As the year draws to a close, Vivo has pushed for a final offer to bolster the lineup of its slightly premium mid-range smartphones. It started with the Vivo V15 Pro earlier this year and ended with the Vivo V17. And in the meantime, Vivo has come up with some new Nifty innovations so that its smartphones can compete better with Xiaomi, Nokia and others in this high-mid-range segment. The Vivo V17 embodies the same philosophy. Offering brand new features to entice buyers. But how consistent are they? Find out –

Performance

The Vivo V17 adopts smartphones like the Redmi K20, the Samsung Galaxy A50s, and the company’s own Vivo V15 Pro, and most phones at that price come with at least a 7-Series Snapdragon chipset. The Vivo V17 is powered by Snapdragon 675, the same chipset as the Redmi Note 7 Pro. However, the V17 offers 8GB RAM and 128GB storage at that price. How does it hire raw performance against its peers? Here is the benchmark graph –

On AnTuTu, the Vivo V17 scored 227263 points, beating the Redmi K20 and Galaxy A50s but slightly lower than the Redmi Note 8 Pro. At the GeekBench single core and multi core CPU benchmarks, the phone scored 511 and 1642, higher than the Galaxy A50s but much lower than the Redmi K20. In 3DMark Slingshot, the Vivo V17 scored 1919, much lower than the Redmi K20 and Redmi Note 8 Pro.

Clearly, in order to compete with the bestsellers in the segment, Vivo V17 will have to increase its performance. However, in the real world, the Vivo V17 works just fine. I was able to easily carry out my day-to-day tasks on the Vivo V17 which basically included taking pictures, reading articles, browsing social media and liking. Heavy tasks like editing a RAW image, launching apps like Google Earth, and liking OnePlus 7T all take a little longer.

But thanks to the Snapdragon 675, the Vivo V17 handles high-end games quite well. We played PUBG Mobile, Asphalt 9 and Call of Duty: Mobile on the phone, and the performance was satisfactory to say the least. We tested the gaming performance using GameBench and all the graphics settings and the numbers were definitely quite impressive.

Asphalt 97 delivered 25 FPS at 71 percent stability while Call of Duty: Mobile clocked at 36 FPS at 73 percent stability. PUBG Mobile runs best with 30 FPS with 100 percent stability Clearly, this phone is well-tuned to handle PUBG Mobile, and it would not be surprising to consider Vivo as one of the partners in PUBG Mobile’s Esports Tournaments.

Vivo also offers a game center where you can view CPU, GPU and temperature data in real time, block calls and messages, and view general statistics of your game play. The game also includes things like voice-changers and the ability to lock the screen without interrupting the game for those who are concerned about privacy. What’s missing is Vivo’s training center for games like 4D Vibration and PUBG Mobile.

Software

While the hardware inside the Vivo V17 ensures that it will remain competitive, it’s the FunTouch OS that runs on the phone that keeps it from providing that premium experience. For most people, the UI will work better after a little steep learning curve. For example, people accustomed to using quick settings in the notification panel need to swipe from bottom to top like in iOS. The giant icon tiles, the missing app drawer, and the intricate keyboard are the tricks I encountered while using the phone, so much so that I couldn’t wait to try something else. The software is based on Android 9 and we are not sure when, if ever, the Vivo V17 will get an update to Android 10.

Not that the Vivo V17 software lacks many of the features we would like to see on a phone. In fact, it mostly has them all. The UI has its own theme engine, a minus-1 screen that displays personalized information, dark mode, encrypted vaults, and preferences. But then, the UI design itself now shows up to date. Don’t think that a bunch of bloatware apps you find right on the phone and in the beginning, and after a few days of use, its notifications get overloaded.

Honestly, the Vivo V17, and other Vivo smartphones seem to be tailored to the tastes and preferences of Chinese users, and Vivo users in India have no choice but to survive with it. The same is true of the likes of Oppo, Realme and Xiaomi, each of which builds their operating systems based on Chinese preferences and then changes some features for the Indian audience. The Vivo V17 doesn’t seem to have any specific India-centric additions, and while that didn’t really stop Vivo from selling phones in India, it could lead to some developments specifically for one of its largest markets in the future.

Battery life

The Vivo V17 packs a 4500mAh battery that is capable of fast charging with 18W bricks coming out of the box. In most cases, the phone easily lasts a day, if you are busy with normal activities. Recording videos and taking pictures during the holidays will drain the battery much faster. We played PUBG Mobile and streamed The Big Bang Theory on Netflix for 15 minutes and in both cases the battery drop was about 4 percent. This is a conservative number because we have seen other smartphones discharge much faster. This conservative drain, I felt, was primarily due to Vivo’s aggressive resource management. Apps in the background are dropped off after you use them, which can sometimes be harmful. For example, the battery logging app that we run in the background shuts down just 15 minutes after recording. This aggressive resource management is even more obvious when it comes to gaming. Launching a game through GameCenter will kill all background applications to free up resources which is frustrating considering that the device has too much RAM to run at least some apps. You certainly don’t want to kill whitelisted apps, but it’s a long, complicated process that involves several steps.

