You have to hand it to the folks at Vivo. At a time when most brands tend to pay lip service to the “we are bringing our best features to more affordable devices” line, the Chinese brand has gone right ahead and done just that with its Vivo V11 Pro. The device is priced at Rs 25,990, and while those spoiled by the likes of the Poco F1 and the Honor Play might point that those two devices have much better processors, there is no doubting that the V11 Pro brings features to the table that those worthies do not.
And that is evident from the moment you clap eyes on it. Now, this is the price segment where phones just about start showing premium aspirations as far as design goes, but the Vivo V11 Pro is unabashedly premium in ambition. And it makes that impact even before you switch it on. I got the Starry Night variant, and seeing the colour of the back seemingly morph from jet black to dark blue with tiny “stars” appearing on it as you tilt it is definitely quite a visual treat. The back is said to be of polycarbonate but has a very glass-like feel to it, a feel that alas extends to a penchant for picking up stains and smudges. Vivo has bundled in a clear plastic cover, and those who want to preserve the pristine looks of the back would be well-advised to use it. Using it would however also be a colossal compromise as it would take away one of the most striking exteriors we have seen on a phone in this segment since the Moto X4 – even though that vertical capsule like dual camera set up on the back does remind us of the iPhone X.
The premium feel does not stop at the back. Switching on the device makes you realise that the front is all about a 6.41-inch display that is Super AMOLED (hello, deep blacks) and contains the tiniest notch we have ever seen – the so-called water drop notch. I personally do not have too much against notches, but this one is indeed impressively small, so small as to be utterly unobtrusive. It gives the phone a massive 91.27 percent screen-to-body ratio – again, super impressive at this price point. And in spite of that relatively large display (hey, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has a 6.4-inch display, remember?), the V11 Pro is surprisingly compact – at 157.9 mm in height, it is shorter than the iPhone 8 Plus and the Galaxy Note 9, both of which have larger displays. At 7.9 mm, it is impressively thin and at 156 grams, surprisingly light for its size. The finish of the device is high quality with rounded edges – it is very comfortable to hold and should slip unobtrusively into most pockets. Mind you, given its appearance, we are not sure too many would like to keep it there.
Beneath that rather good looking exterior are specs that are very respectable indeed with a few surprises – the display is a Super AMOLED full HD+ one, and running the device is the task of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 chip, backed by 6GB RAM and 64GB storage (expandable using a microSD card). Some might find the 12- and 5-megapixel dual camera setup at the rear to be a bit on the modest side in megapixel terms, but it comes with AI smarts including scene recognition, and a number of shooting modes. There are unlikely to be any megapixel complaints about the selfie snapper though – that one packs in 25-megapixels. In connectivity terms, there is 4G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS, and while some might be a little shocked to see a micro-USB port instead of a USB Type-C port which is the rage these days, the fact that Vivo can deliver very fast charging (dual engine fast charging) on it indeed pretty much compensates. There is a 3.5mm audio jack and the front-facing camera also has infrared support for better face unlock, something not seen too often at this price point. And yes, there is a fingerprint scanner under the display – once again the sort of feature you would expect in a much more expensive device. The software is slightly dodgy ground – yes, there is Android 8.1, but it runs below the FunTouch OS of Vivo which so many (mainly of the stock Android brigade) love to hate.
All of which is a nice blend of the substantially solid and the slickly high-tech. The big question, of course, is how does all this blend together? The answer is: for the most part, very well indeed. I did not encounter any performance issues in the period in which I was using the phone – yes, high-end gaming (PUBG, Asphalt, and the like) did cause the odd stutter and frame drop, but at no stage did I feel that I was handling a device that was incapable of good performance. The Super AMOLED display plays a big role in this, I suspect, as colors look good and the near edge-to-edge display makes viewing a very good experience indeed, perhaps the best in its price segment. Of course, beneath that display lurks a fingerprint scanner – it is on the lower part of the display and lights up when you look at the display or move the phone (when it is locked of course). There is some nice animation when you place your finger on the display as the phone gets unlocked but truth be told, I liked face unlock better – it was way faster. Yes, the under display fingerprint scanner does have a certain “geek” appeal but in terms of functionality, it does tend to be a trifle on the slower side, especially if you are used to the lightning quick conventional fingerprint scanners. My recommendation: go with the face unlock – it is faster and thanks to the infrared support, also works well in the night, and is not fooled by closed eyes (so no one can unlock the phone by just holding it to your face while you are snoozing).
But the star performer for me is the camera – the dual rear cameras in particular. What they lack in megapixel count, they make up for in terms of speed and detail. Colours did tend to be slightly on the richer side (I checked on other displays and not just the AMOLED one of the device itself) but detail, even in low light, was most impressive. AI scene recognition was not exactly spectacular but one did not really mind because even if one just pointed and snapped, the results more often than not were very impressive. I would go so far as to say that on a good day, there is enough on the V11 Pro to give even the OnePlus 6 a decent run for its money. Video quality is very good too, although the absence of optical image stabilisation does mean that you should use a tripod whenever possible. I also did expect a bit more from the selfie snapper, which does tend to smoothen and pink-en skin by default. Those who love super realistic images might find the cameras’ tendency to make colours more poppy a little disconcerting, but if it is good looking snaps you seek (as so many of us do), the V11 Pro will seldom disappoint. There are also a number of modes to play around with and yes, AI bokeh works very well indeed, although some edges do get missed out at times.
Even in terms of overall performance, the V11 Pro does tick most boxes. Sound quality over call and headphones is good. And while some might moan about the FunTouch UI on top of Android 8.1, I did not really have a problem with it, as it worked smoothly. Yes, some apps do come preinstalled on the phone, but they do not exactly overwhelm you and tend to slot in without taking up too much space. And yes, the processor handles multitasking very well indeed. No heating issues either. The 3,400mAh battery easily saw me through a day, and got charged under two hours. Again, nothing to complain about here. In many ways, I found the Vivo V9 Pro’s performance to be reminiscent to that of the Nokia 7 Plus, and that certainly is not a bad thing – not spectacular but simply, steadily consistent and dependable.
All of which makes the Vivo V11 Pro quite a decent deal at its price of Rs 25,990. Yes, there will be those who will point to devices like the Honor Play and the Poco F1 which deliver better processors at lower prices, but the V11 Pro does land some heavy punches in the design and display departments, and whether you like it or not, that tiny droplet of a notch is far less intrusive than some I have seen on other devices. There is also the “cool” factor of the under-display fingerprint scanner, although I found it to be a little on the slow and erratic side. Some will quibble about the absence of dust- and water-resistance and some will say that the micro-USB port is outdated in an era increasingly dominated by USB Type-C types, but on the flip side, you are getting a gorgeous looking phone with a great camera and not too many perfomance compromises (hey, it even has a 3.5mm audio jack). Yes, FunTouch OS is not stock Android, but again, I am not sure I mind that given the fact that the phone ran smoothly, which is what really matters at the end of the day, doesn’t it?
So should you invest in the Vivo V11 Pro? Well, if you seek a premium looking device and are not a benchmark lover looking to stretch PUBG graphics to the utmost, I would say yes. There are better specced phones out there than the V11 Pro, no doubt, but the phone scores heavily in terms of providing features you would expect on more expensive devices at a significantly lower price point.
Photos by Raj Rout