Vivo Y52 5G: Fair value, but don’t buy a phone just for 5G
Quick Verdict: Vivo touts the Vivo Y52 5G as "the cheapest 5G phone you can buy". That's not a crown it'll keep for long and 5G isn't the reason you should buy this phone, anyway.
- Decent app performance
- 5G capable
- Acceptable cameras for the price
- Very plain plastic body
- Battery life doesn't live up to expectations
- Middling 5G speeds
Power, storage and battery
|Launch price (RRP)||$0|
The pitch for the Vivo Y52 5G at launch is that it's Australia's cheapest 5G capable handset, with a launch price of just $379. That's certainly low-cost.
There's an argument to say that it's possibly worth getting on the 5G bandwagon in order to extend the service life of a handset. However, any smartphone is far more than the quality of the networks it can hook into. Vivo hasn't cut too many corners to meet that 5G price point, but it's not an entirely exciting phone in any real way beyond that.
As more manufacturers adopt the wider array of low-cost 5G chipsets becoming available, its status as king of the low-cost 5G phones won't last that long.
Design: A very plain plastic phone
The price of the Vivo Y52 5G might be enough to entice you in, but the design probably won't.
It doesn't make any particular missteps along the way, but it's plain and nothing out of the ordinary for a phone at that price.
There's just a single colour option available in Australia, Graphite Black, with a plastic body that can quickly pick up fingerprints. It has a somewhat reflective finish, if you like that kind of approach, but that's also found on countless other devices.
Controls on the right cover volume and a combined power/fingerprint reader, while the bottom of the phone houses USB-C power and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Fingerprint readers in low-cost phones are often fraught with detection issues, but I didn't hit too many failed reads during my review process.
The Vivo Y52 5G's bezels are fairly noticeable, wrapping around a 6.58 inch FHD+ (2408x1080) IPS LCD display with a "teardrop" style notch at the top. Again, this almost feels like it sits in the realm of being a reference design, because there's nothing special about it.
The rear camera bump is notable, because it's rather thick and vertically oriented. You'll have no trouble finding it with your hand when picking up the phone.
Now, there's nothing wrong with being plain, and it's not exactly surprising in a phone that has so clearly been built to meet a price point first and foremost. At the same time, don't expect to wow anyone with your shiny new Vivo Y52 5G.
Chances are, you'll be busy cleaning the fingerprints off it first anyway.
Camera: Not great, but good enough for the money
There's been a big gold rush in lower-priced phones towards multiple lenses at the rear, often of wildly varying quality.
The Vivo Y52 5G does exactly that, featuring a primary 48MP lens, secondary 2MP macro lens and finally a 2MP "portrait" lens. That last lens is Vivo's way of sliding in a depth sensor, more or less, because nobody sane shoots 2MP portrait photos in 2021.
By 2021 mid-range standards, the Vivo Y52 5G's cameras are precisely mid-range. They're not exceptional at a technical level, and this leads to camera results that are functionally acceptable but never particularly great.
The Vivo Y52 5G offers a low light night mode that uses multiple meshed exposures to knit together a more pleasing photo.
Like so many of its contemporaries in this space, however, the results aren't always all that pleasing. Actual light pick-up isn't superb, and the use of AI to stitch photos together and colour them appropriately can lead to some rather garish looking photos, rather than something moodily lit.
It's the same story with the macro lens. Vivo's approach to macro shooting is a little odd, because the primary camera app doesn't include a dedicated macro mode.
Instead you have to choose the basic photo mode, then tap to select the macro lens, which is a fiddly process. Like so many other 2MP macro cameras, the results are rarely all that exciting.
At the front, the Vivo Y52 5G features an 8MP single lens for selfie shooting, which means again it's reliant on AI to get any kind of bokeh into your shots. You also (rather predictably) get a beauty mode that can quickly devolve into plastic farce if you're not careful.
While I can't entirely get excited about the Vivo Y52 5G's camera, it's not too far off what you'd expect for a phone in this price range to offer in camera features. You won't struggle with too many shots in normal lighting, but you won't get blown away by the quality either.
