Vivo V11 review: Stylish, innovative but not perfect

0
241

Our Rating Price when reviewed 359inc VAT

With an in-display fingerprint reader and a stylish design, the V11 is quite the stunner

Pros Beautiful designImpressive selfie cameraIn-display fingerprint readerCons Frustrating softwareUses an outdated microUSB portYou’ll have to import itAdvertisement

The Vivo V11 is among a small, elite group of smartphones that have in-display fingerprint sensors. The technology is rather new and some might feel it still needs some refining, but that doesn’t hold back Chinese manufacturer, Vivo. Following on from its innovative, yet expensive, Nex S flagship, the V11 is more modestly priced and has more mid-tier specs.

READ NEXT: Best smartphones – our pick of the best

Vivo V11 review: What you need to know

The V11 is a 6.41in smartphone that has a spectacular design and an in-display fingerprint sensor. On the inside, the V11 features a mid-range Snapdragon 660 processor, a notched Full HD display, dual-facing rear cameras, and it runs Android 8.1 out-the-box.

The main problem is its UK availability – you’ll need to import it from China or buy it through third-party sellers, which isn’t ideal. And, much like the flagship Nex S, the V11 runs the Android overlay Funtouch OS 4.5, which can get annoying.

READ NEXT: Nokia 7 Plus review: A very likeable big-screen phone at a tempting price

Vivo V11 review: Price and competition

It’s a little hard to source the V11, but there are a few places where you can get the phone. Wonda Mobile has the 128GB model (which I have on review, here) for £359. There are a few listings on eBay with prices starting from £340 for the 64GB model –  internal storage aside, the specs are identical to the 128GB model.

As for its competitors, there’s the flagship model, the Vivo Nex S at £550.

See related Nokia 7 Plus review: A very likeable big-screen phone at a tempting priceVivo Nex S review: The edge-to-edge phone with no notch

Elsewhere, there are a few phones to consider, albeit none with an in-display fingerprint sensor. Still, the £350 Nokia 7 Plus is a good starting point, as it has the same processor and runs Full HD+.

There’s also the Samsung Galaxy S8 that’s well worth considering. Now only £380, the S8 has 2017 flagship specs, an incredible design and is water resistant, too. The Huawei Mate 10 Pro comes in at £380, too.

If you’re looking for an excellent budget phone, Motorola’s Moto G6 and G6 Plus cost £220 and £269, respectively, but manage to cram in incredible rear-facing cameras.

READ NEXT: Vivo Nex S review: The edge-to-edge phone with no notch

Vivo V11 review: Design and build quality

The V11 is incredibly well built. It’s also really eye-catching thanks to its purple and blue ‘Nebula’ colour scheme. It’s somewhat reminiscent to Huawei’s ‘Morpho Aurora’ shade on the P20 Pro. That’s an £800 phone, so it’s great to see interesting shades coming down to cheaper handsets.

Around the back, there’s a dual-lens camera and flash. Flip the phone over and there’s a volume rocker and power button on the right edge, while on the opposite side there’s a 3-in-1 SIM tray. This allows you to use two Nano SIM cards (in dual stand-by) and expand the memory by up to 256GB through a microSD card.

At the bottom, there’s a downward-firing speaker a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microUSB port. I find it a little strange that Vivo has opted for an outdated microUSB port – it still has fast-charging capabilities (at 18W) to fuel its 3,400mAh battery, but its connector isn’t as convenient as the reversible USB-C port.

The display at the front has a small divot – or as it’s formally known: a notched display. The fingerprint reader resides a few centimeters from the bottom edge of the screen. Much like the Nex S, the V11 isn’t as fast as a rear- or front-mounted physical fingerprint reader requiring an extra second to unlock. And if you miss the 6-7 second window where the icon appears once you pick up the phone, you’ll need to press the power button to make it reappear.

Vivo recognises that the in-display fingerprint sensor isn’t going to be as fast as a physical sensor, so the company has thrown in Face Unlock, which works in conjunction with the in-display fingerprint sensor to make the experience a little more fluid. Its facial recognition is super-speedy, even with the ‘Quick Recognition’ mode disabled through the phone’s Face Unlock settings. Here, you’ll also find the ‘Screen Fill Light’ option, which boosts the screen’s brightness when you’re trying to use Face Unlock under low ambient light conditions.

NFC and water resistance are amiss. That means it won’t survive an accidental dunk in a pool and is incapable of contactless payments.

READ NEXT: Motorola Moto G6 review: The Return of the King

Vivo V11 review: Display

The V11 has a 6.41in Full HD+ (1,080 x 2,340) Super AMOLED display. As a result, the screen is incredibly accurate and vivid. In the default display mode, the phone covers 99.4% of the sRGB colour gamut, while also achieving a very impressive 87.6% and 95.5% in the Adobe RGB and DCI P3 colour gamuts, respectively. It’s quite incredible, and with a perfect contrast ratio and deep black tones, you’ll enjoy watching videos and flicking through pictures on your phone. Viewing angles are fantastic, too.

Colour accuracy, however, isn’t the best with an average Delta E of 4.11 – colours are more on the bright side. It’s not something to be overly concerned about, but it’s just worth knowing that the phone’s display won’t be as accurate as the Galaxy S8 or the Mate 10 Pro.

