Vivo recently launched the Vivo U20 in India, and just like the Vivo U10, this model is also priced aggressively. Naturally, a smartphone promising great features and performance for around Rs. 10,000 will generate a lot of interest, and with so many options in the market things could get confusing. Currently, buyers can choose between fresh launches such as the Redmi Note 8, Vivo U20, and Realme 5s, but which one should you go for? We put the Redmi Note 8 and the Vivo U20 in a head-to-head comparison to which is the better one for you to buy.
Both Xiaomi and Vivo have designed these phones to look and feel good despite their low prices. Between the two it is the Redmi Note 8 (Review) that has the better build quality, and it looks and feels more premium. Xiaomi has used Corning Gorilla Glass 5 at the front and the back whereas Vivo does not mention any sort of protection for the U20, which has a plastic back.
The Redmi Note 8 has a flat back while the frame is rounded, but Vivo has curved the back of the Vivo U20 which makes it a little more comfortable to hold. The Vivo U20 (Review) is slightly thicker and heavier than the Redmi Note 8 but you wouldn't notice that unless you are using them both side by side.
Xiaomi offers a USB Type-C port and an IR emitter on the Redmi Note 8. Vivo does not offer an IR emitter, which can be excused, but the choice of Micro-USB port is a more disappointing. Many potential buyers might have preferred a modern Type-C port on the Vivo U20.
The Redmi Note 8 is smaller in size and packs a 6.39-inch full-HD+ display, while the Vivo U20 has a 6.53-inch display. Since the Vivo U20 is bigger, its rear-mounted fingerprint scanner is not as easy to reach as the one on the Redmi Note 8.
Xiaomi's offering packs in a quad-camera setup while the Vivo U20 sports a triple camera setup at the back. We found that the camera module on the Note 8 protrudes too much causing the phone to rock when placed on a flat surface.
Overall the Redmi Note 8 looks and feels more premium and wins this segment pretty convincingly.
The Redmi Note 8 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 SoC and has two variants. The base variant with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage is priced at Rs. 9,999 whereas the higher variant with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage is priced at Rs. 12,999. Storage is expandable using a microSD card in the phone's dedicated slot. Xiaomi offered the Redmi Note 8 is three colour options: Moonlight White, Neptune Blue, and Space Black at the time of launch, and has recently added a Cosmic Purple colour variant.
Vivo ships the U20 with a Snapdragon 675 SoC which is one of the most powerful processors available in a phone at this price point. This model also comes in two variants with the base one sporting 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage priced at Rs. 10,999, while the higher variant with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage is priced at Rs. 11,999. Just like the Redmi Note 8, the U20 also has a dedicated microSD card slot. Colour options are comparatively limited as Vivo only offers this phone in Racing Black and Blaze Blue.
The Redmi Note 8 packs a 4,000mAh battery while the Vivo U20 has a bigger 5,000mAh one. Both smartphones support for fast charging and ship with 18W chargers in their boxes. The Redmi Note 8 charges more quickly but that's only thanks to its smaller battery.
In terms of software, the Redmi Note 8 runs MIUI 10 on top of Android 9 Pie. There is some bloatware that comes preinstalled on the device, and we found a few Xiaomi apps to be spammy as well. You can read about the software in detail in our Redmi Note 8 review. Vivo ships the U20 with FunTouch OS 9.2 on top of Android 9 Pie. This too has quite a lot of preinstalled bloatware and we also encountered spammy notifications on the Vivo U20.
The Vivo U20 is the clear winner here in terms of hardware as the Snapdragon 675 SoC is a lot more powerful than the Snapdragon 665. But the Redmi Note 8 gains some ground by offering better software.
Day-to-day tasks can be handled by both these smartphones without any issues. We could multitask easily as well. We watched a couple of videos on both these smartphones and found the panel on the Vivo U20 to be better than the one on the Redmi Note 8. Audio output quality was closely matched for both these devices. However, we found them both to be tinny.
We found the Vivo U20 to be quicker to unlock using the fingerprint scanner as well as face recognition. The Redmi Note 8 wasn't far behind, but the Snapdragon 675 does give the Vivo U20 an edge here.
