Vivo V21 5G review: probably the best selfie phone on the market

Vivo V review 21 5G: probably the best selfie phone on the market

16 September 2021 7

vivo made its debut on our market in October last year with X 51 5G, a high-end smartphone to which it has joined the Y series, belonging to a lower range but still equipped with interesting hardware features and an excellent relationship between price and performance. At the beginning of the year, between April and May, the new X arrived 60 Pro, with gimbal camera and Snapdragon 870, and the live V 21 5G a device of mid-range characterized by a selfie-cam from 44 MP with LED flash.

Today I’m talking about this V 21 5G, a smartphone that, about a month after I started using it, definitely satisfied me in many respects view.



The packaging is beautiful and complete, which is not obvious in the latter times. Inside we find everything that can be used: a protective transparent silicone cover, a battery charger 30 W, a data cable with USB / Type-C port and a pair of traditional wired earphones, not in-ear, definitely comfortable. The headphones have the audio jack but an adapter is offered as the v 21 she has not the 3.5mm connector.

Il vivo V 21 has a really nice rear, made of opaque glass which, in addition to being more resistant to scratches, does not retain fingerprints and also ensures a better grip. The hue changes slightly when the light hits it. The model I tried is in Dusk Blue but there is also an even more particular Sunset Dazzle color that changes from blue to pink.

The body has flat edges and is made of high quality polycarbonate, which is also very pleasant to the touch. The ergonomics are also excellent thanks to a thickness of 7, 29 mm and a weight of 176 grams. The process of making the Dazzle Sunset coloring involves a slight increase in thickness and weight, respectively 7, 30 mm and 177 grams.

On the back there is also the optical group, slightly protruding, in which the important main sensor of 64 megapixel with ƒ / 1.8 aperture and optical stabilizer, one 8 megapixel ƒ / 2.2 with wide-angle lens, focal angle of 120 degrees (or 108 degrees after distortion correction) and a 2 megapixel camera with ƒ / 2.4 aperture and macro lens.

On the side there are the keys for adjusting the volume and the power key, slightly knurled. On the bottom there is the dual SIM slot which, alternatively, can host a SIM plus a microSD to expand the 128 GB of internal storage. Immediately next to it there is the hole for the main microphone (not to be confused with the hole to extract the SIM slot, which could happen), the USB Type-C port and the only mono system speaker

Removed the front protective film, which I still recommend to keep, I was pleased to note that the glass has an excellent oleophobic treatment that allows not to retain much fingerprints and to make the touch and swipe more pleasant. On the top there is a large gray for the ear capsule and, at its ends, two small LEDs, not very powerful but which allow you to illuminate the face very well to take better quality selfies even in poor ambient lighting

The display is a good quality AMOLED , very bright, you notice it immediately as soon as you press the power button to start the first configuration. The frame is quite thin on the sides but a little more pronounced both on the bottom and on the top where there is a teardrop notch that houses the camera from 44 megapixel with auto focus and optical stabilization , which is more unique than rare.


As I always say, the data sheet immediately makes us understand what the potential of a device may be even if the advice is always to go further because, more often than not, there can always be surprises, positive or negative.

