Vivo V23 Pro Review: Excellent Selfie Shooter With A Sleek Design

The Vivo V23 Pro is the company’s latest premium mid-range offering. Its color-changing glass back has generated a lot of buzz on the internet but that isn’t the best thing about this phone. There’s a lot going for it aside from the design. Dual selfie cameras, a 108-megapixel primary rear camera, a MediaTek Dimensity 1200 processor, up to 12GB of RAM, and 5G cellular connectivity are pretty good specs in this segment.

However, this isn’t a true-blue flagship and Vivo had to take to some clever cost-cutting measures here. As a result, the V23 Pro isn’t a perfect phone and may disappoint you in certain areas. So read on to find out whether this phone is worth your money.

Vivo V23 Pro unboxing and design

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The Vivo V23 Pro comes in a beautiful package complete with all the accessories you need. The dark-blue card box has a glittery element to it that catches your eyes. Inside the box, we have the handset up top, sitting inside its own plastic cradle. Below it, we have a 44W fast charger, a SIM ejector pin, a pair of wired earphones, and a USB Type-C to 3.5mm audio dongle. Note that the phone doesn’t feature a separate audio jack. That’s why we have this dongle here.

Keeping everything aside, let’s take a look at the phone itself. The handset sports a premium look and build quality that ought to impress you. The dual-curved display, a soft finish at the back, raindrop rear camera array, and the well-blended shiny frame, which has recessed top and bottom edges, make for a stylish device. Vivo has designed this phone so well that the earpiece grille goes unnoticed unless you have a close look above the notch. It’s blended into the frame that well.

The Vivo V23 Pro has its power and volume buttons on the right side. Both are easily reachable with one-hand usage thanks to a device’s compact size. They offer decent tactile feedback. The bottom edge has a down-firing speaker grille, a USB Type-C port, a microphone, and a dual nano-SIM tray. There’s a second microphone at the top, which also has the text “PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY” inscribed. The left edge of this phone is free from any ports, holes, or buttons.

The color-changing back is kind of gimmicky

Without any further ado, let’s address the elephant in the room. Yes, the color-changing back panel. The Vivo V23 Pro features a Fluorite AG glass back that magically changes color when exposed to direct sunlight. But that’s about as good as it gets.

The phone appears golden when indoors but changes to a blueish hue when you put it under the sunlight for a few minutes. You may also notice hints of yellow or green shades in between this transition. All of these shades do come out when looking at the phone from different angles indoors as well. However, since most users prefer to put a case on their phone, this trick is more of a gimmick than anything else.

Of course, you could opt for a transparent case but even then, a color-changing back doesn’t really serve a purpose. Perhaps it can look messy when you’re using the phone outdoors. The portion covered by your palm or fingers will retain the gold finish while the rest of the back panel will turn blueish. You can use this trick to draw certain designs, logos, or arts on the back of the Vivo V23 Pro but you’re likely to lose interest in it within a few days.

Note that only the Sunshine Gold color variant of the Vivo V23 Pro comes with this magic trick and that its camera island doesn’t get the same treatment. The phone is also available in a Stardust Black color, which doesn’t change color under light. But since both color variants cost the same, it doesn’t hurt your wallet if opt for the former just for fun.

Putting a case on this phone might be a good idea for multiple reasons

Due to its style elements — curved display, soft rear panel, and smooth edges — the Vivo V23 Pro is quite slippery. So you might want to put a cover on it as soon as you can. Of course, that means you’ll lose the elegant look and feel of the phone but that’s a trade-off you’ll have to make to keep it safer.

Also, the rear camera bump doesn’t allow the phone to sit flat on its back. Putting a case might address that as well if you see it as a problem. Otherwise, with a footprint of 159.5×73.3×7.4mm, the Vivo V23 Pro is perfectly sized. At 171 grams, it’s quite lightweight as well and feels comfortable when used with one hand.

As far as the out-of-the-box protection is concerned, Vivo is using Schott Xensation α glass on this phone, both at the back and the front. You might not have heard of this company much, certainly not as much as Corning, but it makes good protective glasses for smartphones. The Xensation α glass is its latest and greatest offering, comparable to Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus that you find on the current crop of flagship devices. The screen also comes with a plastic protection film on top.

The curved AMOLED display doesn’t look bad with a wide notch

The Vivo V23 Pro sports a 6.56-inch 3D curved AMOLED display with a 1080×2376 pixels resolution and a 90Hz refresh rate. We have a wide notch at the center to accommodate two front-facing cameras. This looks like a blast from the past but you will get used to its pretty quickly. It shouldn’t even bother you during media consumption or gaming thanks to software optimizations. Vivo even offers you control over which apps can use the portion of this display on the sides of the notch. So it’s not a big deal.

