Introduction - The Selfie Champ is Here
Vivo V21 5G is among the newest smartphones from Vivo released in the last days of April 2021. It is a mid-range premium-grade smartphone with 5G network support and some of the best specifications on board. With an impressive display, a powerful mid-range processor, and a decent battery backup with fast charging support, V21 5G is undoubtedly a contender for all the 5G smartphones in the Sub-30K INR price segment, and believe me, there are just a few contenders available.
You cannot simply rely on the specifications because hardware and software optimization and practical usage dictate how good a smartphone is. Luckily, I had the phone for more than a week to test it out, and here’s a hands-on review on the smartphone that you should read.
Prices in India, Variants, Availability
Vivo V21 5G is available in three colour variants i.e. Arctic White, Dusk Blue, and Sunset Dazzle. You can get your hands on its 128GB variant at Rs 29,990/- while the higher 256GB is available at Rs 32,990/- although the latter will be available in stock soon. Flipkart India is offering a discount of up to Rs 16,600/- on the purchase of eligible smartphones.
You can get your hands on Rs 1,500/- off with HDFC Bank CC, Credit EMI, and DC Non-EMI transactions. Get a 7 per cent instant discount on using EMI txns using the YES Bank CC or get 5 per cent unlimited cashback using the Flipkart Axis Bank CC.
Specs at a glance
Before we talk in detail about the Vivo V21 5G let’s see what the on-paper specs look like?
- Display: 16.36 cm (6.44 inch) Full HD+ E3 AMOLED Display
- Processor: MediaTek Dimensity 800U
- Storage: 8GB, 128GB/256GB
- Software: FunTouch OS 11.1 based on Android 11
- Rear cameras: 64MP + 8MP + 2MP
- Selfie Camera: 44MP
- Battery: 4000 mAh, 33W fast charging
- Weight: 176g
- Dimensions: 159.68 x 73.90 x 7.29 mm
Design - Inspired By Vivo Flagship X60
It’s not always that Vivo will have a common design for many of its smartphones. Vivo V21 5G is a premium mid-range 5G phone and its design is an exact reflection of it. The front has a U-shaped notch that won’t dig deep into the screen causing issues while gaming or viewing media files. On the other hand, the bezels are quite slim and so is the chin.
Moving on, the phone has a plastic back with a glass feel to it also known as glastic. Apparently, the textures on the back panel give it an iridescent effect spraying vivid colours based on how the light incidents on it. Plus, the back is matte and not glossy which will save you from a lot of smudges and fingerprint marks for sure. The back panel has a triple rear camera setup with an LED flash below the setup and it is raised a bit. Since it is on the top-left corner, you will feel some wobbliness when keeping the phone on a flat surface. There’s a Vivo branding at the bottom and that’s pretty much all you get with the back panel.
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The phone’s plastic frame is flattened and not curved allowing for better grip and usability. It is just 7.29mm thick which means it is amongst the slimmest 5G smartphones available.
Talking about the I/O ports, you get a loudspeaker at the bottom along with a Type-C port, a primary mic, and a DSDS 5G hybrid SIM card slot. The top has a secondary microphone, the right side has a power button and volume rocker and that’s all. Unfortunately, there’s no headphone jack which I was hoping Vivo should have integrated.
Overall, the design looks and feels premium and there’s no second on it. I loved how V21 5G gets Vivo X60-inspired design with 5G support at this price tag which is a steal deal.
Tweaked Display with 90Hz
The display mounted on the Vivo V21 5G is a 6.44-inch E3 AMOLED 90Hz panel boasting a resolution of 1080×2400 pixels. The device comes with HDR10+ support and boasts a 20:9 aspect ratio. Finally, it has a typical brightness of 500 nits at peak. Again, these are specs on paper and thus, you cannot straightaway believe them to be superior. I have used Vivo V21 5G for quite some time now and that’s why here’s an honest hands-on review on the display tech and its performance when subject to real use cases.