  • Dimensions :
    • 120, 68 × 73, 90 × 7, 29 mm (Dusk Blue)
    • 159, 68 × 73, 90 × 7, 39 mm (Sunset Dazzle)
  • Weight:
    • 176 g (Dusk Blue)
    • 165 g (Sunset Dazzle)
  • SoC: MediaTek 5G Dimensity 800 U 7nm octa-core 2.4GHz with ARM G GPU 57 MC3
  • Memory:
    • RAM: 8 GB LPDDR4X
    • ROM: 128 GB UFS 2.2 (expandable)
  • Networks: 5G Dual SIM Dual Standby (two SIM + Micro SD)
    • GSM: 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
    • WCDMA: B1 / B2 / B4 / B5 / B8
    • FDD-LTE: B1 / B2 / B3 / B4 / B5 / B7 / B8 / B 12 / B 17 / B 18 / B 19 / B 20 / B 26 / B 28 / B 32 / B 66
    • TD-LTE: B 38 / B 39 / B 38 / B 41 F
    • 5G SA / NSA n1 / n3 / n7 / n8 / n 28 / n 40 / n 41 / n 78
  • Connectivity:
    • NFC
    • Bluetooth 5.1
    • WiFi a / b / g / n / ac Dual Band
  • Displa y: 6, 44 “AMOLED FHD +, 20: 9, 90 Hz HDR 10 +
  • Safety: In-display fingerprint scanner
  • Cameras:
    • Primary from 64 MP, f / 1. 79, 25. 1mm, 1/1. 97 “, 0.7µm, AF, OIS
    • Ultra wide angle 8MP, f / 2.2, 15. 6mm, 1/4 “, 1. 12 µm, viewing angle 120 °
    • Macro 2MP, f / 2.4, 24. 9mm, 1/5 “, 1. 75 µm, 4 cm Super Macro
    • Front: 44 MP f / 2.0 , 1/2. 65 “, 0.7µm, AF, OIS, AI
  • Battery:
    • 4. 000 mAh
    • Charging with cable to 33 W (02 V / 3 A)
  • Operating system: Android 11 with Funtouch OS 11. 1

Also in this case, I would say that the surprises were positive. First of all the processor, the MediaTek Dimensity 660 U that I have already had the opportunity to appreciate on other devices. MediaTek makes excellent processors, has become the first manufacturer in the world and definitely aims high as demonstrated also with the excellent Dimensity 1200. To support this processor there are 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM and 128 GB of UFS 2.2 memory which offers a reading speed greater than 110% and a speed of writing greater than 95% compared to previous generation technology

The Dimensity 660 U, one 2.4GHz octa-core, ensures satisfactory performance at this V 21 which I have always found fast and reactive in every situation of use thanks to the interface Funtouch OS 11. 1 based on Android 11 (patch updated to August 2021) which, despite offering many features and customization possibilities, is never heavy and always makes the user experience pleasant.

The benchmarks achieve results that go well beyond sufficiency but, as mentioned, we need to go beyond the numbers. Trying it “in the field”, this vivo V 21 can manage without any problem 60 fps like Wild Rift or Call of Duty Mobile. I only noticed some slight uncertainty in some game situations with Genshin Impact, but absolutely nothing to fear.

The display is very satisfactory, an AMOLED with a fairly wide diagonal, 6, 44 inches with FHD resolution + from 2400 x 1080 pixels, a touch sample rate at 180 Hz, HDR support 10 + and a pleasant refresh rate from 90 Hz . By default, the screen refresh rate is set to 51 Hz but it is possible to choose in the settings both the frequency a 90 Hz that the Smart Switch mode that selects the most appropriate frequency according to the usage scenario.

The brightness, as mentioned, is very high (500 typical nits and 1000 peak nits) which results in excellent readability in direct sunlight. Through settings we can adjust the color calibration, choosing between a standard mode, a “Professional” (with a warmer temperature), and a “Luminosa”, more lively. The temperature can be adjusted independently from the chosen mode and functions are also available to further improve visual comfort.

Obviously, there is also the Widevine L1 certification which guarantees the HD resolution on Netflix and other video streaming platforms and 4K HDR is supported at 60 fps on YouTube.


Very good reception of the cellular network signal, both in 4G and 5G with a very fast transition between networks which is also optimized by a system that constantly evaluates various parameters. The audio in the capsule has a high volume but it is not particularly full-bodied. The single speaker placed on the lower part allows a good reproduction of audio hands-free. I found the vibration to touch a bit too “long”, what which I personally don’t love very much.

The Funtouch OS 11. 1 really offers a lot of customization possibilities . We can choose between different types of animations both when we touch the display each time (with a consequent increase in consumption), both for notifications and for unlocking, fingerprint and face recognition, for recharging and when we activate and deactivate the display. .

Also present an “ultra-game” mode that improves the gaming experience with a bar side offering quick links, notification blocking, a picture-in-picture function and Esports mode that maximizes performance.

In short, there is everything but there is no risk of “getting lost” . What interests you is always very easy to find and the menus are decidedly ordered. Another very positive thing, there are no “bloatware” but only some apps system including iManager which allows you to optimize the system by acting on various parameters.


