Vivo V25 Pro review: colorful creator

Vivo may still be something of an unheard of quantity here in the UK, but it’s doing very well in territories like India, where it’s a reasonably priced OnePlus and Google alternative. But you’re nothing now without eye-catching style: just look at the luminous Nothing Phone 1. Vivo has therefore given the V25 Pro a color-changing gimmick. This should be of interest to children.

It’s not the first time the company has used fluorite glass, which darkens in direct sunlight to create funky designs – but it is the first chance we had to try it. And its talents aren’t just superficial: there’s what promises to be a capable camera array and the kind of performance that should appeal to mobile gamers.

In fact, getting one here might be tricky, though. Is it worth it or does it make more sense to stick with the most readily available competition?

Vivo V25 Pro design and manufacture: shine the light

Do you remember mood rings? The V25 Pro is a similar offering. Place the phone under UV light or direct sunlight, and the fluorite glass back quickly transforms from baby blue to ocean blue. It only takes a few seconds if you have a torch handy, and with a few cleverly placed stencils, you can give your phone a unique, temporary tattoo-like makeover that will fade once the sun comes up.

Vivo has wisely ensured that the supplied silicone case is transparent, so you can keep the phone safe while being creative, and the frosted glass also hides fingerprints well. Yes, it’s a gimmick, and more ephemeral than the Nothing Phone 1’s built-in LEDs, but who wouldn’t like a little more fun in their phone? Perhaps it could have reduced the sizable camera bump a bit, to leave even more room for color-changing creativity. There’s also a black version without any smart glass, if you’re feeling particularly uninspired.

Glass aside, the V25 Pro is a fairly typical – albeit attractive – mid-range. It features a curved glass front and back that blends smoothly into the polycarbonate frame. The shiny metal finish looks pretty convincing until you put it in your hands, where it’s more obviously plastic.

It’s not the skinniest phone on the market and it has a reassuring heft that some mid-range competitors lack. The under-screen fingerprint sensor is a bit too close to the bottom edge for our liking, but it’s otherwise quick to pick up your digits.

Vivo V25 Pro screen and sound: OLED for charging

We’ve been spoiled lately for affordable phones with great displays. Fortunately, the V25 Pro does not break this trend. It packs a 6.56-inch AMOLED, Full HD resolution, and a bit that plays well with HDR10+ content. The big upgrade for 2022 is the move to 120Hz, up from 90Hz on the older V23 Pro.

You actually have the choice of forcing the high refresh rate all the time, which isn’t always a given, or you can let the phone ramp up and down as it sees fit. The latter can save a little battery, but we prefer silky smooth scrolling. Not all apps are supported in automatic mode and therefore can be a little jerky.

Colors are punchy enough, with deep blacks and superb contrast that make images and videos a feast for the eyes. It’s also fairly accurate, if a bit cool, although the professional display mode helps restore balance a bit, at the cost of vibrance.

It’s a pretty bright screen, for a mid-range. Vivo promises a peak of 1500 nits, which is better than some flagships, but that’s only in very specific circumstances. Half that figure and you’re closer to an everyday outdoor experience, although it’s still a decent performance.

The single down-firing speaker is a bit disappointing. Not because it sounds particularly bad (it’s not) or because it’s particularly quiet (it’s not), but because stereo speakers really are the norm now at this price. Vocals are clear and don’t overpower the rest of the frequency range, but high notes are pretty crisp and there’s not much bass to speak of. With no 3.5mm headphone port, it’ll be Bluetooth for any critical listening.

Vivo V25 Pro cameras: versatile

As seems to be the trend with affordable phones, there’s really only one camera on the V25 Pro worth its salt: the main snapper, which has a sizable 64MP sensor and f/1.9 glass, with phase detection autofocus and optical image stabilization. It’s joined by an 8MP ultrawide, which is a little behind on pixel count compared to similarly priced rivals, and a 2MP macro camera that’s only good for extreme close-ups.

The ultra-wide lens shows a noticeable drop in detail, and colors aren’t always consistent with the main camera. It does a reasonable job with exposure, however, and images look largely natural. They’re certainly good enough for social media, although they don’t stick once you start looking at the pixels.

