India

Vivo U20 review: The most powerful budget phone right now

More capable than its Xiaomi and Realme counterparts

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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.

India

Moto G 5G launches in India with Snapdragon 750G, affordable price

Now you just have to wait for a 5G telco

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The Moto G series played a very crucial role in cultivating India’s affordable smartphone segment in 2013. Since then, the brand has taken a step back and prefers to go at its own pace than compete with aggressive brands like Xiaomi and realme. The Moto G 5G is an important phone because it aims to bring 5G connectivity without the high price tag.

The Moto G 5G is being touted as the first affordable smartphone to come with 5G compatibility in India. It’s expected to lock horns with the OnePlus Nord because of similar pricing and specifications. It’s interesting to note that 5G isn’t commercially available in the country, and we don’t expect it to roll out before the end of 2021.

However, 5G is just one part of the phone. It sports a 6.7-inch Full HD+ display with a punch-hole cut-out. Under the hood is an octa-core Snapdragon 750G processor with 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage, which can be expanded via a microSD card.

The rear is a triple camera setup consisting of a 48-megapixel primary lens, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, and a 2-megapixel macro lens. On the front is a 16-megapixel shooter for selfies.

Backing these internals is a 5000mAh battery with 20W TurboPower fast charging technology. The company claims it can provide 10 hours of power in just 15 minutes. The phone is also IP52 certified to endure splash resistance.

The Moto G 5G is priced at INR 20,999 (US$ 285) for the single 6GB+128GB option. It’ll be available in Frosted Silver and Volcanic Grey color options, while the sale starts from December 7 via Flipkart.

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Health

From zero to export, here’s how India ramped up PPE making

US and China are its biggest trade partners

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With a 1.3 billion population, India is a highly dense country. The imposition of a sudden lockdown meant critical equipment like PPE (Personal Protection Equipment), masks, and other medical equipment were in low supply. Due to the global outbreak, imports were also difficult to find since the demand was too high.

The initial cases of Coronavirus were detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in November 2019. While the outbreak was limited initially, it gradually spread across China, followed by other countries, and reached a critical stage in March.

Many countries implemented a strict lockdown to curb the spread of the virus. While these curfews helped reduce the spread of the virus, it also handicapped industries because the normal flow of goods and production was adversely affected. Adding to this, developing countries were worse hit because their healthcare system is weak and under-equipped.

India rising to the occasion

However, India was able to find a home-grown solution. The country went on to start exporting Coronavirus goods within a few months. California-based financing company Drip Capital released a detailed report that gives us an insight into India’s production response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The report considered 14 categories of medical-related products that were shipped between January and July of 2020. The data is directly compiled from India’s Directorate-General of Foreign Trade (DGFT). These categories include textiles, disinfectants, test kits, soap, rubber, gloves, footwear, and other medical equipment.

In a nutshell, the industry clocked a growth of US$ 150 million when compared to the same period last year. The country was in a lockdown state for almost two months. PPE demand among medical workers, contact tracers, and other essential workers was extremely high. The textile category alone contributed to the growth of US$ 40 million, followed by test kits at US$ 26 million, disinfectants at US$ 28 million, and soap at US$ 12 million.

PPE production in full swing

What’s even more interesting is, India had zero domestic manufacturing capacity for PPEs in January. A few restrictions were placed on exports in January due to a shortage of inventory, and a complete ban was placed in March. The government released massive tenders to encourage domestic production, and the country was making 700,000 to 800,000 PPE kits a day by June.

Once domestic demand was fulfilled, the government opened up exports, and a milestone was reached in October when India delivered 1.8 million N95 masks to the US. The effect is quite easily visible as the country exported goods worth US$ 539 million in the first seven months of 2020.

In comparison, India exported goods worth US$ 532 million in the whole of 2019. Hence it’s safe to assume this year’s exports shall be almost twice that of last year.

70 percent of all exported goods originated from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka. On the other hand, India’s top trade partners were spread across the globe. The US single-handedly imported goods worth US$ 98 million, followed by China at US$ 37 million, Germany at US$ 30 million, and the Netherlands at US$ 22 million.

Indian goods were in high demand in smaller countries like the UAE, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Hong Kong. A natural edge that Indian goods have is their pricing. Being a developing economy with a substantial population engaged in agriculture and textile, PPE was a perfect commodity that helped grow small scale industries.

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India

vivo Y1s launches with Helio P35, 13-megapixel camera

Another silent launch by vivo

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vivo has been silently launching new phones this year, and it has managed to grab a significant chunk of the market. Today the brand launched the vivo Y1s in India, a market where affordable phones have maximum demand.

The vivo Y1s will be going up against the Redmi 9A, Realme C11, and Realme C3. Alongside, Vivo V20 Pro is teased to launch in India soon. The company has confirmed that the phone will launch in the country but hasn’t given an exact date.

Coming back to the vivo Y1s, it sports a 6.2-inch HD+ LCD with a water-drop notch. Powering the phone is a MediaTek Helio P35 MT6765 SoC paired with 2GB RAM and 32GB internal storage. There’s also a microSD card slot for storage expansion.

On the rear is a 13-megapixel camera, while the front comes with a 5-megapixel selfie snapper. The phone has added software features like beauty mode, portrait mode, and slo-mo.

Backing these internals is a 4000mAh battery, but fast charging details haven’t been revealed. The phone has been listed on vivo’s website, but the pricing still isn’t official. However, Mahesh Telecom, a Mumbai-based retailer, confirmed Gadgtes360 that the phone would cost INR 7,990 (US$ 110).

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