesthetics, as well as gives the phone a premium touch. However, I wish the phone was slightly on the smaller side. It feels fairly big and if you are fond of skin-tight jeans you may even struggle to shove it in the pockets. Single-hand usage, if you have small hands, is bothersome. Another complaint I have is with the polycarbonate body of the phone ‘which’ collects fingerprints with ease. While using it, I had to keep wiping the back cover like almost all the time. For a phone that’s around Rs 20,000, I wish there was a glass body here instead of polycarbonate. The good bit is the build quality of the phone is sturdy.
Quite similar to Samsung or OnePlus, Vivo usually does a great job with the screen of its phones. The last Vivo phone I reviewed was the Vivo V15 Pro and it had a gorgeous 6.39-inch OLED display. The Vivo V15 comes packed with a 6.53-inch Ultra FullView In-Cell full-HD+display with a screen resolution of 1080×2340 pixels. This too is a lovely display, albeit I miss the OLED and the punchy colours that panel can show. The Vivo V15 screen uses LCD panel. It’s a delight to use indoors and shows punchy colours. Under the blazing sunlight, though, I wish it was brighter for when the scorching Delhi sun shines it is difficult to watch a video or two on the Vivo V15 screen due to reflection. In outdoor situations I was able to do most of my regular work like sending WhatsApp messages, checking tweets, making calls and so on very easily. But it is during video sessions that I feel the screen of the phone could have been on the slightly brighter side. The viewing angles are quite good.
The Vivo V15 is powered by the octa-core MediaTek Helio P70 SoC clocked at 2.1GHz, with four ARM Cortex-A73 cores and four power-efficient Cortex-A53 cores. This is the same chipset that powers the Oppo F11 Pro as well as much cheaper Realme 3. The Vivo V15 comes in only one variant with 6GB RAM and 64GB of internal storage, which can be expanded by up to 256GB storage via a microSD card.
As for the performance, the Vivo V15 does a decent job. The phone is capable of handling regular usage that includes making and taking calls, messaging on WhatsApp, browsing social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, browsing the internet, watching videos, and sending emails with ease. I used the Vivo V15 as my primary device and the performance was quite decent. However, having multiple apps running on the background may make the phone lag sometimes.
Also, if you are an avid gamer, the Vivo V15 isn’t for you. I tried playing games like PUBG and often the app crashed or the screen went off. Some of the basic games like subway surfers and Temple run pretty smoothly though. Overall, the Vivo V15 may not be a powerhouse but it gets the work done, unless you are not playing PUBG or Fortnite on it.
The phone runs Funtouch OS 9 based on Android 9 Pie. I have never been a fan of Vivo’s custom OS and that is mostly because of its iOS-like nature. Sadly FunTouch OS 9 doesn’t bring app drawer and it’s filled with several third-party apps.
Currently, the Vivo V15 is the cheapest pop-up selfie camera phone available in the Indian market. The phone comes with a 32MP selfie camera that sits inside the pop-up mechanism similar to the one in the V15 Pro. The pop-up selfie setup is pretty smooth and at no point did I feel it to be fragile. One thing I miss here is the face unlock support.
Coming to the front camera performance, I believe the Vivo V15 does a good job. The V15 uses pixel binning technology to capture selfies in the 32MP mode so images have a size of 8 megapixels. Surprisingly, the Vivo V15 not only clicks good selfies in daylight situations but also in low-light. The selfies clicked with the Vivo V15 show good amount of details as well as vibrant colours. However, I believe the layers of beautification could have been better optimised as I mostly want my selfies to look natural but sadly that is difficult to achieve with the camera app that Vivo has in the V15.
The front camera of the V15 turned my dusky skin to white. So, if you’re looking for a smartphone with pop-up selfie camera that also clicks Instagram worthy pictures with layer of filters already added, the Vivo V15 is a good option to consider.
On the back, the Vivo V15 includes three cameras — with the primary camera being a 12MP sensor. It is accompanied by a 8MP camera as well as a 5MP sensor that captures depth information for portrait mode. Overall, the pictures clicked with the V15 in daylight have good amount of details, but I don’t like that the colours are often over-saturated. In low light the performance takes a hit. The main sensor struggles to capture and retain details in low light. There is a Night Mode in the V15 camera app, and that helps in low light.
The Vivo V15 is a stylish phone with a lot of goodness inside it. But it has some issues as well. It is a good all-rounder phone with good looks, great battery life, decent performance, fast and smooth pop-up camera, decent camera performance on front and back, and bright display. But compared to the high-end Pro version — Vivo V15 Pro — the V15 lacks quite a bit. Overall if you are not too demanding from your phone, and want a device with good screen, a nice pop-up selfie camera and attractive design, the V15 will satisfy you. But, if you’re a power user there are better options in the market at this price point.