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vivo V23 5G: Top 3 reasons this closeup-ready smartphone is for you

I think about a couple of things when I think about vivo’s V series. These phones aren’t built to be subtle. They demand attention because they look good. They’re also made for selfie lovers. And in this age, they’re built for avid TikTok/Instagram Reels/etc. users who want a clearer selfie camera to work with. And the vivo V23 5G carries on that tradition in one of my favorite designs yet.

Is it right for you? That intro already gives you a bit of a clue of where I’m going with this story. But, of course, you need details. You need specifics. And that’s what I’m getting into as you read on.

You like being the life of the party

You want to stand out, and one way to express that is with your clothes, makeup, and even the gadgets you carry. vivo gives you a conversation starter with the vivo V23, especially if you pick the Sunshine Gold option. (There’s a more subtle Stardust Black available, too.)

Out of the box, it instantly made me think of the OPPO Reno6, which was that boxy iPhone-esque design I loved. But what sets the vivo V23 apart is its glass back. It’s not just a fancy paint job. It is made with what vivo calls Fluorite AG glass with a coating material that absorbs UV rays and changes the pigment from sleek gold to an ocean green. It’s fascinating to watch change.

That special glass back can even be decorated with stencils or other materials. vivo included a stencil with our test unit. And if you leave the stencil on for a few seconds while the sun or UV light hits it, the phone gets a temporary tattoo-like feature on the back panel. That design doesn’t last for more than a few minutes. But it’s one of those party tricks I love showing off when it comes to the tech I check out.

That back panel has a sandy texture that doesn’t make it feel too slippery in hand. It doesn’t seem to attract fingerprints or smudges either. I can’t say the same for the “special aviation aluminum” sides, though, so I use the included jelly case to keep that clean and scratch-free.

The vivo V23 has a 6.44-inch display, so there will still be some hand maneuvering when you want to reach the top of the phone. However, that isn’t the case with the volume rocker and power button on the right. It’s easily reachable with my right thumb.

This handset is 7.39mm thin and 179g in weight, and while it’s not the thinnest or lightest one I’ve used. The weight itself is more reassuring than anything. The flat profile and chamfered edges make it comfortable to hold. It offers a great in-hand feel. It feels more premium than what you pay for it.

Its display is protected by Schott Xensation Up, but there’s no ingress protection. So, that’s something to keep in mind for clumsy folk like me.

You want a flexible camera set, especially for selfies/vlogs

The vivo V23 has a specific user in mind. It wants to arm the selfie-lovers, vloggers, and other content creators with the tools to produce great photos and videos. This device comes with a trio of cameras at the back, including a 64-megapixel main, an 8-megapixel wide, and a 2-megapixel macro lens. And then there’s the 50-megapixel (!!!) selfie camera paired with an 8-megapixel ultra-wide lens.

And how am I to forget that dual selfie spotlights? It’s like bringing your own ring light with you. There are two of them, so your lighting is more even, and the V23 even lets you adjust the color tone to suit your environment.

Photo quality is unsurprisingly good even in the standard Photo mode. In great lighting, the shots come out clear and sharp. Of course, there will be noise as the light gets low, but there’s a way to counteract that. (Let’s talk about it more later.) If you want more details in your shots, you can use the full 64-megapixel sensor through the default camera app’s High Resolution mode.

The colors aren’t entirely true to life. Software magic boosts the colors a bit, but not to the point that they look too oversaturated. Photos shot in ultra-wide don’t get as crisp or punchy as the primary shooter, but they come in handy for capturing more in the frame. This quality translates both with the rear- and front-facing wide-angle lens. It’s best used in brighter environments.

Photo vs. Ultra-wide

The vivo V23’s main camera can zoom in up to 10x, which can still get some good detail even that close. Keep it within the 2x to 5x range for better quality, though. I appreciate that vivo opted to offer that zoom feature even when using Night mode. It makes it fun to experiment with night shots.

2 / 9

And as I typically do when a 2-megapixel macro camera is around, I just revert to the 2x zoom. You can get much closer with that lens, but make sure you’re in a bright area.

2x vs. Macro

Night mode on this smartphone’s camera is also pretty great. It strikes that balance to produce sharper and brighter photos taken in low light. Aside from tinkering around with Pro, this is the only mode you should use if you’re shooting in low light.

You also get a lot more features you’d expect from a premium mid-range device from vivo. There are extra features like Pano, Live Photo, Time-lapse, Slo-mo, AR Stickers, handy Documents, and even Double exposure and Dual View. Double exposure can produce some artsy photos, while Dual view is a handy vlogging tool that simultaneously shows the front and rear cameras. This phone can even shoot with the primary and ultra-wide rear cameras at the same time.

Features like that last one I mentioned emphasize that vivo wants the V23 to be a mobile content creator’s tool. It’s giving us the range to take interesting photos and videos.

That’s proven further with the impressive and possibly overkill quality of the selfie camera. As we see that push to create better rear cameras on smartphones, it seems like the selfie innovation is lagging behind. But companies like vivo are making sure we get options.

I enjoy seeing the great quality selfies I can take with this phone, even when I’m against the light or when it’s nighttime (those spotlights are the best!). The separation of the subject from the background with the selfie camera’s Portrait mode is one of the better ones I’ve seen.

Getting sidetracked a bit, but the rear Portrait is excellent, too. I’ve gotten many adorable Portrait shots of my baby niece on this smartphone. And I love that the V23 allows for post-photo taking bokeh adjustment.

As with other vivo phones, the vivo V23 can be slightly aggressive with its beauty filter application. I’m more the type to enhance my shots than completely change how I look, and this is one of those phones that can completely change your appearance if you’re not careful. It is fun to play around with the makeup filters, though, which are available for both photos and videos.

