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Vivo's new V9 joins the notch bandwagon

The V9 also packs in some AI photography-related smarts to help you get better shots.

Now playing: Watch this: Vivo V9 isn't shy about its iPhone X looks
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If you're getting tired of seeing Android phones with notches, the bad news is the wave is still at its crest. From Oppo's R15 to the Asus ZenFone 5, the iPhone X notch is now mainstream on phones, and Vivo's latest V9 doesn't stray from the crowd.

Clad in metal, the 6.3-inch V9 makes no bones about where it gets its inspiration. When you flip the phone around, you find its dual-camera layout in the same orientation as the iPhone X's.

That's also where you find the V9's fingerprint scanner, a feature the iPhone X doesn't have. Sadly, the V9 doesn't come with the fingerprint scanner built into the display that Vivo recently showed off.

Besides its familiar looks, the V9 comes packing AI smarts for its rear 16-megapixel and 5-megapixel dual-camera and 24-megapixel front shooter. The AI has been trained to recognize over a million facial images for a Beautify mode that captures you at your best. The AI is also supposed to learn your preferred shooting settings over time.

The 6.3-inch full-HD display is nice and bright, and looks great. The phone's curves also feel comfortable to hold, with no sharp edges that will dig into your palm. Button placements are also easily accessible -- you don't need to stretch to reach the power button to turn off the phone even while holding the V9 with one hand. 

vivo-v9-7

The front 24-megapixel seflie camera takes pretty good shots of your face, thanks to a Beautify mode that makes your skin look smooth. 

Aloysius Low/CNET

The Vivo V9 also claims to have other AI features, but they seem more like normal software enhancements slapped with AI branding. Take the AI Selfie Lighting for example, which lets you tweak the lighting of selfies. It works, but the differences between each lighting setting is pretty subtle, with just a little more or less shadow.

Other so-called "AI" features include one where the phone recognizes when you're looking at it, and adjusts the volume of messaging alerts, calls and alarms. Again, this can probably be done with a simple algorithm, so it's not clear where the AI comes in.

Besides the software enhancements, the V9 boasts of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 octa-core processor, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage, which puts this phone in the midrange bracket. Pricing has not been revealed, but you'll likely be able to buy this in China. Given that my hands-on unit sports Hong Kong localization and a retail sticker from the Philippines, it's likely the V9 will head to other markets in the region pretty soon.

Quick specs

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 octa-core
  • Memory: 4GB RAM, 64GB onboard storage (up to 256GB with microSD card)
  • Display: 6.3-inch IPS (2,280x1,080 pixels)
  • Battery: 3,260mAh
  • Camera: Dual rear 16-megapixel and 5-megapixel, front 24-megapixel

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