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vivo Y95 Review: Is this Halo Notched Budget Mid-Range Phone Worth Considering?

A worthy alternative to the V11i?

vivo updated their entry-level Y-series of smartphones this month, right in time for the holiday season. The Y91i, Y91 and Y95 are all already in stores this December, making life more difficult for people shopping for a new budget device this Christmas.

Of the three the Y95 is the top dog thanks to its roomier internal storage and more RAM, along with a better set of cameras. It’s also the most expensive, coming in at Php 12,999. Does the Y95 have what it takes to be a solid entry in the Y-series or should you consider something else?

The phone looks familiar.

We weren’t lying when we said that the Y95 looked a lot like the V11i. vivo has been using the same design cues for both the V-series and Y-series for its recent models, and the Y95 is no exception. You basically have the same look and build, with the differences being the available colors and the hardware inside.

Bearing the same design language means that the Y95 has the same port layout as its more expensive brethren: SIM card tray on the left, power and volume controls on the right, headphone jack, MicroUSB port, and loudspeaker at the bottom. While the headphone jack lives another day, it is disappointing that the Y95 sticks with the aging MicroUSB port. As of this writing, there is no vivo phone officially sold in the Philippines that comes with a USB-C port, something that we hope the company addresses next year.

While our Starry Night review unit looks stunning, it is a fingerprint magnet and is prone to scratches. We recommend using the supplied jelly case to protect the Y95’s rear panel from the usual wear and tear.

That HD+ display is a bummer.

It is underwhelming for the Y95 to come with just an HD+ display considering that similarly priced rivals sport Full HD+ panels. While colors are good on the Y95, the low PPI count is noticeable when playing videos or games. On the positive side, the Y95 comes with a Halo notch that looks less annoying compared to phones with regular notched displays. While vivo did not disclose if the Y95 comes with Gorilla Glass, there’s a pre-applied screen protector on the Y95 to protect it from scratches.

Is the Snapdragon 439 processor any good?

Not in all aspects to be honest. While it does have a higher AnTuTu score compared to any Snapdragon 450-equipped phone, the Snapdragon 439 is more of a processor made for casual use. Social media, web browsing, photography, and music playback works fine, as long as you are conscious of the number of active apps running in the background.

Things take a dip when it comes to gaming, as it uses an older Adreno 505 processor—the same GPU found in the aging Snapdragon 430 and 435. You will need to tone down the graphics settings if you want stable gameplay.

While you can push the Y95 to do 29FPS on Marvel Future Fight, it comes at a compromise.
While 25FPS may sound decent, occasional lags during each gameplay make playing PUBG on the Y95 a bit frustrating.
Playing Asphalt 9 on high graphics settings would mean a dip both FPS and overall game stability.

 

How’s the rest of the phone?

The Y95 comes with Android 8.1 out of the box, along with vivo’s FunTouch OS. Those not familiar with FunTouch may get confused, as the quick toggle panel is separate from the notification panel: you swipe from the top for notifications and swipe from the bottom for the quick toggle of commonly-used settings.

The lack of a search bar in the settings panel can be a burden to first-time users of FunTouch OS. We hope vivo incorporates a search bar in future iterations of FunTouch OS.

On the positive side, you have Jovi Smart Assistant and Game Mode, with the latter helping in improving one’s gaming sesh, and the former giving you pertinent info such as upcoming basketball games, number of steps walked, number of calories burned, and more.

The Y95 comes with both fingerprint and face unlock. While both are slower than usual compared to similarly-priced phones, they are nonetheless accurate.

Are the cameras capable enough?

The Y95’s 13-megapixel f/2.2 and 2-megapixel f/2.4 rear cameras can produce decent photos provided that you have decent lighting. The cameras have a tendency of overexposing shots so you will need to manually adjust the exposure at times. The Y95’s AI tricks help in processing images, though don’t expect stellar images in low-light conditions.

As for the front camera, the 20-megapixel f/2.0 gets the job done in producing decent selfies that look natural.

When it comes to video recording, the Y95 can shoot up to Full HD at 30FPS, though there’s no EIS. While it has a tendency to overexpose at times, the Y95’s autofocus is good. Check out the sample video below:

 

Can it last me through the day?

One of the advantages of the Snapdragon 439 processor is its 12nm process, which translates to better power efficiency. While we could not benchmark the Y95’s battery life, it lasted us for around a day and a half, which is expected since it comes with a 4030mAh battery. It will take a while to charge the Y95 since it does not come with fast charging. On our tests, it took us around 2 and a half hours to fully juice up the Y95.

Should you buy it?

At Php 12,999, the Y95’s asking price is pretty steep considering you are getting only a Snapdragon 400-series CPU and an HD+ display. It faces tough competition from several phones: there’s the Honor 8X, which for Php 12,999 comes with a more powerful Kirin 710 processor a Full HD+ display, metal and glass build, and more internal storage at 128GB.  For much less—at a hair under Php 12k—you have Cherry Mobile’s Flare S7 Plus, which boasts of a metal and glass build, along with an Helio P60 processor, Full HD+ display, and support for wireless charging.

vivo’s current crop of phones prove to better value: the V9 is a better option over the Y95. While it is Php 2,000 more expensive, you get a more powerful Snapdragon 626 processor, along with a Full HD+ display and a better set of cameras.

vivo Y95 Specs

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 octa-core processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 6.22-inch HD+ IPS Halo FullView display
  • 64GB of expandable storage (up to 256GB)
  • 13-megapixel f/2.2 and 2-megapixel f/2.4 rear cameras with PDAF, LED flash, AI Scene Recognition
  • 20-megapixel f/2.0 front camera
  • Dual SIM
  • 4G, LTE, VoLTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC
  • GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS
  • Face Unlock, Fingerprint scanner
  • 4030mAh battery
  • Android 8.1, FunTouch OS 4.5

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