Vivo V20 SE review

Vivo V20 SE is the latest addition to Vivo’s V-Series and positions itself as the lower-priced version of the Vivo V20 that was launched last month. With the V20, Vivo was focused on design and cameras, and you can see a similar approach with the Vivo V20 SE. However, in order to keep it at a lower price, the V20 SE underwent a cost reduction that resulted in lower resolution camera sensors and a different processor, among other things. So is the Vivo V20 SE still something special or has Vivo gone a little too far? Let’s find out.

Vivo V20 SE design

Vivo claims that the emphasis was on the design of the Vivo V20 SE and that is obvious. The smartphone is thin and the weight is easy to handle. Just like the Vivo V20 (Review), Vivo used a 6.44-inch AMOLED display with a dewdrop notch on top and thin bezels around it. You get Full HD + resolution with an aspect ratio of 20: 9, which means the display is large and narrow.

The sides of the smartphone are rounded, which makes it comfortable to hold. The frame of the V20 SE is made of plastic and all buttons are on the right. I found the power and volume buttons easy to reach. They also had clicking feedback so I didn’t have to guess a push of a button.

vivo v20 se review amoled display Vivo V20 SE review

The V20 SE has an AMOLED display and a built-in fingerprint sensor

The left side of the V20 SE is blank because Vivo has positioned the SIM tray on top. You get two nano-SIM slots as well as a dedicated microSD card slot, which allows memory expansion. The top and bottom of the V20 SE are flat. At the bottom is a USB Type-C port, 3.5mm headphone jack, speaker, and microphone.

Rotating the phone will bring up the V20 SE’s triple camera setup. The camera module is located in the upper left corner and is slightly raised. Vivo offers two color options: Aquamarine Green and Gravity Black. I had the latter for this review and found the glossy finish on the back to be prone to fingerprints and stains. I used the supplied case to avoid frequent wiping of the smartphone. Vivo also includes a 33W FlashCharge charger that can be used to quickly charge the 4,100 mAh battery.

Vivo V20 SE specifications

While Vivo calls this a Special Edition (SE), the specs are watered down compared to the Vivo V20. The V20 SE is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 SoC, paired with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. There is only one configuration of the V20 SE for sale in India and the price is Rs. 20,990. While you get a decent amount of RAM and storage, the processor isn’t very capable given the price. You can find exactly the same processor in much cheaper smartphones like the Realme Narzo 20A and the Nokia 5.3 (test).

Like the Vivo V20, the V20 SE has a 6.44-inch AMOLED display with a built-in fingerprint scanner. The display has good viewing angles and is bright enough outdoors. You also have the option to adjust the color profile and temperature of the panel.

vivo v20 se review Android 10 Vivo V20 SE review

The V20 SE runs Funtouch OS 11 on Android 10

Unlike the Vivo V20, the V20 SE doesn’t expire Android 11 right away – you get Android 10 instead – it still has the new FunTouch OS 11 user interface on top, and Vivo promises to bring out a software update for Android 11 soon . My device was running the September Android security patch, which is relatively new. The user interface is very similar to what you get on the V20, and there is some bloatware pre-installed. I found Facebook, Flipkart, PhonePe, Snapchat and Spotify on my device. Vivo also has its own V-Appstore, which is an alternative to the Google Play Store. There is also a themed app that lets you customize the interface down to the fonts.

The V20 SE allows you to customize loading and unlock animations. You can also use the AMOLED panel and activate a permanently active display mode. There is an ultra game mode that allows you to mute incoming calls and notifications while playing games, similar to Vivo smartphones I’ve tested in the past.

Vivo V20 SE performance

The V20 SE can deliver acceptable performance without any problems. I didn’t notice any lag while using the smartphone and multitasking was a breeze thanks to the 8GB of RAM. The built-in fingerprint scanner and facial recognition were able to unlock the Vivo V20 SE quickly. Occasional use was good enough, but the slow processor seems to make the apps longer to load.

I ran some benchmark tests to see where the Vivo V20 SE stood. In AnTuTu, the V20 SE managed 1,84,085, which is less than what competitors can manage at the same price level, for example the Poco X3 (review) which scored 2,80,030 points. The V20 SE scored 6,364 points in PCMark Work 2.0 and achieved 315 and 1,389 points, respectively, in Geekbench’s single-core and multi-core tests. In the graphics benchmark test of the T-Rex and Car Chase scenes from GFXBench, the V20 SE achieved 32 fps and 6.2 fps.

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The glossy back of the Vivo V20 SE is a fingerprint magnet

Performance was noticeably lower when playing hard titles like Call of Duty: Mobile. I noticed longer than usual load times and the game ran at the graphics quality and frame rate, which was set to medium by default. After playing the game for 20 minutes, I noticed a six percent drop in the battery level. The Vivo V20 SE didn’t have any problems with casual games like Among Us.

The V20 SE’s battery life is decent, and the phone ran for a day and a half with no rush to find a charger. In our HD video loop test, the V20 SE lasted 14 hours and 31 minutes, which is roughly what the Vivo V20 managed to do. Charging was quick with the included 33W charger. The device achieved 52 percent in 30 minutes and about 96 percent in one hour.

Vivo V20 SE cameras

The Vivo V20 SE has a triple camera setup on the back consisting of a 48-megapixel primary camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera that also supports macro photography, and a 2-megapixel bokeh camera. The camera app feels similar and is super easy to use. AI is on by default and the phone can quickly tell what it’s pointing at. Various shooting modes and cameras based on the scene have also been suggested. Vivo added an AI Image Matting feature to the Album app that lets you edit photos to change the sky, add a motion effect, or even remove objects.

Example of a Vivo V20 SE daylight camera (tap to view full size picture)

Vivo V20 SE Daylight Ultra Wide Angle Camera Example (Tap to view full size image)

In daylight, the Vivo V20 SE took decent shots with good details on objects even from a distance. When shooting outdoors in bright light, the V20 SE HDR activates quickly. Switching to the ultra wide angle camera offers a wider field of view, but at the expense of the details. Objects at a distance were not as sharp as in photos taken with the main camera. There was also visible distortion around the edges. You can take photos at the full 48-megapixel resolution, but the level of detail is not as good as when shooting at the standard 12-megapixel resolution.

Vivo V20 SE close up camera example (tap to view full size image)

Example of a Vivo V20 SE macro camera (tap to view full size image)

Close-ups were very good and the phone could take clear pictures. It also adds a soft effect of depth to the background. Portrait shots with stable subjects turned out well, with good edge detection. The V20 SE uses its ultra wide angle camera for macro shots and allows you to get very close to a subject. I like this approach as it gives you good functionality without the need for another sensor and it gives you higher resolution footage.

Example of a Vivo V20 SE camera in low light (tap to view full size image)

Example of a Vivo V20 SE night mode camera (tap to view full size picture).

Overall, the performance of the camera in low light is average. The V20 SE managed to keep the noise under control, but the photos seemed smooth and objects some distance away had a watercolor-like effect. Enabling night mode resulted in slightly brighter images with better detail, but it took around 3-4 seconds to process each shot.