Vivo has just announced its latest smartphone, the V9. It's a new mid-range smartphone, with the Snapdragon 626 processor under-the-hood, along with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. It sports a 6.3-inch FullView display, that touts 90% screen-to-body ratio, so that you're getting a 6.3-inch display in the body of a 5.5-inch display smartphone. That means you're getting a whole lot of display here, but unlike the Apex that the company showed off at MWC last month, it does indeed have a notch at the top of the phone.
The display is actually a really good looking LCD from Vivo, it is a Full HD+ resolution display at 1080x2280 pixels. This is great because it helps conserve battery life (though the Snapdragon 626 does a good job of that already), but still looks good. There is that notch at the top of the smartphone, but it's not that large. In fact, after using it for a few minutes, you totally forget about it. The notch is longer than what is on the Essential PH-1, but it is shorter. What that means is that the notification bar isn't larger than normal, and when you have something open that has a black notification bar, you won't even see that notch. Which is perfectly fine for most people. Now Vivo does have a slight chin on the V9. It is pretty small, but what Vivo and many other smartphone makers are missing here is that the notch exists to get rid of that chin altogether. Though many won't mind that chin since it is so small.
Build quality on the Vivo V9 is actually quite nice. It's a metal build, with the FullView display on the front. Now it does also take that vertical camera module from the iPhone X here, but it does look much smaller than what the iPhone X has (remember, the iPhone X was not first to do a vertical dual-camera setup, Huawei did this on the Mate 9 back in 2016). In the center on the back is where you'll find the fingerprint sensor, which does work quite nicely, and below that is the Vivo logo. At the very bottom you'll find the "Designed by Vivo". Otherwise, the backside is pretty clean. On the left side is the volume rocker and power button with the SIM card slot on the right side. At the bottom there is the micro USB port and a headphone jack. Not too surprising to see a micro USB port here, since this is definitely a mid-range device, based on its specs. Though it would have been nicer to see it with a USB-C port instead.
Despite being a metal smartphone, it actually doesn't attract fingerprints all that much, and doesn't slide out of your hand that easily. Of course, that's all good things for the Vivo V9, especially with that FullView display that will likely crack if it hits the ground. The sides do feel a bit weird, as there is a lip on the side between the aluminum unibody and the display, but it's nothing too concerning and really shouldn't affect how you use the device.
On the software-front, it is running on Android 8.1 Oreo, which is really nice to see. The security patch is just slightly older with February 1st, 2018 being on-board out of the box. But Vivo also has its Funtouch OS here on top of Oreo. Which is Funtouch OS 4.0. It's very different from stock Android, and that shouldn't be a surprise given the fact that this smartphone is being sold in China, and Vivo is headquartered there as well. So the skin does look a lot like iOS, but there are some really nice additions here in Funtouch OS. For starters, in the quick settings (which you get when you swipe up from the bottom of the device), you also get a few of your recently used apps. Which makes it easy to jump from one app to another. There are also a slew of gestures available, some of which are already part of stock Android, but it's good to see that they weren't removed, like swiping down on the fingerprint sensor to open up the notification shade.
Overall, the Vivo V9 is a really good phone, even if it is a mid-ranger. Now we didn't talk about the battery life here as it has only been in our hands for a little over 24 hours. Making it hard to really gauge how well battery life will be. But with the Snapdragon 626 inside, it has already done really well, especially in standby. So that's something you'll hear more about in the full review. Vivo has not yet announced pricing and availability just yet, but don't expect the Vivo V9 to be made available in many Western markets.