Vivo V25 Pro main lens (left) vs ultra wide lens (right)

The main sensor, on the other hand, can really pack in detail – at least at surface level. Look a little closer and you’ll notice the overly aggressive sharpness, which doesn’t stand up to direct comparisons with similarly priced rivals. Still, exposure is nearly always on point, colors are lifelike, and the Auto HDR mode does a good job of balancing light and shadow, though the results can sometimes look a little artificial.

Color balance is consistent in most lighting conditions and pixel count is high enough that 2x digital zoom shots hold up surprisingly well. It also helps at night, capturing plenty of detail without increasing noise. Sharpness is even more important here, and full colors remain natural, it’s still a step down from what you might expect from a Google Pixel 6a.

The 32MP selfie camera can snag a decent self-portrait, although it doesn’t seem to be able to shake off at least a bit of face smoothing. The results are detailed, but not as crisp as competitors who use lower resolution sensors. We can usually trust the autofocus to lock onto our face, rather than the background.

Vivo V25 Pro performance and battery life: stay in the lane

For a mid-range, the V25 Pro is not really lacking in power. It has the same MediaTek Dimensity 1300 processor that you’ll find in the excellent OnePlus Nord 2T 5G, and is able to hold its own in many synthetic tests. The advantage swings between it and the Snapdragon 778G+ inside the Nothing Phone 1, but it loses out to the Tensor chip inside the Google Pixel 6a.

That translates to fast daily performance, mind. Apps can take a bit longer to open here than on Google’s affordable offering, but that’s because the 6a essentially inherited a flagship chip from the more expensive Pixel models. The user interface is fluid under your finger, responding quickly to taps and swipes. Vivo’s take on Android 12 is pretty hefty, but it doesn’t seem to have slowed the phone down at all.

The V25 Pro is also a capable gamer. It offers smoother frame rates than what we saw in Nothing’s early efforts and can run most games from the Play Store at moderate detail settings. Some will even manage to break through the 60 fps barrier and use the high refresh rate, but not particularly demanding like Genshin Impact.

A quick look at the spec sheet reveals a surprising 4830mAh battery inside the V25 Pro – a happy medium between the 4500mAh and 5000mAh we’re used to seeing from most mid-rangers modern. He does well with what he has, too. We comfortably lasted an entire day of above-average use and still avoided diving into the red. With slightly less gaming and video streaming, it could handle a weekend without needing to plug in. It just overtakes the OnePlus Nord 2T and leaps ahead of the Pixel 6a.

Charging speeds are a real plus, with Vivo managing a rapid 66W via USB-C. It also includes a charger in the box, so you’re guaranteed not to drag around while you recharge. A half-hour charge will get you halfway there, with a full charge arriving just after an hour and ten minutes.

Vivo V25 Pro Verdict

Vivo V25 Pro surfer stencil review

Even if you ignore the funky fluorite glass, the V25 Pro looks decent across the board. Performance is snappy, the main camera is capable and the screen is a cut above many similarly priced handsets. The fact that you can get creative with cases and cutouts whenever you want is a nice bonus.

Vivo phones aren’t the easiest to find in the UK, though. Are there enough here to consider hunting down a gray import? We’re not so sure. The Nothing Phone 1, Google Pixel 6a, OnePlus Nord 2T 5G, and Samsung A53 5G are all compelling alternatives that are easier to get hold of and might even cost less by the time you looked at the exchange rates. None of them surpasses its functionality in every aspect, but it definitely has to be beaten in one or two places.

If you live somewhere where Vivo operates, though? There’s still a lot to like.

Technical specifications of the Vivo V25 Pro

Filter 6.56-inch, 2376×1080 AMOLED with 120Hz
CPU MediaTek Dimension 1300
Memory 8/12 GB
Cameras 64MP, f/1.9 with PDAF, OIS + 8MP, f/2.2 ultrawide + 2MP, f/2.4 macro rear.
32MP, f/2.5 front
Storage 128/256 GB built-in
Operating system Android 12 with Funtouch 12
Battery 4380mAh, 66W wired charging
Dimensions 159x74x8.6mm, 190g

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