Since we had the 6GB RAM variants of both smartphones, we can compare their performance in benchmarks directly. In AnTuTu, the Vivo U20 pulled a clear lead by scoring 210,249 whereas the Redmi Note 8 scored 169,832. In Geekbench 5's single-core and multi-core tests, the Vivo U20 managed to score 504 and 1,638 respectively. The Redmi Note 8 managed 314 and 1,327 in the same tests. As for graphics benchmarks, the U20 scored 42fps and 7.8fps in GFXBench's T-Rex and Car Chase scenes respectively, while the Redmi Note 8 managed 33fps and 6.2fps in the same tests. Based on these results and our experiences with the two smartphones, we can say that the Vivo U20 is clearly more powerful.
We played PUBG Mobile on both smartphones and the Redmi Note 8 defaulted to the Low preset while the Vivo U20 ran the game at High settings. Both phones got warm to the touch after playing the game for a while.
In terms of battery life, the Vivo U20 has a clear edge when it comes to capacity as it packs in a 5,000mAh battery which is 20 percent bigger than the one in the Redmi Note 8. The difference was evident in our video loop test where the Redmi Note 8 managed 13 hours and 10 minutes, while the Vivo U20 went on for close to 15 hours. Even with regular use, the Vivo U20 lasted longer compared to the Redmi Note 8.
Charging speeds are similar but the Vivo U20 takes longer since it has a bigger battery. The Redmi Note 8 charges to 81 percent in an hour whereas the Vivo U20 gets to 67 percent at the same time. Of course, the downside to having a bigger battery is that the Vivo U20 is bulkier and heavier. The Vivo U20 wins this round for better performance and battery life.
Both manufacturers have taken slightly different approaches when it comes to the cameras. The Redmi Note 8 has a quad-camera setup while the Vivo U20 has a triple camera setup. The Redmi Note 8 has a 48-megapixel primary sensor, an 8-megapixel wide-angle-camera with an f/2.2 aperture, a 2-megapixel macro camera, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The Vivo U20 on the other hand has a 16-megapixel primary camera with a Sony IMX499 sensor, an 8-megapixel super-wide-angle camera, and a 2-megapixel macro camera.
For selfies, the Redmi Note 8 has a 13-megapixel shooter while the Vivo U20 has a 16-megapixel selfie camera. The camera apps on both phones are simple and easy to use but we would like the layouts to be better on both these smartphones.
We took photos with both these smartphones at the same time see how they fare under identical conditions. Both phones were quick to focus and meter light correctly. In daylight shots, both smartphones delivered similar levels of detail. Our sample shots looked good as is but were grainy on zooming in. We found contrast and sharpness to be better with the Redmi Note 8 compared to the Vivo U20. The wide-angle cameras on both these smartphones offer wide field of view, but we prefer the one on the Vivo U20. The Redmi Note 8 boosts contrast aggressively and samples lacked details in the shadows.
In low light, the Redmi Note 8 got the colour tone of scenes right but the Vivo U20 managed to capture better detail and the shots it took had less grain visible on zooming in. With Night Mode enabled on both smartphones, they were able to deliver brighter shots. The Redmi Note 8 sharpens photos automatically, making them look artificial. The Vivo U20's shots appeared more natural but we needed to stay perfectly still while taking a shot to avoid blur.
For close-ups, we found that the Redmi Note 8 captured better colours and also produced better details which were visible on zooming in. This phone also took the lead when it came to shooting portraits. It managed edge detection quite well, and produced better details. We also tested the macro cameras of both phones and found that the Redmi Note 8 managed details a lot better than the Vivo U20.
Video recording maxes out at 4K for both smartphones but neither one offers stabilisation. We also recorded samples at 1080p, and while both devices did implement stabilisation, the Vivo U20 did a much better job. However, the U20's footage lacked sharpness.
We'll call it a tie when it comes to selfies, as both smartphones managed to capture good shots. If you like dramatic effects, the Redmi Note 8 delivers that kind of output. For still photography, the Redmi Note 8 performs better while the Vivo U20 does video better.
The Vivo U20 and the Redmi Note 8 are both popular smartphones that are currently on sale at or around Rs. 10,000. While one offers outright performance and good battery life, the other has better build quality and better cameras overall. Choosing between the two isn't going to be easy, but if you are looking for a smartphone to play games on, the Vivo U20 is clearly the better choice between the two. The U20 also lasts longer on each charge, so you won't have to plug it in as often. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 has better cameras and is easier to carry around and use. It also feels a lot more expensive than it actually is. Alternatively, the Realme 5s (Review) is another recently launched smartphone that you could check out in this budget.
Redmi Note 8 or Realme 5s: Which is the best phone under Rs. 10,000 in India right now? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.