In late September of 2019, vivo announced a new budget smartphone called the vivo U10. It was powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 665 — the same processor found on two of the most popular budget phones at that time: the Redmi Note 8 and the Realme 5.
Vivo’s entry into that very competitive price segment was a pretty good success. Just right after, competition came up with newer models at a slightly higher price segment and so did vivo with the slightly more premium U20.
With Snapdragon 675 running under the hood, the vivo U20 has a slight edge over its competition. But is there more to this phone? Here’s our full review.
Ordinary but solid design
With a 6.53-inch display, the Vivo U20 is a big phone that doesn’t feel bulky. It’s worth noting that vivo went with a full HD+ panel on the U20 instead of the HD+ panel found on the U10. The bump in resolution is much appreciated, as well as the wide viewing angles. The display is bright enough for outdoors or sunny days.
The front of the phone has an odd ridge against the curved frame, making it feel a little uncomfortable when you’re holding it, but it shouldn’t be an issue if you use the bundled case.
Its glossy back catches fingerprints quite easily. You’ll have to keep wiping it clean if you’re particular about smudges and grime, so the case definitely comes in handy.
You’ll find the vivo branding in landscape orientation, with the triple camera module and LED flash along the same line. There’s also the rear mounted fingerprint scanner. It’s smaller than what I’m used to and is placed a bit too high for comfortable use, but it works well and works fast.
On the right side of the phone are the power and volume buttons, and on the left is the hybrid SIM card tray for two nano SIM cards or one SIM card and one microSD card. At the bottom a 3.5mm headphone jack, loudspeaker grille, microphone, and sadly, a microUSB port.
The Vivo U20 is available in two colors: Racing Black and and Blaze Blue. The unit we have is Racing Black.
Capable gaming phone at such a good price
The vivo U20’s internals are actually pretty impressive. The Snapdragon 675 is a pretty powerful processor, especially at this price point. It’s able to handle multi-tasking and gaming with no lag or issues at all. It’s interesting to see vivo come out with it at the same price point as the Redmi Note 8 and Realme 5, which are powered by the much less capable Snapdragon 665.
Coupled with either 4GB or 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, gaming with the U20 is a good experience. I played PUBG Mobile on the high preset with graphics set to HD, and frame rate set to high; and hey, I had zero issues — no lag, no stutters.
Just like other phones running on Snapdragon 675, it does get a little warm when you’re playing games after about 20 or so minutes.
Ultra Game mode lets you block incoming notifications and automatically answer phone calls in hands-free mode when you’re playing games. There’s also an off-screen Autoplay feature which lets you run a game even with the display switched off.
Nifty software features you’ll either love or hate
The vivo U20 runs Funtouch OS 9.2 on top of Android 9 Pie out of the box. There a little bit of bloatware pre-installed like Gaana, Amazon, Opera, and a couple more, but you can easily uninstall most of them.
FunTouch OS is something you’ll either love or hate depending on your preference. If you’ve used it before you’ll be familiar with the slight oddities. Otherwise there are a few things you’ll need to get used to that’s not found on other Android smartphones.
For example, you’ll need to swipe up from the bottom of the screen to access the quick toggles which is the exact opposite of the action on every other Android smartphone. If that’s not to your liking, you change it to a swipe down from the upper right corner of the phone — similar to how it is on iOS.
There’s also vivo’s smart assistant Jovi which can recognize products you point the camera at. It can also remind you to drink water every day so you don’t have to install a third party app. Overall, it’s not really much more useful than Google Assistant.
A few features I like are raise-to-wake, the ability to launch apps by drawing alphabets on the lockscreen, and a Motorbike mode. There’s also dark mode and gesture navigation.
Average camera performance
The vivo U20 has a triple camera setup: a 16MP primary camera with a Sony IMX499 sensor, 8MP ultra wide angle lens and a 2MP macro lens. Up front, there’s a 16MP selfie camera.
Vivo’s camera app is hasn’t changed much recently. It has a variety of modes, including night mode, portrait mode, live photo, AR stickers, along with the usual timelapse and panorama. There’s also a pro mode for those who like to tweak their camera settings.
The vivo U20 is quick to focus and handles exposure well. Daytime images look pretty good in the gallery app. You’ll notice that they do suffer in terms of details when you zoom into them. There’s a tiny bit of grain that sweeps into each photo as well.
Portrait photos has pretty good edge detection. Photos come out with a good amount of detail and a natural level of bokeh. There’s also a separate bokeh mode where you can adjust the level of blur. The results are pretty good, too.
The ultra wide angle camera suffers from the same distortion at the edges and lack of details that we see on other phones at this price range.
Low light photos aren’t great unfortunately. There’s a real lack of details and a lot of grain. The dedicated night mode does help get brighter images, but they aren’t that much better. There’s also no image stabilization so you’ll want to stay really still if you’re using the night mode to take photos.
Great battery life
The vivo U20 is powered by a massive 5,000 mAh battery, and that translates to great battery life. You can use this phone for a day and a half on a single charge before you’ll need to reach for the charger.
