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Vivo V11 review: Stylish and innovative, but not perfect

Christopher Minasians
2 Nov 2018
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
359
inc VAT

With an in-display fingerprint reader and a stylish design, the V11 is quite the stunner

Pros 
Beautiful design
Impressive selfie camera
In-display fingerprint reader
Cons 
Frustrating software
Uses an outdated micro-USB port
You’ll have to import it
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The Vivo V11 is among an elite group of smartphones that have in-display fingerprint sensors. The technology is rather new and some might feel it still needs some refining, but that doesn’t hold back Chinese manufacturer Vivo. Following on from its innovative, yet expensive, Nex S flagship, the V11 is more modestly priced and has more mid-tier specs. 

The question is: can the Vivo V11 provide something sufficiently different, or better the current crop of smartphones that sit at around £400? 

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Vivo V11 review: What you need to know

The V11 is a 6.41in smartphone that has a spectacular design and an in-display fingerprint sensor. On the inside, the V11 features a mid-range Snapdragon 660 processor, a notched Full HD display, dual-facing rear cameras and it runs Android 8.1.

The main problem is its UK availability – you’ll need to import it from China or buy it through third-party sellers, which isn’t ideal. And, much like the flagship Nex S, the V11 runs the Android overlay Funtouch OS 4.5, which can get annoying.

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Vivo V11 review: Price and competition

It’s a little hard to source the V11, but there are a few places where you can get the phone. Wonda Mobile has the 128GB model (which I have on review) for £359. There are a few listings on eBay with prices starting from £340 for the 64GB model – internal storage aside, the specs are identical to the 128GB model.

As for its competitors, there’s the flagship model, the Vivo Nex S at £550.

Elsewhere, there are a few phones to consider, albeit none with an in-display fingerprint sensor. Still, the £350 Nokia 7 Plus is a good starting point, as it has the same processor and runs Full HD+.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 is also worth considering. Now only £380, the S8 has 2017 flagship specs, an incredible design and is water resistant. The Huawei Mate 10 Pro comes in at £380, too.

If you’re looking for an excellent budget phone, Motorola’s Moto G6 and G6 Plus cost £220 and £269 respectively, but manage to cram in incredible rear-facing cameras.

READ NEXT: Vivo Nex S review: The edge-to-edge phone with no notch

Vivo V11 review: Design and build quality

The V11 is incredibly well built. It’s also really eye-catching, thanks to its purple and blue “Nebula” colour scheme. It’s somewhat reminiscent of Huawei’s “Morpho Aurora” shade on the P20 Pro. That’s a £800 phone, so it’s great to see interesting shades coming down to cheaper handsets.

Around the back, there’s a dual-lens camera and flash. Flip the phone over and there’s a volume rocker and power button on the right edge, while on the opposite side there’s a 3-in-1 SIM tray. This allows you to use two Nano SIM cards (in dual stand-by) and expand the memory by up to 256GB through a microSD card.

At the bottom, there’s a downward-firing speaker, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a micro-USB port. I find it a little strange that Vivo has opted for an outdated micro-USB port – it still has fast-charging capabilities (at 18W) to fuel its 3,400mAh battery, but its connector isn’t as convenient as the reversible USB-C port.

The display at the front has a small divot or, as it’s formally known, a notched display. The fingerprint reader resides a few centimetres from the bottom edge of the screen. Much like the Nex S, the V11 isn’t as fast as a rear- or front-mounted physical fingerprint reader, requiring an extra second to unlock. And if you miss the six to seven-second window where the icon appears once you pick up the phone, you’ll need to press the power button to make it reappear.

Vivo recognises that the in-display fingerprint sensor isn’t going to be as fast as a physical sensor, so the company has thrown in Face Unlock, which works in conjunction with the in-display fingerprint sensor to make the experience a little more fluid. Its facial recognition is super-speedy, even with the Quick Recognition mode disabled via the phone’s Face Unlock settings. Here, you’ll also find the Screen Fill Light option, which boosts the screen’s brightness when you’re trying to use Face Unlock under low ambient light conditions.

NFC and water resistance are amiss. That means it won’t survive an accidental dunk in a pool and is incapable of contactless payments.

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Vivo V11 review: Display

The V11 has a 6.41in Full HD+ (1,080 x 2,340) Super AMOLED display. As a result, the screen is incredibly accurate and vivid. In the default display mode, the phone covers 99.4% of the sRGB colour gamut, while also achieving a very impressive 87.6% and 95.5% in the Adobe RGB and DCI P3 colour gamuts respectively. It’s quite incredible and, with a perfect contrast ratio and deep black tones, you’ll enjoy watching videos and flicking through pictures on your phone. Viewing angles are fantastic, too.

Colour accuracy, however, isn’t the best with an average Delta E of 4.11 – colours are more on the bright side. It’s not something to be overly concerned about, but it’s just worth knowing that the phone’s display won’t be as accurate as the Galaxy S8 or the Mate 10 Pro.

It also has a mediocre peak brightness – at 374cd/m², it won’t be as easy to see the phone’s display under bright ambient light conditions. By comparison, the Galaxy S8 and the Vivo Nex S achieve a peak of around 569cd/m² with auto brightness enabled.

