It’s increasingly difficult to focus just on the price of a phone versus its specifications when reviewing it. This is because, over time, different companies have found different things to entice people with. In the process, we’re now seeing devices that are focusing more on being statements than just offering functionality for whoever uses them.
Please note, I am not saying the statement part out-plays or outshines the functionality bit. No. We are at a point in time where almost every device you can pick up will do a couple of things well: make phone calls, send texts, download and install social media apps and run them quite well, and take basic photos. So, the competition for customers is forcing companies to do more. On top of making the performance great, companies want to build something that really stands out. Something that makes users look at it twice, and even consider getting it. Something that’s different inasmuch as its still a rectangular block.
A nice example is the Vivo V23 5G which I’ve been using for the last few weeks. It’s a statement device. It looks so good, feels so nice on the hand, is compact, well-built, really stands out, and definitely impresses everyone I’ve shown. However, it is priced at KES 60,000 – which for many makes it a high-end device they can desire but not acquire.
For the asking price, you’re getting really solid specs:
- Dimensity 920 5G which is a 6nm chip
- An AMOLED Panel supporting 90Hz refresh rate and HDR10+
- Two selfie cameras: 50MP main, and 8MP ultrawide
- 44W fast charging
- 8GB RAM and 128GB storage
If you’ve not interacted with the device yet, you may be curious as to why I term this as a device that stands out as a statement. Here’s why:
The design though slightly similar to designs we’ve seen with the OPPO Reno6 5G and the latest iPhones, is very well executed with this phone.
This phone is sleek. It is thin, it is very light. It is also very firm. And feels very premium. Which is weird. Because the idea of something being premium often comes with a hefty feel. Here, you know and feel that the device is very premium the moment you have it on your hand despite the fact that it is also very light.
If you’re wondering if it will fail the bend test, I am not JackRigEverything, so I will not have a video on that. But like most phones I use – out of curiosity – I’ve tried bending it and it feels so firm. I believe it will pass that test.
One of my main fascinations with the boxy design is the fact that these devices can stand on a table on their own. Whichever sides you place them on. It’s a stupid obsession to be honest, but every time I am showing off the phone to someone, it’s one thing I must mention and showcase.
I made it a thing that every time I am on a desk working, or in a café, I ensure I remember to prop the phone upright standing on its own as a way to flaunt the box design.
One of my viral TikToks showcases the phone’s colour changing features – on the sunshine gold-colour model – in a very nice way. Check it out below:
To be honest, it’s not a feature you’ll get to use ever, because of course you’ll have a case on always. But like my obsession with propping the phone up straight on tables because of its boxy design, it’ll be something you can once in a while flaunt and be like, “Yeah my phone can also do this!”
I think the design of this phone to me is that standout feature I was talking about in the introduction bit of this review. That to me is what makes this device, I daresay, why it’s priced this expensively. Because when I look at everything else, I would think the phone would fall comfortably between 45k and 52k.
However, that would be up to debate depending on how you look at things like chip availability and the selling of the brand name.
If the asking price is too high, you have the option to get the Vivo V23e which costs KES 34,000 while keeping most of the specs. The main differences are with 5G support and of course, the design.
Okay, we’ve talked about the thing that I believe is the most unique feature of the phone. Now, let’s discuss the other things. The things that people really care about:
- Performance and User Experience
- Battery Life
Performance and User Experience
You already know what I am going to say here. I mean 8GB of RAM (expandable) with 128GB of storage paired with a Dimensity 920 5G chip means you’re able to run every thing you may want to pretty well. It means for all your normal use day-to-day activities things will be smooth and nice.
This comes enabled by default. It’s an old trick that’s recently being adopted by different manufactures. Albeit it is an effort to promise you better performance instead of shipping actual more RAM.
I’ve never once noticed it being in use, so you may never have the feature on. You can disable it by going to Settings > RAM & Storage Space > RAM and clicking the toggle off. It requires a restart.
If you are a demanding user, it’s good to leave it on. It’ll enable you have many apps stay in memory, load heavy apps like games load faster and run smoother.
I am talking about this under performance because it’s my main problem with this phone. I expected an update to come and fix it, because it’s potentially more of an annoying bug than a serious thing to keep you from the device.
So, you expect things to run and feel very smooth given it’s a 90Hz panel. However, in certain scenarios for example, when you’re unlocking the phone. Or when you’re swiping through certain apps, you’ll find the phone stutters and it can become quite annoying given you expect the smoothest of experiences with the amount of RAM and the processor.
The display is good. It gets plenty bright and plenty dim when you need it to. It has accurate colours and it makes the phone a good media consumption device.
I however dislike the notch cut-out which houses the dual selfie camera system. Funny enough, many of the people I’ve shown the phone don’t care about the notch at all. So yeah, your mileage may vary. Personally, I would have preferred a pill-shaped cutout instead of a notch.
Funtouch 12 is very different from the first time I interacted with it. For one, it’s way better now as Vivo has embraced a simple outlook, a simpler skin that’s close to stock Android and done away with the unnecessary duplication of apps.
Your default apps are all by Google, bloatware is almost non-existent, and there are no ads completely. Nice!
