Vivo V11: A mid-range phone with AI camera and in-display fingerprint scanning? Count me in

The all-new V11 smartphone was launched at Sitex 2018 which was held at Singapore Expo from Nov 22 to 25.
Sean Lim / Business Insider

It’s a crazy world we’re living in – people would queue overnight and burn thousands of dollars in desperation just to get their hands on the latest smartphone.

Not me though. I’m pretty sure I can get by just fine with a way cheaper phone that practically has the same shimmery, cool features.

When Vivo launched its S$$599 V11 smartphone in Singapore on Dec 1, promising a bunch of high-end features, I was intrigued.

I managed to get my hands on a review set, and after 20 days with it, I must say the experience was full of surprises.

Aesthetics 

When I first unboxed the Vivo V11, my heart was set aflutter by how pretty the phone’s colour – Nebula – was. I’m definitely a fan of the super-reflective finishing on the back of the phone.

V11 in Nebula features a blue to purple gradient.
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The V11 comes in two fusion colours inspired by the galaxy – Nebula, a blue to purple gradient and Starry Night, a black to blue gradient.

Starry Night has a black to blue gradient.
Vivo

With its sleek, polished look, this phone looks as though it fits right into the S$1,000 phone club alongside the iPhone XS, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and the Google Pixel 3.

Read also: We compared the Google Pixel 3 and Huawei Mate 20 Pro in a camera face-off – and the winner is clear

I don’t think there’s even a need to buy a phone case to beautify the V11. That’s probably why it comes with a transparent phone case.

Having said that, there are brands which have pushed out similar looking phones before. For example, the Huawei Nova 3, Huawei P20 and Oppo R17 Pro all feature a similar gradient colour scheme on their backs.

Read also: I pitted the spanking new Huawei Mate 20 Pro against my ancient Samsung Note 5 – and the results were surprising

Size and feel

Like many millennials, I’m a massive YouTube fan. And so, large phone screens always catch my attention.

But what deters me from actually buying big phones is their weight.

Despite its relatively large size (157.91mm by 75.08mm by 7.9mm), the V11 weighs 156g, which is less than some higher-end large-screen phones released in 2018.

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I loved Vivo V11’s massive edge-to-edge display (6.41-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 1080 pixels by 2340 pixels), and it helps that the notch is water drop-sized.

Sean Lim / Business Insider

The notch – thankfully – does not get in the way when watching a video or when viewing Insta stories.

Fingerprint scanning and Face Access

The Vivo V11 is the first mid-range phone to have fingerprint scanning within the screen.

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Once set up, it took me about two seconds to unlock the V11 – just slightly longer than it takes to unlock my iPhone 8.

One thing that irks me is the fingerprint icon appearing on the lock screen whenever the phone is moved slightly.

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Thankfully, Vivo has already thought through this. The V11 gives users the option to switch this function off when the phone is locked.

The part which impressed me the most was the Vivo V11’s facial recognition system.

Sean Lim / Business Insider

It’s so quick to detect my facial features and unlock the phone that the phone unlocks even before the lock screen can show.

This means that I don’t even actually need to use the fingerprint scanner.

And of course, like every curious first-timer playing with a facial recognition system, I put various “faces” to the test.  I made funny faces; messed my hair up; switched between wearing and not wearing spectacles; tried it out in the dark; and even covered the bottom half of my face – all different variants of my face managed to unlock the phone.

And while the V11 uses 1,024 facial feature points scanned by infrared light, photos, identification cards, half and completely shut eyes cannot be detected for security purposes.

However, the V11’s Face Access does not work all the time. And when it fails, it only starts working again hours later.

Camera features

As an Apple fan, I used to fight back fiercely whenever another brand claims it has a better camera than the newest iPhone. But even I have to admit that the Vivo V11’s camera may have changed my mind.

Read also: I’m an iPhone user who refused to switch to Android – but the Google Pixel 3 XL may have changed my mind

The V11 produces images that are slightly more sharp and crisp, bringing out colour vibrancy better than my iPhone 8 does.

Photos taken on the Vivo V11 (left) were a little clearer and more vibrant than those taken on the iPhone 8 (right).
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Details are captured better on the Vivo V11 (left) than on an iPhone 8 (right).
Sean Lim / Business Insider Singapore

One great feature the V11 offers is the group selfie function.

Instead of having the ability to zoom out to capture a wider shot like the Google Pixel 3, the Vivo V11 uses a panning/rotating method to take the photo.

And the final product wasn’t too shabby.

A shot taken with the Group Selfie function.
Sean Lim / Business Insider

But there are a few flaws worth mentioning.

The rotation method made the background appear unnaturally curved.

Plus, you have to operate this function with really steady hands. Or else, you’ll end up with wonky photos and disfigured faces.

I do prefer the Google Pixel 3’s group selfie tool as it’s more straightforward, easier to use, and it’s guaranteed that images do not turn out weird-looking.

Another function I like is the Bokeh Portrait Photography, which blurs out the background and focuses on the human face.

I can see this really coming in handy. The depth-of-field effect looks natural, and there’s even the option to adjust how blur you want the background to appear.

All you selfie lovers out there will love the next few features. The V11 has an AI Face Beauty tool which automatically applies skin whitening, face reshaping and all that jazz while you’re taking a photo.

You can even adjust each effect to suit your preference. It’s impressive how this tool retains natural vibes, while enhancing one’s features.

The Vivo V11 comes with an AI Face Beauty tool.
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Also, if you’re one who cannot live without Snow and Snapchat filters, you’ll be pleased to know that adorable filters are built into the V11.

The Vivo V11 comes with many filters.
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These two functions can be applied when using both the front and back cameras.

Another feature I find really useful is the V11’s straightening tool. This ensures that photos are properly aligned and parallel to the ground.

Now, users can effortlessly help their friends take properly aligned or symmetrical photos for the ‘gram.

The Vivo V11 comes with a straightening tool under the Professional tab.
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And of course, the Vivo V11 comes with a panorama function which covers quite a wide area. I would say that the results are comparable to that produced by other phone brands.

The Vivo V11 features a panorama function.
Sean Lim / Business Insider

Muffled speaker

The V11’s speaker is pretty disappointing though. The set I had produced below-average sounds that made music and voices sound muffled.

Upon closer inspection, I noticed that the V11’s speakers were only built on the bottom right of the phone. An iPhone 8 has speakers on both sides.

The Vivo V11’s speakers were only built on one side of the phone, unlike an iPhone which features speakers on both sides.
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However, I had no issues with the sound volume that the V11 produces.

Charge time and battery life

Vivo boasts that the V11 has a “Dual-Engine Fast Charging” system, which allowed me to charge up to 50 per cent in 30 minutes. The battery also doesn’t run out as fast as my iPhone 8, and actually lasted me the whole day.

Verdict

The Vivo V11 certainly has some awesome features, including its AI camera functions, an in-display fingerprint scanning and facial recognition systems.

After close to three weeks of trying the V11 out, it’s safe to say many of its features match up to – or even overtake – those on phones that are double its cost.

If you’re someone who doesn’t find joy in flaunting a crazy expensive phone that you just bought, the mid-range Vivo V11 could be the right one for you.

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