The bezels around the display are quite big but again, this shouldn’t be a dealbreaker to anyone. But you might rue the missing notification LED, which could have been included considering the sizes of the notch and bezels. We do have a proximity sensor though.

This phone also features an optical under-display fingerprint scanner. It is snappy but if you’re moving from a physical capacitive fingerprint scanner, you’d notice it’s not an upgrade. At least not in terms of speed. Not a pain either, though. It’ll get the job done.

Bright screen with decent colors

The screen on the Vivo V23 Pro is bright enough to use in any lighting conditions. Colors may look a bit washed under direct sunlight but the screen is readable without putting any stress on the eyes. We have a light sensor on this phone that allows the display to automatically adjust the brightness level according to the ambiance light. You do have manual control as well.

Speaking of colors, the Vivo V23 Pro offers three color modes — Standard, Professional, and Bright — as well as a color temperature adjustment slider. So you have plenty of manual controls over the display colors. The device does render colors in photos and videos quite accurately. Speaking of which, the device is Widevine L1 DRM certified. This means you’ll be able to stream content from platforms like Netflix in the highest possible resolution. This phone also supports HDR10, HDR10+, and HLG standards.

Coming to the refresh rate, we have three options here as well — 90Hz, 60Hz, and Smart Switch. The first two are static, i.e. keep the refresh rate fixed at the respective numbers. The latter, meanwhile, automatically switches between the two values depending on the need. This helps save battery power while ensuring that you’re still getting the best out of your device. But if you want smooth performance, keeping the refresh rate fixed at 90Hz might be the best option as the Smart Switch feature doesn’t seem to get it right every time.

The Vivo V23 Pro is TÜV Rheinland certified for low blue light emission. It also offers an eye protection feature that lets you adjust the warmth of colors on the screen to reduce eye strain. You can set it to always on at a fixed warmth level or schedule for customized times.

Vivo V23 Pro is a top performer

The Vivo V23 Pro is powered by MediaTek’s Dimensity 1200 SoC. It is a 6nm processor and the Taiwanese company’s flagship offering for 2021. This chipset has one Cortex-A78 CPU core clocked at 3.0 GHz, three Cortex-A78 cores at 2.6 GHz, and four Cortex-A55 cores at 2.0 GHz. We have a Mali-G77 MC9 GPU for graphics duties. Vivo has paired the chipset with 8GB+128GB or 12GB+256GB memory configurations. The company’s Extended RAM 2.0 technology also allows you to use 4GB of ROM as RAM.

Of course, the DImensity 1200 is not the best smartphone processor available today. However, it will not let you down with the day-to-day performance of this phone. Be it multitasking or gaming, the device handles everything neatly without any crashes or lags. Graphic-intense games like Battlegrounds Mobile India (Indian version on PUBG) run smoothly on high frame rates and graphics. It automatically runs in the highest graphics and frame rates.

System apps as well as other third-party apps also don’t exhibit any problems. As said earlier, you might want to always use the device with a 90Hz refresh rate for smooth performance.

The Vivo V23 Pro is also excellent at handling internal temperature. Long gaming sessions expectedly produce some heat. But the device doesn’t let things reach an uncomfortable level. While the performance depends on your usage, this phone wouldn’t disappoint regular users.

One thing to note here is that the device doesn’t support expandable storage. So if you’re going for the base variant, 128GB of storage capacity (minus a few GBs occupied by system files) is all you get. Thankfully, we have OTG support to connect a compatible external storage device. Bear in mind that USB 2.0 won’t offer excellent data transfer speeds.

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Android 12 experience with Funtouch OS

The Vivo V23 Pro runs Android 12 out of the box, with the company’s Funtouch OS on top. Vivo introduced a new Android skin called Origin OS back in 2020 but it is currently exclusive to China. Funtouch OS isn’t bad though. Perhaps with Android 12, it offers an excellent experience. The UI elements are highly customizable with tons of finer details and comfortable one-hand usage.

Starting on the homescreen, Vivo offers several widgets to get things done quickly. The app drawer is as simplistic as it gets and lest you sort apps by name (alphabetically) or usage frequency. If you select the former, you get a recommended apps section (most-used apps) at the top. There’s also a scroller on the right side that lets you quickly jump to the apps beginning with a letter by tapping on it. Scrolling will highlight the apps beginning with the selected letter.

