Vivo V23 Pro Review
Vivo’s V-series phones are nothing if not consistent: slim, lightweight mid-range devices that prioritise a slick aesthetic and powerful selfie cameras.
So it is with the Vivo V23 Pro. The first in the series to earn a ‘Pro’ moniker, it’s really the Vivo S12 Pro re-branded for the global market. Still, in ethos this earns its spot in the V-series thanks to a clear focus on design and its dual selfie camera – even if it’s a shame to see the superior OIS front camera from last year’s V21 not make a return.
Design and build
- Slim (7.4mm) and light (171g)
- Colour-changing glass finish
- Curved body
Vivo is no stranger to making beautiful phones, even amongst its more affordable options, and the V23 Pro is one of the best-looking phones at its price point.
Despite the large display, the phone feels relatively small thanks to a thin build – just 7.4mm – and light construction. The curved edges to both the body and the display itself help the phone feel even thinner than it is, and the result is a handset that’s much more comfortable to hold than other phones with similar size screens.
To be honest though, you’ll probably notice the phone’s dazzling rear before you get to its size. The V23 Pro is available in two colours, but the Stardust Black is clearly the second-stringer to the Sunshine Gold version I’ve been testing out.
This glittery golden finish somehow changes in certain lighting to look like pure, bright turquoise. We’ve seen phones that appear to shift and shimmer in the light before, but Vivo has taken it to the next level: the specially treated glass is reactive to sunlight, so will change colour and stay that way for a while. If you leave something blocking part of the phone from the light you can even temporarily imprint that design on it.
It’s a remarkable trick, and one that makes the V23 Pro (and its simpler sibling, the V23, which shares the finish) genuinely unique in the phone market. Of course, as is always the case with unusual designs, it won’t matter one bit if you intend to protect the phone with a case anyway.
That’s especially true since the jury is out on how sturdy this thing is. The display is coated in Schott Xensation α – a rival to Corning’s Gorilla Glass – but Vivo hasn’t applied any similar protection to the rear of the phone, and there’s also no IP rating for water-resistance.
Display and audio
- 6.56in AMOLED screen
- 90Hz refresh rate
- Mono speaker
While 120Hz refresh rate displays have become commonplace in the past year or two – even appearing in many budget phones – Vivo has stuck with a slightly slower 90Hz panel here. That might bother some hoping for extra fluid scrolling, or gamers hoping to maximise frame rates, but I suspect most users will find the jump from traditional 60Hz panels to the 90Hz here to be impressive enough.
The cost saving there has another benefit too, which is that Vivo has used an AMOLED screen rather than LCD. That means deeper blacks, better contrast, and richer colours, but also means Vivo could include an in-display fingerprint sensor.
Setting the tech specs aside, this is an attractive display that’s bright enough to use comfortably in most lighting, and rich enough to do justice to photos, movies, and games. The biggest downside is really the fairly large central notch, which is necessary to house the dual selfie cameras but does feel pretty chunky compared to options elsewhere.
Specs and performance
- Powerful MediaTek Dimensity 1200 chipset
- Up to 12GB RAM and 256GB storage
- Smooth, lag-free performance
As the first ‘Pro’ phone in the V-series, it’s no surprise to see a premium chipset included here. The V23 Pro is powered by the Dimensity 1200 – that’s MediaTek’s year-old flagship. It’s not got the absolute most powerful processor on the market, like the more recent Dimensity 9000 or rival Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, but the average user is unlikely to notice the difference.
Together with either 8 or 12GB of RAM, and 128 or 256GB of storage, it’s enough to make this a plenty powerful phone. I’ve been testing the top spec model, and it’s been fast, fluid, and responsive no matter what I’ve thrown at it.
It’s a similar story in benchmarks. This isn’t going to compete with the most powerful phones on the market for those who care deeply about frame rates in their mobile games, but it proves itself just as powerful and capable of other phones on the market around the same price.
The Dimensity 1200 also includes 5G support, so you’ll be able to take advantage of the latest connectivity standard. Wi-Fi 6 isn’t supported (only the older Wi-Fi 5), but Bluetooth 5.2 and NFC support round out the phone’s connections.
Battery and charging
- Generous battery life
- Get 70% charge back in half an hour
- No wireless charging
Battery life is another area where the V23 Pro won’t break any records, but it’s got plenty of power for most users.
The 4300mAh cell here is enough for the phone to easily last a day of typical usage, and lighter users will probably find it stretch to the end of a second day too.
The supplied 44W charger was enough to return 70% of that battery back in half an hour of charging in my test – even faster than the 63% that Vivo advertises. Sadly there’s no support for wireless charging, but that remains typical for this sort of price.
- 50Mp dual selfie camera
- 108Mp triple rear camera
- No optical image stabilisation (OIS)
When assessing a camera I normally start with the rear shooter, but for the V23 Pro it only feels appropriate to go the other way round.
So, on the front of the phone you’ll find a pair of selfie cameras: a 50Mp, f/2.0 main lens, and an 8Mp, f/2.3 ultra-wide to go alongside it.
