After the positive response to the Vivo Z1 Pro (review), Vivo is continuing its new push into the online area with a cheaper model, the new Vivo U10. The boarding area is the place where every little extra feature you get for your money is really important, and there's no shortage of companies trying to outdo each other. It's not uncommon these days to expect multiple cameras, mid-range processors, and high-quality construction, even if your budget is under Rs. 10,000. Of course, the Vivo U10 has to work very hard to keep up with the Xiaomi devices Redmi and Redmi Note as well as several models from Realme, Samsung, Nokia, Honor and others.
Vivo wants to stand out in this area with a few tricks that are not common at this price level – at least not all together. The Vivo U10 has three rear cameras, a 5000 mAh battery, an 18 W quick charge function and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 processor. Still, a phone is not just the sum of its specifications. We'll put this newly launched model through its paces, how well Vivo has performed, and whether you should consider buying the Vivo U10.
Vivo U10 design
Not much has changed for Vivo in recent years, and the company has kept a consistent overview of its latest models. The Vivo U10 is somewhat bulky and boxy, with a flat back but rounded sides. With a thickness of 8.92 mm and a weight of 190.5 g, this phone is definitely a handful, and some people may find it too bulky for everyday use. This is despite a 6.35-inch screen, which is not too big by today's standards.
Our test device is the Electric Blue variant, which of course has a strong color gradient on the back. A light shade of blue shines outwards on the fingerprint sensor and a darker shade at the bottom of the Vivo logo, which turns dark blue on the edge of the phone. The rear end is not slippery at all, which has a positive effect on usability. This phone is also available in plain black for those who prefer to be more reserved.
There is a water drop notch at the top of the screen and a fairly thick chin underneath. Our test device was delivered with a pre-assembled plastic screen protector. The edge on the sides of the phone has a glossy, color-coordinated surface, but is clearly made of plastic and not metal.
The camera module is surrounded by a gold metal rim, but luckily it doesn't protrude too much. Fortunately, the fingerprint sensor doesn't take too much time to reach it. The on / off and volume buttons are on the right and the SIM compartment on the left. There is a micro USB connector, a 3.5mm audio jack and a speaker on the bottom.
Vivo seems to have used decent quality plastic and we have no issues with the build quality of this phone. It feels like it should withstand rough handling, but there is no guarantee of toughness or reinforced materials to keep it safe in the event of a fall.
The company gives buyers a simple plastic case, a USB cable, an 18W charger and a SIM eject pin in the box, in addition to the protective film already attached. There is no headset, but that shouldn't be a problem for anyone.
Vivo U10 specifications and software
We start with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 665 SoC, a recently launched chip. We have seen it on some phones in the Sub-Rs so far. 15,000 segments like the Xiaomi Mi A3 (review) and Oppo A5 (2020). It's also the same chip that powers the Realme 5 (Review), a competitor to this phone in the Sub-Rs. 10,000 market. This means that the performance should be pretty impressive.
The 6.35-inch screen has an HD + resolution of 720 x 1544 pixels, which is expected. Vivo used an IPS panel. There is dual band WiFi, Bluetooth 5, GPS and all common sensors including compass and gyroscope. The battery capacity is 5000 mAh, and as mentioned earlier, fast charging at 18 W is a key feature. The left compartment has space for two nano SIMs and a microSD card.
You have three configuration options: 3 GB RAM with 32 GB memory for Rs. 8,990; 3 GB RAM with 64 GB storage for Rs. 9,990 and 4 GB RAM with 64 GB storage for Rs. 9,990. That's a lot of options, but we find it confusing that in small steps you can buy the best configuration that suits your budget. We are testing the top-end variant of this phone.
It's impressive that the Vivo U10 doesn't lack anything big, even though the base price is well below Rs. 10,000. For example, some models at this level do not have fingerprint sensors or gyroscopes. However, you get all the basic functions as well as extras such as fast charging and three reversing cameras.
As for the software, we have Vivos Funtouch OS 9.1, a slightly updated version of the heavily customized skin that runs on Android 9. As we have said many times, Funtouch OS differs greatly from the standard Android look and feel, and many of it is unnecessary. This is certainly a polarizing factor for buyers and users. The new Vivo U10 is not much different except for a system-wide dark mode – teasers with a new desaturated aesthetic and tidy UI elements do not seem to have made it to this version.
In short, there are a few key points to consider. You have to swipe up from the bottom of the screen to access all the shortcuts and toggle keys, and even then the layout is confusing. Vivo advertises its own smart assistant called Jovi Smart Scene, but it's pretty much just a screen to the left of the first home screen with weather displays, calendar events, and news updates with some promoted content. The lock screen is activated Show random photos and advertising messages every time you wake the U10 from sleep mode, unless you deactivate it.
