Vivo has been one of the names associated with smartphone selfies, retail store branding and slim phones. But the company seems to have shifted its strategy a little, focussing more on cutting edge design, software improvements and so on.
The U20 is an interesting device that finds itself in arguably the most competitive price segment of the Indian phone market today. Let’s try and see if it’s worth the ₹10,990 price tag (base model).
The Vivo U20 is quite a heavy device, that’s really the first thing you’re going to notice about it. And it shouldn’t be a surprise considering its 5,000 mAh battery unit and 6.53-inch LCD display. The phone, though, isn’t really slippery and can be carried around if you are okay with its size, which many people may not be in the first place.
The phone is made up of plastic at the back along with a plastic frame on the sides. The right side sports the volume buttons just above the Power/lock button, while the left side only has the dual SIM card and microSD card slot. The bottom side looks a little cramped with 3.5mm headset jack, primary mic, microUSB port (in the middle), and speakers.
The front itself is quite interesting -- with an in-display 16 MP camera placed right below the glass to give a more immersive viewing experience, as per the company. There’s also a little ear-speaker grille at the top of the screen for calls.
The back houses the triple camera setup with a golden lining to go around; golden Vivo logo and the fingerprint scanner. The 6.53-inch (2340x1080) Full HD+ IPS LCD display is quite bright and sharp to look at. It seems a little more on the cool (Blue) side of the spectrum out of the box, but you can adjust the screen colour temperature from Settings.
The camera is certainly noticeable when watching videos in landscape, though you can choose to shrink videos to 16:9 aspect ratio and lose some screen estate. The back is equipped with triple cameras - 16 MP (F/1.8) main camera, 8 MP wide angle camera, and a 2 MP depth sensor with a flash.
The camera app is quick to start and smooth to use. The phone’s camera can take some detailed and sharp shots. It can detect some objects when Image Recognition is turned on, though it is a bit of a hit and miss. The camera often over sharpened images when used in broad daylight, but wide angle works better than most phones in this price range.
There’s also a Night mode for low-light shots - there’s a bit of processing time taken by the camera to process the shot, but the outcome seems comparable to some of the popular phones in this price range.
The 32 MP punch-hole camera on the front takes vivid and sharp shots, colours look punchy, and it’s suggested to use the regular photo mode instead of AI mode under which the camera tends to boost colours (Red and Green) a little too much. So, the camera for selfies, if you’re into it, doesn’t disappoint and has a lot of options like Fun Video and Night mode to choose from.
The device is equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 675 chipset (2 GHz octa core processor, Adreno 612 GPU) along with 4 or 6GB of RAM, depending on your variant.
I tried the 6 GB model, and the performance is more or less up to the mark. The phone hardly ever stutters, handles switching between apps or swiping between Home screens smoothly. Even some games are handled well, but maybe not at the highest graphics settings like PUBG or Fortnite.
Vivo’s U20 runs FundTouch 9.2 based on Android 9.0 (November security patch). The OS’s look and feel hasn’t changed much for the past two years or so, but there have been a few neat little additions here and there. Settings have been tweaked a little with phone related information bundled inside one tab.
Vivo still doesn’t go with any separate app drawer and all your app icons and widgets are on your Home screens. Swiping up from the bottom gives you access to shortcuts for WiFi, Bluetooth, Location etc. and you can of course rearrange and add whichever ones you need.
In addition, this panel (from swiping up) also allows you to add shortcuts from apps like Google Maps, Music player, Reminder, and so on for quick access. There’s a theme store, but I wouldn’t exactly call it as store as options are not too many and the ones you have aren’t exactly adding too much in aesthetics.
There are some useful little features like WiFi Hotspot, which shows you which hotspot user has consumed how much data, ability to put data cap on its usage. The onscreen watch in status bar sits slightly towards the middle instead on extreme left due to the front-facing camera’s placement.
There are still no app shortcuts for when you long-press an app icon on the Home screen, which is quite a common feature now. The OS follows a light shade colour palette out of the box, but there’s a Dark mode that inverts colours to Black in not only the OS but also third-party apps (different from an app’s own Dark mode).
You can also use two apps at once using Split Screen from the Recent Apps view quite conveniently. There are some aggressive battery management issues, like several apps are closed from running in the background to conserve battery, but leading to no push notifications or sync for these apps in the background.
You can, though, choose apps that you don’t want to be terminated by the OS. Call quality and speakers on the device don’t disappoint, calls on the other side hear loud and clear; while the loudspeakers at the bottom are also okay for using once in a while, though bottom-facing isn’t any advantage for audio output.
The best part about the phone is its 5,000 mAh battery, which more often than not lasted about a day and then some. With not much gaming, it can go nearly two days on a full charge. The device took 70-80 minutes to charge from 1% to full, and under half an hour to 50%, which comes in handy a lot of times, all using the 18watt bundled charger.
The call quality on the phone is top notch, and network reception, too, was up to the mark. WiFi and Location/GPS/lock-in work as intended. Loudspeaker at the bottom is quite loud but can tend to distort a bit when used at higher volume for certain genres of music but isn’t exactly bad for watching videos.
All in all, the U10 successor seems like one of the better value for money options from Vivo in a while. With a capable camera, quick fingerprint scanner, good screen, dependable battery life, comes in some really nice colours (like Sonic Blue) but some half-baked OS related things, the phone seems like a worthy choice if you’re looking for a smartphone under ₹12,000, and can pose a decent challenge for the established names in this smartphone category.