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Vivo V11 review: Performance

Packed inside is a 2.2GHz octa-core Snapdragon 660 processor with 6GB of RAM. The combination allows for smooth multitasking and snappy operations. Unfortunately, our normal benchmarking software – Geekbench 4 and GFXBench – were both blocked by the manufacturer.

Thankfully, the Nokia 7 Plus houses the same processor and GPU chip and runs at a near-identical resolution (1,080 x 2,160), so we’ve assumed identical performance in the chart below. Real-world performance on both phones is near-identical, so it feels about right.

^Geekbench 4 benchmark

^GFXBench benchmark

As you’ll see from the tables above, the V11 is slightly better suited for strenuous tasks and gaming than the Moto G6 and G6 Plus that have the lower specced Snapdragon 630 to power them. It’s no match for the Galaxy S8 or Nex S, however, which house the faster Snapdragon 835 and 845 processors respectively.

Battery life is incredibly impressive. At 17hrs 15mins in the Expert Reviews video rundown test, the V11’s 3,400mAh battery is a step above its competitors. It outlasts the Nex S by around 4hrs and near doubles the battery life found on the Moto G6 – that’s seriously good.

^Battery life

Vivo V11 review: Software

The Achilles’ heel of the Nex S was the software and, unfortunately, it remains in place for the V11. On the bright side, it does come with Google Play preinstalled, so getting your favourite apps on the phone is less of an ordeal.

Funtouch OS 4.5 is still in place, though, and as annoying as ever, feeling really unintuitive, especially within the settings menu. Why couldn’t Vivo just use stock Android or provide an option to have the phone running on a vanilla version of Oreo? There are a few bloatware apps installed, but thankfully they can be uninstalled.

The default launcher is a little clunky, but this can be easily changed by finding one that works for you in the Play Store. Here, the Nex S had a very complicated process that involved getting a Chinese number or a public Vivo account – I’m pleased to say that’s not the case and I had Nova Launcher running on the V11 in no time.

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Vivo V11 review: Camera

The V11 has a dual rear-facing f/1.8 12-megapixel main shooter with PDAF (Phase Detection Autofocus) and a f/2.4 5-megapixel depth sensor. The results are pretty impressive.

In the image below, the V11 picks up brickwork and grabs good detail on the horizon. However, it suffers from being too dark, with details are lost in the shadows, leaving a scene that feels a bit dreary.

^ Vivo V11 rear camera

Turn on HDR and the image comes to life. Comparing the image above, and the one below with HDR and the difference is like night and day – if you'll excuse the pun. It’s clearly brighter – although, to a trained eye, the V11 makes the scene slightly washed out and does overdo the vibrancy of the image. It looks almost fake.

By comparison, the Moto G6 and G6 Plus are able to capture the same amount of detail, but still provide a near-perfect reproduction in both colours and luminance.

^ Vivo V11 rear camera with HDR

In low-light conditions, the rear camera is again outshone by the Moto G6. Here, shots taken on the V11 have image noise, but flash completely eliminates this and thankfully doesn’t ruin the scene by having a yellowish or bluish flash tone. So, if you want to take low-light shots of objects in front of you, I’d suggest turning flash on.

^ Vivo V11 low light, 200% crop

^ Vivo V11 low light with flash, 200% crop

Around the front, things get interesting. The selfie camera comes with a f/2.0 25-megapixel sensor. You read that right, twenty-five megapixels. The result is spectacularly good: the camera is able to capture plenty of detail, draws lots of light and, with auto HDR enabled, packs a nice, vibrant tone. Skin tones aren’t overdone and remain accurate, which is impressive.

^ Vivo V11 selfie

Portrait mode also does a good job by blurring out the background and provides a good depth of field. I’d say it’s among the best selfie cameras out there on the market, especially at its price point.

^ Vivo V11 portrait mode

As for video, I’m a little disappointed by the limited frame rate. The V11 records 4K, 1080p and 720p video, but caps the frame rate at 30fps. I’d have wanted at least 60fps at 1080p, if not 120 to 240fps at 720p for slow-mo shots. Stabilisation is pretty basic, too – if you’re walking and filming, it’ll be jittery.

^ Vivo V11 camera app

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Vivo V11 review: Verdict

Design-wise, the Vivo V11 is certainly a stunning phone and the in-display fingerprint reader gives even more precious space to the screen. It’s pretty snappy, too, and its incredible selfie camera is a class above most offerings – the front-facing snapper is so often an afterthought. It genuinely offers something a little different from other phones on the market.

However, it’s far from perfect. The rear-facing cameras could be better, the overall Android experience is hampered by Funtouch OS and, to top it off, you’re looking at a grey import to get it in the UK.

That doesn’t make the V11 a bad phone. It’s just that if I had a budget of £400, I’d pick the Samsung Galaxy S8, or even save myself some money by opting for the Motorola Moto G6 Plus.

Hardware
Processor2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 660
RAM6GB
Screen size6.41in
Screen resolution1,080 x 2,340
Screen typeSuper AMOLED
Front camera25-megapixel
Rear cameraDual 12+5-megapixel
FlashYes
GPSYes
CompassYes
Storage (free)128GB
Memory card slot (supplied)Yes up to 256GB
Wi-FiDual band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth5
NFCNo
Wireless data4G
Dimensions157.9 x 75 x 7.9mm
Weight156g
Features
Operating systemAndroid 8.1
Battery size3400mAh
Buying information
Warranty1 year RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT)£360

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