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Vivo S1 Pro Review

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Are you looking for a new mid-range handset in the Vivo camp? Here we have the new Vivo S1 Pro, currently one of the best sub-Php16k smartphone from the Chinese tech company.

Right off the bat, you’d already appreciated its new design that’s a departure from its predecessors. But what other things does this device offer? Is it your best option for the price? We’ll see about that in our Vivo S1 Pro review.

Vivo S1 Pro Specs

  • Android 9 Pie, Funtouch OS 9.2
  • Dual SIM, Dual Standby
  • 6.38-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED display, 2340 x 1080 pixel resolution, ~403ppi
  • 2.0GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 octa-core processor
  • Adreno 610 GPU
  • 8GB RAM
  • 128GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 256GB
  • 32-megapixel front camera, f/2.0
  • 48-megapixel (f/1.8) + 8-megapixel (ultra wide, f/2.2) + 2-megapixel (macro) + 2-megapixel (depth sensor) rear cameras, PDAF, LED flash
  • In-display fingerprint scanner, Face unlock
  • WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • GPS, BDS, Galileo, GLONASS
  • FM Radio
  • USB Type-C
  • Dimensions: 159.25 x 75.19 x 8.68mm
  • Weight: 186.7g
  • 4,500mAh non-removable battery, 18W fast charging support

Design and Build Quality

You’d easily feel at home with the Vivo S1 Pro the moment you hold it. Its curved sides, light weight, and thin profile make it ergonomic to hold. Although the corners of the screen feel a little sharp in the hands.

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The center of attraction is the Diamond design of the quad-camera setup on the back. Easily the most unique camera design we’ve seen. The back panel looks classy with its glass-like appearance.

What we have here is the Knight Black model that looks sleek and stealthy with the red accents on the power button and the camera. A Fancy Sky variant is also available for the Vivo S1 Pro. It’s primarily painted in white, with hints of rainbow colors as it reflects with light.

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On the front, we have a 6.38-inch display. There’s a dewdrop notch on top for the 32-megapixel selfie camera. Notches used to be distracting, but now that we have it in almost all smartphones in the market, we got used to it.

Up top, we have the noise-canceling microphone and the headphone jack. We prefer the 3.5mm port on the bottom, but we’re just glad that Vivo didn’t remove it.

Related: Vivo S1 Pro vs Samsung Galaxy A50s: Specs Comparison

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You can spot the USB Type-C, primary microphone, and the loudspeakers at the bottom of the Vivo S1 Pro. The bottom-firing speakers can blast loud volume but struggle to provide clear and detailed audio.

The left side only has a SIM tray. Disappointingly, it’s a hybrid one. So you can only house two SIM cards, or sacrifice the second slot for a microSD card (up to 256GB).

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On the other side, there’s the red lock/power button with the volume controls on the top. They are not the most satisfying buttons to press, but they do the job. They are also placed in a comfortable location that’s easily reachable.

Oh, and if you’re looking for the fingerprint scanner, it’s in the lower part of the screen. Instead of investing on a more powerful processor (more on that later), the company opted to have this fancy biometric sensor instead.

Display Quality

The Vivo S1 Pro has a 6.38-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED screen. It is the right size for providing enough screen space for multitasking and consuming media while maintaining a compact and portable profile. Also, there’s no Corning Gorilla Glass covering the display, but Vivo took it to themselves and pre-installed a screen protector for your peace of mind.

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Just like most Super AMOLED screens, it projects punchy colors and deep contrast. Perfect for binge-watching high-quality Netflix shows.

The screen brightness could be better, especially when using it outdoors. But overall, we’re satisfied with the display of the Vivo S1 Pro.

Performance and Hardware

Vivo used a Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 octa-core processor on the Vivo S1 Pro. That’s a chipset you can find in cheaper devices, but what those devices lack is the generous 8GB of RAM and 128GB of expandable storage (up to 256GB).

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The processor choice might look underwhelming on paper, but it did deliver reliable performance. Partnered with the generous memory, it handled basic and common smartphone tasks fine. Browsing the web, streaming media, making calls, and more, are doable in a snap. Although taking pictures are oddly slow.

Vivo S1 Pro Benchmark scores

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Gaming is also fine on the Vivo S1 Pro. Partnered with its game acceleration software, it ran popular and competitive games like Mobile Legends and Call of Duty Mobile at High settings with comfortable frame rates.

However, you can definitely feel the insufficiency of the processor when playing more intensive games like Asphalt 9. The game is still playable, but frame drops are now more noticeable.

See also: Huawei Y9s vs Vivo S1 Pro: Specs Comparison

Software and User Interface

The Vivo S1 Pro runs on Android 9 Pie with Funtouch OS 9.1 interface on top. Vivo’s UI has always been overwhelming, especially to those not familiar with it. But if you can get used to it, it actually has intuitive features that make the device easier to use.

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Swiping from the bottom reveals a large control center tab. It has a 3×3 orientation for the WiFi toggle, Bluetooth, and more. The brightness and volume controls are on the right side, oriented vertically, unlike other interfaces.

You can maximize this tab and make it full screen. It reveals shortcuts for Reminders, Google search, trending topics and more. Swiping to the far left of the screen reveals a search tab, shortcuts to some apps, and the Jovi Smart Scene.

