Within its increasingly homogeneous segment, Vivo’s latest mid-ranger is a capable device.
It would be a bit harsh and unfair even, to label the new Vivo S1 as ‘uninspired,’ however, with certain brands triggering what feels like something akin to a seismic shift in the Nepali smartphone, phones such as the S1 find themselves at a crossroads – marooned in the sea, in terms of price at least. This is no way a knock on the Vivo S1, which is a capable smartphone in its own right.
I spent a week with the S1, and my experience with the new Vivo handset was convincing if not outstanding.The Vivo S1 has an immediately arresting design, at least from the rear. At a time when all phones are beginning to appear as clones of each other, it’s heartening to see certain companies make an effort to differentiate their phones from the herd.
That effort manifests itself in the shimmering diamond-patterned gradient rear design on the Vivo S1, which looks quite spectacular when light hits it.
Although the design makes it appear that the rear is made of glass, it’s actually plastic. This is truly the best of both worlds – you get the classy design without the constant fear of shattering that glass back.
On the front, its business as usual. Vivo deserves some props for minimising the bezels as much as they have done; it’s a commendable effort for this price point. The device is ergonomically sound and feels great in the hand. Further, the in-display fingerprint scanner is sharp and reliable, and that’s no mean feat. Also, the Face Unlock functionality is also razor-sharp.
Vivo deserves some props for minimising the bezels as much as they have done; it’s a commendable effort for this price point. The device is ergonomically sound and feels great in the hand.
While the rear design of the Vivo S1 screams futuristic, the Micro-USB charging port certainly does not. It’s 2019, and Micro-USB ports are remnants of the past. It’s quite surprising it finds its way in what is otherwise a modern-looking, modern-feeling device.
As is customary, the Vivo S1 packs a sizeable screen on its relatively lithe frame – the 6.38-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED screen is certainly a pleasing panel.
Courtesy of the AMOLED technology, the colours are punchy, and the blacks are satisfyingly deep. Content consumption is a delight, bolstered by the loud and crisp bottom-firing speaker. Brightness levels too are appreciable, although the auto-brightness could do with a bit more responsiveness.
The Vivo S1 isn’t a ‘bad phone,’ but it has come out at a time when being merely serviceable is no longer a viable option.
And while the notch might feel a remnant of 2018 at a time when manufacturers are innovating unique ways to accommodate the selfie camera, the waterdrop notch on the S1 is negligible, and after a couple of days of use, it almost bleeds into the screen. Even with the notch, the Vivo S1 has a screen-to-body ratio upwards of 90 percent.
Software, Performance and Battery
Vivo’s custom Funtouch OS runs on top of Android 9 on the Vivo S1. The OS, once again, is serviceable without being excellent. There is a bit of a learning curve since it doesn’t function like most other Android operating systems in some key areas.
That being said, the S1’s OS isn’t overbearing in any way, it’s relatively light, intuitive and it ensures the device is comfortable to operate.
The overall functioning of the device is admirable. While day-to-day apps function well enough, that zip and snappiness are certainly missing in the performance; even delving into the developer options couldn’t quite overcome that hurdle.
However, credit where credit is due – the battery on the Vivo S1 is an absolute monster. That Vivo has managed to squeeze in a ridiculous 4,500 mAh battery is impressive in its own right, but what the battery manages to accomplish on a day-to-day basis is stunning.
Battery anxiety is a thing of the past - the Vivo S1 is a genuine two-day phone for all but the heaviest subsection of users, and even they will have a tough time draining the battery within that stipulated time frame.
S1 appears to have an attractive set-up; in practice, the photos come out decent under the proper conditions. The primary shooter takes average-to-good photos in excellent lighting conditions. And the lesser said about images shot at night, the better.
The selfie camera, however, offers some form of atonement. The image quality is excellent, colours are sharp, and the images come out with great details.
The Vivo S1 is a decent smartphone. A good screen, stylish design and an absolute beast of a battery being its standout features. In conclusion, The Vivo S1 is a descent phone but it has come out at a time when being merely serviceable is no longer a viable option.