The mid-range category of phones is so fiercely competitive and is not just about the price tag but also about packing as many stand-out features as possible to win us over.
So, what happens when you blend a powerful camera, a uniquely intentional design, and an affordable price point in a phone? You get the vivo V23 5G.
I’ve been using it every day now for the last few weeks as my daily driver, and right off the bat, I can say for its price, this is a nice phone with 2 stellar features that stand out – its design and the camera.
The vivo V23 5G is a mid-range phone that stands shoulder to shoulder with the likes of the OnePlus 9 and OPPO Reno 7 with a suggested retail price of US $459.
It’s a competitive price point of may be one of the best mid-range phones on the market right now.
A MediaTek Dimensity 920 chip powers vivo’s Funtouch OS12, which is based on Android 12. So if you’re a fan of a simple, minimal operating system, while still having the customization options– you’ll appreciate Funtouch.
While the Dimensity 920 chip is roughly at par with the Snapdragon 860 – it hasn’t faltered in the last few weeks. It supports 5G and has enough juice for smooth mobile gaming. The V23 5G also features Extended RAM 2.0 and fast charging. Fairly decent specs for its price.
A key feature of this mid-range phone is its camera and head-turning design.
It has a metal frame with a nice heft of 180 grams and as soon as you get it out of the box and flip it around, you’ll find its iconic color-changing back panel.
vivo says there’s a chemical change in the molecular structure when illuminated by UV light. It’s a gradient-changing back panel that’ll eventually fade back to its original shade when, for example, it’s out of the sun.
With the sunshine gold finish, under certain lighting, it fades from a light blue and pink-orange finish to an extremely beautiful blue-green gradient that these pictures cannot give justice to.
If you want a simple and no-frills option, the V23 also looks handsome in a sleek stardust black version. Though it doesn’t come with color-changing fluorite, it has a shimmery matte black finish that will suit a dark minimalist theme.
On the hand it just doesn’t feel like a mid-range $459 phone – if you gave me this phone without knowing anything else, I’d say the build quality is on par with high-end phones at double the price tag. One trade-off is it lacks an IPX rating, so you’ll want to keep this phone away from excessive dust and water.
If you gave me this phone without knowing anything else, I’d say the build quality is on par with high-end phones at double the price tag.
The back camera is a beefy 64MP wide rear camera flanked by an 8MP ultrawide camera and a neat 2MP macro camera and the true star of the show is the 50MP front camera paired with an 8MP ultrawide camera that’s perfect for group selfies or capturing more of your surroundings.
The dynamic range is amazing. Its color reproduction is natural-looking, bokeh is creamy and the in-camera software is really fun to play with. Below are snaps I’ve taken over the last few weeks with the V23 5G’s triple-rear camera setup.
Night photography is surprisingly solid too. The phone’s main rear camera comes with Samsung’s ISOCELL sensor, which is a relatively large mobile camera sensor to capture more light in.
The front-facing 50MP camera is where you’ll find this phone batting above its weight as a mid-ranger. If selfies are your thing, you’re seriously going to LOVE this phone.
The first thing I was impressed with is the selfie spotlights you get on the V23 5G.
I don’t know how vivo managed to fit them into the slim curved bezels, but they’ve integrated two LED spotlights with controllable color temperature to help control your selfie skin tone and compensate for the environment’s lighting.
Baked into the camera app are on-the-fly saturation and exposure tools to the side, auto-focus locks, eye, and face tracking, and pro tools to control ISO, aperture, and shoot RAW which makes it a phone for photographers on a budget.
The 8MP wide-angle rear camera and the macro camera are nowhere near as impressive though. They produced a significant amount of noise and I found myself using the main camera for macro shots rather than the dedicated macro camera most of the time.
But if one thing’s for sure, the V23 5G packs a LOT of photography goodness for a fraction of the price – particularly when it comes to its stand-out front camera for the perfect selfie.
The video recording capability of the phone is not too shabby with options to shoot 4K Selfie Videos, HDR, and multi-style portrait videos perfect for social media postings. But just remember this is a camera-first phone so don’t expect pro-level quality mobile videography that other high-end devices offer.
The vivo V23 5G has 6.4” AMOLED display that supports HDR10+ with a curved screen for a wrap-around effect, which is a nice touch at this price point.
The screen is quite bright at 600 nits max brightness which makes it usable in almost all scenarios except in direct sunlight.
There’s a smart switch auto-refresh rate to help you save power, but I stuck to the high-performance 90Hz refresh rate option simply because the amazing battery can handle it.
It holds a 4200 mAh battery which is sizable given the phone’s slim physique.
During my use over the last few weeks, it ran down to 20% battery after 2 days of use – which includes web and app browsing, some calls, loads of photo-snapping, and regular YouTube videos. The very power-efficient Dimensity 920 chip paired with Funtouch 12 is likely the key piece to praise here for the long-life battery.
The device comes with a 44W FlashCharger which is really fast. A 0-80% charge took only half an hour and less than an hour for a full charge.
Expect the usage time to lower significantly if you’re a mobile gamer, but with regular day-to-day use, this phone is a marathon runner.
If you value a phone’s design and build quality along with its photography capability, this is a stand-out mid-ranger phone, if not, one of the best bang-for-buck phones out on the market right now. At only $459, I guess we could nitpick, but it comes down to what you prioritize. I also just can’t get over how beautiful the color-changing back panel is.
Will this phone replace my dedicated cameras like my Fuji X100V? Definitely not. But will it snap stellar shots and memories when it’s the only camera on me? It definitely would in almost any lighting situation. Paired with an above-average display, battery life, and operating system – this is a serious contender if you’re looking for a great phone on a budget.