That main lens is obviously the star, and it is pretty impressive. The high resolution sensor delivers crisp, clear shots in good lighting. The f/2.0 aperture is good for a selfie camera, but still not at the level you’d expect from a rear lens – that leaves the dynamic range a little below what you might hope for, leading to some blown out backgrounds, but overall it impresses.
What’s a shame is that Vivo hasn’t included the optical image stabilisation (OIS) it featured on last year’s V21. That was a selfie game-changer, and without it the V23 Pro’s setup feels more pedestrian, especially in low light shots where that OIS could elevate the experience with improved clarity and dynamic range.
Instead of OIS, this phone features a second lens, that 8Mp wide-angle. This is…fine. We’ve seen ultra-wide selfie cameras before, but they’ve mostly gone out of fashion. It’s good for group selfies of course, but with reduced detail and iffy colour reproduction, you won’t want to use this lens if you can avoid it.
On the rear you’ll find three lenses. The 108Mp, f/1.9 main lens is a strong shooter, with similar strengths to its selfie counterpart. Sadly, like that lens, there’s no OIS, which holds it back a bit in low light – but thanks to the wider aperture and a larger sensor it holds up better than the front-facing camera.
It’s flanked by another 8Mp ultra-wide and a 2Mp macro camera. These are, much like the front ultra-wide, pretty forgettable. It’s perhaps good to have the option to shoot in more circumstances, but results are distinctly average, especially in the dark.
As for video, the V23 Pro is slightly unusual in supporting 4K recording from both the back and front cameras – though only up to 30fps. The downside is that, again, there’s no optical stabilisation, which is likely to have a bigger impact for most vloggers than a simple jump in resolution.
- Android 12
- Runs Vivo’s FuntouchOS skin
- No guaranteed number of updates
Vivo sits in an odd position when it comes to its Android software. In 2020 it introduced Origin OS, its latest Android skin, but over a year later this remains exclusive to China. The rest of the world instead gets phones running the company’s older software, FuntouchOS.
Even here there’s variation though. Phones shipped in India and elsewhere in Asia tend to come pre-installed with bloatware and ads, while the models in Europe are comparatively clean.
I’ve been reviewing one of those Asian handsets, and do find the pre-installed apps and ads frustrating – but it is worth saying that is making efforts to improve things, and so I would expect the phone to improve over time in that respect.
It helps that the phone already ships with Android 12, which boasts a number of new features and security upgrades. Not everything has made it through Vivo’s side – there’s no sign of the customisable ‘Material You’ colour palette tools – but things like scrolling screenshots, alerts when the microphone and/or camera are in use, and the new privacy dashboard all appear here.
While Vivo has promised that its premium X-series flagships (including the recent X70 Pro and X70 Pro+) will receive three years of major Android version and security updates, there’s been no such promise yet for the V-series. So while it launches with Android 12, I don’t know which future Android versions the phone will ever be updated to.
Price and availability
The V23 Pro is available now in India and a few other Asian markets, but for now that’s it. Vivo has promised that it will release in other markets in APAC, the Middle East, and Europe “over the next few months,” but don’t expect it to ever reach the US or Canada.
Here’s how much the phone costs right now in India, where it’s available from Flipkart, with rough price conversions to give you an idea of what to expect in other markets.
- 8GB+128GB – ₹38,990 (around £390/€460/$520)
- 12GB+256GB – ₹43,990 (around £440/€520/$590)
The price makes this a squarely mid-range phone, and so it will compete with the likes of the OnePlus Nord 2 and Honor 50. Check out the rest of our favourite mid-range phones for more of the competition, or take a look at our pick of the best Vivo phones for other options from the company.
The V23 Pro is a solid mid-range phone, but it’s a shame that ‘solid’ is about as good as it gets.
It’s particularly disappointing that the V21’s USP – its optically stabilised selfie camera – hasn’t returned. The dual-lens setup here is fine, but nothing special, and never feels like a significant upgrade on other selfie cameras around the same price.
Good specs and decent battery life certainly help, as does the phone’s eye-catching design and slim build.
They make the V23 Pro a well-rounded and competitive package, but other than the aesthetic there’s simply not quite enough here to make this phone stand out.
Vivo V23 Pro: Specs
- Android 12 with Funtouch OS 12
- 6.56in FHD+ AMOLED, 90Hz, HDR10+
- MediaTek Dimensity 1200
- 8/12GB RAM
- 128/256GB internal storage
- 108Mp, f/1.9 main camera
- 8Mp, f/2.2 ultrawide camera
- 2Mp, f/2.4 macro camera
- 50Mp, f/2.0 main selfie camera
- 8Mp, f/2.3 ultrawide selfie camera
- Fingerprint scanner (in-display)
- Bluetooth 5.2
- 4300mAh non-removable battery
- 44W charging
- Stardust Black or Sunshine Gold
- 159.5 x 73.3 x 7.4mm