Vivo offers two designs for recent apps as well: carousel and tiles. The notification panel looks neat with square toggles. Active toggles are highlighted with a blue accent. Swiping down once from the homescreen shows the top six quick toggles and brightness slider. If you swipe down again, you’ll see six more quick toggles as well as an edit button to organize and reorder the toggles, a shortcut to settings, user profile, and the global search button. Vivo could have done better by moving the settings shortcut towards the top so you could reach it with just one swipe down on the homescreen.

Depending on the region you buy this device from, you might see a few bloatware. But most of those can be uninstalled.

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Highly customizable software while flavors of Android 12 exist

A dynamic effects menu in settings lets you customize various system animations. You can change ambient light effects for incoming calls, music, and notifications. You also have multiple animation effects for the fingerprint icon, fingerprint recognition, facial recognition, charging animation, home screen transition, and many more UI elements. Always On Display is also customizable to change the clock style, color, background, and more. You can also customize the shape and size of app icons.

There are also tons of gesture and shortcut options. You can quickly launch split-screen mode by swiping up on the screen with three fingers. The same gesture down downwards grabs a screenshot. Quick action lets you assign a feature to the long-press of the volume down button on the lockscreen. Easy touch brings up a floating button with customizable shortcuts for numerous features and actions. You can even use gestures on the floating button for certain actions.

For gamers, the Vivo V23 Pro has a dedicated Ultra Game Mode that offers features such as 4D game vibration, sound effects, eagle eye enhancement, and autoplay with screen off. You also have controls over notifications, display settings, frame rate, and device temperature for an enhanced gaming experience. Ultra Game Mode is accessible from within games as well.

Despite tons of add-ons from Vivo, Funtouch OS 12 has flavors of Android 12. The company has blended features like the green notification dot for camera and microphone access, privacy dashboard, parental controls, and permission manager into its custom skin.

Vivo has promised up to three generations of Android OS updates for its flagship models like the X70 series. But the company hasn’t confirmed anything as such for the V23 Pro. This presumably means it’ll only get two major Android OS updates, i.e. Android 13 and Android 14.

A single speaker is a letdown

The Vivo V23 Pro features a single down-firing speaker. While it’s reasonably loud, many competing phones offer stereo speakers. So it’s disappointing from Vivo. The company offers some software features for enhanced sound quality though. Sound profiles let you optimize the output based on your hearing capability. This is a handy feature for people with impaired hearing. However, there’s no equalizer on this phone to customize the sound output. Overall speaking, the Vivo V23 Pro let me down in the speaker department.

On that note, this phone will not impress you with its haptic feedback as well. As for notification and call vibrations, you can control those individually, which is nice.

There’s no NFC and official water resistance either on this phone. However, you do get all other connectivity features you’d expect, including 2.4GHz and 5GHz dual-band Wi-F, Bluetooth 5.2, and all widely used GPS systems such as A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS, NavIC, and BDS. We have SA (standalone) and NSA (non-standalone) dual-mode 5G support as well. But that’s limited to sub-6 aka low band networks. The Vivo V23 Pro doesn’t support mmWave 5G.

Battery life is reasonably good

The Dimensity 1200 isn’t a very power-hungry chipset and that is reflected in the Vivo V23 Pro’s battery life. You already know this phone is quite slim and small. As a result, Vivo could only include a 4,300mAh battery in it. Some phones in this segment pack much bigger batteries. However, the Vivo V23 Pro will not disappoint you with its battery life.

During the review period, the device consistently offered more than six hours of screen time on a full charge. That included browsing the internet, checking social media, a few minutes of video calls, capturing a lot of photos and videos, and a few gaming sessions in-between, while on a 90Hz refresh rate. Long story short, this phone will get you through the day more often than not unless you are a power user or heavy gamer. In that case, you might need to charge your phone more frequently.

Thankfully, the Vivo V23 Pro won’t take much longer to charge. It comes bundled with a 44W charger that can replenish about 26 percent of the battery juice in just ten minutes, starting from zero. With half an hour of charging, the battery level reaches around 68-69 percent. The device charges fully in just under an hour.

Vivo V23 Pro camera review

We are now down to the main focal point of the Vivo V23 Pro: camera. The device sports a triple camera setup at the back, consisting of a 108-megapixel primary shooter, an 8-megapixel ultrawide lens, and a 2-megapixel macro camera.