This is my best feature of Funtouch. You can set up multiple users on this device. You can even have a guest account. Best part is this: you can enable access from Lock Screen so that whichever user it is can sign in to their own profile with their Fingerprint or PIN and use their own stuff, apps and accounts independent of the Admin or the Guest user accounts. Really handy for work and private accounts!
However, there are things that Vivo really needs to work on. For example, there are Android 12 features like Camera and Microphone access that are yet to be made available. There’s also a font problem with certain apps showing larger fonts than what’s default.
With a little more work, Funtouch could really be fun. There are already so many customisation options from how the Always ON display looks, how notifications light up the display, the fingerprint animations when unlocking, the charging animations when plugged in, and so much more.
I hope Vivo is also working on ensuring support for its devices over a longer period of time. I want to see monthly updates and system upgrades done well, religiously, and on time.
There are a total of 5 cameras on this phone. Three rear cameras and two front cameras. My best summary on them is this: they’re good.
Dual Front Cameras:
To be honest, I’ve never tested out the 8MP front camera. The 50MP does its job well, and I don’t think I’ve ever been in a scenario where I could need the extra lens. I believe you’ll never need it. Also, there’s a huge difference in quality between the 50MP lens and the 8MP lens making the ultra-wide lens almost unnecessary unless it’s a must you use it to fit in more people to a shot.
If you’re a content creator – be it on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok etc. – you will love the 50MP selfie for both videos and photos. They’ll be sharp and clear even when in artificial lighting eg. indoors. The main issue remains this: beauty mode comes enabled and even when you switch to “Original” look, you feel like there’s some processing going on to make you look a little different.
For videos, you can shoot 4K 30fps videos with the 50MP front camera. It can also do 1080p 60fps videos. These can come in handy for Vertical videos for TikTok or Instagram. The quality is good. And the phone knows how to balance light and shadows.
There are numerous looks/filters to enable you capture shots in the way you want. However, enabling them forces you to shoot in 1080p instead of full 4K.
Triple rear cameras:
As usual, only the main 64MP camera here is the highlight. The 8MP ultrawide and the 2MP macro lenses though really handy for some people, and necessary to sell a phone in 2022, are practically not needed. I’ve never bothered with them.
The photo quality from the 64MP lens is good. And you can shoot up to 4K 30fps videos. For 60fps, you’re forced back to 1080p quality.
What’s great is there are many features when shooting your videos to enable you get quality videos:
- Stabilisation – There’s standard and Ultra stabilisation modes to ensure your footage isn’t shaky.
- Framing – There’s framing lines, a level meter, a film aspect ratio, and a motion auto-focus mode to help you shift or lock focus between the eye, a person, or an object.
- Dual view – enables you shoot videos using both the front and rear cameras at the same time.
With how thin the phone is, of course you trade battery size. Which is a crazy thing to even say because the phone packs a 4200mAh battery. That’s a huge battery. However, should the phone have been a little thicker, it would feature a 5000mAh cell I believe.
Battery life is great. Like, even unexpectedly so for me. I expected frequent needs to top up. I haven’t had those. And you also get a 44W charger in the box.
Vivo promises 68% of charge (from 1%) in 30 mins. I tested this from dead, and in 30mins I was at 67%. Which is really fast, and a joy for anyone who doesn’t want to charge their device over night.
Value for Money:
On our latest 24Bit Episode, we were trying to explore the blurry lines where midrange devices lie. Are they close to budget phones, or are they close to high-end flagships.
A device like the V23 5G is one of those midrangers that are very confusing. It’s pricing makes it fall under the upper mid-range sector. However, its specs – though in themselves quite good – make you want to price it in the middle mid-range section if that makes sense.
In a bubble of just Vivo phones, this would be a really good value for money phone I want to say. However, in a world with devices like the Xiaomi 11T and 11T Pro and many other offerings from other companies like Samsung who offer IP67 water and dust resistance and who promise 5 years of support, Vivo really needs to have something more up its sleeve so as to be this confident when asking for 60,000 shillings.
If you find the phone appealing, please go ahead and get it anyways if you’ve got the money. You will love having it as your main device, having it disappear in your pocket given how tiny it feels, and showcasing the colour changing feature should you get the sunshine gold model.
Vivo V23 5G Specifications:
|PRICE||RRP KES 59,999|
|Display||6.44 inches AMOLED|
1080 x 2400 pixels, 20:9 ratio
Schott Xensation Up
64 MP, f/1.9, 26mm (wide), PDAF
8 MP, f/2.2, 120˚, 16mm (ultrawide), 1/4.0″, 1.12µm
2 MP, f/2.4, (macro)
|Front Camera||Dual Selfie:|
50 MP, f/2.0, (wide), AF
8 MP, f/2.3, 105˚ (ultrawide)
|Chipset||MediaTek Dimensity 920 5G (6 nm)|
|Operating System||Android 12, Funtouch 12|
|Battery||Li-Po 4200 mAh, non-removable|
Fast charging 44W, 1-68% in 30 min
|Network||2G, 3G, 4G, 5G|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot|
Bluetooth 5.2 with A2DP, LE, aptX HD
GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO, QZSS, NavIC
USB Type-C, USB On-The-Go
|Security||Optical Under-Display Fingerprint Scanner|
|Colour options||Sunshine Gold, Stardust Black|
Color changing back panel when exposed to sunlight