It also has a mediocre peak brightness; at 374cd/m² it won’t be as easy to see the phone’s display under bright ambient light conditions. By comparison, the Galaxy S8 and the Vivo Nex S achieve a peak of around 569cd/m² with auto brightness enabled.

READ NEXT: Our pick of the best budget phones you can buy in the UK

Vivo V11 review: Performance

Packed inside is a 2.2GHz octa-core Snapdragon 660 processor with 6GB of RAM. The combination allows for smooth multitasking and snappy operations. Unfortunately, our normal benchmarking software – Geekbench 4 and GFXBench – were both blocked by the manufacturer.

Thankfully, the Nokia 7 Plus houses the same processor and GPU chip and runs at a near-identical resolution (1,080 x 2,160), so we’ve assumed identical performance in the chart below. Real-world performance on both phones is near-identical, so it feels about right.

^Geekbench 4 benchmark

^GFXBench benchmark

As you’ll see from the tables above, the V11 is slightly better suited for strenuous tasks and gaming than the Moto G6 and G6 Plus that have the lower specced Snapdragon 630 to power them. It’s no match for Galaxy S8 or the Nex S, however, which house the faster Snapdragon 835 and 845 processors, respectively.

Battery life is incredibly impressive. At 17hrs 15mins in the Expert Reviews video rundown test, the V11’s 3,400mAh battery is a step above its competitors. It outlasts the Nex S by around 4hrs and near doubles the battery life found on the Moto G6 – that’s seriously good.

^Battery life

Vivo V11 review: Software

The Achilles’ Heel of the Nex S was the software, and unfortunately, it remains in place for the V11. On the bright side, it does come with Google Play pre-installed, so getting your favourite apps on the phone is less of an ordeal.

FuntouchOS 4.5 is still in place though, and as annoying as ever, feeling really unintuitive, especially within the settings menu. Why couldn’t Vivo just use stock Android or provide an option to have the phone running on a vanilla version of Oreo? There are a few bloatware apps installed, too, but thankfully they can be uninstalled.

The default launcher is a little clunky, but this can be easily changed by finding one that works for you through the Play Store. Here, the Nex S had a very complicated process that involved getting a Chinese number or a public Vivo account – I’m pleased to say that’s not the case and I had Nova Launcher running on the V11 in no time.

READ NEXT: Samsung Galaxy S8 review: Still a great handset in 2018

Vivo V11 review: Camera

The V11 has a dual rear-facing f/1.8 12-megapixel main shooter with PDAF (Phase Detection Auto Focus), and an f/2.4 5-megapixel depth sensor. The results are pretty impressive.

In the image below, the V11 picks up brickwork and grabs good detail in the horizon. However, it suffers from being too dark, with details are lost in the shadows, leaving a scene that feels a bit dreary.

^ Vivo V11 rear camera

Turn on HDR and the image comes to life. Comparing the image above, and the one below with HDR and the difference is like night and day – excuse the pun.  It’s clearly brighter, though to a trained eye, the V11 makes the scene slightly washed out and does overdo the vibrancy of the image. It looks almost fake.

By comparison, the Moto G6 and G6 Plus are able to capture the same amount of detail, but still provide a near-perfect reproduction in both colours and luminance.

^ Vivo V11 rear camera with HDR

In low-light conditions, the rear camera is again outshone by the Moto G6. Here, shots taken on the V11 have image noise, though, flash completely eliminates this and thankfully doesn’t ruin the scene by having a yellowish or bluish flash tone. So, if you want to take low-light shots of objects in front of you, I’d suggest turning flash on.

^ Vivo V11 low light, 200% crop

^ Vivo V11 low light with flash, 200% crop

Around the front, things get interesting. The selfie camera comes with an f/2.0 25-megapixel sensor. You read that right, twenty five of those megapixels. The result is spectacularly good; the camera is able to capture plenty of detail, draws lots of light and, with auto HDR enabled, pack a nice, vibrant tone. Skin tones, here aren’t overdone and remain accurate – impressive.

^ Vivo V11 selfie

Portrait mode also does a good job by blurring out the background and provides a good depth of field. I’d say it’s among the best selfie cameras out there on the market, especially at its price point.

^ Vivo V11 portrait mode

As for video, I’m a little disappointed by the limited frame rate. The V11 records 4K, 1080p and 720p video, but caps the frame rate at 30fps. I’d have wanted at least 60fps at 1080p, if not 120-240fps at 720p for slow-mo shots. Stabilisation is pretty basic, too – if you’re walking and filming it’ll be jittery.

^ Vivo V11 camera app

READ NEXT: Moto G6 Plus review: Another cracking phone from Motorola

Vivo V11 review: Verdict

Design-wise, the Vivo V11 is certainly a stunning phone, and the in-display fingerprint reader gives even more precious space to the screen. It’s pretty snappy, too, and and its incredible selfie camera is a class above most offerings where the front-facing snapper is so often an afterthought. It genuinely offers something a little different from other phones on the market.

However, it’s far from perfect. The rear-facing cameras could be better, the overall Android experience is hampered by FunTouch OS and to top it off, you’re looking at a grey import to get it in the UK.

That doesn’t make the V11 a bad phone. It’s just that if I had a budget of £400, I’d pick the Samsung Galaxy S8, or even save myself some money by opting for the Motorola Moto G6 Plus.