Vivo Y20s review
Quick verdict: The Vivo Y20s is a decent value budget phone, but once you get past the design, there's not that much to get excited about.
- Attractive design
- Large battery capacity
- Quick side-mounted fingerprint sensor
- Ordinary app performance
- Funtouch doesn't add much
- Average cameras
Power, storage and battery
|Launch price (RRP)||$0|
Vivo's entry into the Australian market has come a little later than stablemates in the BBK Electronics empire such as realme and especially Oppo, but it's wasted little time in releasing a variety of models. We've already cast our reviewer's eye over the Vivo X50 Pro 5G, a phone that sits solidly in the high mid-range space, but that's not the Vivo Y20s' pitch. It's solidly a "value" centric phone that manages to avoid looking cheap and impresses on paper with a high capacity battery.
It's a fairly decent deal for the money, but the Y20s doesn't really stand out enough beyond that design to make it a must-buy prospect in the very busy budget space.
- Obsidian Black or Nebula Blue colours
- 6.51-inch display with teardrop notch
- Side mounted fingerprint sensor
- Headphone jack
The model of the Vivo Y20s that Vivo sent me for review was the Obsidian Black model, although it's also available locally in a rather more eye-catching Nebula Blue finish as well. Either way, it's a nicely designed phone with a slightly offset 6.51-inch LCD display that sits in a slightly larger frame to give it a multidimensional style look.
The colour accent largely sits at the back of the phone, which has a nice glossy reflective effect when you take it out of the case. Five seconds later, it's going to look like a crime scene, because this phone just adores fingerprint smudges to an exceptional degree. As always, a case would be your best friend, although sourcing one for a smaller brand like Vivo might be on the harder side.
The Vivo Y20s' display has a resolution of 1600x720 pixels, which is fair but not exceptional at this price point, meaning that you're effectively limited to 720p style content when using it as a video watching or gaming platform. There's a slight teardrop notch at the top to accommodate the front-facing 8MP camera, and all the phone's controls are located down the right-hand side.
This includes a side-mounted fingerprint sensor that also doubles as the power button. It's very nice for a sensor at this price point with very fast unlocking capabilities, although there's one real oddity here.
Typically with phones that offer biometric unlocking features, when you're setting up for the first time you can elect multiple unlocking mechanisms to use. The Vivo Y20s first offers you the option of a PIN to unlock, and I did that… but then wasn't offered the opportunity to set a fingerprint during set-up! You have to dive into settings after you've set it up to actually enable the fingerprint sensor, which is an odd way of managing authentication.
- Triple lens array, but you'll only really shoot with one
- Front facing selfies can overdo the beauty treatments
To look at the back of the Vivo Y20s, you'd think you were getting a triple lens camera, perhaps with a range of ultrawide, wide and telephoto lenses. At this price point, you've got to temper your expectations somewhat, and especially so for the Vivo Y20s. Yes, there are 3 lenses at the rear, but almost all the time you're going to be shooting with the primary 13MP f/2.2 lens, not the other two lenses. They comprise a 2MP macro lens, and then a 2MP depth sensor that you were never going to be able to shoot with anyway.
Despite the lack of a telephoto lens, Vivo's camera app offers a switch between the standard wide lens and a 2x zoom shooting mode, but this is purely digital. Vivo at least keeps it within the grounds of sanity with a maximum digital zoom of just 4x. While that's limiting in terms of getting very close to your subjects, it does still preserve a relative level of detail, considering it only has a 13MP sensor to sample from in the first place.
We've seen some really great cameras in the budget space this year, and phones from BBK Electronics have counted amongst their number. Sadly, the Vivo Y20s is only really an ordinary shooter, especially in any kind of challenging situation like low light, where detail is quickly wiped away.
There are some fun shooting modes, and predictably the front facing camera has an automatically applied "beauty" mode that smooths me out like a Ken doll. You can also shoot portrait mode selfies, but it's using purely AI-derived bokeh in this case, with results that are often very artificial looking with clear digital lines around where it's chosen to apply its bokeh blur.
All of this adds up to a camera solution that isn't bad, but certainly doesn't stand out against its budget competition.
- Snapdragon 430 is okay, not great
- FunTouch adds little to the Android experience
The Vivo Y20s runs on a Snapdragon 430, a fair choice for a budget phone and one that's at least a little more palatable than a lower-tier MediaTek option. It's paired up with just 4GB of RAM which is on the lower side, although the inclusion of 128GB of onboard storage is a nice addition.
Still, the Vivo Y20s isn't a high-end phone, and you do need to temper your expectations when it comes to overall performance. Here's how it compares against a range of budget phone options using Geekbench 5's CPU test:
It's a similar story in 3D graphics performance, where the Adreno 505 GPU doesn't really stand out either:
All of this adds up to a phone that rarely flies, even for budget expectations. Like stablemates Oppo and realme, Vivo has its own launcher take on what Android should look like, which it calls "FunTouch". Like Oppo's ColorOS and realme's Realme UI, it's an overly bright skin that really doesn't feel like it adds all that much to the Android 10 experience. Vivo is a bit too new in the local market to have shown its cards in terms of Android version upgrades, but lower-end phones like this (excluding the Android One phones from Nokia) tend to lag badly in terms of both security and full version upgrades, so I wouldn't hold my breath for Android 11.
- 5,000mAh battery depletes a little faster than we'd like
- Micro USB charging is disappointing
The Vivo Y20s packs in a pretty decent capacity battery behind its frame, with a 5,000mAh sealed unit to use for your everyday phone needs. Combine that with a lower-end processor and only a 720p screen, and on paper, this should be an absolute winner in the battery stakes.
To test that, I ran it through our standard battery test, with the battery fully charged and running a full screen YouTube video at maximum resolution and brightness and moderate volume for an hour. What we look for here is at least 90% battery remaining, because falling below that level suggests a phone that will struggle to last out even a single day.
The Vivo Y20s did manage to avoid that pitfall, but for a phone with such moderate specifications and such a large battery, I was still left a little underwhelmed by its results:
If you're relying on the Vivo Y20s to last you through the day it'll certainly do that, but somewhere it's wasting a little more power than I'd like to see for such a large battery. Obviously, moderate use could stretch that even further, but at some point you're going to have to reach for a charger.
As with pretty much every phone in the BBK Electronics empire, there's support for fast charging of up to 18W, although you only get a 9V charger in the box with the Y20s. The annoying factor here, albeit one that's certainly still a trend in budget phones, is that the Vivo Y20s uses micro USB charging rather than the more flexible and easy to use USB C standard.
Should you buy the Vivo Y20s?
- Buy it if you love the style notes of the design.
- Don't buy it if you want the best cameras or performance.
Any budget phone has its compromises, because if manufacturers didn't have to compromise we'd be finding flagship phones in our cereal packets, not costing a packet instead. The Vivo Y20s is a phone that makes its pitch based on that appealing design and hefty battery capacity, and both of those are decent features at this price, although sadly the battery doesn't quite pack as much punch as I'd like to see given its otherwise moderate specifications.
As a basic budget workhorse, the Vivo Y20s is perfectly fine, but it's not an exceptional device, and shopping around on price and for comparable handsets would be wise.
Pricing and availability
Where to buy
Power, storage and battery
Images: Alex Kidman
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