Written by Cheryl Tan
I must say I went into this review with plenty of expectations, maybe a little too much. But I only set the bar that high because I was so impressed with the previous phone from Vivo that I tested, the V17 Pro which retailed for the exact same price as the new Vivo V19.
Unfortunately, after comparing my experience with both phones, there are some areas where I think the V19 fell short and some areas where it really impressed.
Design-wise, there’s nothing to be faulted. The camera bump is now on the left side of the back, and I do think that the Sleek Silver colour looks beautiful even though it’s a total fingerprint magnet.
The volume rocker and power button are on the right side, and you get the SIM tray on the left. One thing that I commend Vivo on is that they’ve consistently included the 3.5mm headphone port in their phones, and it makes another appearance in the V19 next to the USB-C charging port.
The phone runs on the Snapdragon 712 processor, which is a mid-range chip, but performance is smooth thanks to the 8GB of RAM. You still only get 128GB of storage, but that’s typically enough for the general consumer.
I am a bit disappointed Vivo has decided to do away with their popup front camera module. Going from an uninterrupted fullscreen display to one with a pill cutout at the top right feels like a step backwards. This could have been because of the bigger battery though, now 4,500mAh compared to the V17 Pro’s 4,100mAh.
Battery life is definitely improved, so that’s a plus. I’ve been using mobile phones less these days since we’re encouraged to stay home, and a single charge lasts me about 1.5 days with moderate usage. The V19 also supports Vivo’s 33w FlashCharge 2.0 with the charger included in the box.
Camera performance is a mixed bag, unfortunately. Let’s start off with the part that surprised me most, the inconsistency. When using Portrait mode, one would assume the phone would automatically apply AI to blur out the background, but it doesn’t. You have to manually toggle the Bokeh mode before it applies the blur, and it makes absolutely no sense to me.
It feels like there’s really no difference between the Portrait mode and main photo mode, and I’m not sure if this is something Vivo intends to fix in future OTA software updates, but it’s definitely something that should be looked into.
With that being said, Bokeh mode does still struggle to deal with the separation of the background around the hair area, and it’s something that many other phones also struggle with.
Night mode was also hit and miss. Weirdly, the first time I took a photo with the phone, it didn’t seem to apply at all, resulting in a very dark image. It was only the second time around when Night mode kicked in and brightened the image.
It’s not as bright as the Night mode from the V17 Pro, but I think this looks a lot more natural with less blown-out highlights.
Macro mode works pretty well, I’d say it’s about on par with the V17 Pro. Detail retention is good and the colours are accurate.
The main camera is great though. It’s another 48MP shooter like in the V17 Pro, and photos come out vibrant and sharp. What I really like is the wide-angle function. It has one of the widest angles I’ve seen so far on a mid-range phone.
In fact, it’s even wider than the Huawei P40 Pro+. Granted, the P40 Pro+ is slightly more saturated and details are better and sharper but don’t forget, the P40 Pro+ is a S$1,898 phone. For just S$599, the Vivo V19 is an excellent contender here.
There’s no telephoto lens here, so you can basically forget about zooming in while trying to take photos since the digital crop renders the shots absolutely unusable.
I didn’t get to try the wide-angle selfie lens because of social distancing measures, but the V19 has the exact same wide-angle selfie lens the V17 Pro has, with a 105-degree field-of-view, so I reckon the selfies will look the same.
So what’s the verdict? Is it worse than the V17 Pro? In some areas, yes. The Night mode and Portrait mode isn’t as consistent or reliable, but we can’t overlook the good either.
Macro is good, the wide-angle is excellent while the battery capacity and processor has been improved and updated. Considering the fact that both phones are priced at S$599, I don’t see why I wouldn’t recommend the V19 over the V17 Pro.
Of course, I hope there’ll be a V19 Pro in the future, with better camera specs, but otherwise, I think the base model actually packs a very decent performance and experience into a mid-range phone.
More information about the V19 (S$599) is available on Vivo’s website. The Vivo V19 will be launched in Singapore on 27 June 2020 through M1, Singtel and StarHub, as well as authorised retailers islandwide.