The Vivo juggernaut is on a roll in India, both in terms for mindshare and market share. While Vivo goes all out in innovation with its flagship X series, the V series fits in the premium mid-range segment that is strongly fought in the Indian market with well-rounded “flagship killer” devices.
Now, there’s the Vivo V29 Pro, just seven months after the launch of V27 Pro in India. It looks and feels like its predecessor, and maybe that’s not a bad thing. But has it got enough to justify a starting price of ₹39,999 (which is a couple of grand more than the last time)? Let’s find out in this review.
Since the last few releases, Vivo smartphones have absolutely shined in terms of design, and the V29 Pro is no different. It looks stylish and impressive, especially the ‘Himalayan Blue’ color variant that I reviewed (there’s also a ‘Space Black’ option). Vivo says it sports a combination of a multi-layered pattern that offers a unique light-and-shadow effect, but that marketing speak aside, it stands out in a sea of similar looking smartphones. It’s also not outlandish to ward off people who prefer a little subtlety.
The Vivo V29 Pro is quite sleek, with a thickness of just 7.46mm, and weighs around 188g. The curved screen ups the ante of aesthetics even though the edges are a bit too sharp and press against the palm if you use it without a case (the box includes a regular transparent silicone case). The metal frame though likely adds to the durability of the phone and looks premium.
The display remains unchanged compared to the last generation. The V29 Pro features a 6.78-inch Full HD+ curved AMOLED screen with a responsive 120Hz refresh rate and HDR10+ support. The tall display is sharp and vivid, and the 1,300nits peak brightness doesn’t disappoint. The outdoor visibility is impressive as well. And although the color accuracy is pretty good, you can choose from three color profiles to pick your preferred balance between saturation and true-to-life colors.
It’s a gorgeous display with a delightful content consumption experience, but this should be par for course in this segment. Thankfully, it looks like Vivo has optimized the curved display well to prevent accidental touches – a constant bother with most smartphones with curved displays.
Then there’s the camera, the primary pitch of a vivo smartphone. Not misplaced.
The vivo V29 Pro boasts of a 50-megapixel primary camera with an 8-megapixel ultra-wide lens. There’s also a dedicated 12-megapixel portrait camera.
The main shooter clicks sharp photos with nice details. The color saturation and the dynamic range are impressive; a tad boosted though. If you give it ideal light conditions, the V29 Pro shines – thanks to the combination of the camera setup plus Vivo’s excellent software processing. In low light conditions too, the colors and the details on the photos are pretty good with minimal graininess.
The portraits come out pretty good… the edge detection is fantastic, and the background blur is nicely done. They’re sharp and smooth, and Vivo continues to excel at delivering top notch portraits with several effects to play around. It’s the same case when it comes to the 50MP front camera too, although the experience is a bit inconsistent.
The 8MP ultra-wide camera is a mixed bag though. Most times some noise creeps into the shots and one would rather opt for the primary camera. Essentially, it does capture a wider area, at the expense of picture quality.
Last time, Vivo introduced a dedicated ring light dubbed as “aura lighting” to be used to light darker conditions. In most cases though, it would just blow up the subject. It’s improved this time around and works better. There are brighter LEDs and you can adjust the intensity. It’s still a hit and miss because while it is useful in low-light environments, it often softens the facial details. The feature negates the low-light photography capabilities of the phone, but essentially is one additional option available to the users. So, no complaints.
While recording videos, the phone does offer ultra stabilization and the OIS (optical image stabilisation) setup does a pretty good job at it, but the resolution comes down to 1080p instead of 4K in that mode. Otherwise, it can record videos at 4K resolution at up to 60 fps from both the front and rear cameras. Even on the front camera, you can adjust the aperture manually for portrait videos, but the recording is limited to 1080p 24fps.
The company’s photography pitch is complemented by the load of options it offers in the camera app to play around with. That said, some of them can be a bit overwhelming to discover and explore.
Like its predecessor, the Vivo V29 Pro is powered by MediaTek Dimensity 8200 chip coupled with 8GB of RAM (there’s a 12GB variant as well) that’s powerful enough for most users. That said, the V29 Pro performs better in benchmark tests than the V27 Pro. This time around, the base variant, too, comes with 256GB of storage.
The processor was a respectable choice earlier this year, and still has the chops to handle most things thrown at it. The multitasking experience is a breeze, and there are no hiccups in everyday usage. It offers a smooth and breezy gaming performance with no frame drops, even while playing graphic intensive games.
That said, like the last time, the thermal management on the phone isn’t ideal. It’s better, but if you’re stretching the phone anytime – which could be running multiple apps in the background or gaming on the trot – it would still heat up quite a bit.
The Vivo V29 Pro packs in a 4,600mAh battery – again, like the last time (phew!) – which can comfortably last for an entire day, and then some, for most casual users. The current iteration comes with 80W fast charging capability, up from 66W. The bundled charger takes only 20 minutes to get from zero to 50 percent charge, while 100 percent charge can take about 50 minutes.
It’s a Vivo smartphone. So, there’s Funtouch OS, the company’s proprietary UI layer. The V27 Pro runs Funtouch OS 13, which is based on Android 13 with a custom UI implementation based on Android’s Material You theme engine.
Funtouch OS is not the most-friendly user interface and despite some improvements in recent times, it hasn’t garnered any fans. Plus, there’s the continuing problem of bloatware. There are so many pre-installed apps on the V29 Pro – some of them useful, many aren’t. And you can’t uninstall a lot of them.
A few days ago, Vivo announced the Android 14-based Funtouch OS 14 that claims to enhance system performance, responsiveness, and the ability to keep more apps active simultaneously. It is expected to be rolled out to V29 Pro devices starting mid-December. The company promises two years of Android OS updates (so only one version after Funtouch OS 14) and three years of security updates. At this moment, considering where the industry is going, this is certainly a below-average promise.
The biggest miss on the V29 Pro is the lack of stereo speakers. This was also the criticism on V27 Pro since the single bottom-firing speaker sounds average at best, but vivo hasn’t bothered to make amends despite a relatively high price tag.
The Vivo V29 Pro might not seem a major upgrade from its predecessor, but on its own, it’s a well-rounded smartphone that offers great aesthetics and an indulgent camera experience. There are definitely a few things that could be better, but V29 Pro is a delightful phone overall while checking the essential boxes of performance and battery life.
Starting at ₹39,999, it is a pretty good mid-range smartphone, a segment where it faces competition from the likes of the very capable and diverse OnePlus 11R, Nothing Phone (2), and even the Google Pixel 7a.
Considering the price bump from the previous version, which wasn’t too far away, the Vivo V29 Pro might seem a little expensive in a specs-to-price comparison, which is also why it intends to appeal to the people in the few departments which prompt purchase decisions.
Abhishek Baxi is a technology journalist and digital consultant.