Overall, the phone is great for one-hand usage and that’s a big plus here. Talking about the display which is the epicentre of everything, it is almost the same display unit you have seen with Vivo V20 and V20 Pro although Vivo has upgraded the refresh rate to 90Hz. This makes the display process and update information 50 per cent faster than V20/V20 Pro. It aids in far better transitions and animations with smooth scrolling and whatnot.
Being an E3 AMOLED panel, the display ensures you get the best of experience. The viewing angles are great and so are the contrast and brightness levels that can go as high as 500 nits on typical peak levels. No doubt using the phone outdoors won’t be an issue.
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Also, colour saturation is up to the mark, and being an AMOLED, you can expect far better blacks and whites as well. Slim bezels around the edges make the display look even ginormous and perhaps, you will love the display with a less-obstructive notch. I have a preference towards punch-hole cut-outs but hey, the U-shaped notch ain’t that bad either.
Performance - At Par With Any Mid-Range
The powertrain mounted on the phone that drives it through the rough and smooth patches is the MediaTek Dimensity 800U 5G chipset manufactured on a 7nm node. It has a dual-cluster octa-core arrangement at 2×2.4GHz plus 6×2.0GHz with a Mali-G57 MC3 GPU under the hood. The device comes paired with 8GB RAM and 128/256GB UFS 2.2 storage. Now, these specs are impressive on paper but here’s how the phone performs when subjected to real use cases and scenarios.
Well, the powerful Dimensity 800U 5G wouldn’t disappoint you whatsoever. It is similar to Snapdragon 750G in terms of performance and will leave you amused if you are upgrading from a lower range of processors. I was able to play games at medium graphics and max frame rates (COD Mobile) which is cool but Vivo should have upgraded it to high graphics as Xiaomi Mi 11X offers it.
In any case, multitasking and switching between a myriad of apps is a piece of cake for Dimensity 800U 5G. It can take on heavy apps and games although remember, it is a midrange processor and not a flagship one to take all that you throw at it. I didn’t notice any heating issues during the time I was playing games on for some time. It will heat any phone no matter the configuration unless there’s any kind of cooling tech installed to take away the excess heat.
Software - Still Needs Improvement
Vivo V21 5G runs on the latest FuntouchOS 11.1 out-of-the-box. It is based on Android 11 and offers some of the best features from the two. Vivo has promised two years of major Android OS upgrades as well as three years of security updates.
The UI is smooth, colourful, and looks near-stock although offers a tonne of customizations. There is a lot of bloatware that you will have to wipe out either by disabling or uninstalling it, however, some apps cannot be uninstalled. The app loading time is reduced and I had no issues switching between apps.
Buy it for the Cameras
Vivo V21 5G shares its camera setup with the Vivo V20 4G that arrived last year. It houses the same 64MP sensor with f/1.8 aperture and with OIS while previously it was f/1.9 and no OIS on V20. There’s a secondary 8MP ultrawide snapper with f/2.2 aperture, 120-degree FoV with AF, and finally, a 2MP macro sensor with f/2.4. There’s no depth sensor on Vivo V21 5G. There’s also a LED flash instead of Dual-LED dual-tone flash on V20 5G which is a bit of a downgrade as well. The front camera module is the same 44MP sensor with AF, f/2.0 aperture, however, it now has OIS, unlike its predecessor.
Although Vivo made strikes to upgrade the processor on the V21 5G, its camera is undoubtedly a USP. Talking about the 44MP selfie shooter first, it is huge and can capture quality shots. It is wide-angle and you can accommodate more than one person in the frame with ease. You can still hold the phone a bit far to cover more people.
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The selfie shooter has an eye auto-focus that tracks your eyes for focusing. The OIS is a massive upgrade on V21 5G as it lets you capture videos without any jitters. Note that it is optical image stabilization and not an electronic one so expect it to be far better than the other one. The portrait shots using the front camera came out good and I loved the details, quality, and overall colours with impeccable separation and background blur. There’s a dual spotlight feature which is essentially an array of two flashes that light up for low light photography using the selfie shooter.
