This week, Vivo launched the Vivo X21 in China with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 system-on-chip. On the same day, Oppo made the Oppo R15 official. On Thursday, Vivo launched a lower-end version of the X21, the Vivo V9, in Thailand. On Friday, the device was officially launched in India – one of Vivo’s major international markets. Notably, the V9 is the first Vivo phone launching in international markets to feature a 19:9 display with a notch.
Vivo V9 specifications
The Vivo V9’s defining feature is the 6.3-inch Full HD+ (2280×1080) IPS display with a 19:9 aspect ratio. The display has a notch similar to the iPhone X, and it’s worth noting that the notch is increasingly being found on new Android phones this year. According to the company, the notch helps the phone achieve a screen-to-body ratio of 90 percent.
The phone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 system-on-chip. This particular SoC was launched back in 2016 as an incremental upgrade to the Snapdragon 625, and it has already been succeeded twice by the Snapdragon 630 and the Snapdragon 636. As such, its specifications aren’t anything to boast about, with eight ARM Cortex-A53 cores clocked at 2.2GHz paired with the Adreno 506 GPU. The Vivo V9 has 4GB of RAM with 64GB of storage, along with a microSD card slot that supports up to 256GB expandable storage.
It has dual rear cameras, with a 16MP primary camera that has a f/2.0 aperture paired with a 5MP depth-sensing secondary camera that has a f/2.4 aperture. The camera has “Ultra HDR” mode. Vivo is known for placing more emphasis on the front camera, though, and the Vivo V9 doesn’t change this trend. The phone’s 24MP front camera has a f/2.0 aperture. It has a Portrait Mode, and also a selfie lighting feature that sounds similar to Apple’s implementation on the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X.
The company is also promoting various “AI” features in the phone, although some of them don’t have anything to do with machine learning. “AI Face Access” improves the accuracy of the face unlock feature, while “AI Attention Scanning” recognizes when the user is looking at the display and turns down the volume of notifications. More interestingly, “AI Smart Engine” handles storage management and app launching depending on user behavior. It’s worth noting that the functionality of the smart engine feature exists in Huawei phones.
The Vivo V9 has Face Unlock functionality, which works for App Lock as well. It’s powered by a 3260mAh battery. It has the usual connectivity options including dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, and a microUSB port. The fingerprint sensor is placed on the back of the device. In terms of design, the phone has a glass back.
Its dimensions are 154.81 x 75.03 x 7.89mm, and it weighs 150 grams. The phone runs Vivo’s Funtouch OS 4.0 UI on top of Android 8.1 Oreo, which means that it’s required to have Project Treble support.
Vivo V9 pricing, availability and offers
The Vivo V9 was launched in India on Friday for Rs. 22,990 ($353). It comes in a single configuration that has 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. Pre-orders for the phone are now open on Amazon, Flipkart, Paytm, as well as the Vivo E-Store. The phone will go on sale from April 2nd, and will also be available via offline retailers across the country from the same date.
The company states that those who pre-order the phone before April 2nd will get one-time screen replacement warranty. Also, they will get an additional discount of Rs. 2000, as well as no-cost EMI payments. Paytm is giving cashback of Rs. 2299 on using the code ‘VIVOV9’, while Amazon is giving 5 percent cashback in the form of Amazon Pay balance.
Our view: The Vivo V9 is the first phone launching in India with the controversial display notch. On one hand, the notch allows the phone to achieve a screen-to-body ratio of 90 percent, according to Vivo. Having more screen area in the same device size is normally a good thing.
On the other hand, having the notch visibly breaks symmetry. Thankfully, the company has done some optimization to ensure that the status bar icons are not cut off by the notch, unlike some other companies. It’s worth noting that the notch (display cutout) is officially supported in Android P.
On first sight, the major weak point of the Vivo V9 looks to be the SoC. The Snapdragon 626 is simply not competitive at the Rs. 22,990 ($353) price point. Older flagship phones having SoCs such as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820/821 or the Kirin 960 are much more capable. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro costs only Rs. 13,999 ($215) for the 4GB RAM/64GB storage variant, but it has the next-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon 636 system-on-chip, which has better CPU and GPU performance.
The Vivo V9 is the first of many upcoming Android phones to launch in India with the display notch. The phone’s primary sales driver is its 6.3-inch Full HD+ 19:9 display. Competition is heating up in the budget and mid-range price segments, so it remains to be seen how well the phone is received in the market.