Chinese smartphones have been gaining massive popularity among consumers, and it’s not difficult to see why. Their prevalence — both in and out of the Chinese mainland — are mainly attributed to their low retail price, and the ability to retain the premium specs and features usually found on more expensive flagships. One no longer has to pay kilobuck prices to get dual cameras, a bezel-less screen, a powerful processor, and a fingerprint scanner. Manufacturers like Vivo, Xiaomi, OPPO, and Huawei have been pushing out multiple examples of mid-range phones that can stand up to many current-day flagships, and many other Chinese manufacturers are hopping onto that bandwagon.
We turn our attention to the vivo V11, a mid-range smartphone with some very premium features that elude even some of the most popular flagship phones.
- Chipset: Qualcomm SDM660 Snapdragon
- Operating System: Android 8.1 (Oreo); Funtouch 4.5
- Display: 6.41-inch 19.5:9 Super AMOLED, 1080 x 2340 pixels, ~402 ppi density
- Memory/Storage: 6GB RAM; 64/128GB Internal Storage, expandable with microSD up to 256GB
- Rear Camera: 12MP, f/1.8, dual pixel PDAF + 5MP, f/2.4, depth sensor; 2016p@30fps, 1080p@30fps video; LED flash, HDR, Panorama
- Front Camera: 25MP, f/2.0; 1080p@30fps video; infrared scanner
- Connectivity: Dual nano-SIM; Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual band; Bluetooth 5.0; GPS; FM radio; micro-USB 2.0 with fast charging
- Battery: Non-removable Li-Po 3400mAh
- Features: Under-display fingerprint scanner; 3.5mm headphone jack; loudspeaker
The vivo V11 strikes me as an incredibly good-looking phone — without the notch. When most manufacturers are making the notch bigger and fatter (looking at you, Google Pixel 3 XL), the V11 instead went for a very minimalist droplet-style camera notch that’s barely noticeable and frees up significant space for the rest of the top of the screen. This, combined with the almost bezel-less screen, makes for an impressive display. The choice for body colours aren’t nearly as impressive, though — with only two options, Starry Black and Nebula Purple, to choose from. For either, the glossy plastic back makes the phone a rather unsightly fingerprint magnet. There is a flexible plastic phone cover that comes with, although all that does is have the fingerprints appear on it instead of the phone itself.
vivo V11: Notable features
One of the biggest features of the V11 definitely has to be the ultrasonic in-screen fingerprint scanner. One of the first few phones to adopt the technology, it’s something only found on much higher-priced phones — and yet vivo has opted to place one in this mid-range offering. It’s an elegant solution to keeping a phone’s look cleaner, without having a physical scanner take up space on the back or the side, and better yet, on the front. The scan rate isn’t the greatest, but for what it’s worth, it’s a pretty nifty feature to have. If that doesn’t appeal to you, there’s also the option for infrared face-scanning to unlock your phone.
Another great sell shows up on the reverse side of the phone — the dual camera setup as seen in many other phones in recent months. The V11 combines a 12MP primary lens with a 5MP depth sensor for your portrait mode shots, giving you a nice depth-of-field effect on photos. Colours can feel a bit artificially enhanced at times, but the picture quality is clear and rather impressive. HDR is essential, as dynamic range can be lacking in harsh sunlight or low light. The front camera is nothing too out of the norm, however.
vivo V11: Performance
I don’t run benchmarks or stress tests, as most users will struggle to max out the performance of any phone on daily usage and under normal circumstances. The SDM660 is the go-to chipset for mid-range phones. With its octa-core Kryo 260 CPU and Adreno 512 GPU, the V11 handles most regular games at top settings without much of a worry. The real-world speed and performance differences between this phone and it’s bigger brother, the flagship SD845 Snapdragon chipset, are so minute that only the most heavy users will notice them — and even then, barely.
The massive screen can push up to ~400nits in brightness, which is more than sufficient in normal lighting, and just passable under harsh, direct. sunlight. The 19.5:9, 6.41-inch display is certainly one of the tallest and longest I’ve ever used, but the phone remains surprisingly easy to handle, although, I do have larger hands than most people as well. Watching videos on this screen is a delight, as more real estate does mean that watching videos are more enjoyable.
Gaming on the V11 is quite a good experience as well, with the 19.5:9 screen ratio coming into play here. The abundance of real estate gives users enough viewing space while retaining enough area for two-handed controls. The SDM660 handles games like Mobile Legends, PUBG, and Asphalt 9 smoothly, and shows little to no sign of lag or slowing down under load.
The 3400mAh battery is very impressive, although paling in comparison to larger offerings from the likes of Xiaomi and Huawei, it still manages a day and a half of use on half brightness, and would easily last a full day on heavy use. The battery management is nothing to be scoffed at, and credit must be given to the SDM660 chipset.
There is one little gripe I have with the phone here — with their decision to use the aging micro-USB standard instead of the more modern, more versatile USB-C.
The presence of fast charging on the micro-USB still allows the V11 to go from flat to full in less than 2 hours, and from flat to half in about 30 minutes with the supplied charger.
I did run into an issue with the V11’s thermals. Despite having a lower power chipset, it still can get very toasty under prolonged use, and can be uncomfortable to hold.
As for the audio performance, you get a single bottom firing speaker, which gives decent loudness and clarity. As I’ve got used to having a dual stereo speaker on my usual phone, the experience isn’t as great on the V11. You do also get a standard 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom of the phone, something amiss on phones that cost over three times its price, so you can rejoice at the lack of a dongle.
The vivo V11 is an affordable mid-range handset bringing an expanse of features it brings to the table. It’s certainly ahead of the curve, and a strong performer in its bracket. If you’re looking for premium features on your phone but are unwilling to shell out near four-figure sums, the vivo V11 is definitely a phone you should look at.
Photos by Soloman Soh of the DANAMIC team.