On a day of heavy usage, with a bit of gaming, a couple shots on the camera, and the usual bits of social media and Whatsapp, I still had plenty of battery life percentage left when I got home at the end of the day.
Despite the gigantic battery, charging the U20 doesn’t take too long either. The bundled 18W Dual-Engine fast charger got the phone up from zero to over 30 percent in half an hour, reaching about 60 to 70 percent in one hour. A charge to 100 percent takes about an hour and 45 minutes.
Is this your GadgetMatch?
No one expected vivo to come out of nowhere and suddenly be this strong of a contender in this aggressive entry-level price segment. This is a company that lately have been pumping out more expensive smartphones, and what we have here is an entry level smartphone that is pretty premium for its price.
Its powerful processor and great battery life are great; if only the camera were better. And if we are to nitpick, we would have loved to not have seen a microUSB port on this phone.
If you’re on a budget and are looking for the most powerful phone in the INR 10,990 price range (US$ 155), the Vivo U20 is your best option right now.
POCO X2 now official with 120Hz display, Snapdragon 730G
It has finally arrived!
After a long wait, POCO has officially unveiled the POCO X2 in India today. The brand used to be a sub-brand of Xiaomi but recently turned completely independent. The brand has also emphasized that the phone is not a successor of the POCO F1, but a completely new series.
On the front, it has a 6.67-inch screen with a ratio of 20:9 and a 120Hz refresh rate. The brand is calling the higher refresh rate “Reality Flow” and it has been incorporated via an LCD panel. Keep in mind, apps and games need to support a higher refresh rate to fully deliver a smooth experience.
It’s powered by a Snapdragon 730G processor along with an Adreno 618 GPU. Just like the POCO F1, it also gets liquid cooling for enhanced longer periods of gaming. The brand repeatedly compared its offering aginst the Realme X2, the opponent it intends to take on. For power backup, you get a 4,500 mAh battery that supports 27W fast charging. And, the fast charging brick is included with the phone by default.
It houses up to 8GB LPDDR4 RAM and 256GB internal storage. The phone is being targeted as a fast device that can handle any task you throw at it. The fingerprint scanner is now mounted on the side and the back is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 5.
On the rear is a Sony IMX686 64-megapixel primary camera paired with a 2-megapixel portrait sensor, 2-megapixel macro lens, and an 8-megapixel wide-angle sensor. This is the first phone to sport the Sony IMX686 sensor in India. On the front is a 20-megapixel primary camera along with a 2-megapixel portrait sensor.
POCO continues to retain the headphone jack. Additionally, it’s splash-proof and also houses an IR blaster on the top.
Pricing and availability
It’ll be available in three colors — Atlantis Blue, Matrix Purple, and Phoenix Red. In India, the 6GB+64GB variant is priced at INR 15,999, the 6GB+128GB is priced at INR 16,999 while the 8GB+256GB option costs INR 19,999.
Vivo now second-most shipped smartphone brand in India
Their aggressive expansion strategies have paid off
Vivo continues to ride high from its expansion efforts in India. Just last quarter of 2019, it overtook Samsung to become the second most shipped smartphone brand in India.
In the latest findings from Counterpoint Research, Vivo composed 21% of the total smartphone shipped to Indian users. This figure is a sharp contrast to Q4 2018, wherein the company composed of just 10% for all smartphone shipments. As such, the year-on-year (YoY) growth of Vivo from Q4 2018 to Q4 2019 is an astounding 132%.
The growth of Vivo helped it overtake Samsung to become the second most shipped smartphone brand in India. Samsung’s position dropped from 20% in Q4 2018 to 19% in Q4 2019 – which is not that bad for the Korean company.
While Vivo’s expansion efforts in both online and offline realm propelled the company, it still can’t compete with Xiaomi’s growth for both quarters. Xiaomi posted a 7% YoY growth, composing 27% of all smartphone shipped in India.
The latest findings came from Counterpoint’s research regarding India’s smartphone market. The latest research showed the growing market for smartphones in the country. As a matter of fact, it finally surpassed the US to become the second-largest smartphone market in the world.
Poco X2 is coming in February
The wait is almost over
The long wait is now almost over. POCO India just revealed that the next Pocophone will launch on February 4, 2020.
Announced in a tweet, the next phone will be called POCO X2 and, according to the company, will make you go “Bruh, it’s Smooth AF.”
— POCO India (@IndiaPOCO) January 27, 2020
Why smooth? It’s likely referring to a high screen refresh rate — a feature that was introduced in 2019 by the likes of OnePlus and ASUS and will likely come to several phones in 2020. It’s possible the POCO X2 will have up to a 120hz screen refresh rate.
The phone’s dedicated website also highlighted the cameras, a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip, liquid cooling, and fast charging. If the POCO X2 will carry on the “flagship killer” tag that the Pocophone F1 carried, then it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that it will carry the latest Qualcomm SoC.
There’s still a lot that we don’t know, but we don’t have to wait too long to find out!
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