vivo V29 5G Review: Pretty gorgeous shooter

The flagship smartphones are getting less popular, as more mid-range smartphones are able to do most of what the flagships can at a fraction of the price. And the latest vivo V29 is another superb example.

  • Price: $649, get it Shopee and Lazada
  • Size: 164.2 x 74.4 x 7.5 mm
  • Display: 6.78-inch, 120Hz, AMOLED, 2,800 x 1,260 pixels
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G 5G
  • Rear cameras: 50MP wide-angle; 8MP ultra-wide-angle; 2MP depth-sensing
  • Front camera: 50MP ultra-wide-angle
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
  • Battery: 4,600mAh
  • Weight: 186g

For a start, its gorgeous design will make some of the flagships cower in shame. The review unit comes in what vivo coined as “Starry Purple”. And it refers to its utterly stunning glass back panel.

The purple starry rear glass panel looks superb. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

According to its maker, a new manufacturing process has to be invented so that 9 million star-like particles can seamlessly “flow” across the phone’s purple back panel. The dense areas are supposed to shine with crystal clarity, while sparse regions delicately shimmer for a starry landscape.

Marketing mumbo jumbo aside, the V29’s glass back panel is seriously look to look at. The glittering effect is spread throughout the back from the camera module to the back itself.

Gorgeous “Starry Purple” designPerformance can better
Thin and slender frameNo wireless charging
Large curved displaySmooth rear can be slippery without case
Takes pretty portraits and selfiesMediocre battery life
Handy ring flash
Great value for money

This beautiful effect is only interrupted by the large curved glass display in front. Similarly, the display looks sharp and bright. With its ability to render up to 1 billion colours and refresh rate up to 120Hz, almost any content will look great on it.

Not to mention, its thin and slender 7.5mm-thin frame and the curved sides allows for a nice grip. However, the glass panel is a tad slippery if you do not use the included clear silicone case.

The V29 is sleek and slim. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

I highly recommend using the case, as it helps to prevent slippage while still allowing you to admire the stunning back. It is addition drop protection for a smartphone that has an IP68 certification for protection against moisture and dust.

The V29 comes with a 50-megapixel (MP) image sensor for both its rear wide-angle camera and its front-facing camera. In other words, expect nice and sharp photos in good lighting.

Photos taken in bright sunlight with V29 are sharp with nice contrast. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

As you can see below, the highlight of this camera has to be its Aura Light ring flash on the rear camera module. This is said to act as studio light to brighten the scene in low-light conditions, help enhance the skin tone and conceal imperfection for better-looking portrait.

Even flagship smartphones lack this Aura Light ring light that V29 has. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Asking my wife to be the photographer, she took a portrait of me in a relatively low-light condition – with and without the Aura Light ring flash. The results are below.

It depends on individual tastes. Personally, I prefer the one without the ring flash. But they’re probably some who prefer the more brightly lit photos.

In terms of selfie performance, the V29 is certainly one of the best in the market and right up there with the flagships. Even in low-lighting condition like the one below, it looks great. The bokeh effect looks natural with no excessive “smoothening” of the skin and skin tones are spot on.

The selfie photos taken using the front-facing camera offer natural bokeh and accurate skin tones. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

On the downside, the performance of V29 is not going to be as stellar as its design with its Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G processor. While this processor keeps the price down, so is its performance.

In the Geekbench 6 benchmark test, the V29 scored 1026 (single-core) and 2,954 (multi-core). By comparison, the Google Pixel 7a scored 1,410 (single-core) and 3,442 (multi-core). Running most apps will feel smooth, but even playing Pokemon Go has some visible lag.

In addition, the v29 does not support wireless charging like most mid-range smartphones. Given the proliferation of wireless chargers, it is almost a sin not to include wireless charging even though this is a norm for mid-range smartphones. I see it as an opportunity to gain an edge lost in this instance.

This is one mid-range smartphone to get. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Battery life is mediocre at best, even if you do not game with it. You probably will want to start charging the smartphone the moment when you reach home at the end of the day.

VERDICT: At only S$649, the vivo V29 is essentially a steal. It does have some minor quirks, but they can be easily forgotten for a pretty phone that takes gorgeous portraits.