Vivo's V23 Pro which launched earlier this year sure looked the part. It was a slim and stylish smartphone which looked premium, but only offered mid-range performance. Its party trick was the unique colour-changing back panel that transitioned from gold to blue when exposed to UV light. It was also the only smartphone to offer a curved edge display in its segment which added to its style quotient. But this attention to design came at the cost of average battery life and camera performance.
With the new V25 Pro, Vivo seems to be applying on the same logic as the V23 Pro, but it feels a bit more practical this time. The phone has grown chubbier (with a bigger battery) and comes with an improved processor, a sensible camera, and still offers a curved-edge display to keep it in line with its predecessor. At a glance, Vivo seems to have done alright to justify its asking price.
However, the competition has changed drastically since February this year, with smartphones such as the Nothing Phone 1 (Review) entering this segment that offers clean Android software, a unique take on design, wireless charging, an IP rating and good low-light camera performance. So how does the Vivo V25 Pro stack up? I have been using the phone for a short while and here are my first impressions.
The Vivo V25 Pro has a polycarbonate frame with an anti-glare glass rear panel
The Vivo V25 Pro is available in two variants in India. There's a base variant with 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage that's priced at Rs. 35,999, and a second with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage priced at Rs. 39,999. There's two finishes to choose from, Pure Black and Sailing Blue.
As mentioned earlier, the phone has grown chubbier and it's no longer as slim as the V23 Pro but more in line with OnePlus's Nord 2T 5G (Review). It's also heavier which is mainly due to its increased battery capacity as the phone's frame is still made of polycarbonate with a shiny chrome-like finish. The back panel is made from colour-changing anti-glare glass, which seems really good at rejecting fingerprints. One thing to keep in mind is that only the Sailing Blue finish is capable of changing colour. Also the colour-changing bit isn't as dramatic as last year's V23 Pro as the colour only changes from a lighter shade of blue to darker one when exposed to UV light.
The top and bottom edges of the phone are noticeably thicker than the previous model and reminded me of the Vivo X80 Pro (Review), which also had similar design features with a flattened window at the top edge. The rear camera layout does not protrude much (since the phone itself has grown in thickness) and looks a lot more mainstream unlike the V23 Pro's all-metal module which stood out.
The Vivo V25 Pro, just like its predecessor, changes colour but the difference is quite mild
One detail that looked a bit dated on the V23 Pro was the medium-sized display notch which housed the two selfie cameras. Vivo has now brought that number down to one and has squeezed it into a hole-punch cavity which looks a lot neater and less distracting. The 6.56-inch curved-edge display has thin bezels all around it. It's an AMOLED panel which supports a refresh rate of up to 120Hz and up to 300Hz touch sampling rate. This is a step up over the V23 Pro's 90Hz panel and should come in use while playing games.
The Vivo V25 Pro gets a MediaTek Dimensity 1300 SoC which is also available in the OnePlus Nord 2T 5G. This SoC performed well in our tests and I'm expecting similar performance in the Vivo V25 Pro as well. The battery has grown in capacity from 4,300mAh (in the V23 Pro) to 4,830mAh which is nice to have as the V23 Pro did fall short on battery life with day-to-day use. Another thing that's improved is the charging, which is 66W from the previous 44W.
As for software, the phone runs Vivo's Funtouch OS 12 which is based on Android 12. During my initial usage I did notice plenty of preinstalled third-party apps but I also noticed some software changes in the Settings app along with the addition of Vivo's Ultra Game Mode which adds some gamer-friendly software features.
The Vivo V25 Pro's cameras have also seen some sensible improvements. The earlier 108-megapixel primary camera has been downgraded in terms of resolution to a 64-megapixel unit, but gets optical image stabilisation (OIS), which in theory should improve its low-light performance. The 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera and 2-megapixel macro camera seem to be the same as before. The 50-megapixel selfie camera on the V23 Pro has also seen a downgrade of sorts to a 32-megapixel camera on the V25 Pro, but thankfully retains autofocus.
The Vivo V25 Pro comes with plenty of preinstalled third-party apps
Despite its higher than expected sticker price, Vivo's latest V series smartphone sure seems to pack a punch. There's sensible hardware upgrades sprinkled everywhere, whether its the design, processor, cameras or battery capacity and charging speeds. However, these are qualitative improvements and things that one would expect from a premium smartphone to begin with.
Compare these upgrades to other mid-range phones such as the Realme 9 Pro+ 5G (Review) and the more recent Nothing Phone 1 (Review) and it's easy to tell that the value factor (although present) is still not as strong in terms of add-on features. The V25 Pro does not get an IP rating or stereo speakers, and the Dimensity 1300 SoC will be competing with premium smartphones sporting Qualcomm's Snapdragon 870 SoC and above such as the Xiaomi 11T Pro 5G (Review) and the iQoo Neo 6 (Review), both of which are also priced under Rs. 40,000 and offer solid raw performance for gaming and very good low-light cameras.
There's also the OnePlus 10R Endurance Edition (Review) with its MediaTek Dimensity 8100 SoC and 150W charging, which recently received a permanent price cut and now retails at Rs. 39,999.
The Vivo V25 Pro still offers subtle improvements and we will have to put it through its paces to find out if these improvements have made a meaningful difference especially in the cameras and battery life department, and when it comes to overall value. Stay tuned to our detailed review, which will be out soon on Gadgets 360.
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