The Vivo S1 Review; A Focus On Design, While Overlooking Performance

The Vivo S1 is Vivo’s latest foray into the affordable smartphone market, as well as the fasionable side of things. The S1 (who’s S I assume stands for Style) has a pretty attractive package for what it costs. The phone starts off at RM 1099, so it’s safe to say it’s an entry level smartphone. But does it offer enough in terms of performance and aesthetics to warrant the ‘stylish’ name? Well sit back, relax, and let’s get into the review of Vivo’s S1!

Display and Design; Undoubtedly a Looker

The display on the S1 is a pretty good one for the price. You get a Super AMOLED 6.38″ display, with a 1080×2340 (FHD+) resolution, and a really small notch on the display in the centre. It’s one of my least favourite iterations of a notch, as I think it looks a little off. But with the trend being pop up cams, I’m not sure why Vivo opted out of it considering their Vivo V15 series has it. It kind of ruins the ‘seamless’ display that it should actually have. There’s actually quite a noticeable chin at the bottom as well, but that’s pretty much it for the display. Otherwise, it was a pleasurable experience to watch Netflix, YouTube, and pretty much anything else while using the phone. Gaming on the other hand, I had a bit of a gripe with, but more on that later.

On the other hand, the S1’s design is actually quite pleasing to the eye. The phone comes in two colours, Skyline Blue and Diamond Black, and they’re some eye-catching colours alright. The colours while appealing, I personally feel that the back would be easily scratched, and it would be noticeable. My unit held up, but over prolonged use, there will probably be quite a few scratches on the phone. The build quality is a little meh, making it feel a bit cheaper than it should.

Oh, and did we mention the phone has the all to often forsaken headphone jack? So that’s a plus ‘feature’ that the phone has.

Performance; Disappointing At Best

The S1 was, in all honestly, an alright performer. I noticed lag when I had to many apps open, and multitasking, as well as when I was gaming on higher settings. Nothing to be too surprised about considering the RM 1099 price point and Mediatek MT6768 Helio P65 processor.

Blurry/pixelated loading screen while opening up PUBG

But it was a little more disappointing than I thought it’d be. Ever since I took it out the box, I noticed it taking just a few seconds longer than it should have to load things. Be it an app, or even the settings. But maybe that’s just my unit, but it wasn’t a good experience sometimes. The phone comes with 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage, so it isn’t exactly lacking in that the department. Even pulling up the control centre made it a little slow. However, I will say that this might be more bias considering the devices I’ve used, and my own expectations. But don’t get me started on the amount of bloatware, and apps that came preloaded on the phone. That’s an instant nope from me, because Stock (or as close to stock) Android is where phones really shine.

One of the things I really did enjoy about the performance was the 4500 mAh battery, which lasted me a day, or sometimes day and a half with moderate usage. I even left the phone on in my bag for 4 days and it still had battery. So there’s that.

We tested it out using Geekbench, and Antutu, and here are the scores so you can see for yourself.

The Geekbench scores are pretty much abysmal, as phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 (a 2 year old phone at this point) scores better. Even if they wanted to skimp out on the processor, and focus on it’s aesthetics, I can understand to a certain degree. But I personally feel it was too ignored in the phone’s inception. The Antutu scores aren’t any better though, as you can see below.

This would’ve been excusable in a world where the Xiaomi Mi 9T didn’t exist, because it is better speced, performs better, and is about the same price of RM 1099. And arguably, the Mi 9T looks better, in my opinion. So I’m not really sure what Vivo can really say to change my mind in this regard.

Camera; A ‘Pretty’ Good Camera

The camera on the S1 is a decent shooter for the price. However it isn’t exactly something that blew me away. The S1 features a triple AI rear camera setup, with 16 MP, f/1.8, (wide), 8 MP, f/2.2, 13mm (ultrawide) and 2 MP, f/2.4, depth sensor. While on the front, they’ve got a 32MP camera, which takes some pretty decent selfies. Considering the ‘Style’ element that the phone is marketing towards, it doesn’t surprise me that the selfie cam is buffed up. The one thing I will say about the S1 (and in general, Vivo phones) is that the “beauty” mode is overkill. I often took selfies, and didn’t even recognise it was me. But maybe some people need it out there.

The rear camera, (picture samples above) is actually pretty good. However when it zooms in, you’ll start to notice a bit more grain, and a little less blurry. Shooting in low light however, was a pretty bad experience. The phone took too long to process the little light that was there, making the picture a bit over-saturated, low detailed, and a lot of a noise.

A pretty good camera, I mean you can even see the dust particles.

Final Verdict

If you’re the type of person who prefers form over function, this phone is for you. Undoubtedly, the phone is definitely a looker, but it’s performance is definitely lagging. Considering that it’s a considerable amount of lag and stuttering that’s noticeable, I couldn’t ignore it. But based on aesthetics, design and a pretty decent camera, I could say that the Vivo S1 is worth the money. It is cheaper than many other phones out there, and having those looks at that price point, is pretty rare.

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