The flagship, originally, is the ship (the maritime kind) that carries the fleet’s commander. In the smartphone world, the term has become synonymous with the best phone a phone company currently offers. Flagship is the most coveted by users and it gets the most attention from the media.
Enter the latest phone from China’s smartphone maker Vivo: the V15Pro. It’s a huge phone with zero notches, and specs that kick the ass of any flagship you can think of. Its sole downside, on paper, is a Snapdragon 675 chip that places it into mid-range category. So I’ve gotten a hold of a V15Pro unit to see how this combination works.
The specs on the V15Pro are a testament to just how much the smartphone industry has progressed in recent years. It’s an “affordable” phone (Vivo’s words) that has a 6.39-inch, AMOLED screen with no notch (the selfie camera shows up when needed via a pop-up mechanism on top of the phone) and just a tiny chin on the bottom. It comes with 6/8GB of RAM (the latter in selected markets only), 128GB of storage and an under-the-display fingerprint scanner.
It’s got a triple rear camera, comprised of a 48-megapixel main sensor, an 8-megapixel wide angle camera, and a 5-megapixel depth camera. The pop-up selfie camera has a 32-megapixel sensor. The battery has a not-too-impressive capacity of 3,700mAh, but it makes up for it with Vivo’s ultra-fast charging tech. A lot of these features were rumored for Apple and Samsung flagships years ago, and they still haven’t arrived — and yet, the Vivo has them all.
New Settings menu, please
A list of specs is one thing, and how it all performs in practice is another. I’ve had the V15Pro a little shorter than I would’ve liked to, but in my time with it it performed admirably. The Snapdragon chip that powers it isn’t the best Qualcomm has to offer, but you’d never notice it in real-life usage — and I bet the 6GB of RAM helps with that, too.
Battery life was great — two days of intensive usage was typical — and it charges really fast, but only if you use Vivo’s charger. These days, I charge so many devices that I have a single charger/powerbank for all of them, so I didn’t get that benefit.
My qualms with the V15Pro aren’t with its raw performance, but rather its UI and the tiny glitches that stem from all the super-fresh tech the phone has. One thing that wound me up is the enormous number of settings, which appear to be group rather arbitrarily within the Settings menu. Each smartphone maker has its own way of doing this, but for some reason, I constantly struggled to find the right setting on the Vivo.
The fingerprint scanner worked better than any under-the-display scanner I’ve used, but it still wasn’t perfect. If I hit it just right, it’d work on the first try; often, I’d have to reposition my digit a bit, or press a little harder, to unlock the phone. The V15Pro, mercifully, also offers face unlocking, which worked a little better. That, however, requires the selfie camera to pop up every time you unlock the phone, and it was just a tiny bit slow for me.
There are other minor drawbacks. For example, the phone uses a micro-USB connector instead of USB-C, which is pretty odd these days. It also comes with a free case, which would be a nice touch if the case weren’t so damn ugly. On the flip side, the case is pretty rugged and probably offers better protection than your typical plastic case. Note that the V15Pro isn’t waterproof (I guess that Vivo had to save money somewhere), which might be the reason why the case is so rugged.