The camera

In terms of camera, the Vivo V17 rocks a quad-camera setup with a 48MP sensor, possibly by Samsung, an 8MP ultra-wide camera, a 2MP macro lens and another 2MP depth sensor for portraits. Together, they create a versatile setup that gives the shooter many options. You can shoot at high-resolution 48MP or stick to the default 12MP. Then there is Ultra-Wide mode with a portrait mode and a macro mode. But how well do they all work? Let’s take a look at some samples-

During the day

The Vivo V17’s cameras seem to be tuned to capture the bright blue sky and green leaves. These two things are perfectly captured by the initial 48MP sensor and ultra-wide lens. Only, ultra-wide lenses give very little detail if you zoom in The 12MP unobtrusive image also feels a bit extra saturated but looks pleasing to the eye. Rough textures also come out decently. Even the interior of the house with a powerful backlight comes out well in the shadows with good details. But then again, if you compare it to a smartphone like OnePlus 7T or even Pixel 3a, the photos of Vivo V17 will not look very normal.

48MP vs. 12MP

100 percent crop of 48MP image

100 percent crop of 12MP unobtrusive image

The Vivo V17’s 48MP sensor lets you zoom in to see details from a distance, and below 100 percent cropping, the image looks quite sharp around the edges. All components of the tower can be identified. However, according to later results, it is better to shoot at 12MP. The 12MP binned image of the same frame proves that the color, details and overall clarity are much better than the 48MP shot.

Close-up vs. Macro

Macro mode

For macro lenses, it’s not that good. You will get good results from the primary lens. Minimum focusing distance allows you to get much closer than usual. And the details, sharpness and choices come out quite sharp. The macro lens lets you go around 2 centimeters but the details are nowhere near as good as what you get from the primary lens.

A little light

The Vivo V17 comes with a dedicated night mode for capturing low light shots. The feature works by combining multiple images to get a clear, final shot. As a result, color, brightness, and so on are at stake. However, Vivo still has to work with detail, sharpness and dynamic range.

Portraits and selfies

Portraits and selfies are good enough and the camera captures all the details with good clarity. But selfies have an extra AI touch that softens the nuances of the face. The portrait mode is actually quite good with consistent background opacity and accurate subject separation.

Display and design

The Vivo V17 bears a lot of resemblance to the Vivo V17 Pro from the back, save for the camera module which is probably the only way to separate the two. This helps the Vivo V17 retain the V17 Pro’s premium look, but push your nose into the rear panel and you’ll quickly realize it’s plastic. The build quality of the Vivo V17, as a result, is questionable, especially when protective glass is used on the back of most phones priced above Rs 20,000. But while Vivo has reduced costs in build quality, it has made Vivo V17 a great career for design innovation. The punch-hole camera, for one, is one of the smallest we’ve ever seen on a smartphone, and while using the phone as a daily driver, it seemed like another fair element in the status bar. So while the Vivo V17 Pro had to rely on a pop-up module to access all screens, the V17 does it with a small punch-hole camera. The bezels around the display are also the thinnest we’ve seen, especially at the bottom using a technology called ‘chip-on-flex’ that allows the display driver to be installed on a flexible module. Design is a field where the Vivo V17 is well ahead of the rest of the competition in that price segment.

On display, it is a 6.44-inch Super AMOLED display with full HD resolution and 20: 9 aspect ratio. The panel looks bright and vibrant, if not a little oversaturated. Vivo also claims 100% DCI-P3 coverage, but without HDR certification you are less likely to make full use of the color space. Full support for DCI-P3 color space comes in handy during HDR playback, but it is secretly missing. During our experiment, the display clocked 386 lux at maximum brightness in sunlight, with auto-brightness turned on, while in the dark, the minimum brightness dropped to 8 lux.

The last row

The Vivo V17 has emerged as an all-rounder. Performance is good enough to handle all the latest apps and games. In fact, gaming performance was top notch. The camera setup offers many options, but only the initial 48MP lens is best used in all situations. It is better to use the rest in adequate light. The low light mode is good enough to get the brightness and accuracy of the environment, but the details are still missing. Although the hardware is quite competitive, it is the software of Vivo V17 that resets it. FunTouchOS desperately needs a restructuring and the UI is the only thing that acts as a deal-breaker in this phone. Otherwise, the Vivo V17 is easy to recommend.

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