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vivo S1 - for the worker that wants more
4.7Overall Score
Name: vivo S1
Price (RRP): $449
Manufacturer: vivo

vivo is a new player in the Australian market. Its first phone here, the vivo S1, is available from JB Hi-Fi for $449. It is value-packed and gets GadgetGuy’s recommendation.

Before you ask what the hell is a vivo S1 and why should we care let me tell you that it is part of the BBK stable including OPPO, OnePlus and realme.

vivo is huge in China where the vivo S1 is extremely popular with the proletariat. It had to work hard to get there by packing in more features and reliability than most competitors to meet the price point. vivo can do that because the combined output of BBK either makes it the second or third largest smartphone maker on the planet – economy of scale.

It is very well specified but its paddling in the hugely competitive mass-market field where is competes with: Huawei P30 Lite ($449); OPPO Reno Z  ($499 yes the same parents), Samsung Galaxy A50 ($499), Motorola One Vision ($499), Xiaomi  M1 A3 ($499). PS: these are genuine Australian certified models and not the cheap grey/parallel imports you can find on-line.

Review format change

Over 60% of GadgetGuy’s traffic is now via mobile, and our traditional long-form (4-6-page) reviews don’t suit that. We now look at the buyer profile and what they expect for the price. The result – we will put everything you need to know in the first two pages. You will see the word ‘Pass’ if it meets or exceeds our extensive paradigms.

Don’t worry – for more expensive flagship and beyond purchases we will appendix any heavy tech stuff and specifications.

vivo S1 Model 1907_AU, dual sim unlocked, 6/128GB

Website here

Market position: vivo is a worker’s phone for those who expect a lot more.

As vivo may be unknown to Aussies you can count on its BBK/OPPO heritage – it is well made, quality assured and has local support. The other model sold here is the $369 vivo Y17 that we are yet to review.

Let’s start with some basic vivo S1 features:

  • 6.38-inch, 2340 x 1080, 404ppi, Super AMOLED screen
  • MediaTek MT6768 Helio P65 (12nm) Mali-G52 MP2
  • 6GB RAM and 128GB storage (105GB free) plus dedicated microSD slot to 256GB
  • Dual sim, Wi-Fi AC, BT 5.0, GPS
  • Tripe rear camera (16/8/2MP) and 32MP selfie and lots of AI
  • Under glass fingerprint scanner
  • Android 9 and Funtouch OS 9 UI
  • 4500mAh battery and fast charge 5V/2A and 9V/2A (18W) support
  • 159.5 x 75.2 x 8.1 mm x 197g

Let’s just say that for a $449 device this ticks all boxes for phones costing far more. Comparing it to the $499 OPPO Reno Z it has similar specs. On the plus side it has a MicroSD slot and bigger battery and on the minus side – the cameras are quite different, and it has micro-USB (we think all phones should have USB-C now, but the Chinese worker still wants the former)

vivo S1 front and back

Screen:  6.38-inch Super AMOLED

We understand it is a Samsung sourced Super AMOLED panel widely used by the BBK family.

It is bright (at least 550 typical and 600 peak nits). Screen protection is Gorilla Glass (we suspect level 5).

It is rare to see AMOLED with Always on Display in this price bracket. The vivo S1 has three modes – standard, normal and bright and colour temperature adjustments. It can reach 90% sRGB in Bright mode.

vivo S1 screen

Pass – excellent screen with good daylight readability

Under the hood MediaTek MT6768 Helio P65

This is a new chip, and vivo is the first to use it. It uses two big 2.0 GHz Cortex-A75 and six small 1.7 GHz Cortex-A55 cores. Our 15-minute CPU Throttle test shows flat-out consistent performance at 117,000GIPS and proper heat management.