Vivo has been making a lot of waves in the premium mid-range smartphone segment with its capable smartphones. The Vivo V21 5G is the latest entrant in the under Rs 30,000 segment, which aims to refine a few camera requirements of consumers and does so in style. Vivo V21 leaves a lasting impression, and its sleek form factor has a lot to contribute towards it. It also has some neat tricks up its sleeve and some industry firsts, as we explore it in our review.
Vivo V21 5G comes in two configurations, 8GB+128GB and 8GB+256GB, and three colours, Dusk Blue, Sunset Dazzle and Arctic White. Our review unit is the one with 256GB storage, which comes in the gradient Sunset Dazzle tone.
Design and display
Vivo V21 is easily one of the best looking phones out there. It is super slim at 7.29mm and weighs just 176 grams, making it incredibly easy to handle and use for extended periods of time - a rare luxury these days.
The V21 features a beautiful matte-finish back panel with a gradient tone. However, the grey and white shades are more elegant if that's your taste. But the Sunset Dazzle is quite good at concealing fingerprint smudges and it is a lot less reflective, which suits our taste. The chassis has a metallic finish with chamfered edges and rounded corners. The power button has a nice texture for those who like attention to detail. The volume controls are smooth and placed right over the power button on the right side of the device. The SIM card tray, USB Type-C port and speaker are all positioned at the bottom of the device.
The camera module is also tucked in nicely on the back panel, without protruding much to be noticed. But it is not fused with the back panel and stands out to give the impression that Vivo has put extra focus on the cameras.
On the front is a 6.44-inch AMOLED Full HD+ display, which is vibrant, rich in colours and bright enough to be used even under direct sunlight. The display has 90Hz refresh rate, which makes transitions smooth and quite frankly, anything below 90Hz is a big no in 2021 for a 30K phone. Vivo just tipped the scale to be on the safer side, but a 120Hz refresh rate could be a worthier option.
The design of the Vivo V21 is working well in the phone's favour. The display is not a deal-breaker and gives the right balance the phone's price to performance ratio.
This is where things get a lot interesting. Vivo V21 features a 64MP primary sensor paired with 8MP lens for wide-angle and bokeh shots and a 2MP macro lens for closeups. The camera set-up offers OIS to improve photo quality and there's EIS as well. On the front is a 44MP OIS selfie camera, which is accompanied by two LED flashes on both sides of the camera. With this set-up, it is safe to say that the Vivo V21 is a camera-centric phone with an emphasis on selfies.
From what we saw, the V21 can capture detailed shots with good clarity, rich colours and details. While the photos turn out great in well-lit areas, even low-light shots turn out to be pretty good. We wish the camera UI was made simpler, like accessing wide-angle mode is not in the main UI and comes under "lens."
The portrait shots offer good edge detection, and adjustable bokeh, giving a natural touch to your photos. However, the macro shots are the least bit impressive of the lot. The results could be a lot better, but again, how often do you even use the macro lens.
If you love taking selfies, the V21 has a pretty impressive camera. The selfies are good to go on social media as you click them without any post edits. The selfies are detailed, rich in colour, and have a balanced dynamic range.
Here are a few sample shots straight out of camera roll:
Vivo V21 is powered by 7nm MediaTek Dimensity 800U chipset, clocking up to 2.4GHz. Using the V21 as a primary device did not flag any major issues. The phone was more than capable to handle day-to-day tasks with ease. However, we noticed some lags while gaming and using the camera for an extended period of time. There was mild heating, but nothing worth alarming.
Call connectivity, Wi-Fi range was as expected, however, the earpiece sound quality could have been better on calls. We noticed cracking sounds on and off while on calls while the volume was at its highest.
Overall, we noticed the V21 to act as a reliable daily driver and can handle its games pretty well too. If you can look past the bloatware-heavy UI, a few lags, the V21 is a worthy contender. In fact, Vivo can fix these few bugs over software updates, so it shouldn't be a long-term issue.
Vivo V21 is powered by a 4,000mAh battery, which delivered 5+ hours of screen on time. The handset supports 33W fast charging, which saves you some precious time while charging the phone. But it's impressive how such a slim phone can deliver the battery life of a day with mixed usage. The V21 earns extra brownie points here. But Vivo could have easily opted for faster charging given 33W fast charging support is not entirely new and some of its predecessors already have that. It's demanding considering the phone's price range.
Vivo V21 is priced at Rs 29,990 for the 128GB storage model while the 256GB storage costs Rs 32,990. The phone is not affordable for the masses, but it sure throws itself in the more competitive category of premium mid-range, where brands like OnePlus, Samsung, Oppo and Xiaomi are already racing.
Vivo V21 impresses with a few industry firsts and balances the rest of the spec-sheet to give a well-rounded smartphone worthy of competition. The overall design is impressive, the cameras are quite great and the rest of the specs fall in line.