A pro in name, not so much in spirit.
The V20 was a “pro” in nearly every department but one. Not that it was a deal breaker or anything, but it could surely have done with more power. Enter, the V20 Pro.
The pro V20 seems designed from ground up for power users. It is not an out-and-out pocket rocket in case you are wondering, and there are areas where it takes a step back, but overall, the V20 Pro paints a pretty picture. It is a very likeable phone. My only concern is that it does not reinvent the wheel in the same way the V20 did not long ago. It plays by the book when it could have easily aspired for something far greater.
The V20 Pro’s biggest rival is not the OnePlus Nord, it is the V20, and that is a problem.
Design and build quality
The V20 Pro has the same design and physical dimensions as the V20. It is available in the same iridescent sunset melody and posh midnight jazz colourways too. The only “visible” difference is that the (dual) SIM card slot has been moved to the bottom end now. It is remarkable how Vivo has been able to pack faster hardware and 5G radios inside such a slim and light package. This is also the main USP of the phone by the way.
I really liked the design of the V20. Suffice to say, the design of the V20 Pro also does not disappoint. The glossy matte finish (AG Matte glass) is pleasing to look at, without compromising on the core tenets of ergonomics. That is not to say that there are no compromises. There is no headphone jack in the V20 Pro, for instance. Moreover, despite its pro credentials, the phone does not get a battery upgrade, in capacity or charging speeds.
The V20 Pro has the same 6.44-inch AMOLED display with a 1080p+ resolution as the V20. Aside from a slightly wider notch to accommodate a secondary wide-angle camera, there are no big surprises here. Like the V20’s waterdrop-style notch, I find the V20 Pro’s OnePlus 6-like notch also regressive since it is part of the same series that once conjured a phone like the V17 Pro that was virtually all-screen courtesy its pop-up dual cameras.
But that is all in the past. In the present, my bigger concern is, the V20 Pro deserved a Super AMOLED display like the V19. And while we are at it, it also deserved a higher refresh rate. The V20 Pro’s display, though it is serviceable, does not justify the phone’s pro moniker. If anything, it does not get as bright as competition. It is also a lot more reflective.
Performance and battery life
The V20 Pro has a faster, more capable, vapour chamber liquid cooled, 5G-ready Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor over the V20’s SD 720G. For a mid-range phone, this is a sizeable upgrade, and I am glad that Vivo chose to go this way after having used the same chipset in its relatively more premium phone, the X50 Pro. Not only does the SD765G have a better CPU, but it also has a better GPU so there is lots to like here.
To be fair, the V20 was by no means a slow phone. The V20 Pro’s more powerful hardware makes it a better gaming phone. It is a smidgen faster at day-to-day tasks too, but the difference I daresay is not night and day which is, weird. The OnePlus Nord with the same hardware “feels” snappier. So, does the X50 Pro.
Another oddly limiting thing about the V20 Pro is its configuration set. The phone comes in only one configuration for now — 8GB/128GB. There is no expandable storage either. Not only did the V20 offer more options (8GB/128GB, 8GB/256GB), it came with micro-SD card support also. There is a reason why I call this limiting (but more on that later).
It does not end there. For some curious reason, the V20 Pro will ship with Android 10 out-of-the-box. Android 11 will be rolled out via a future OTA. This means, the V20 still remains the first and only Vivo phone in India to ship with Android 11 on day 1. While I do not mind “all” new-age Vivo software, a pro Vivo phone with an older version of Android just does not add up.
But as I said, I do not mind using Android 10 on a Vivo phone in 2020 because Vivo software, which is Funtouch OS 11, has got a lot better with time. It looks and works a lot like stock Android. It is clean. It is fast and well optimized for the most part too. The bloatware situation is under control mostly (no pesky ads on this one, which is nice) though there is room for improvement. That is a huge development coming from a company that was once notorious for ripping off iOS. Also, the fact that Vivo has already committed to Android 11 coming to the V20 Pro as soon as this month, is a lot better than promises of 2-year major OS updates with no timelines.
Battery life was not the V20’s strongest suit. The V20 Pro has the same 4,000mAh battery but with a seemingly more power-efficient processor inside it, I was expecting better battery life. It is not better, or worse, but on similar lines. It lasted just under 16 hours in our video loop test – that is respectable but not great. There is support for 33W fast charging and you get a compliant charger in the box – same as the V20.
The camera setup in the V20 Pro has been lifted as is from the V20. The only difference is that the V20 Pro has an additional 8MP camera on the front for ultra-wide-angle selfies. The powerful SoC also allows the phone to shoot “crisp” 4k 60fps videos from both the front and back cameras.
The main highlight here is the 44MP front camera. It has eye autofocus, which means that it can track your subject’s eye. Even regular autofocus is a big deal for phones in the mid-range segment. To see a phone like the V20 Pro trying to pull off DSLR-class tech is frankly amazing. And it works well. But that is just one part. The bigger, more important part is that the V20 Pro has the best front camera on any phone in and around its price (of course, it shares this title with the V20 for obvious reasons). This is a phone meant for Vlogging, something that is further accentuated by Vivo’s value additions to this phone. The 8MP ultra-wide-angle camera is also one of them though it is only useful in ideal lighting. This second camera also brings a dual exposure feature to the V20 Pro that lets you use both the cameras together to create a fused image that looks cool and should appeal to content creators.
The rear camera setup is also very promising. There is a 64MP main camera paired with an 8MP ultra-wide-angle and another 2MP mono camera. Photos taken with the main camera have lots of details and wide dynamic range in good as well as in tricky light. The 8MP secondary camera serves as ultra-wide-angle, macro and depth camera. Its quality is also quite good with mostly consistent colours.
Cameras are a key differentiator for the V20 Pro. It is a phone you would want to take a lot of photos and videos with, and you would love every bit of it, because the V20 Pro is easily one of the best camera phones South of Rs 30,000. That is where the storage angle creeps in and spoils the phone’s party though. This phone should have had a micro-SD card slot. Period.
Should you buy it?
The V20 Pro is a good phone, but it could have been great. I have absolutely no trouble in saying that it could have been the best phone to buy at its price had Vivo taken some risks — even if it meant, going a little up the price ladder.
The V20 Pro India price is Rs 29,990. I agree, the pricing is excellent, but it comes at a cost. The V20 Pro is a pro just in name while in spirit, it feels like just another configuration of the V20 with a more powerful processor and 5G, both of which are not compelling enough to justify buying it over the V20 — as we have found in this review. The V20 with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage is available for Rs 24,990.
As for comparisons with the OnePlus Nord, surely the V20 Pro is better in some aspects primarily the design and cameras, but it is not better value.
- Attractive design
- Good performance, 5G-ready
- Feature rich cameras
- No high refresh rate
- No micro-SD card slot
- No headphone jack
- Battery life could be better