vivo V25: Trying out the ‘Night Portrait Master’

vivo’s back with a new version of its chameleon-like phone. The vivo V25 series recently made its debut here, and I’ve spent the past month with the standard model of the series, the vivo V25. I vividly remember having a blast trying out its predecessor earlier this year, so I was excited to see what the vivo V25 offers. Does it live up to that Night Portrait Master name?

Exploring the vivo V25’s camera

If we take it at face value, there are only a few changes between the cameras of the vivo V23 and the V25. But you might pick one over the other if that missing piece is important to your needs.

The vivo V25 has a 64-megapixel primary camera paired with 8-megapixel ultra-wide and 2-megapixel macro sensors. This model gets optical image stabilization to help keep frames steady, which the V23 doesn’t have. Both phones still have a 50-megapixel camera, so you’re assured quality selfies on paper.

I am sad to lose the 8-megapixel ultra-wide in front, but more so the loss of the dual selfie spotlight LEDs. It’s one of those quirky vivo innovations that made the V25’s predecessor a unique phone. And they were a useful addition, too. Those lights come in clutch when you want to take photos in low light. But we can’t test or observe what isn’t here, so let’s focus on what you do get.

This isn’t an exhaustive guide to the vivo V25’s camera, but I wanted to touch on some of its significant features and selling points. There are its portrait capabilities, selfie features, and vlog offerings. Let’s talk a bit about each.

vivo V25 as a ‘Night Portrait Master’

The V series is vivo’s selfie and portrait-centric line. The company prides itself in bringing some useful features to support this claim and the proclamation that it is a “night portrait master.”

The vivo V25 is one of those phones that you would want to use its Camera app’s Portrait mode to take pictures of people. It can cleanly separate the subject from the background most of the time. It’ll get a bit funky around the edges of seats sometimes, but I like that it takes care of the baby hair sticking out of my head so I get flattering portraits.

Night portraits might not be so true-to-life, but it does ensure you or your subject are seen perfectly in the frame in the most flattering way possible.

When you shoot with the rear camera, you can change what the bokeh light looks like with options like hearts, stars, butterflies, or cherry blossoms. When you do selfie portraits, vivo brings its makeup filters, so you don’t even have to be made up to get good-looking portraits. It’s come in so handy when I need to take selfie samples like some you see here and don’t have makeup on.

There are filters and beauty tweaks you can tinker with to improve the quality of your portraits or achieve a certain vibe you’re going for. I’m all for these features helping you look and feel better about your appearance or how these pictures look. I don’t want you to reach the point where you don’t recognize yourself. It’s easy to go overboard here, so I’d suggest tinkering around with the settings to get the look you want.

Posing suggestions is also quite useful and the V25 gets this feature for both the front and rear cameras, too. (You can see these under the Portrait mode.)

Now for the selfies…

This ties in with the portrait capabilities of this phone. If you want flattering selfies and access to the makeup filters (a must-use on this phone, if you ask me), make sure to use the Portrait mode even when you’re using the selfie camera. You can take out the bokeh effect if you’d rather not have it. But it’s the best mode to use.

Take advantage of the Night mode when you’re in low-light conditions. vivo lets you use this mode with both the front and rear camera so take advantage of it. Outside of using the Pro mode, Night mode is your best option for getting quality low-light/night shots. Sometimes it’ll prompt you to use a tripod, but it can still get the job done with a steady hand. I saw it work its magic on these selfies I took while at the vivo V25 launch last month.


Auto vs. Night

Another trick to make sure you get in focus, detailed selfies is vivo’s Eye Autofocus capabilities. This front camera is designed to track how you move, keep you in focus, and freeze the details. Dig into the settings to access this to give you that leg up.

Ready to vlog?

While we’re missing a few cameras on the vivo V25, this phone makes up for it by adding optical image stabilization and a new hybrid image stabilization setup for its main camera. This should help you vlog and get steady shots even if you shoot handheld footage. It should also help lessen any blurring with photos.

But you’d want to take advantage of this tech more for videos. And the V25 gives you a lot of flexibility for it. You can record videos up to 4K at 30 frames per second with both the rear and front cameras. I’m happy to see 4K for the selfie shooter. Zooming in for videos goes up to 10x with the rear or 2x with the front.

