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Vivo V25 Pro review: colourful creator

Light-reactive glass packs in the personality

Vivo V25 Pro review lead

Vivo might still be something of an unknown quantity here in the UK, but it’s going great guns in territories like India, where it’s a sensibly-priced OnePlus and Google alternative. But you’re nothing now without attention-grabbing styling: just look at the light-up Nothing Phone 1. So Vivo has given the V25 Pro a colour-changing gimmick. That should keep the kids interested.

It’s not the first time the firm has used fluorite glass, which darkens under direct sunlight to create funky patterns – but it is the first chance we’ve had to try it out. And its talents aren’t just skin-deep: there’s what promises to be a capable set of cameras, and the sort of performance that should please mobile gamers.

Actually getting hold of one here could be tricky, though. Is it worth the effort – or does it make more sense to stick with the more easily-available competition?

Vivo V25 Pro design & build: shine a light

Remember mood rings? The V25 Pro is a similar deal. Stick the phone under a UV light or in bright sunshine, and the fluorite glass back quickly morphs from baby blue to ocean blue. It takes seconds if you’ve got a torch handy, and with a few cleverly-placed stencils you can give your phone a unique, temporary tattoo-like makeover that’ll fade once the sun goes in.

Vivo sensibly made sure the bundled silicone case was see-through, so you can keep the phone safe while still getting creative, and the frosted glass does a good job of hiding fingerprints too. Yes, it’s a gimmick, and one that’s more fleeting than the LEDs built into the Nothing Phone 1, but who wouldn’t like a little more fun in their phones? Perhaps it could have slimmed down the rather sizeable camera bump down a bit, to leave even more room for colour-changing creativity. There’s also a black version without any clever glass, if you’re feeling especially uninspired.

Glass aside, the V25 Pro is a fairly typical mid-ranger – albeit an attractive one. It’s got curved glass front and back which blends smoothly into the polycarbonate frame. The shiny metal finish looks convincing enough until you get it in your hands, where it’s more obviously plastic.

It’s not the skinniest phone around, and has a reassuring heft that’s missing from some of the mid-range competition. The under-display fingerprint sensor sits a little too close to the bottom edge for our liking, but is otherwise quick to detect your digits.

Vivo V25 Pro screen & sound: OLED-ing the charge

We’ve been spoilt recently for affordable phones with superb screens. Happily the V25 Pro doesn’t break that trend. It’s packing a 6.56in, Full HD-and-a-bit resolution AMOLED that plays nicely with HDR10+ content. The big upgrade for 2022 is the switch to 120Hz, up from 90Hz on the old V23 Pro.

You actually get the choice to force the high refresh rate on all the time, which isn’t always a given, or you can leave it up to the phone to ramp up and down as it sees fit. The latter might save a bit of battery, but we’d rather have silky smooth scrolling. Not every app is picked up by the automatic mode, and can be a little stuttery as a result.

Colours are suitably punchy, with deep blacks and superb contrast that make images and videos a treat for the eyes. It’s fairly accurate, too, if a little on the cool side, although the Professional display mode helps redress the balance a bit, at the expense of vibrance.

This is a fairly bright screen, for a mid-ranger. Vivo promises a peak 1500nits, which is better than some flagships, but that’s only in very particular circumstances. Half that figure and you’re closer to an everyday outdoor experience, although that’s still a decent showing.

The single down-firing speaker is a little disappointing. Not because it sounds especially bad (it doesn’t) 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 eclipse the rest of the frequency range, but high-end notes are rather sharp 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: all-rounder

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

The ultrawide lens shows noticeable drop-off in detail, and colours aren’t always consistent with the main camera. It does a reasonable job with exposure, though, and images largely look natural. They’re certainly good enough for social media, even if they don’t hold up once you start peeping at pixels.

Vivo V25 Pro camera samples ultrawide comparison main cameraVivo V25 Pro camera samples ultrawide comparison ultrawide
Vivo V25 Pro main lens (left) vs ultrawide lens (right)

The main sensor, on the other hand, can really pack in detail – at least on a surface level. Look a little closer and you’ll spot the overly aggressive sharpening, which doesn’t hold up in direct comparisons to similarly-priced rivals. Still, exposure is almost always on point, colours are lifelike and the auto HDR mode does a good job of balancing light and shadow – even if results can look a little artificial at times.

Colour balance is consistent in most lighting conditions, and the pixel count is high enough that 2x digital zoom shots hold up surprisingly well. It also helps out at night, capturing plenty of detail without also increasing noise. Sharpening is even more prominent here, and whole colours remain natural, it’s still a step behind what you can expect from a Google Pixel 6a.

The 32MP selfie cam can snag a decent self portrait, although it doesn’t seem to be able to shake at least a little bit of facial smoothing. Results are detailed, although not quite as sharp as rivals that use lower-resolution sensors. Autofocus could usually be trusted to lock onto our face, rather than the background.

Vivo V25 Pro performance & battery life: stays in lane

For a mid-ranger, the V25 Pro isn’t exactly lacking on the power front. It’s got the same MediaTek Dimensity 1300 CPU as you’ll find in the excellent OnePlus Nord 2T 5G, and is able to hold its own in many synthetic tests. The advantage swings back and forth 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 snappy day-to-day performance, mind. Apps might take a little longer to open here than they might on Google’s affordable offering, but that’s because the 6a essentially inherited a flagship chip from the pricier Pixel models. The UI feels fluid under your finger, responding quickly to taps and swipes. Vivo’s take on Android 12 is pretty heavy-handed, but it doesn’t seem to have slowed the phone down at all.

The V25 Pro is a capable gamer, too. It delivers smoother frame rates than what we saw from Nothing’s debut effort, and can run most games in the Play Store with moderate detail settings. Some will even manage to break the 60fps barrier and make use of the high refresh rate, though not especially demanding ones like Genshin Impact.

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

Charging speeds are a real plus point, with Vivo managing a rapid 66W over USB-C. It includes a charger in the box, too, so you’re guaranteed not to be hanging around while you top up. A half hour charge will get you over the half way mark, with a full charge arriving just after an hour and ten minutes.

Vivo V25 Pro verdict

Vivo V25 Pro review surfer stencil

Even if you ignore the funky fluorite glass, the V25 Pro puts in a decent showing across the board. Performance is zippy, the main camera is capable and the screen is a step above many similarly-priced handsets. That you can get creative with cases and cutouts whenever you like is a nice bonus.

Vivo phones aren’t the easiest to come by in the UK, though. Is there enough here to consider hunting down a grey 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’ve faffed about with exchange rates. None of them best its feature set in all aspects, but absolutely have it beat in one or two places.

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

Stuff Says…

Score: 4/5

A capable mid-ranger with unique styling, thanks to that colour-changing rear panel. The V25 Pro is a bit one-note, though – your money goes a little further elsewhere

Good Stuff

UV sensitive glass adds character

Quality AMOLED screen with 120Hz refresh

Decent main camera performance

Bad Stuff

No shortage of rivals at this money

Mono speakers a disappointment for the cash

Depth camera a token inclusion

Vivo V25 Pro technical specifications

Screen6.56in, 2376×1080 AMOLED w/ 120Hz
CPUMediaTek Dimensity 1300
Memory8/12GB
Cameras64MP, f/1.9 w/ PDAF, OIS + 8MP, f/2.2 ultrawide + 2MP, f/2.4 macro rear.
32MP, f/2.5 front
Storage128/256GB on-board
Operating systemAndroid 12 w/ Funtouch 12
Battery4380mAh, 66W wired charging
Dimensions159x74x8.6mm, 190g