Home Tech Reviews Vivo S1 Pro Review – Finally, A Good Mid-Range Vivo Phone

Vivo S1 Pro Review – Finally, A Good Mid-Range Vivo Phone

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It was only last September when Vivo launched its first S series phone in the country, dubbed as Vivo S1. And for the price of P14,999, the offering of a large battery and Helio P65 chipset isn’t exactly enticing, especially when you can get even a better package from the Realme 5. That said, the Chinese company made sure to not make the same mistake — releasing the Vivo S1 Pro for only a thousand peso more (P15,999). For the slight price bump, you are getting four cameras in a design that’s unique, stylish, and attractive.

READ: Realme 5 Review – New Budget Battery King?

Design

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Vivo sent us the Knight Black version of its newest mid-range phone. There’s a Fancy Sky color option if that’s your style, but we’re digging this shiny executive look. Typically, we’d see Pro models to sport better specifications while retaining the design. But the case of S1 Pro is different — it has a new finish that shines in solid black (and rainbow hue for the lighter color) and a camera module in the shape of a diamond. Do take note that this design is used to house four cameras without looking awkward and out of place. Every single part of the back is shiny, so fingerprint smudge is your greatest enemy. But when it’s clean and hit with the right lighting, the diamond cut seems like a shining star. It’s a good way to attract youngsters as being fashionable is almost always required these days. But for a tech enthusiast like us, we like the way it looks in spite of the polycarbonate material and thick & reasonable heavy body. The phone is a bit thicker than its non-pro sibling but the size feels the same in every corner. 

Display

At 6.38″, the display size is the same as the standard S1. It also features the same 1080p Super AMOLED. Vivo is boasting here the 90% screen-to-body ratio, partly, because of the teardrop notch and slimmer bezels. However, you still have that ugly chin. Nevertheless, it’s less obtrusive than other phones.

In late 2019, Super AMOLED is becoming more of a norm and it’s a good thing. We love how colors are extra punchy while having deep black levels. We noticed that the quality veers towards the cooler tone, but this should be customizable within the settings. The display quality is good. And when it can reach more than 400 nits of peak brightness, you should have no problem seeing even under direct sunlight. 

As for the embedded fingerprint scanner, we have to say that the unlocking speed of under-screen biometric has improved significantly. When done right, entering the home screen is swift. We have to say that it’s even faster than what Samsung has to offer. But accuracy-wise, there’s always room for improvement. On the other end, face unlock is present for a faster but less secure alternative.

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Camera

Having multiple cameras on a phone is a common thing today. Some have tried going for longer vertical placements, while others opt for the rounded square to house every single lens. And when it works, it looks good. When it doesn’t, you just want to hide it. Fortunately, the S1 Pro looks good. The diamond-cut module may not be promoting symmetry but the placement and everything blends perfectly. But what about when it comes to photo quality? Spec-wise, you’ll be mostly shooting with the 48MP Sony sensor. As for the ultrawide, it’s using 8MP. For depth and macro purposes, the phone has 2MP for each. 

The main camera performs best when taking medium-distanced subjects. Images appear brighter but highlight clippings are less prominent. Portrait mode seems to work on any given subject but works best with a face. While you can get the sharpest shot with the main sensor, the ultrawide lens will provide you a wider field-of-view. This is at the expense of overall quality. Photos appear soft and colors are less contrasty. However, the shots still look amazing. The macro lens seems to be hit-and-miss. We prefer moving closer to the subject while using the main sensor. 

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With only ample lightning, the S1 Pro still managed to pull out images with good detail preservation and color reproduction. It’s also impressive to see well-lit places to appear sharper than we’re used to. You do need to be mindful though, as total darkness will render the cameras useless.  

Located within the notch is a 32MP selfie camera. Typically, the output of high MP selfie cameras is just decent. But we’re surprised to see the S1 Pro processing images very well. With the right lighting, faces can appear sharp and clean. Although the images are still on the overexposed side, it’s not a deal-breaker. But like other OPPO and Vivo phones, the quality significantly falls apart when the light source is lacking. For the most part, the camera will hunt focus. 

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Overall, the cameras are just fine. It’s not the best in this price range but it’s a bit better than what the OPPO A9 2020 has to offer. 

READ: OPPO A9 2020 Review – Almost a Great Mid-Range Phone

Performance

From Helio P65 to Snapdragon 665, Vivo S1 Pro somehow maintains good performance while saving more battery. Qualcomm chipsets are well-known for its efficiency and we’re glad to have that here. The 665 is becoming a popular affordable mid-range performer for prices under P16K. There’s more than enough processing power for social media management and the likes, but you have to set expectations for gaming. Games like Mobile Legends needs tweaking for the smoother experience, while heavy games such as Asphalt 9 are playable but not enjoyable. 

FunTouch OS 9 might be fun to some, given its unapologetic iOS interface and heavily skinned UI, but the 8GB RAM handles the required extra resources very well. Stutters and lags are nearly non-existent. Vivo’s UI is packed with tons of features — from dedicated smart assistant to gestures — but consistent notification from unused apps spoils the experience.

BenchmarkScores
Antutu151,065
Geekbench Single Core1401
Geekbench Multi-Core5133

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Battery

4500mAh and 18W — those are the two words that make the S1 Pro an endurance beast. Vivo’s claim of 1-day battery life seems to be accurate. Our endurance test recorded 40 hours — longer than most smartphones while within striking distance of Realme 5. Charging the phone from flat to full requires 2 hours and 10mins. 

Audio

There’s not a lot to say about the speaker of S1 Pro. It’s a single down-firing type and easily gets muffled by the hands. The sound quality is on the tinny sound, but it’s enough for background streaming and binge-watching. 

Verdict

Retailing for P15,999, Vivo S1 Pro managed to offer a better value than the S1. Compared to other popular budget phones, like Realme 5 and Redmi Note 8, yes, the price is a bit steeper, However, you do get 8GB RAM, a large battery with fast charging via USB-C, and uniquely attractive design. Vivo’s new phone even feels like a better package than the A9 2020 that retails for nearly the same price. However, we will need a full comparison for that. 

READ: Realme 5s Launched – Upgraded Camera, Memory for P7K Price (India)

Vivo S1 Pro specs, price, availability in the Philippines

  • Display: 6.38-inch Super AMOLED FHD+, teardrop notch
  • Design: metal frame, glossy-plastic back? diamond-cut camera module
  • CPU: Qualcomm SDM665 Snapdragon 665 (11 nm)
  • GPU: Adreno 610
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Memory: 128GB
  • Camera: 48 MP, f/1.8, (wide), 1/2″, 0.8µm, PDAF
    8 MP, f/2.2, 13mm (ultrawide), 1/4″, 1.12µm
    2 MP, f/2.4, 1/5″, 1.75µm (dedicated macro camera)
    2 MP, f/2.4, depth sensor | up to 4K @ 30fps video
  • Selfie Camera: 32 MP, f/2.0, 0.8µm
  • Connectivity: 4G LTE A, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, USB-C, headphone jack
  • Security: under-screen fingerprint scanner
  • Battery: 4500 mAh, 18W fast charging
  • OS: Android 9.0 Pie with FunTouch 9
  • Colors: Black, White
  • Release date: November 30, 2019, Philippines
  • Price: P15,999

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