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Vivo V21 5G review: it’s all about the cameras with this one

On: May 17, 2021

Vivo launched the V20 series not too long ago. The phones appealed to many users thanks to their design and aesthetics. So it was understandable that people expected a similar product with the Vivo V21 5G which came to the Indian market few weeks back. Vivo has opted to go with a 5G MediaTek Dimensity SoC this time around for the V21 5G, for whenever 5G comes to India.

Also read: Vivo V21 5G launched in India: first sale date on Flipkart, launch offers

But like its predecessor, the V21 5G continues to excite selfie enthusiasts with a 44MP selfie camera. However, priced at Rs 29,990 the V21 5G looks to compete with a slew of devices that might give you more in terms of performance and value. So, the question is, would you pay this price for the jack of all trades, or pick the master one? We used the Vivo V21 5G for over a week and here’s what we found.

Design and display

  • 159.7 x 73.9 x 7.3mm, 176 grams
  • 6.44-inch AMOLED, FHD+, 90Hz refresh rate, 20:9 aspect ratio

The dimensions of the Vivo V21 5G give us a compact and a lightweight device. The phone measures 7.3mm in thickness and weighs 176g. These figures make the V21 5G marginally heavier than its predecessor but still an acceptable weight these days.

Extremely light and thin design makes it easy to use

This makes the Vivo V21 5G easily usable with one hand. We got the Sunset Dazzle colour variant which has the AG Matte Glass finish at the back which we talked about with the Vivo V20 Pro.

Vivo V21 5G gets AG Matte glass finish at the back

The panel changes colour based on the direction of light, and still looks equally enticing to the viewer. The camera bump isn’t protruding which keeps the base quite flat when laid down on a surface.

However, it was strange to see Vivo V21 5G have a waterdrop notch on the front screen. For a phone that costs over 25K, we expect the standard punch hole design these days. So that kind of betrays the value of the phone.

Power button and volume rocker on the right of the phone

The main power button and volume rocker are placed on the right of the phone. You will find the USB Type C port slotted at the bottom, right between the SIM card slot and the external speaker.

USB Type C port at the bottom but no headphone jack

The headphone jack is missing, and that is probably the price you pay for a slimmer phone these days.

Vivo V21 5G gets an AMOLED display 90Hz refresh rate

As for the display, AMOLED screen panel supports a 90Hz refresh rate but you have to turn it on manually. The difference in scrolling and navigating at higher refresh rate is evident on the device. Enabling it will take a toll on the battery life though. The fingerprint sensor is built under the display and responds quickly without any lag.

The fingerprint sensor is fast and responsive

The overall screen quality is pleasing and most people wouldn’t find the quality to be lacking in any aspects. The colours are punchy but not too aggressive, the contrast levels are pleasing to the eye and then you notice the heavy blacks on the AMOLED panel seeping through at the edges. Having smaller notch means you don’t find it distracting while watching videos.

Cameras

  • Rear: 64-megapixel primary sensor, 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle sensor, 2-megapixel macro sensor
  • Front: 44-megapixel sensor

Vivo V21 5G borrows its cameras (most of them) from the V20 Pro. It features a triple rear camera which includes a 64-megapixel primary sensor, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide sensor and a 2-megapixel macro sensor. On the front, V21 5G gets a 44-megapixel selfie camera with dual LED flash supporting night photography and OIS to shoot stable videos on the move. The main camera includes features like 64MP UHD mode, panorama, slo-mo, time lapse, manual mode, night mode and more.

Triple rear camera on the Vivo V21 5G

Coming to the quality and performance of the rear camera, the 64MP shooter does a fine job of capturing details and giving you the right balance of contrast and colours. The blues and bright shades do not pop up and that indicates its natural levels. The ultra-wide sensor gives you the desired output but you might find the details to be hazy.

The macro lens also manages to pick the intricate details in a subject. When it comes to low light shooting, the rear camera left us impressed. You can shoot photos and even without switching to the night mode, you get decent results. The images are well balanced and the low level of noise gives you good details.

Waterdrop notch but still you get a 44MP selfie camera

But the hero of the show has to be the 44MP selfie snapper on the front. No matter how dark the conditions are, this camera can shoot a selfie with natural skin tones and the extra light does not overpower the subject by any means. All in all, V21 5G gets top marks for its imaging competence.

Performance, software and battery

  • Android 11 with Funtouch OS 11.1
  • MediaTek Dimensity 800U
  • 8GB + 128GB or 256GB
  • 4,000mAh battery, 33W fast charging

As we talked about earlier, Vivo V21 5G comes powered by MediaTek Dimensity 800U chipset which gives you 5G connectivity. But here’s the thing, this processor has now made its way down the price chain in the mid-range category.

Vivo V21 uses mid-range Dimensity 800U chipset

So, it’s hard to understand the reason behind Vivo choosing this specific SoC. There are more powerful Dimensity chipsets to choose from. Make no mistake, this hardware, along with 8GB RAM is quite capable but still does not give you the impression it will take care of all your heavy-duty processing, gaming and battery needs.

And during our time, the device did not go beyond the mid settings for games like COD Mobile, and even then it started heating. It felt like we were asking too much from the phone. Casual multi-tasking did not pose any issues and we were able to do stuff like browsing, watching videos and scroll through apps without any stutter.

Software-wise, Vivo V21 5G gets the same Funtouch OS 11.1 version built over Android 11 operating system. This version still has a lot of bloatware with like Dailyhunt, Moj, PhonePe and few other apps unnecessarily hogging space on the phone. The overall look and feel of the UI has changed but these issues continue to be a hindrance.

The slimmer phone packs a 4,000mAh battery. During our video loop test, with the display set at full brightness, we lost close to 20 percent battery in over three hours which is quite a big drop. Going by this estimate and our regular usage, we could get a full day’s worth of usage from the phone. Which is why having the 33W charger in the box is a bonus, helping you charge the phone in just an hour.

Bottomline

Vivo V21 5G is a phone that could and should have been priced much lower than its asking price of Rs 29,990. The reason for that is the use of a mid-range chipset, which might support 5G but does not compare with its peers in this bracket. FunTouch OS still has a lot of bloatware, which should be sorted out on the brand’s more expensive phones. On the plus side, the overall design gets top marks once again, especially the way Vivo V21 5G manages to be compact and elegant. The cameras are a definite hit as well, with the selfie camera giving you more power than ever with built OIS support that is unheard of in this segment.

Vivo V21 is a mixed bag, and definitely could have been priced lower

If a phone with excellent cameras and sleek design is what you desire, the Vivo V21 5G is a good choice. However, if you need good performance and clean software, go for the OnePlus Nord with Snapdragon 765G on board instead. Then you also have the new Xiaomi Mi 11X with Snapdragon 870 in the market, which is a flagship chipset. And last but not least, there’s also the Vivo V20 Pro (review), which features the reliable Snapdragon 765G chipset and is available for a similar price these days.

Pricebaba’s rating: 7.5/10

What works:

  • Elegant, lightweight design
  • Impressive set of cameras
  • Fast charging

What doesn’t:

  • Processor is underpowered for the price
  • Bloatware in FunTouch OS
  • Average battery life
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