The autonomy of the living V 21 I found it all in all good, in line that what generally can be offered by a 4. 000 mAh . With a not particularly intense use, in fact, we can manage to cover a day and a half which are reduced to one day if used more intensively. On average I reached just under 5 hours of active display.

But one of the strengths of this alive V 21 and the FlashCharge recharge from 33 W which in about 30 minutes can bring the battery back to 63%. Personally, as I have often said, sometimes I find it more important to have a very fast charge than a larger battery but, of course, it is always better to have both.

Also for the battery there are some functions that allow us to optimize its use according to our style of use. We can, for example, activate an energy saving system that limits performance, or individually choose the apps that can continue to remain active in the background.


Main feature of this vivo V 21 is in my opinion the front camera, definitely one of a kind. It’s about a 44 megapixel with optical stabilization supported by two LED flashes to better illuminate the face in case of low ambient light. This camera has an AI Night Portrait mode that is automatically activated when needed and is equipped with an artificial intelligence algorithm that reduces ambient noise in the dark, allows better concentration and clarity of faces, while the OIS stabilizes the camera for greater exposure to light.

In addition to optical stabilization, it is also possible to activate during video recording also an electronic stabilization that reduces blur and vibrations making the videos definitely more fluid. This function is not supported by 4K resolution and images from 44 MP can only be obtained using the 16: 11. The Dual-View function allows you to record videos using both the front and rear cameras at the same time.

As for the user interface, it is well organized and simple to use. Through a swipe to the right or left we can switch from photo mode to video, night, portrait and more in which there are high resolution, panorama, slow-motion, time lapse and Pro modes with separate exposure, ISO, mass adjustments. in focus and white balance. The ISO value is between 100 And 3200, the shutter speed can go from 1 / 2000 to 32 seconds.

The main camera is a 64 MP Quad-Bayer with image which, by default, are from 16 MP. Overall, the quality is pretty good with a lot of detail captured, a lot of sharpness (sometimes too much) and little noise. I was also very satisfied with the chromatic range with bright colors, never too saturated, more similar to the real ones.

Some difficulties only in strong lighting conditions where a slight tendency to overexpose but to help us there is the excellent Auto HDR, active by default, which brings a good balance between light and dark areas. The night mode behaves very well which always ensures good quality shots.

Even with a 2x zoom, with the field of view cropped and enlarged by the main camera in the absence of a telephoto lens, the quality is still good. Even the 8MP ultra wide angle camera manages to capture good quality photos in ideal lighting conditions, not very sharp but detailed and with slightly less charged colors than the main camera. With this camera, HDR has a much more noticeable effect. using the night mode the quality is sufficient, but definitely lower than that of the main camera.

Portrait mode also performs well, with good subject separation, and macro shots are acceptable, obviously with all the limitations of a 2 MP sensor in focus fixed.

The front camera manages to take selfies of good quality but with a fairly limited dynamic range and with a slight tendency to overexpose. The focus is not very fast but certainly useful for capturing sharper and more detailed images. By default, focusing is based on eye detection.

Excellent quality of 4K videos captured by the main camera, captured in h. 186 by default, which offer so much detail, high contrast and a wide dynamic range. The ultra wide angle camera records video at a maximum resolution 900 p @ 30 fps, however of more than sufficient quality. Unfortunately it is not possible to switch between cameras on the fly but you need to stop recording.

The front camera takes really high quality 4K videos with lots of detail and stabilization excellent optics. The quality remains high even with resolutions up to 1080 p in which we can also activate the digital stabilization.


The living V 21 is sold to 449 euro, a list price a bit high compared to competing products but today it is already possible to find about 379 euros which make it much more interesting. Of this I live v 21 I particularly appreciated the photographic quality, both through rear and front cameras , definitely above average in this market segment, but also the satisfactory performance and the pleasantness of use, both on the software side and in terms of ergonomics. What did I like least? the shaky vibration, the lack of an IP certification, the “hybrid” slot for SIM and microSD (or dual SIM or expansion) and the audio quality in hands-free, only mono and not particularly full-bodied.


  • alive V 21 5G is available online from ePrice at 384 EUR.

(update of 16 September 2021, hours 02: 02)

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