August 9, 2022
Vivo S1 Pro Review |  Gadgets 360

Vivo recently launched a new phone in its style-focused S series called the S1 Pro. This model is a follow-up to the Vivo S1 (Review) that was launched last year. Like its sibling, the focus has been on design for the S1 Pro, especially the new minimalistic, diamond-shaped camera module on the rear. Also, unlike the Vivo S1, the S1 Pro gets a modern USB Type-C port.

Vivo has launched only one version of this phone, which costs Rs. 19,990 in India. This puts it up against phones like the Realme X2 (Review), Redmi K20 (Review), and a more recent entry – the Oppo F15 (Review). So, is the new Vivo S1 Pro worth buying at this price? let’s find out.

Vivo S1 Pro Design

The Vivo S1 is a good looking phone and the S1 Pro follows that tradition. The diamond pattern on the back is gone and in its place, we have the option of three different gradient finishes. The name we have is ‘Jazzy Blue’ but the phone is also available in ‘Dream White’ and ‘Mystic Black’ trims. The S1 Pro feels a little chunky at 8.68mm thick, and after prolonged one-handed use, the 186g weight is noticeable. The rounded edges and thin back make it easy to hold, and despite the glossy finish, we didn’t find it too slippery. Although the back is not of glass, as Vivo still uses laminated plastic.

Up front, we have a 6.38-inch Super AMOLED display with full-HD+ resolution. There is also an in-display fingerprint sensor, which works well. Vivo has also provided some nice unlock animations to choose from. Face unlock is also present, which is reliable but not as fast as the implementation on other phones at this price level. The display comes pre-installed with a screen protector, which quickly gets annoying if the edges stick to your skin when using gestures.

Vivo S1 Pro Ports NDTV VivoVivo S1 Pro has a vivid display with good brightness and saturation

The button placement of Vivo S1 Pro is good. On the left, there’s a tray for two nano-SIMs or one nano-SIM and a microSD card. We would have preferred a dedicated slot for memory expansion. At the bottom, we have a USB Type-C port and speaker, and on top is a headphone jack.

The back of the phone is where the S1 Pro stands out in terms of design. Apart from the jazzy colours, we really liked the slim profile of the camera module, which barely pops out. The LED flash is placed on the outside of the camera module. Below that, we have the Vivo logo and tagline.

In the box, the Vivo S1 Pro comes with the usual accessories such as a silicone case, a Type-C cable, an 18W charger and a headset.

Vivo S1 Pro Specifications and Software

The Vivo S1 Pro is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 octa-core SoC, which we are a bit surprised to see, considering that it is usually found in phones closer to Rs. 10,000 points, such as the Realme 5i (Review) and Redmi Note 8 (Review). It’s not a bad processor by any means, but it can be challenging to run a full-HD+ display in heavy games. Thankfully, Vivo has also paired this phone with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and this is the only configuration on sale.

Other specifications include support for dual 4G VoLTE, dual-band Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5, FM radio, GPS, USB-OTG and Google’s Widevine L1 DRM certification. There’s also the usual suite of sensors, including a gyroscope and compass.

vivo s1 pro sim ndtv vivoThe Vivo S1 Pro has a hybrid dual-SIM tray

For software, we have Vivo’s Funtouch OS 9.2, which is based on Android 9 Pie. The phone also had the December 2019 security patch, which is quite recent as well. The interface is still unnecessarily complicated, and we really wish Vivo would overhaul it soon. The swipe-up gesture to access system shortcuts can be confusing for novice users, as we are used to seeing them in the notification shade. Also, when using the phone in landscape mode, gestures still have to be made from the same side of the screen, which is annoying.

The Vivo S1 Pro has a lot of bloatware pre-installed, but all third party apps can be removed. There are few as redundant as Vivo, such as its own browser and app store, which cannot be removed. We have already covered the various shortcuts and customization options for Funtouch OS in our previous reviews of Vivo V17 (Review) and Vivo U20 (Review), so you can take a look at them for more details.

Vivo S1 Pro performance and battery life

The Vivo S1 Pro works well as a daily driver, and is something you’ll want to show off. The design of the camera module sets it apart from the rest of the phones in its segment, most of which have similar vertical camera strips. The display gets very bright, making it easy to read even in direct sunlight. Colors are also very bright for an AMOLED panel, and text and icons are sufficiently sharp. The Snapdragon 665 handles multitasking well but it isn’t the strongest chip to handle heavy games.

