Vivo S1 Pro: A range of thoughtful improvements

Vivo is listening

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The Vivo S1 Pro is a true upgrade over the company’s S1 from last year. It sees a range of incremental updates which we are glad Vivo has made.

Design and build quality

While the smartphone sports a glass build, it does not come with Corning Gorilla Glass protection. It comes with the usual ports and buttons however there are a few things to note. Firstly, the charging port is now a Type-C USB port, a welcome change from last year’s micro-USB. And secondly, you find some rubber sealing around the SIM slot. This means while the phone is not officially IP water and dust resistant, it will definitely be able to survive a splash or two.

The diamond style camera layout is unique

The back of the smartphone is made from a gradient finish, which Vivo likes to call Nebula Blue. Compared to the S1, this is a big departure and we miss the pattern on the back as well as those golden accents, which added a touch of premium to the Vivo S1. Nonetheless, the S1 Pro is comfortable in the hand and in spite of it being a more premium flagship offering, you still get the 3.5mm headphone jack.

Hardware and processing

Inside the S1 Pro, you are looking at 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, which can be expanded via micro-SD. Accompanying this is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 655 octa-core chipset, which is a bit old. Its age shows when navigating through the smartphone’s user interface but you can still casually game on the S1 Pro. The Super AMOLED 6.38-inch FHD+ display particularly helps with this although this means you only get a 60Hz refresh rate. Also, the smartphone does heat up noticeably after longer sessions of gaming so you should keep that in mind.

Software improvements to streamline the experience could be next for Vivo to focus on

On the back, you find a unique diamond camera housing. Here, the phone sports a 48MP main sensor, alongside an 8MP ultra-wide, 2MP depth and 2MP macro lens. We have taken a few samples with it so far but we will go more in-depth in the phone’s upcoming review. Lastly, the phone also sports a 4,500mAh battery which should see you through the day and supports up to 18W charging speeds.

Software and user interface

One aspect of the Vivo S1 we did not like was its software. With the S1 Pro, Vivo has addressed this to a good extent. Applications and settings menus are streamlined however there are still hiccups. There is a considerable amount of bloatware that comes pre-installed on the phone and accessing quick toggles from the bottom edge of the phone is not something I have gotten used to.

Gesture navigation on the Vivo S1 Pro is pleasantly surprising

To Vivo’s credit, it does pack some useful software features to boost performance and a great gesture navigation system. However with phones like this, Vivo would be much better off using Android One. Not only would that provide a consistent experience but also one that many purists would enjoy.

Availability and pricing

The Vivo S1 Pro is currently available starting for Dh1,099. We will follow up with a full review in a few days once we test the smartphone’s camera further, given we just received an update for it enabling night mode.