Vivo isn’t just competing for the midrange market but now taking the fight to the budget segment with the Vivo Y21 that recently got launched. This is the brands attempt to mark itself as a serious player in the upper budget segment.
The phone is one of the most affordable offerings in this segment but does it have what it takes to stand out? We find out in this review.
But first, let’s start with the unboxing which you can watch here:
Vivo stands out with its unique design. Our unit came in a diamond glow version with a texture that is designed to dazzle the world as meticulously cut diamonds do. The metallic blue version has a silver coating combined with a curtain coating that makes the purple-blue surface stand out with a metallic shine that changes with light and movement. No matter your take on gradients, the colour certainly comes out as striking.
The rest of the phone is relatively straightforward with well-positioned, tactile volume buttons, a USB-C port at the bottom, and a headphone jack. I appreciate the fact that Vivo opted for a power button and a side-mounted fingerprint reader over an in-display sensor. It’s fast and just works.
The phone is light at 182grams so it won’t be a chore to use the phone for long periods of time. The phone is slender with a 2.5D flat frame that manages to pack a 5000mAh large battery into an 8.0mm thin body.
Upfront, we have a 6.51-inch Halo LCD Display with a resolution of 1600 by 720 pixels. There’s also no high refresh rate. Surprisingly, I quite enjoyed consuming multimedia content thanks to the speakers too – they are loud and most people should be pleased by the output even when gaming.
This might be disappointing to some as some phones in this price category already have 1080p displays with high refresh rates.
Vivo Y21 runs on Android 11 and Funtouch OS 11.1. Funtouch is Vivo’s take on Android which is now more refined. It is highly customizable and doesn’t feel overly busy with handy features. The user interface is cleaner with flatter icons, more empty space between visual elements and neutral colours.
FunTouchOS comes with features like Ultra Game mode, S capture to make screen capture more efficient, iManager, Security Scan, AI editor and the fun nifty animations under Dynamic Effect among a host of other features to customize your phone.
Navigating Android 11 is smooth and stutter-free.
Powering the Vivo Y21 is a Mediatek helio P35 processor coupled with 4GB of RAM expandable to 1GB plus 64GB of onboard storage.
Despite its lower status – the phone held up pretty well with light to medium tasks and Vivo remained snappy in day to day operations. Performance for most users will be perfectly acceptable.
However, the gaming experience takes a toll on the Vivo Y21 – less graphic intense games will play well and the heavy games have to be played at medium settings as you will experience the occasional frame drop. You can play asphalt 9, Ninja Arashi but titles like Call of Duty needed to be played on medium graphic settings.
Overall performance is alright for day to day use, but the phone is certainly not a powerhouse.
Vivo has taken a keen focus on battery longevity. Vivo Y21 ships with a 5000mAh battery and delivers exactly what it promises.
During my time with the Vivo Y21, I could comfortably get through an entire day of use without triggering battery anxiety. The phone’s screen on time hit the high numbers ranging between 9 hours and 12 hours. This phone can easily last two days on a single charge.
Charging is speedy too with an 18W wired charger included in the box. The Vivo Y21 can be topped up to just short of 70% in 52 minutes with a full charge taking about 2 hours – the extra hour to fill up the remaining 30%.
Vivo Y21 comes with three cameras – an 8MP selfie camera and a 13MP dual main camera setup which includes a 2MP macro sensor.
There are various modes to play around with including Portrait (basic), Video, Pano, Live Photo, Time-Lapse, Pro, and Document scanning.
The phone excels in scenarios with tons of light and is dependable when taking most shots. You’ll definitely want to stick to brightly lit settings for optimal results. The primary sensor captures a good amount of detail, but it has a tendency to blow out highlights. HDR performance is a bit iffy. There aren’t too many details in the shadow region and the phone struggles to tone down highlights. Indoors, picture quality takes a dip with missing details and a cooler white balance than the actual setting. It’s not bad for the price, but I’ve seen better.
The macro sensor captures reasonably detailed shots that look good enough on the phone’s display.
Selfies and portraits were decent enough for sharing on social media. There’s a decent amount of detail though, like the rear shooter, the phone doesn’t excel at handling highlights.
In low light scenes, the phone struggles and the lack of a night mode is disappointing.
Finally coming over to video quality, recording tops off at 1080p 30FPS and the results are not particularly great and the lack of stabilization leads to jerky frames. In anything but excellent lighting conditions, there is a serious amount of noise.
vivo needs to step up in the photography department especially in the ultra-competitive entry-level segment as its rivals already pack triple or quad setups with 64MP and 48MP setups plus a dedicated night mode that come in handy.
The Vivo Y21 is a clear cut competitor on its own – the slender frame, the excellent battery life, satisfactory performance, the standout design but when put against rivals in the same price category – its presence fades away.
Other phones have already taken radical steps to make themselves noticed – such as high refresh high-quality displays, better and bigger cameras and configurations to take on even the most challenging scenarios.
If it stood alone, the Vivo Y21 would be a decent offering, but there are better rival offerings in the market.