Vivo is quite popular in the mid-range segment. To stand out from the crowd, the company offers youth-centric handsets with swanky design and capable cameras. Its latest Y17 claims to tick these boxes and some more. In addition to fancy design and a triple camera setup, the Vivo Y17 brings a large 5,000 mAh battery to the table. The phone definitely looks impressive on the paper. Let’s find out if it delivers on all fronts:
Design & Build6.5/10
Value For Money6.0/10
What Is Good?
- Fancy reflective back
- Long battery life
What Is Bad?
- Dull screen
- Quite a bulky device
- Terrible gaming performance
- Disappointing cameras
- Funtouch OS is cluttered
- Old Micro-USB port
Vivo Y17 Design And Build
Vivo knows how to style its phones. The Y17 has a nice pattern on its back, which is reminiscent of the V15 Pro (Review). Though the rear feels like a glass panel, it is completely made of plastic. The phone’s gradient hues create interesting reflections as it interacts with the light. The phone comes in trendy hues of blue and purple.
The protruding camera on the back has a nice golden outline. The fingerprint sensor and an LED flash are recessed. Undoubtedly, the phone looks exciting, but it is quite bulky by today’s standards. Its 9 mm thickness and the lack of tapering edges, makes the phone feel clunky in hand. The Vivo Y17 also weighs in at hefty 190 grams. From the ergonomics point of view, this phone is quite a downer.
Moving on the front, the Y17’s screen follows the rounded corners of the chassis. The display has a tiny waterdrop notch. However, the side bezels are quite thick. Since the phone lacks a scratch-resistant layer, Vivo ships the phone with a screen protector. The phone’s frame as well as buttons including the volume rocker are plasticky and lack proper tactile feedback.
Vivo Y17 Display
The Vivo Y17’s 6.35-inch screen is downright disappointing. For starters, you get the resolution of 720 x 1544 pixels, which is disappointingly low for a large display. To put things in perspective, the screen offers the pixel density of around 268 ppi as opposed to that of 410 ppi on the more affordable Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review). Vivo doesn’t mention the type of LCD used for the Y17. But looking at the washed-out colors and narrow viewing angles, I can tell that it is definitely not an IPS (In-Plane Switching) panel. The phone also has a disappointing refresh rate, which is hard to ignore when you are scrolling a webpage. The display is quite bright though and retains its legibility even under direct sunlight.
Vivo Y17 Software And Performance
Since I’m not a fan of stock Android, I tend to approach Android customizations with an open mind. Currently, I like the feature-packed MIUI and also appreciate how Oppo has refined its ColorOS in last few months. Unfortunately, though, Vivo has dropped the ball with its Funtouch OS 9. Based on Android 9.0 Pie, Vivo’s Android customization looks quite cluttered. In fact, Vivo has made things worse compared to the last time we visited the ColorOS on Vivo V15 Pro.
In the latest iteration of the software, Vivo has turned its iOS-inspired control panel into a mess. In addition to terrible aesthetics, the control panel now overwhelms you with crowded settings. Vivo has crammed in so much stuff that it defeats the purpose of handy quick settings panel.
The phone comes pre-loaded with many apps including vivoCloud, V-AppStore, and UC browser, NewsPoint, and iManager. Out of the lot, I only found the last one somewhat useful. UC browser and NewsPoint are are not only badly designed but also nag you with ads masquerading as content. Vivo should reconsider its decision to shove these apps down our throats.
The ColourOS lacks an app drawer. Though you can use folders to arrange the icons and tidy up your screen. Swiping to the left from the first home screen takes you to the smart launcher, which aggregates weather, sports, and news updates. The company lets you customize a few things such as the number of icons on a grid and other usual stuff. The most unique feature is the ability to fine-tune the roundness of the app icons. Not that we need it, but it is an interesting addition nonetheless.
Coming to the subject of performance, the Helio P35 powered Vivo Y17 handles daily tasks fairly well. The cracks begin to appear only during intensive tasks and gaming. If you have streaming apps running in the background, you get to see stutter once in a while. The Helio P35 chip coupled with 4 GB RAM only managed to runs PUBG on low settings. What’s worse is that even at the basic setting, the game doesn’t run smooth.
The phone comes bundled with earphones that remind me of Apple’s first-gen EarPods. Since it lacks silicon tips, these earphones won’t perfectly fit for everyone. Its sound output is decent save for the inability to handle bass. Thankfully for Vivo, the problem lies with the earphones. Once you swap it for a better one, the sound improves greatly. The phone has a mono speaker at the bottom, which produces a loud but hollow sound.
The Y17 is a 4G VoLTE smartphone with two dedicated SIM slots. You also get a storage expansion slot. The phone’s cellular reception along with Wi-FI and Bluetooth worked fine during the week of testing.
Vivo Y17 Cameras
Vivo Y17 has a triple camera setup on the back. It comprises of a 13 MP primary lens, 2 MP depth sensor, and an 8 MP wide-angle lens. The camera offers standard, wide, portrait, panorama, and pro mode. The last one lets you fine-tune ISO, white balance, and shutter speed. The camera interface is sluggish. Especially, there’s significant stutter when switching between different camera modes.
These days, even budget phones pull off an impressive performance in good lighting conditions. However, the Y17’s camera is a bit of a hit-and-miss affair. Often times, it fails to lock onto focus. But if you manage to get it right, the pictures come out decent. It never manages to capture much detail though. Switching to the wide lens makes things even worse. In addition to the noise spike, the wide lens also produces dull colors.
The Vivo Y15’s camera goes belly up in low light. Be it the main or wide-angle lens, the night shots look grainy when not blurry. This has to be the most disappointing low-light camera performance I have seen on any mid-range devices.
The video recording is capped at Full HD. On a sunny day, the footage comes out quite decent. Be warned though, the camera has a tendency to lose focus while you are recording a video. The 20 MP front-facing camera performs well in daylight. But, much like the rear camera, the selfie module struggles at night.
Vivo Y17 Battery
The Vivo Y17 packs-in a large 5,000 mAh battery. It is the reason why this phone tips the scales at 190 grams, which is significantly heavier than your average smartphone. It does pay off with excellent battery life though. For me, the Y17’s battery lasted well over one and a half day on a single charge. My usage involves arguing with people on WhatsApp and offend people on Twitter all day long. Moreover, I play music via Bluetooth for at least six hours a day and an hour of gaming. The phone ships 18 W dual-engine fast charger. With its dual power delivery mechanism, the phone takes less than one and a half hour to charge the battery from zero to 100 percent. My only gripe is that the phone features the dated microUSB port.
Vivo Y17 Verdict
The Vivo Y17 has a few bright spots. The phone is quite a looker and offers excellent battery life. However, its pros are not enough to offset its shortcomings. The Vivo Y17 is clunky, has a dull screen, and can’t handle popular games such as PUBG. The Y17’s triple camera may look promising on paper but delivers poor results. Based on its overall performance, it is difficult to recommend the Vivo Y17. Especially when Xiaomi‘s Redmi Note 7 offers a better screen, cameras, gaming performance at a more affordable price.