And if you want to make sure you lessen the chance of getting shaky videos, you should have at least Standard Stabilization enabled (check out that camera icon on the top center of the camera app). This feature works even in 4K. If you want to lessen the shake further, you can enable the Ultra Stabilization feature, but that will crop into the frame significantly. If you want to capture fast movement, you can also just try recording at 1080p at 60fps.

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For the selfie camera, there’s the Steadiface feature that ensures you’re in focus and centered in your videos. That records at 1080p at 30fps. And if you want to use the front and rear cameras simultaneously, Dual View mode is available on this phone. (It records at 1080p at 27fps.)

vivo also gets mini vlog templates through the new Vlog Movie mode. It has a limited number of templates right now and I wish the templates are more customizable. But it’s the easy/lazy way to get a mini vlog you can quickly share on your social media.

Let’s not forget it’s a phone, too

We’re not forgetting that the vivo V25 is a phone, too. And it’s a decent, good-for-a-lot-of-people kind of device. I could still do with fewer pre-installed apps and vivo’s Funtouch skin isn’t my favorite. But day-to-day performance is great. Whether I need it for updating our social accounts, answering emails and comments, checking my feeds, or creating content, I can rely on the V25 to get me through my tasks.

vivo equips the V25 with a MediaTek Dimensity 900, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of expandable storage (via the second SIM slot). You can get a performance boost of up to 8GB of extra virtual RAM from your storage on this Android 12 smartphone. It has a 4,500mAh battery with 44W charging support.

On particularly busy days and I’m using the phone constantly, I get the low battery notification by the end of the night. But for typical, more casual use, it’s possible to stretch this out to two days or more. According to vivo’s testing, you can get from 0% to 60% in half an hour. And it does seem to get within that range. Although, it’s still a bit slower for me at home, unsurprisingly. (Again, charging conditions vary depending on different factors.) I can get a full charge in around an hour and 15 minutes.

And it’s a very pretty device

I’m still a big fan of this color-changing design innovation vivo applies to the V25. It has what the company calls Photochromic 2.0 technology, which causes the Fluorite AG Glass on the back of the phone to change colors when exposed to sunlight or UV light.

The Sunshine Gold model we have has this satin-like feel to it that I adore, but then it turns that bright shade of orange when hit by light. It might not seem useful, but it adds to my enjoyment of the phone so I’ll take it. In the sea of similar-looking devices, I welcome fresh design choices that these brands can make, especially when it’s not in the flagship segment.

It also has a nice texture that masks any smudges or fingerprints and is quite grippy. It has that flat-edged design that might not be the most ergonomic. But I’m a fan of a flat display so I like this look.

Good for entertainment?

Speaking of flat displays, the vivo V25 has a 6.44-inch AMOLED screen with a 90Hz refresh rate, a 20:9 aspect ratio, and HDR10+ support. I wished vivo dropped the waterdrop notch for the more conventional punch hole. But we’ll have to live with the somewhat dated design and ignore it as we would other notches.

And when watching on this phone you will tend to ignore it and just enjoy your favorite content. It’s a big enough display to enjoy social media scrolling or streaming. And with support for Widevine L1 standard, you can enjoy Netflix shows and movies in Full HD and HDR. You also don’t have to worry about not seeing anything if you plan on using it outdoors on a sunny day.

I am missing a stereo speaker setup here, especially if I’m not watching with earbuds in. You don’t get an audio jack either. But vivo’s one of the few companies that still give all the accessories. As seen in our unboxing video, you get a headphone jack-to-USB-C adapter and wired earphones in the box. So, there’s still a way to enjoy wired listening on this phone.

Final thoughts on the vivo V25

The vivo V25 straddles that line between a widely appealing, eye-catching device and a niche-specific smartphone quite well. It works as a decent mid-range daily driver, which should be enough for a lot of people. But then you also get these selfie and portrait features that will appeal to those who want to show their best looks or take flattering shots of their loved ones from their phone.

The updates from the V23 aren’t groundbreaking but if you’ve been waiting for that OIS, you finally get it here. If you want that selfie spotlight, you’d probably prefer its predecessor.

Now, I just wish vivo would refine its software more and clean that up a bit to match its sleek looks.

The vivo V25 retails for PHP 23,999 (around USD 407)