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Vivo V29 Review: Sleek RM1,899 Phone Lost in Messy Software
September 26, 2023 Andrew Cheng

At a glance, the Vivo V29 is certainly a sleek-looking phone, thanks to the “3D Starry Craft” finish on the back panel of this Starry Purple colourway. Beyond its looks, the V29 is also quite a good mid-range phone in various aspects, including camera performance (for the most part) and battery life.

If it’s not for the unrefined nature of the V29’s software experience, I would happily recommend it to anyone looking to get a handsome mid-range phone. While I wouldn’t say Funtouch OS is… well, unusable, it is definitely one of the V29’s biggest shortcomings.

What It Is

Display6.78-inch AMOLED (2800 x 1260), 120Hz
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 778G 2.4GHz octa-core
GPUAdreno 642L
RAM12GB
Storage256/512GB, non-expandable
Camera (rear)50MP f/1.88, OIS
8MP f/2.2 (ultra-wide)
2MP f/2.4 monochrome
Camera (front)50MP f/2.0
Battery
4,600mAh with 80W fast charging
Dimensions164.18 x 74.37 x 7.46 mm
Weight
186g
OSFuntouch OS 13 based on Android 13
Connectivity5G
LTE
NFC
Bluetooth 5.2
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
USB Type-C
PriceRM1,899 (256GB), RM2,099 (512GB)

Two variants of the V29 are offered in Malaysia. The base 256GB model is priced at RM1,899, while the more generous 512GB configuration goes for RM2,099. Not the best value proposition, but it’s not the worst either. I’ll get back to this further down the review.

Despite packing “only” a 4,600mAh battery, the V29 can still provide very respectable battery life. The fast 80W charging rate is appreciated too, not to mention the reasonably capable camera system.

The Good Stuff

One of the main highlights of the Vivo V29 is its camera capability; well, its portrait-taking ability, anyway. Complementing its triple camera system (50MP main + 8MP ultra-wide + 2MP monochrome) is a flash system Vivo calls “Aura Light,” and it’s actually quite intriguing.

Not only can the V29’s Aura Light system illuminate a subject quite well, it can even adjust the colour temperature of the light itself to match a wide range of shooting scenes. In that sense, it’s not just an overglorified flash; it is genuinely useful to capture better-looking shots.

As for the camera performance of the V29 outside of close-up shots, it can snap some good-looking photographs. Yes, the colour reproduction is very much saturated; the 8MP ultra-wide camera doesn’t have the best detail preservation, especially in low light conditions; and the 2x digital zoom performance isn’t particularly great either.

But overall, I still find the camera performance of the V29 within expectations. Judge for yourself with these sample shots:

Next, let’s talk about the performance level of the V29, which is…not bad. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G chip, in everyday use, is fast enough to provide a pleasant user experience. Granted, it does feel slightly sluggish at times – and I can’t quite max out Honkai: Star Rail at 60fps with the phone – but it’s still not too shabby overall.

In the screen department, the V29’s 6.78-inch 2800 x 1260 AMOLED dual curved display is quite nice. Colours are vibrant with deep, true blacks, and it also has wide viewing angles. The 120Hz refresh rate lends to smooth-looking animations as well, giving the impression of a smooth, zippy user experience.

Battery life of the V29 is also very respectable, much to my surprise. To be honest, I wasn’t sure the 4,600mAh cell can deliver good battery life, but on average, I was easily getting six hours of screen on time with some gaming sessions (and a lot of GPS navigation) throw in throughout the day.

Last but not least is the solid build quality of the V29. While the dual curved display is not the most ergonomically-friendly design – it makes the sides of the phone too thin to hold comfortably – I do think it gives the phone a premium touch. It’s worth noting that the V29 has a plastic frame too, which doesn’t feel cheap at all.

The Bad Stuff

My absolute biggest qualm with the V29 is its unrefined software experience. Don’t get me wrong, Funtouch OS itself feels adequately lightweight and intuitive to use, but the sheer number of bloatware installed out of the box and unnecessary push notifications from Vivo’s own apps are very off-putting.

On top of that, notifications would randomly disappear too on certain occasions; I actually missed a few WhatsApp messages because of this. Even though these issues are not dealbreakers on their own, they do add up. Funtouch OS, in my opinion anyway, is not the most user-friendly take on Android.

Beyond its software experience, there’s the value proposition of the V29. Priced between RM1,899 to RM2,099, there are other smartphones at this price point that offer a combination of faster performance, superior camera performance, or more refined software experience. One such phone that comes to mind is the OnePlus Nord 3, among many other options in the market now.

Is It Worth It?

While I’m not a big fan of the Vivo V29’s software experience or value proposition, I do have to admit that it is a sleek-looking phone that still performs quite well in other regards. Plus, the Aura Light system is actually more than just a gimmick, and I imagine folks that take a lot of portrait shots may find it particularly useful.

If you like the looks of the V29, its Aura Light system, and you can look past the software issues, then the phone is certainly worth a consideration. Just know that there are other alternatives in the market that can potentially serve your needs better, especially in terms of software refinement and value proposition.

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