The Quick Take

One of the major smartphone makers in China, Vivo started its international expansion in 2014, and made way to India amongst a slew of Chinese brands heading towards one of the biggest and fastest growing smartphones markets in the world.

During the period, Vivo launched a few premium smartphones in India, although the recently launched Y51L is targeted towards the budget segment.

The company is gearing towards extensive expansion in India and started its first manufacturing unit in the country in December last year. It also bagged the title rights of Indian Premier League 2016, the popular Twenty20 cricket league, as part of a major brand building exercise.

The Good

  • Great design, and build quality
  • Decent performance
  • Battery life

The Bad

  • Inconsistent camera
  • Average specifications compared to the competition

Vivo Y51L specifications

Category Vivo Y51L
Operating System Android 5.0 Lollipop with FunTouch OS 2.5
Display 5-inch qHD (960 x 540) IPS display
Processor 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410
Storage 16GB internal memory, expandable up to 128GB via microSD card
Rear Camera 8MP
Front Camera 5MP
Dimensions 143.8 x 71.7 x 7.52 mm
Weight 157 grams
Battery 2350mAh

About this review

I used the Indian retail variant of the Vivo Y51L that comes with IPL (Indian Premier League, a Twenty20 cricket league) branding on the box. Out of the box, the Y51L ran Funtouch OS 2.5 running on top of Android 5.0. For most of the time, I used it with an Airtel 4G SIM in Delhi NCR.

Vivo Y51L full review

Vivo Y51L design

The Vivo Y51L is a pretty good looking smartphone. Sure, there's the iPhone hangover, but the slim plastic body with laser etched metallic frame on the side and rounded corners stand out amongst the slew of budget smartphones in the market. The glossy finish at the back gives an illusion of glass, which attracts a few smudges here and there, but looks stylish. The soft-touch navigation buttons on the front offer decent feedback, but aren't backlit, which is a shame.

Vivo Y51L display

Once you've gushed over the design and aesthetics, it's disappointment as soon as you power it on. The Y51L sports a modest 5-inch qHD display, inexcusable at the price at which HD, and often Full HD display, has become the norm.

It's not a terrible display, mind you. The colors are crisp and the display is sharp, and casual users might not even realize the low resolution. Also, the viewing angles are good and you can read well in direct sunlight too.

Vivo Y51L hardware

Again, on the hardware front, the Y51L offers decent set of specifications for a budget smartphone that manage to perform well. However, the competition in the segment is cut-throat, and several smartphones in the same price bracket offer better specs.

The experience though is great for the most part – during multitasking or playing graphics-intensive games. Surprisingly for a budget smartphone, there were no heating issues with the Y51L.

On the battery front, the Vivo Y51L comes with a non-removable 2350mAh battery that can easily last for over a day on moderate usage.

Vivo Y51L software

The Y51L sports Funtouch OS, the company's proprietary customization over Android 5.0. The software experience is quite snappy, although it will take a few days to get comfortable with unique UX elements – true for most Android skins.

Once you get a hang of it, and you will, there are some nifty features like the programmable volume down key allowing you to wake up any app that you prefer or long screenshot option that allows you to take the screenshot of a scrollable page.

Vivo Y51L camera

The Y51L packs in an 8MP rear camera with LED flash and a 5MP front camera. The rear camera manages to take decent pictures in daylight with good color reproduction. In low light conditions though, the lack of sharpness and details is evident and the pictures are grainy. Overall, the camera is inconsistent, sometimes clicking blurry pictures when you don't expect it to. The front camera with f/2.4 lens aperture is surprisingly a better performer and takes pretty good selfies.

The camera app packs in several modes like HDR, Panorama, Night, Action et al. There's also Face Beauty feature to jazz up your selfies. There's a handy watermark feature that lets you add text to your images before sharing it on Web.

Vivo Y51L The bottom line

The Vivo Y51L looks very stylish, but fares up average on the specifications sheet. In real usage though, it performs great although the camera is just about okay. The qHD display is a major letdown and would have users look at other options on the table – and there are several of them in the Indian market, some of whom have almost revamped the budget segment of smartphones.

Should you buy it? Probably

At a price of ₹11,980 ($180) in India, a fantastic design and good performance are the only two things that are going in favor of the Vivo Y51L. If camera isn't a trade-off you'd like to make or the low-resolution display irks you, you might want to skip it. If you're looking for nothing fancy when it comes to internals, the good looking Y51L is a fine phone to flaunt in your hand.

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