PUBG Mobile struggled to run at a smooth framerate even on the low graphics preset. The game was playable but a bit jarring at times. We didn’t notice any overheating, thankfully, even after 30 minutes of gameplay. The single speaker is not very loud and the sound is a bit harsh. However, the videos are enjoyable because of the vivid performance.

vivo s1 pro cover ndtv vivoVivo S1 Pro looks stylish thanks to a neat gradient finish

The Vivo S1 Pro packs a 4,500 mAh battery, which easily lasts for a day and a half, if not more, even with strenuous usage. In our HD video battery loop test, the phone lasted 17 hours 7 minutes, which is a decent amount of time. Vivo uses its dual engine fast charge feature, but the charger you get in the box doesn’t top-up such a huge capacity quickly. In our testing, we managed to get the S1 Pro to 31 percent in 30 minutes and about 61 percent in an hour. It took about two and a half hours to fully charge the phone.

Vivo S1 Pro Camera

Vivo has set up the S1 Pro with four rear cameras. These are the primary 48-megapixel cameras with f/1.8 aperture; 8-megapixel wide-angle camera with f/2.2 aperture; a 2-megapixel macro camera; and 2 megapixel depth camera. On the front, we have a 32-megapixel selfie camera with f/2.0 aperture. The camera app is easy to use, with most shooting modes placed above the shutter button. More commonly used and important controls for the ultra-wide camera, bokeh and macro modes are housed in a separate carousel menu, requiring an extra tap to achieve. We didn’t find it very convenient during our use.

In broad daylight, the Vivo S1 Pro managed to take average looking landscape shots. Details were decent and colors were fine, but images lacked depth. There was also a slight graininess in the objects on the sides of the frame. HDR kicks in when needed, but the end result isn’t always great. Some of the images had a very cool, blue tint to them, which seemed unnatural. Close-ups performed better, with good bokeh and details in objects. The wide-angle camera provided a good perspective, but colors weren’t very accurate.

Landscape shot taken with Vivo S1 Pro (tap for full size image)

Wide-angle shot taken with Vivo S1 Pro (tap for full-size image)

Close-up shot taken with Vivo S1 Pro (tap for full size image)

With Bokeh mode enabled, the Vivo S1 Pro’s depth camera did a decent job of detecting edges, and blurred out correct areas. Colors and details were also good. The macro camera came in handy sometimes, but it’s not something we found super useful.

Low-light photos were just average. Focusing was very slow in the dark, and it took a second or two longer to save each photo. There’s also no dedicated night shooting mode. In landscape shots, we noticed that details were generally mottled and grain was visible in shadow areas.

The S1 Pro redeemed itself somewhat with the selfie camera, which captured detailed photos when shooting in ideal lighting. The results were quite good even when shooting against light. However, the photos captured were at full 32-megapixel resolution, rather than the pixel-binned shots we would have liked. Selfies taken in low light were grainy, but the screen flash could help a bit. The ‘Portrait’ shooting mode lets you add beauty filters but there is no background bokeh effect option with the front camera.

Selfie taken with Vivo S1 Pro (Tap for full size image)

Low-light shot taken with Vivo S1 Pro (tap for full size image)

Videos can only be recorded up to 1080p, which isn’t great, especially at this price. Unfortunately, there’s also no stabilization, which is a big downside. The selfie camera can also shoot up to 1080p, but without any stabilization. Low-light video wasn’t great, and there was a lot of grain as well as weak details. The wide-angle camera shot poor footage even in low light, making it unusable.

Decision

The Vivo S1 Pro is a good looking phone with a crisp display and solid battery life. In keeping with the theme of the S series, the design is eye-catching, and the diamond-shaped camera module along with the new gradient finish helps this phone stand out among its peers. However, like its sibling, the S1 and even the recently launched Oppo F15, Vivo has prioritized style over everything else and comes with a very underpowered device for this price bracket. Gone with the processor.

We’re not sure there’s any way to this madness, but if you’re hoping to play heavy games and take great pictures, the S1 Pro isn’t the phone for you. Other options at this price level, such as the Realme X2 (Review) and Redmi K20 (Review), have much more powerful SoCs and will be much better in the next few years.

We quite liked the performance of the selfie camera, and it will work well as long as you’re shooting in good light. The rear cameras are a bit bulky, and while you can get usable shots, stability is definitely missing. The S1 Pro also lacks a dedicated microSD card slot, and Vivo’s custom software could really use an overhaul.

Overall, the Vivo S1 Pro isn’t a bad pick if you just want a stylish design, good battery life and a great display. If you prefer a more well-rounded phone, we suggest looking at what Realme and Xiaomi have to offer instead.


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