Vivo, a popular Chinese smartphone manufacturer, has well staked its claim as one of the top brands when it comes to the budget and mid range smartphone segment in India. From being a brand that was primarily known for its selfie cameras, Vivo has evolved wonderfully over the years and has successfully managed to shift the focus of its consumers to the whole package that it brings to the table. After launching the Vivo Z1 Pro earlier last month, Vivo’s latest offering is the Vivo S1. Vivo S1 has already created a lot of razzmatazz surrounding its style and design. But, is the performance of the phone as good as its design? Let’s find out.
Vivo S1 Design And Display
Vivo S1 sports a refreshing new dual-tone design with its own take on gradients and patterns that can be spotted when reflected against the light. This is unlike Realme and Honor who desperately need a new spin on their same old smartphone design. The phone is available in diamond black and skyline blue colors where both of them are unique in their own way. We received the diamond black review unit where the rear panel features a curved glossy finish with a diamond-like pattern at the back. Now, although this color variant does stand out, we personally prefer the skyline blue color more. The body is made up of plastic and the rough edges around the phone can be easily felt. Also, the back isn’t smudge-proof so expect unsightly fingerprint marks all over your rear panel. Despite this, the phone is quite comfortable to hold and is pretty light-weight. Flip the phone to the front, and Vivo has also followed the current Bezel-less trend with a small dew-drop notch and a slight chin.
The volume rocker and the power button are placed on the right side and there’s a dedicated google assistant button along with the SIM tray on the left side. The bottom hosts a 3.5mm headphone jack, loudspeaker, and a microUSB port which is a major letdown since a majority of its competition in this price range has already moved on to USB Type-C.
Vivo has managed to fit in a 6.38-inch Halo FullView Super AMOLED display with 1080×2340 pixels resolution. It also comes with an aspect ratio of 19:5, a screen-to-body ratio of 90% and a Schott Xensation 3D glass for protection. This is the first time we’re hearing of a Schott Xensation 3D glass since a large majority of the brands are going for the common Corning Gorilla Glass 3.The Halo FullView display offers a solid viewing experience paired with AMOLED’S deep black and vivid colors. There’s a fingerprint sensor that sits beneath the display and works just fine. The colors and contrast of the app icons is quite clear indoors with sub-par readability under direct sunlight.
Vivo S1 Performance And Software
Vivo comes powered with an octa-core MediaTek Helio P65 SoC, clocked at 2.0 GHz, along with a Mali-G52 integrated GPU. Vivo S1 is the first smartphone in India to embody the latest processor offering by MediaTek. It comes with an option of 4GB RAM and 128 GB internal storage, 6 GB RAM and 64 GB internal storage, and 6 GB RAM and 128 GB internal storage. Now although Helio P65 is the latest MediaTek Silicon, it’s definitely not an upgrade over Helio P60 as such and doesn’t offer an overpowering performance peak by any means. First off, the feel of scrolling through the apps isn’t silky which shows in the lack of speed with which certain apps open and respond. Also, the device already started to show signs of hold ups and lag while multitasking with different apps, just within two days of using the device. You might also need to tap on an app or a feature twice for it operate.
This is quite unpleasant, keeping in mind that Vivo S1 has positioned itself as a midrange smartphone where it should have offered better performance. That being said, you’d still be able to perform all the daily tasks with few irksome stutters here and there. Speaking of gaming performance, Vivo S1 comes with an Ultra Game Mode which is aimed at increasing smooth gameplay and reducing frame-drop by 300%. However, we did experience a slight lag while playing heavy duty games like PUBG even though the game runs by-default on a medium graphics setting. The phone also heated up after close to 40 minutes of playing the game. In fact, the device also took a slightly longer time to start heavy graphic games as compared to other smartphones in the same segment. However, you would still be able to have an almost decent gameplay session in case of heavy duty games.
Vivo S1 comes powered with 4,500mAh battery and Vivo’s own 18W dual-engine fast charging technology. This is where Vivo scores major points as the battery life of the phone is truly impressive,. The phone manages to go from 0% to 100% in a little over 2 hours which isn’t that bad. Also, if you’re a heavy user, the phone easily gives well over 10 hours of juice whereas if you’re someone who only uses their device for texting, phone calls, few videos here and there, the battery can easily last for more than a day. Moreover, Vivo S1 also comes with its own set of power optimisation modes including low power and super Power-Saving Mode.
Now, coming to the software, Vivo S1 runs on FuntouchOS 9 , built atop Android 9 Pie, which to say the least looks cluttered, given the heavy bloatware it comes with. Also, there is no app drawer and so all the apps reside right on the home screen, which is not a pretty view. Swipe down and you’ll get a notifications menu, swipe up from the bottom and you’ll get a quick settings shortcut center. However, Vivo’s FuntouchOS does offer customization options so if you’re someone who likes customizing, you’d appreciate the UI a bit more than us. There are a few other options including dark mode and a smart motion option which offers an air unlock feature that hardly ever works. Then there’s a smart wake option which does work at times but isn’t that responsive. Talking about the audio and speaker quality in Vivo S1, it’s pretty good with nothing much to complain about. Also, the phone ships with additional earphones which is great. The facial recognition security option to unlock your phone works as it’s intended to except in low-light situations.
Vivo S1 Camera Performance
Vivo S1 features an AI Triple camera setup packed with a 16MP primary sensor with f/1.78 and Sony IMX499, an 8MP ultrawide sensor with f/2.2 and 120-degree FoV, and a 2MP depth sensor with f/2.4. Vivo S1 comes with a 32MP selfie camera. The camera can shoot videos in 1080p, 720p, and 480p.
Vivo S1 offers a very sub-par camera performance, especially when compared to the stiff competition in the midrange segment. First off, the camera shutter speed is slow because of which you need to be still when trying to capture a photo or you would get blurry results. The phone also does a poor job of dealing with high-contrast scenarios with HDR where it adds sloppy details and unnatural color to the overall scene (both indoors and outdoors). Bokeh mode and the wide-angle lens work just fine. Camera quality starts to degrade even more during low-light situations with patchy details and a hefty amount of noise. Coming down to the performance of the selfie-camera, the images clicked manage to maintain the balance between the contrast and exposure, however, they also are limited in detail. In all, we weren’t satisfied with the camera performance on Vivo S1 and expected more.
What we do like about the camera in Vivo S1 is the app that offers a slew of modes including doc, pro, pano, AI beauty, photo, video, fun video, and AR stickers. AR stickers mode is a nice fun feature but doesn’t work offline. Another fun feature is the “fun video” mode which lets you add music and text to the video while the AI beauty mode works just fine.
Vivo S1 comes with a lot of merits including superior display, powerful battery life, and an absolutely stunning design. However, the phone is marred by its average camera, frustrating software, and an average performance. Given that Vivo S1 has a stance as a midrange smartphone in the market and is known for its selfie cameras, we expected a stronger set of features from the phone.
Vivo S1 is priced at INR 17,990 for the 4GB + 128GB variant, INR 18,990 for the 6GB + 64GB variant and INR 19,990 for the 6GB + 128GB variant.