We tested the Vivo V21, the smartphone that football fans have obviously heard about

The latest arrival on the French smartphone market, the Chinese manufacturer Vivo hopes to quickly catch up on the delay it has taken on its competitors. To achieve this, Vivo relies in particular on football. Partner of Euro 2020 and the next World Cup, he hopes to quickly make himself known through advertising to increase his sales.
The Vivo V21 5G, a mid-range smartphone marketed at a price of 419 euros, was for example presented before each Euro magazine on TF1. What quickly increase the notoriety of the company?

If, like many people, you now have the Vivo V21 in your viewfinder, this test is for you. We used the smartphone for several weeks to see what Vivo was able to do for less than $ 500, having already tried its high-end X51 smartphone at $ 799. While the new school year is over, but some purchases have not yet been made, should you consider replacing your smartphone with a Vivo?

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Ultra-thin, ultra-thin

Design level, Vivo succeeds in the feat of diversifying into an environment where everything is alike. Truth be told, it’s hard to get any simpler than this device. The designers of the company rely on a perfectly rectangular device, almost not curved. Few smartphones have completely flat backs and screens, even if the slight protrusion of the camera module of the device somewhat spoils the end result.
Still, the Vivo V21 has its charm and it is pleasant to use it, especially since its fineness (7.3 mm) and its weight (176 grams) are very appreciable. We also like the color of the model we tested.

Convincing measures

Like any smartphone that passes through the hands of the 01net.com laboratory, the Vivo V21 has been scrupulously analyzed by our laboratory.

To our surprise, the mobile is doing particularly well for a mid-range device, especially in terms of the screen. The OLED panel used by Vivo, with a diagonal of 6.44 inches, has an average brightness of 669 cd / m2 when pushing the cursor to the maximum and can even reach 877 cd / m2 under a lamp, when we try to reproduce the behavior that the smartphone would have outdoors, in the middle of a sunny day.
For the mid-range, it’s just excellent. The screen is readable all the time. Too bad that the fidelity of its colors is average by default (Delta E 2000 = 5.05). By playing with the settings, you can obtain a better result (Delta E 2000 = 2.53) thanks to the so-called “professional” mode. It’s not great, but it’s more than enough to fool your eyes. Note that the device offers a refresh rate of 90 Hz, which is very pleasant.

On the performance side, however, we could probably do better. If the smartphone is doing very well when we perform “benchmarks” (tests using dedicated software), it has happened to be a little too slow when we go too quickly from an application. to another. Blame it on its MediaTek 800U 5G processor which, if it allows it to be 5G compatible, is not necessarily the best on the market. Nothing serious however, the device is doing well. This chip also has the advantage of being energy efficient and offers satisfactory autonomy to the Vivo V21… with some irregularities.
The smartphone withstood our versatile battery life test for 15 hours, which is pretty decent, but only 10:47 in video streaming and 27:49 in communication. In use, it seemed to us that the Vivo V21 got tired a bit quickly. Do not expect to go for a weekend without a charger. Fortunately, it only takes 58 minutes to fully charge the smartphone’s 4000 mAh battery.

Lighted selfies, Vivo’s good idea

The Vivo V21 is intended for young people. Like the other mobiles in this range, initially designed for the Chinese market, this device puts the pack on selfies in order to address the Snapchat and TikTok generation, the one who is most likely to use the front camera for film in addition to taking pictures.

In a notch in the shape of a drop of water, there is a stabilized 44 Mpix front sensor. Capable of shooting in 4K, a fairly rare feature at such a price, this camera is surrounded by two LEDs that can light you up at night and turn your smartphone into a mini film studio. Is the result satisfactory?
Unsurprisingly, real flashes do better than fake flash (most smartphones briefly light up the screen in white before a photo). It is of course not perfect (it is better to flip the device and use the back camera) but, quite frankly, we were blown away by the result.
We are even surprised not to see more manufacturers do the same, especially since the LEDs are perfectly hidden and do not spoil the design of the device as on other models.
Whether shooting a video at a party or just taking a selfie with friends, the Vivo V21 clearly offers something that other smartphones can’t do, although cinema-quality isn’t to be expected.

Too many apps preinstalled … and imperfections

In France, Vivo has chosen to use a pure version of Android. The operating system of the V21 is therefore easy to use even if, like others before it, Vivo has fallen into the trap of preinstalled apps.
In addition to Google applications, we find Vivo Calculator, Vivo Albums (for the pictures), iManager (a manager), a shortcut to Vivo.com, and an application Comments to report a problem to the manufacturer. Everything is a bit heavy, we would have preferred that Vivo be satisfied with Google apps like Oppo or OnePlus, its distant cousins.
Among the other points we didn’t like, the Vivo V21’s vibrator is particularly messy. Light years away from competing smartphones, it feels like it’s using an entry-level smartphone released 10 years ago. The smartphone’s fingerprint sensor, located below the screen, is also a bit slower than average. Note also the absence of a jack, which is rare at such a price.

The camera, the (very) weak point of the Vivo V21

Finally, let’s talk about the Vivo V21’s camera. On the back of the smartphone, in a not very elegant camera module (once again, Vivo is betting on the rectangular all the way), there is a triple camera module with a main sensor of 64 Mpix, an ultra wide-angle camera (8 Mpix), and a 2 Mpix macro module.
If this score is not, in itself, bad, the same cannot be said of the algorithmic processing offered by the brand. The results sometimes give the impression of coming out of Paint so nothing goes. The eyes change color, the portrait mode turns badly… One wonders how Vivo got so wrong. Sometimes it happens that the photo seems to be successful at first… when in reality it is completely failed. Enough to spoil vacation photos. Fortunately, most of the time, the smartphone does well.

All this is all the more problematic as the application Camera of the smartphone is itself problematic. This is by far the worst user experience we have tried in recent years.

Let’s give an example, to switch from the main camera to the ultra wide-angle, we normally click on the “1x” logo at the bottom of the screen, which allows you to change the zoom level. Here, the “1x” only allows you to switch to the virtual “2x”. To switch to ultra wide angle, click on “Lens” and choose between “super wide angle”, “blur” or “super macro”. It makes no sense and misleads the user.
To return to the main camera, same problem, you must first click on the small cross to close the ultra wide-angle. To top it off, the app isn’t very responsive.

In short, the Vivo V21 is far from the Pixel 4a 5G, our champion of the photo at less than 500 euros.

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