After launching the Vivo Y17 (Review) and Vivo Z1 Pro (Review) in quick succession, Vivo's all-out assault on the sub-Rs. 20,000 segment continues with the new Vivo S1. The Vivo S1 is physically similar to its siblings but changes things up in terms of its internal hardware and headlining features in order to appeal to a slightly more premium audience. With things changing as rapidly as they do in our market, the Vivo S1 is competing with a whole host of similarly priced devices including the Samsung Galaxy M40 (Review) and Galaxy A50 (Review); the Realme 3 Pro (Review) and new Realme X (Review); and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review) and new Redmi K20 (Review).
The Vivo S1 is priced starting at Rs. 17,990 for the variant with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, but the option priced at Rs. 18,990 is not a clear-cut upgrade. You get 6GB of RAM but only 64GB of storage, so buyers should be careful about what they choose. If you want the best of both worlds, the top-end variant with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage will cost you Rs. 19,990.
In terms of looks, the Vivo S1 will be polarising. Vivo has fully embraced the trend of colour-shifting patterns that catch the light as you move the device around in your hands. The Skyline Blue and Diamond Black colour options feature light bluish-pink swirls and dark purplish-blue diamonds respectively, and there's no plain, sober alternative. Our Diamond Black unit had a gold trim around the rear camera module and a gold Vivo logo on the rear.
The back of the Vivo S1 is completely flat but the seams between the rim and rear panel are a bit rough. In terms of button layout, ports, and even the shape and positioning of the camera module on the rear, the Vivo S1 is very similar to the Z1 Pro and by that token, the Y17 as well.
You'll notice that there's no fingerprint sensor on the rear, because this phone features an in-display sensor. Other selling points include the three rear cameras, 32-megapixel selfie camera, and 18W fast charging.
You get a 6.38-inch full-HD+ 19.5:9 AMOLED screen with rounded corners and a waterdrop notch at the top. We found the display quality to be adequate, if not particularly vivid. We'll have more detail on this, including how well the in-display fingerprint sensor works, in our full Vivo S1 review.
The MediaTek Helio P65 processor on the Vivo S1 is not the strongest in this price class, but it should be enough for most casual usage. It will be interesting to see how this phone stands up against the Vivo Z1 Pro, with its Qualcomm Snapdragon 712. The Vivo S1's battery is also smaller than that of its sibling at 4500mAh, though this does make the Vivo S1 considerably slimmer and lighter, and therefore easier to handle.
Vivo has outfitted the S1 with three rear cameras – a 16-megapixel primary camera with a Sony IMX499 sensor and f/1.78 aperture, a secondary ultra-wide-angle one with a 120-degree field of view and f/2.2 aperture, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. Vivo says this phone offers HDR, AI portrait framing, AR stickers, and slow-mo video recording.
The 32-megapixel front camera on the Vivo S1 has an f/2.0 aperture, and there are a few AI-enabled tricks in the camera app such AI face beautification and selfie lighting. For full details of the Vivo S1's photo quality in various situations, we'll have a detailed review coming up soon.
We've had mixed feelings about Vivo's Funtouch OS skin when reviewing the company's recent models, and things are no different now. Funtouch OS 9, running on top of Android 9 Pie, has very deep customisations UI quirks. Some of them are helpful, but others take time to get used to. Our demo unit was patched up to the May 2019 Android security update, and we'd have liked something more recent.
Vivo is clearly developing multiple products at similar price points in order to target diverse groups of buyers. The new Vivo S1 won't appeal to power-hungry enthusiasts in the same way that the Z1 Pro will, but it instead offers a distinctive style and promises great front and rear cameras. More importantly, it will be widely available both online and offline.
Do stay tuned to Gadgets 360 for our in-depth review, coming up soon, in which we'll examine the new Vivo S1's performance, cameras, screen, construction quality, and much more.