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There is no app drawer, so all your apps are laid out on the home screen. Dynamic Effects are present that lets you customize the animation of the home screen, icons for the fingerprint, facial recognition, and charging.

Vivo’s Jovi AI assistant is still here. Unlike other assistants like Siri and Bixby, it’s only used in the camera, and image recognizer. It also reminds you to drink water, sports events and learns your commuting routines to notify you if it’s going to bring an umbrella and whatnot.

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The Vivo S1 Pro has a familiar camera app. Although it’s a little annoying that the ultra-wide toggle is separated from the zoom switch. Vivo used Google Keyboard on the S1 Pro. However, the keys’ rounded layout caused me more typing errors than other UIs that uses the Google keyboard.

Vivo pre-installed necessary Google apps. There are other bloatwares and Vivo apps like the V-Appstore, Themes, and more. On the upside, you can uninstall most of them.

Security

Vivo managed to put an in-display fingerprint scanner on the Vivo S1 Pro. A rare find in smartphones at this price category.

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It did work well and accurately during our testing. But it feels slow compared to the UD fingerprint scanners that we’ve tested in other devices.

In fact, the face unlock worked faster than the fingerprint scanner. It worked so fast that the Vivo S1 Pro is already unlocked the moment you turn on the screen.

There are also security features at the software level. The S1 Pro has Find My Device section in case you lose it. There’s also the File safebox that lets you secure private documents and media.

Camera Quality

The camera design on the back might be its biggest highlight, but the images it produces isn’t. The Vivo S1 Pro has a 48-megapixel primary camera, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide, 2-megapixel depth sensor, and 2-megapixel macro sensor.

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The 48-megapixel main sensor takes decent images, but not the best. The colors are nice at first look, although they look unnatural. On the upside, the contrast is nice, and the dynamic range is acceptable — for as long as you have HDR turned on.

We have the same sentiments with the 8-megapixel ultra-wide camera of the Vivo S1 Pro. But this time, the details are lacking.

Although, the wide field-of-view really comes handy when capturing bigger objects. Like tall buildings, group shots, and more.

The 2-megapixel depth sensor does a great job of separating the foreground from the background. You can even adjust the blur intensity on post. The only problem is, the contrast can get mixed up, resulting in overblown highlights.

If you really need it, the Vivo S1 Pro also has a macro camera. It lets you get close to your subjects. Useful if you’re into insect photography, or capturing images that are really close to smaller subjects. Just like the ultra-wide, the quality is not all that impressive, but the flexibility that the lens provides is very much welcome.

We also have a 32-megapixel front-facing camera on the VIvo S1 Pro. Unlike the ones on the back, the selfie camera takes sharp and well-detailed images with believable colors and clean contrast.

The details are sacrificed when you enabled the AI face beauty. Thankfully, it did a great job making faces fairer. You can also play with the different pre-installed AR stickers.

Connectivity

Vivo rigged the S1 Pro with all the latest antennas required for you to stay connected. There’s the dual-band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 5.0, which we were able to connect in our home/office network and wireless earphones with no problem and connectivity issues.

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The Vivo S1 Pro can also connect to 4G LTE networks with no problem. Voice calls are clear. And if you really need it, there’s the pre-installed FM Radio. But you need to plug in a pair of earphones for it to work.

Related: Vivo S1 Pro vs Realme XT: Specs Comparison

Battery

One of the biggest strengths of the Vivo S1 Pro is its battery. There’s the 4,500mAh non-removable battery that provides great longevity in our testing.

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We did a test by continuously playing YouTube videos that were streamed via WiFi, with the screen brightness and volume set to 50%. Under those circumstances, we were able to get 17 hours and 40 minutes of screen-on time.

This translates to an entire day of light to moderate use. If you’re a more conservative user, you can even stretch it until the next day.

Verdict

The Vivo S1 Pro has a lot of things going on with it. For the price, the company managed to put an in-display fingerprint scanner, which used to be exclusive in higher-end devices.

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It also comes with a sleek design with a unique camera layout on the back. There’s the large and vibrant display, as well as a large battery with great longevity.

To answer our earlier question: is the Vivo S1 Pro really your best option for the price? If you’re after an elegant and decent overall performer, it can be the right one for you. But a lot of people really prioritize performance above else, so in case you’re one of them, you have to look somewhere else.

While it did deliver fast and reliable performance, opting for a Snapdragon 600-series processor is disappointing. We’ve seen other devices in this price category that already comes with a Snapdragon 700-series chipset.

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The cameras could have been better, but it’s something that a software update could easily fix so we still have our hopes up.

The Vivo S1 Pro is still a great-looking and capable smartphone. You might just have to wait for a little while until the price goes down.

Vivo S1 Pro pricing and availability in the Philippines

The Vivo S1 Pro has a price tag of Php15,999. You can get it in tons of Vivo stores, kiosk, and multi-brand shops nationwide. It’s also available in Lazada, Shopee, Argomall, Home Credit, and Vivo’s own online store.

Pros

  • Sleek, unique design
  • Large, vibrant display
  • Reliable performance
  • Great battery life

Cons

  • Underwhelming processor choice
  • Cameras could be better
  • Interface needs improvement

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