Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

Vivo S1 Review

Vivo has been trying to stand out in a crowded smartphone market. They have smartphones targeted at different market tiers and designed to appeal to different users. Their new Vivo S1 is an affordably priced mid-tier smartphone, and one that decidedly designed to look fashionable.

For the most part, the Vivo S1 looks like a nice smartphone with modern specifications. At first glance, it might not seem terribly outstanding in terms of design. Sure, it has some shiny bits. But once you turn to its back, you’ll see why the Vivo S1 is designed for the fashion-conscious. This phone is for people who want to be seen carrying a smartphone that looks good.

With dimensions measuring 159.53 x 75.23 x 8.13 mm, and weighing 179 grams, the Vivo S1 feels like its quite a bit of substance. That’s despite the phone being mostly plastic. The handset does have a sturdy build, and has some detailing in the design that makes it look more premium.

The SIM card tray is on the left side of the Vivo S1. It accommodates three cards: two nano SIMs and one microSD card. Hence, you can use two SIM cards and still use external memory storage all at the same time. Since there’s already a generous 128 GB of flash storage onboard, the dedicated microSD slot for expandable storage is mostly a nice luxury to have.

There’s also another button farther down the left side. This is a dedicated button that calls up Google Assistant.

On the right side, you’ll find the volume rocker and the power button.

These buttons are functional, but a little wobbly. It’s one area where you can see the Vivo S1 is definitely not something of premium build quality.

On the bottom, you’ll see the 3.5 mm audio jack, a Micro-USB port, and speaker grill. It’s nice to see the 3.5 mm audio jack still there, but perhaps a bit disappointing to not get USB Type-C. Micro-USB isn’t anywhere near extinct, but it would really be nice to carry one less type of cable when travelling.

The back of the Vivo S1 is where the design gets interesting. I have the Aqua Blue version, and you can see how the beautiful colour variants reflect off the surface.

In the corner, you’ll see the triple camera setup. The primary camera is a 16 MP Sony IMX499 sensor with f/1.78 lens. There is an ultra-wide 8 MP f/2.2 camera with 120° field of view. Finally, there’s a 2 MP f/2.4 depth sensor.

The front camera, though small as it may seem over a tiny centre notch above the display, packs a whopping 32 MP.

At least on paper, the camera specifications of the Vivo S1 look pretty good. The camera app supports the following modes: HDR, AR Stickers, AI Face Beauty, Selfie Frontlight, AI Filter, Ultra HD, AI Portrait Framing, AI Super Wide-Angle, Professional, Slow, Time-Lapse Photography, Panorama, Live.

Sadly, in actual use, the camera’s performance is just alright, and certainly nothing to write home about.

The display on the Vivo S1 is a 6.38-inch Super AMOLED panel with 2340 x 1080 pixel resolution. This has an aspect ratio of 19.5:9, following the current trend of extra stretched-out displays. The glass over the display features a protection you probably haven’t heard about: Schott Xensation 3D. In my short use, I can’t say how it compares with Gorilla Glass, but I suppose its fancy name sounds good.

Under the hood, the Vivo S1 is powered by a MediaTek Helio P65 processor with 6 GB of RAM. It has quite a large 4500 mAh battery.

In my benchmark tests, the Vivo S1 scored:

  • Single-Core: 1853
  • Multi-Core: 6035
  • Compute: 4743
  • Battery: 5141

In PCMark Android benchmarks, the Vivo S1 scored 8358, with battery run time of a cool 11 hours and 40 minutes.

Apart from face unlock, the Vivo S1 also supports an in-display fingerprint sensor. I like to be given a choice of which mode to use. The Vivo S1 can also use both biometric modes together to increase the unlocking speed.

In the box, the Vivo S1 ships with a TPU case, earphones, Micro-USB charging cable, and a USB wall charger.

The Vivo S1 is priced at S$399 and is available from Singtel, StarHub, M1, Vivo’s Lazada flagship store, and other authorised retailers island-wide​. There are two colours available: Aqua Blue (reviewed here) and Cosmic Purple.

Conclusion

The Vivo S1 is a very affordably priced mid-tier smartphone that looks pretty fashionable.

Pros:

  • Fashionable look
  • Supports both fingerprint and face unlock
  • Great battery life

Cons:

  • Average camera

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