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Vivo S1 Review: Style with some substance

Vivo has been quietly grinding it out among the mid-range smartphone market, launching various products to cater to the different needs. For their newest ‘S’ series, they placed an emphasis on the style of the product for people who are more conscious about design, and thus, the Vivo S1 is born.

The aesthetics are on full display once you pull the phone out of the box. Immediately, the design of the body will capture your attention: a cool cyan that bleeds into a light lavender for the Skyline Blue model. It’s a refreshing take in the current lineup of product offerings where most phones tend to have plain dark colours or have the same gradient colour scheme.

Vivo also put special attention into making the phone look like it’s a premium product. Though the back is made out of plastic, you probably might mistake it as glass until you actually have it in your hands. With that being said, it’ll become increasingly clear that the phone’s glossy back is a magnet for fingerprints. For a style-centric phone, it is a major inconvenience to have to do constant cleaning in order to maintain the look.

Vivo S1: Fingerprint Magnet

Unlike the back of the phone, there is no unique take for the front of the phone. It has a large 6.38 inch AMOLED FHD+ screen with a teardrop notch at the top. This provides a high overall screen-to-body ratio, which is a nice feature to have for watching videos and playing mobile games while commuting. 

The Vivo S1’s display also produces bright and vivid colours on its screen, even when the screen’s brightness is only at half level. This is no doubt due to the capabilities of the AMOLED screen that is fitted in. Suffice to say, you’ll enjoy consuming media on this phone.

Aesthetics are something that the Vivo S1 has got down, but a phone isn’t just about looks. It still has to perform for a user’s daily needs. Under the hood, the phone houses a MediaTek Helio P65 octa-core processor with 6GB of RAM. Using the phone for various tasks like browsing the Internet and social media, taking photographs, and playing mobile games didn’t show any instance of slowdown buckling in speeds.

In fact, for mobile gaming in particular, there is a dedicated ‘Ultra Game Mode’ to help boost the experience. There are several options that can be enabled for each individual game. These options include tweaks to optimise game performance, disabling notifications while in-game. or enable game picture-in-picture among others. It’s a mode that few smartphones have, let alone a mid-range one. For hardcore players playing performance-demanding games, this will probably be a feature they will be looking at. For those who are casual players or don’t play at all, this feature is fairly inconsequential.

Those who are more used to the stock Android may take some time to get used to navigating on the phone. For example, the phone’s shortcut menu is found by swiping from the bottom as opposed to the top. Honestly, this felt better to do as it meant that you didn’t have to adjust your hand position if you wanted to change settings like brightness level, especially if you are using the phone one-handed. But of course, it’s something you have to train yourself to do; the notification menu was brought out by mistake on several occasions with this phone.

Now let’s talk about the camera performance of the Vivo S1. The phone has a triple camera setup at the back; a 16MP primary camera, 8MP ultrawide camera and a 2MP depth sensor while the front has a 32MP camera.

For the most part, the camera is able to produce decent shots with a good amount of clarity. It isn’t up to the level that flagship phones are able to produce (like Google’s Pixel smartphone series), but for the price, it does an admirable job. Unfortunately, this only applies to conditions with a good amount of light. The Vivo S1 lacks a night mode for its cameras, causing shots in low-light conditions to look almost incomprehensible and contain lots of noise. 

The camera has additional options like a dedicated A.I Beauty Mode which adds effects to make a person’s face more “presentable”, like making your face thinner or whitening your skin. Each of the various effects has its own control bar which you can tweak in real-time to adjust the level of effect. On testing the actual effects though, there’s little difference to be seen on most of these effects, even when turned up to the max. It’s a fun mode to play around with, but not one you’ll utilise often.

If you’re a heavy Instagram user, you’ll be amused by the ‘Fun Video‘ mode. It essentially creates mock Instagram stories with different filters. Again, very amusing, but not one that’ll be used frequently.

From its big screen to its various camera options, the Vivo S1 is certainly a phone that you’ll spend a lot of time playing around with. Which is why it’s incredibly good to see it come packed with a massive 4,500 mAh battery. Testing the phone across a 12-hour cycle, using social media, playing music and taking photos, the Vivo S1 still had more than enough to last another day.

It’s also great that the phone comes with a fast charge connector. You’ll be able to get a full charge in about 2 hours. Though, you should keep in mind that the port itself is using micro-USB, possibly to keep costs cheap.

There is no doubt that the Vivo S1 has got the points down on style. Fortunately, it also is a very capable phone. The battery and large screen are major highlights while the camera and user experience sour the experience a little. Once you look at the price though, maybe you’ll be able to see past its flaws. Just hope that people can look past the fingerprints while you’re showing it off.

Photos by Soloman Soh of the DANAMIC team.

vivo S1

S$399
8

Overall Score

8.0/10

Pros

  • Great price
  • Long-lasting battery
  • Beautiful and unique design

Cons

  • Lack of night mode
  • Fingerprint magnet
  • Need to get used to OS
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Russell Matthew Loh

Yes I have two names. no I'm not Eurasian. Self-professed David Fincher fan.

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