4 / 6

I have to mention that there still seems to be some subtle polishing of selfies even if you turn down the beauty filters. It’s not entirely au naturel as expected.

The flexibility you get with taking photos extends to videos, too. You can record up to 4K at 30 frames per second with rear and selfie cameras. The ultra-wide camera can also record videos but only up to 1080p@30fps (front and rear). Like photos, zooming is up to 10x with the back, but in front, it’s only up to 2x.

There are two stabilization modes for the rear camera. The Standard Stabilization option works for both 1080p and 4K options, while the Ultra option records at 1080p@60fps. The camera crops in closer in that mode, so you have to be aware of that. You can record 1080p@60fps without enabling Ultra Stabilization. The camera app will let you zoom in while shooting in that mode. That isn’t available with Ultra Stabilization.

The stabilization feature I’m more excited about is the one for the front-facing camera. We don’t get this feature enough on smartphones. But the vivo V23 has a “Steadiface” feature that focuses on you even as you move around in the frame. The crop is also closer, but when you use this mode, the focus is on you talking to the camera. It’s usable on both the main selfie and the ultra-wide, which I appreciate. It’s a handy feature for content creators for sure.

Aside from that, there are also motion autofocus options for the front and rear cameras. The V23 can track your eye, body, and even objects.

LiTT Tip #1: Want to show off what’s happening around you while staying in the frame? Shoot with Dual View. Open the Camera app, then tap on More. In the Dual View mode, tap on the Dual View icon at the top center to cycle between the three shooting modes available. You can also adjust how the frame looks and the shape of the inset shot.

LiTT Tip #2: Take better selfie photos and videos in darker environments with the Selfie Spotlight. When shooting with the front-facing camera, tap on the Lighting icon on the top left. And then just tap on Spotlight. And then tap on the button again to pull up the slider for the different tones.

LiTT Tip #3: Now, for stable vlogs/selfie videos, Steadiface is your best friend. Tap on the icon with a person and squiggly lines beside them on the top (it’s the second icon from the top right). That will enable the feature instantly.

It still comes with all the benefits of a modern-day smartphone

With all the camera features, it’s actually easy to gloss over the other parts of this phone. Yes, it’s still a pretty powerful smartphone. The vivo V23 runs on a MediaTek Dimensity 920 5G processor with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. There’s also an 8GB + 128GB version, but it isn’t available locally. Even if it was, I’d suggest getting the higher capacity model. This phone doesn’t offer storage expansion, so if you’re shooting a lot or just storing many files on your phone, you could run into storage problems.

vivo doesn’t cram the V23 with too many pre-installed apps, but we could still see a handful. Out of the box, the vivo V23 uses 24.1GB of its storage for system files and the like. This phone also comes with a virtual Extended RAM option, which is similar to what we’ve seen on the OPPO A95. It uses extra storage as RAM and improves your experience using the phone.

For smoother scrolling, vivo offers a 90Hz refresh rate for the screen. It’s better than the standard 60Hz, but I kinda wish the company pushed that up to 120Hz. I do like that vivo offers a Smart Switch feature that lets the phone switch between the 90Hz and 60Hz refresh rates depending on what the situation requires.

I can’t say I’ve had any slowdowns while testing out the phone. It’s quick to switch between apps. I could be listening to music once and then pulling up the camera and then pulling up TikTok next without the V23 choking up.

I don’t really play too many graphics-intensive games, but this could handle a few rounds of Asphalt 9 in its highest graphic setting without issue. That also means I could happily play more casual games (like my new favorite game, Tiny Room Stories: Town Mystery) without this being an issue.  

I felt this phone heat up when I would be recording or shooting with the cameras for extended times. It’s not surprising, though. That is what happens to many smartphones.

vivo keeps the bezels on the V23 on the thinner side, except for the slightly thicker chin and the understandably big notch for the dual cameras. It’s unavoidable that I would occasionally look at it while I watch shows and movies on this phone.

The AMOLED panel does make it enjoyable to watch on this phone. It has a Widevine L1 certification that allows you to watch Full HD content on services like Netflix. And if you use services that support HDR10+, the V23 can take advantage of that. The one improvement I’d make on this phone for entertainment purposes is adding a dual-speaker setup.

The single-bottom firing speaker is pretty mediocre. It gets the job done, but I find myself reaching for wireless earbuds more. I appreciate vivo for including a USB-C-to-3.5mm adapter with the phone and wired earphones for those who prefer wired listening. 

I’m pretty satisfied with the battery life on the vivo V23. With average use—including occasional social media scrolling, Tiny Room Stories gaming, emails, and some Netflix—the phone noted I could average around nine hours of screen-on time with its 4,200mAh battery. It can be useable for up to a day and a half if you’re more prudent.

It doesn’t take too long to recharge either, thanks to its 44W wired charging support. If you’re looking for wireless charging, that’s not available here. (Now, I wonder if that has something to do with its special glass panel at the back.)

LiTT #4: If you want the phone to decide what refresh rate is appropriate for what you’re doing, then head to Settings > Display & brightness > Screen refresh rates. Select Smart Switch and let the vivo V23 work its magic.

What’s lit and what’s not?

What’s lit about it:

What’s needs the extra spark:

Final thoughts

If you’re arguing that the vivo V23 is missing some expected features in its price range (like faster refresh rate and IP rating) and then overlooking what it offers (like its robust camera features), then this phone isn’t for you.

The vivo V23 is not the phone for the generalist. When you get one of these, you’re on the market for a capable smartphone that can offer you flattering selfies (both in photo and video form). And you want one that can be a conversation starter, a device that can help you stand out.

The vivo V23 5G is priced at PHP 27,999.

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