The 108-megapixel primary camera is Samsung’s ISOCELL HM2 sensor with an F/1.9 aperture and PDAF (phase detection autofocus). It is a tried and tested camera but Vivo isn’t offering advanced features like OIS (optical image stabilization) here, which is disappointing. This sensor uses pixel binning technology to combine nine neighboring pixels and capture 12-megapixel images by default.

In bright conditions, the images come out fine. You will get good details and dynamic range. Perhaps Vivo’s post-processing is sharpening the images for a catchy output. As a result, some photos seem oversaturated. That appears truer when you compare the same shots captured in the full 108-megapixel resolution. These images look more natural while also offering more detail. Of course, you get manual control over a lot of things with built-in filters and Pro mode. So if you don’t like the output with default settings, you can tweak things a bit.

The 8-megapixel ultrawide lens, which boasts an F/2.2 aperture and a 120-degree field of view (FoV), also captures similarly oversaturated photos in bright environments. The images are usable but do contain a bit of noise. You’ll get a similar experience with the 2-megapixel, F/2.4 macro camera as well. The close-up shots are just about usable. A low resolution means the shots don’t come out much exciting.

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Low-light photos come out just about fine but don’t expect stunning zoom photos

The Vivo V23 Pro captures just about fine low-light photos. It has a dedicated Night mode that seems to kick in automatically as the environment gets darker. You can also manually capture Night mode photos. If there’s enough artificial light, you will get usable images. There’s a bit of smoothness in images but with manageable noise. You’ll get satisfactory results with the ultrawide lens as well. I was expecting better from a phone that claims “professional photography.”

There’s no dedicated zoom camera on the Vivo V23 Pro. So it’s all digital zoom here. We get up to 10X zoom but at that point, the output looks more like an oil painting than a captured image. 2X zoom photos come out fine though. Not much to talk about here.

Despite lacking a dedicated depth camera, this phone captures impressive portrait shots though. It doesn’t perfectly separate the subject from the background in certain environments but mostly gets the job done in a satisfactory manner.

The Vivo V23 Pro also offers tons of other camera features to play with. We have the usual Slo-mo, Timelapse, Pano, Sports, and Documents modes as well as add-ons like dual-view and double exposure. The zoom slider is neat and gives pleasing audio feedback when you slide onto it. Built-in filters and HDR mode are also easily accessible from the camera viewfinder.

Vivo V23 Pro is a great selfie shooter

When it comes to selfies, the Vivo V23 Pro never disappoints. We have two front-facing cameras on this phone: a 50-megapixel F/2.0 main camera with autofocus and an 8-megapixel F/2.3 wide-angle lens with a 105-degree FoV. Both capture impressive stills.

Of course, the main camera is the star of the show here. Selfies come out with good natural color and dynamic range. The amount of detail is also great, even with the dual-flash turned on. The flashlights also let you capture quality selfies when things get completely dark. Things get a bit plain with the ultrawide selfie camera but not much. The photos lose some dynamic range and color depth but that’s expected.

Selfie portraits are also comparable to portrait shots captured with the rear camera. The same can be said for low-light selfies as well, both with the main selfie camera and the ultrawide lens. Kudos to Vivo for pulling that off.

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This phone can capture decent 4K videos

The Vivo V23 Pro can capture 4K videos at 30fps (frames per second) with both front and rear main cameras. The footage is pretty decent with enough detail and dynamic range. However, if the subject is moving, then focusing could be a problem. This focusing problem is more prominent on the back camera than the front. Perhaps with selfie videos, the subject is usually much closer and is more stable. Low-light videos come out fine too.

However, the lack of OIS means you’ll have to rely on EIS (electronic image stabilization), which doesn’t offer the best stabilization. The phone does have a super stabilization mode but it doesn’t work for 4K videos. So you’ll have to be very stable while recording videos on the Vivo V23 Pro.

You can also record ultrawide videos on this phone, again both with the front and rear cameras. But the resolution is capped at 1080p. The output is less usable with duller colors. Overall, the Vivo V23 Pro is a decent phone for videography.

Should you buy the Vivo V23 Pro?

Starting at ₹38,990 (roughly $520) in India, the Vivo V23 Pro isn’t a particularly affordable phone. It has a lot going for it to justify the price tag, none as much as the flagship-grade chipset and excellent selfie camera, but the price-cutting measures that Vivo has implemented means it leaves something to be desired in certain areas. The lack of stereo speakers, official water resistance, and OIS is a big letdown.

Overall, the Vivo V23 Pro is a decent option in this price range but you might find better all-around phones if you look more in-depth. If photography and performance are all you’re looking for, then this phone will not disappoint you.