That said, Funtouch OS offers many useful features, including screen capture, app cloning, gestures, shortcuts, and a bike mode. You can find detailed information on version 9 in our coverage of Vivo Y17 (test), Vivo Z1 Pro (test) and Vivo S1 (test).
Vivo U10 performance
Funtouch OS didn't really impress us, but it didn't seem to slow the Vivo U10 down in everyday use. Some of the animations are a bit slow, which can be annoying. For example, after unlocking the phone, it takes a second or two for the Android navigation buttons to appear. It may take a moment or two to fully load apps, but that's the only type of delay we've experienced. We want realistic expectations for cheap phones, but Vivo has exceeded them. If you use a Sub-Rs. 10,000 model from a few years ago, the Vivo U10 will appear like a huge upgrade.
Game performance is an important factor for much of the young audience that Vivo is targeting. PUBG Mobile surprised us with the default setting for low graphics quality, and while the gameplay was smooth, the visual quality was lacking. The top stern hardly got warm, which was good. It looked a bit better in balanced quality mode and the game was still smooth, but the usual HD mode didn't seem to be supported on this device. Asphalt 9: Legends was playable, but we saw some stuttering in races, especially with multiple cars on the screen.
Our impressions are underpinned by benchmark tests. AnTuTu gave a score of 138,817, and Geekbench 5's single core and multi core results were 317 and 1,422, respectively. 3DMark scored 1,809 points in the Slingshot Unlimited test and 23,760 points in the Ice Storm Unlimited test. GFXBench achieved 51 fps in the T-Rex scene and 27 fps in Manhattan 3.1.
The large size and HD resolution of this display mean that it is not really sharp, and we have found that the text is not as sharp as we would have liked. However, it can get very bright and we had no complaints with the colors or angles. The video looks good, and even the single speaker is good enough for music and voices as long as you don't try to turn the volume over three quarters. Interestingly, this phone is compatible with Widevine L1 DRM for HD video streaming.
The battery life was really impressive. We sailed an entire day with some gaming and camera use, along with an hour of video streaming and some general internet surfing. At night we still had over 40 percent left. We could easily get by on a single charge for a day and a half, and if used carefully, it could take up to two full days. Our HD video loop test lasted 17 hours and 58 minutes. On the other hand, despite the delivery of a Vivo 18W charger in the box, we only noticed an increase in battery level to 8 percent in 10 minutes and 61 percent in an hour.
As optimistic as we were about some aspects of this phone, testing the Vivo U10 cameras quickly got us back on the ground. There is a 13-megapixel primary camera and an 8-megapixel wide-angle camera on the back of the device, both with an aperture of 1: 2.2. There's also a 2-megapixel depth sensor and flash. The front camera is an 8 megapixel 1: 1.8 unit.
The photo quality is only average for a phone in this price range. Starting from the main camera, close-up shots taken under sunlight looked good with reasonably good detail and good exposure. There were no exciting artificial colors, and HDR seemed to work well. The wide-angle camera delivered good results even without large distortions. In portrait mode, it takes a while for the phone to determine what needs to be blurred and what doesn't. The results could be good if we waited.
At night, however, it goes downhill. Details were spotty and boring. Focusing took a while and even then there was no guarantee that it was correct. Several attempts were often required. Even close-ups can be difficult to handle. Interestingly, the wide-angle camera sometimes worked better despite poorer specs simply because it can let in more light to work with.
The video is recorded at 720p by default, which surprised us a little. You can go up to 1080p manually. There seems to be no form of stabilization and our clips were shaky to say the least. You cannot switch between cameras while recording. We noticed warps on the edges of the wide-angle video and a yellowish hue that was not included in our still images. Video recorded at night was unusable at all.
The front camera does a good job during the day and in poor lighting conditions, and it's not great here either. You may be able to share some of these shots on social media.
It appears that by simply providing it online, Vivo has made it possible to provide seriously competitive hardware on a very tight budget. The Vivo U10 has an admirable performance and looks pretty good. We often felt that we were using a phone that was in a higher price range. On the other hand, it's bulky and cumbersome to use, with a user interface that we really think needs to be mitigated.
The headliner features – three reversing cameras and 18 W fast charge – definitely ensure that the competition is careful and draws attention to itself. They are impressive on paper. In practice, however, the cameras are only maintainable and charging takes a relatively long time.
We like the Vivo U10 because of its performance and battery life. The display and overall appearance are great for such a cheap phone, but you can do better, especially if you budget for the higher-priced versions.
There is sure to be a fight between this phone and the upcoming Redmi 8 series from Xiaomi. Watch out for Gadgets 360 to see how that goes.