Vivo Y52 5G sample photos:
Performance: Good for its class, but not fast
The Vivo Y52 5G uses the MediaTek Dimensity 700 to give it its 5G capabilities, as well as its general processing power. That's matched up with just 4GB of RAM, which is on the lower side for a 2021 Android handset. The Vivo Y52 5G comes with 128GB of onboard storage, expandable via microSD card.
On the software side, it's an Android 11 phone with Vivo's own Funtouch OS 11.1 launcher laid on top of it. All of BBK Electronics phones have tended towards rather garish Android rewrites, and the Vivo Y52 5G is no exception.
Like the other BBK engines that adorn the likes of Oppo or realme phones, you do end up with a lot of replacement Android apps that want very specific permissions as well. Being Android, you can at least replace them if that bothers you.
We've seen the Dimensity 700 running a number of lower-cost 5G Android handsets recently. It's very much the low-cost 5G processor of choice right now, and I was keen to see where the Vivo Y52 5G ranked amongst similarly priced handsets in both benchmark and real-world app usage terms.
Here's how it compares using Geekbench 5's CPU test:
And here's how it stacks up using 3DMark's GPU tests:
By the numbers, the Vivo Y52 5G would appear to be a quality performer, but it's worth bearing in mind that synthetic benchmarks only give us part of the story. In real-world app use, you can hit that 4GB RAM barrier all too quickly, especially when gaming.
It's not that the Vivo Y52 5G's Mali-G57 MC2 GPU isn't capable of handling Android games. It's simply that you'll have to wait for more visually intensive games to load. And you may hit, as I did, some periods of slightly sluggish responses. But that's not out of the ordinary for a low-to-mid budget phone like the Vivo Y52 5G.
On the 5G front, as you might expect at this price point, you're only looking at Sub-6Ghz connectivity and speeds. Those will vary depending on your network and prevailing network conditions at the time. Right now, with Sydney under heavy lockdown, detailed 5G testing is essentially impossible. But I headed out while doing my mandated and permitted shopping to grab as many test results as I could on the Telstra 5G network.
The Vivo Y52 5G managed an average of 388Mbps down and 50.6Mbps up in my limited tests, which suggests that it's not going to be the strongest 5G performer. Again, that's basically in line with its price and selling proposition, because this is a phone that you'd buy for 5G access more than 5G speed.
Battery: 5000mAh battery lasts less time than you'd think
On paper, the Vivo Y52 5G would seem to be very well-supplied with power. It has a sealed 5000mAh battery, still on the larger side for budget phones, although no longer a unique feature in this price bracket.
To give a comparative sense of the Vivo Y52 5G's battery endurance, I ran it past Finder's standard video streaming test. With the battery charged to 100%, screen brightness set to maximum and moderate volume, I ran a 1-hour 1080p YouTube clip on it to give a rundown figure. Here's how the Vivo Y52 5G compares:
The key metric here is that phones that score under 90% often struggle to last through a full day of usage. The Vivo Y52 5G avoids that trap, both in benchmark terms and anecdotal usage, although that's a rather qualified statement.
Several competing phones with comparable batteries run better in that test, even with high refresh rate displays. That's also not taking into account the higher battery drain that you will see if you're constantly using 5G networks.
Owing to the pandemic, I was very much in a mixed mode network position during testing, with most of the battery usage occurring in a 4G LTE space rather than a 5G one.
At this price point, you're not going to get any kind of wireless charging, but you do at least get USB C charging rated at up to 18W.
Should you buy the Vivo Y52 5G?
- Buy it if you want a 5G phone now to last you a few years without frills.
- Don't buy it if you can wait for better low-cost 5G alternatives.
The Vivo Y52 5G doesn't do too much wrong within its price bracket. If you're looking to replace an existing older smartphone and want the security of 5G access so that it'll last, even as 3G networks get wound back and 4G LTE's demise beckons, it's a fair purchase option.
However, like most trailblazers, it's what's to come that will undoubtedly be more exciting. The Vivo Y52 5G offers low-cost 5G, but it won't be alone in this space for long. Outside that 5G offering, it's a plain phone for its price.
Pricing and availability
How we tested:
The Vivo Y52 5G was tested over a 2-week period, testing apps, camera features and battery life with both synthetic benchmarks and day-to-day usage. It was tested on the Telstra 4G and 5G networks for network speed and battery usage.
Power, storage and battery
Images: Alex Kidman
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