Moving on, we have a 64MP camera that takes binned images by default. The sensor retains the quality, colours, contrast, and high dynamic range in daylight shots. Night mode is available on both primary and ultrawide sensors and improves the colours, brightness, contrasts, and other parameters of the shots for sure.
I was able to capture quality shots using the binned mode without any tripod at hand or even without the Pro mode. Snagging portrait shots on Vivo V21 5G using the primary camera means accurate edge detection as well as impeccable background blur. Vivo has a tonne of filters, effects, and modes available for both front and rear cameras which makes it different from most other brands.
The ultrawide-angle shooter is as the name suggests, captures ultrawide shots at 120-degree so you can expect wider shots although with fewer details, contrast, dynamic range than the primary snapper.
Finally, we have a 2MP macro sensor that you can use to take macro shots. I am a fan of watching the world of the tiny and the 2MP sensor does its job. It isn’t the best since it is just a tiny 2MP sensor but it works.
Mixed Reviews on Battery
The device packs in a hefty 4,000 mAh battery under the hood. I was able to get a good battery backup of over a day with a mix-use which isn’t bad. Perhaps, it is the same battery size that its predecessor V20 packed last year. Vivo V21 5G also sports the same 33W FlashCharge charge that takes about 30 minutes to charge up to 55 per cent while it reaches 100 per cent of its capacity in a little over an hour.
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Vivo could have included a beefier battery on the list but hopefully, the change in the processor would work in your favour.
Audio, Connectivity, Biometrics
There’s no stereo speaker this time as well. It wasn’t available on both Vivo V20 and V20 Pro and neither on V21 5G. Talking about its sole loudspeaker’s performance, it is loud and clear. It is average in terms of performance though so don’t expect it to blow your minds.
Vivo V21 5G is a premium mid-range 5G smartphone and packs in some impressive specifications. Talking about the connectivity features, you get Wi-Fi 5 dual-band plus Bluetooth v5.1 with LE and A2DP support with V21 5G. The device has a USB-C port, however, lacks NFC and a 3.5mm headphone jack. There’s BDS, Galileo, Glonass, and A-GPS navigation systems support as well.
Vivo V21 5G adds 5G support on the device and this is a DSDS setup thanks to the MediaTek Dimensity 800U chipset. It supports both SA and NSA networks. However, 5G at this point is barely future-proofing your smartphone since 5G isn’t available in India except for a few test site(s).
As always, you get multiple methods when it comes to security on the device. PIN and Pattern lock is usual. You also get an under-the-display fingerprint scanner that authenticates users right away. The animation is fast and the scanner works pretty reliably and quickly to ensure that you get hold of your phone in just a fraction of a second.
There’s a face unlock feature too on-board which is highly responsive and quick. However, it has lower reliability than the fingerprint scanner so that’s the thing. I would still prefer using both of these methods for regular usage without any hassle.
Pros & Cons
- Stunning 44Mp selfie camera with OIS
- Excellent 64MP triple rear camera with OIS
- Night Selfie and night camera
- RAM extension feature
- Only 7.29mm thick stylish design
- 90Hz refresh rate display
- Superfast 5G technology
- Hybrid SIM slot
- No IP dust and water resistance
- Little bit big notch on the front
- No dual stereo speakers
Vivo V21 5G isn’t that of a big upgrade when it comes to its physical appearance. It is a bit slimmer and the sides are flatter than curved but hey, it’s almost the same design-wise. Vivo hasn’t changed its specifications much as the display is almost the same, the battery pack is the same as well. However, Vivo has surely made some strides in upgrading what is crucial including 5G support, AMOLED display with HRR, a newer and powerful chipset, and of course, 5G.
At the end of the day, if you are upgrading to a newer Vivo V-series smartphone, I wouldn’t mind upgrading to Vivo V21 5G. However, if you are upgrading from V20 or V20 Pro, probably stick to the phone and wait for the V21 successor to get your hands on it. You can still check out its rivals like the Xiaomi Mi 11X to compare the two in case you are adamant to buy.