Vivo Y71 Review: More Than Just The Basics?

Vivo’s latest offering may look familiar at first: While it does look like last year’s V7+, the Y71 aims to be an affordable offering by sporting modest specs while keeping some of the V7+’s main features. Yes, the Y71 does have the V7+’s 5.99-inch HD+ display, while keeping prices below Php 8000/$154 and Php 7000/$135 for the 3GB and 2GB models respectively.

Does Vivo’s cutting corners for the Y71 make it a viable budget-centric version of the V7+? Before we get through the review, here’s a recap of its specs:

Vivo Y71 Specs
  • 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 quad-core processor
  • 2GB/3GB RAM
  • Adreno 308 GPU
  • 5.99-inch HD+ display; 1440 x 720 resolution
  • 16GB of expandable storage (up to 256GB)
  • (3GB) 13-megapixel f/2.2 rear camera / (2GB) 8-megapixel f/2.2 rear camera with AF and LED flash
  • 5-megapixel f/2.49 front camera
  • 3G, LTE
  • Dual SIM
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS
  • Face Acess, USB OTG
  • 3360mAh battery
  • Android 8.0 Oreo with FunTouch OS 5.0

Same build and feel with the V7+

True to our first impression, the Y71 does look identical to the V7+, which means that the build is pretty solid and comparable to phones in the stacked Php 15k-20k/$288.5-$385 range. The only key difference with the Y71 is that there is no fingerprint scanner to be found.

Other than that, you get the same design features of the V7+, which includes a full-sized SIM tray, the 5.99-inch HD+ display, and the noticeable camera bump in the back.

Same display quality with the V7+

Having an identical display with the V7+, the Y71 has a generous screen estate, especially if you consider the fact that it has an almost 6-inch display housed in a case normally used for phones with a 5.5-inch display. You get good color rendition and decent viewing angles with the Y71, though some might feel the low pixel density since it only uses an HD+ display.

While the compromise in sharpness is noticeable when playing videos or pixel-peeping images, it’s hard to complain about it considering that the Y71 is a sub-Php 9k/$173.11 phone.

Aging chipset saved by good software optimization

Instead of a Snapdragon 450 processor, the Y71 uses a modest and aging Snapdragon 425 processor to keep costs low, paired with either 3GB or 2GB of RAM depending on the variant. Scoring 44885 on AnTuTu, the aging Snapdragon 425 still proves its worth as a SoC of choice for most budget phones.

Using the 3GB variant for our review, the Y71 is zippy enough for the usual tasks, with little noticeable lags in between. Compared to other phones with similar internals, the Y71 performs slightly better than the competition, and we do think that it has to do with how Vivo’s FunTouch OS manages available RAM space in the phone.

To determine the efficiency of FunTouch OS with its Game Mode, we tried out three games and recorded their overall performance using GameBench.

Using high graphics settings with Asphalt 8, we were averaging in the high teens in terms of FPS, while maintaining a respectable 97% FPS stability, which is not that bad for the casual player. For more serious gamers, however, they will notice the slightly sluggish feel in-game due to the low average FPS but not to the point that they’ll go angry and lose in a race because of a below average performance.

The same cannot be said for Marvel Future Fight. Playing on low settings, we got an average FPS of 18, with a poor FPS stability of 66%. This means that those who are dead serious in slaying enemies and bosses in the game will be frustrated, as there are noticeable lags in selecting various attack and defense moves.

In the case of the popular battle royale game PUBG Mobile, we got surprising results. While the game automatically defaulted to low graphics settings, we were getting a decent average FPS of 22, along with an 85% FPS stability. For those who love playing similar games on a budget, the Y71’s Game Mode gets the job done by providing a smooth experience in shooting down enemies and in fighting for survival.

FunTouch OS is efficient but has its compromises

A big advantage of the Y71 over the V7+ is that it comes with Android 8.1 out of the box, along with FunTouch OS 5.0. While FunTouch OS’ closeness to Apple’s iOS may not be preferred by some, we cannot question the fact that Vivo’s Android skin is fluid, and that its added features really get the job done—like with the case for FunTouch OS’s Game Mode.

With its efficiency, there are a few compromises, and one of them is that FunTouch OS is not kind to the Y71’s 16GB internal storage. By default, you only have around 6.5GB of free space to deal with, and that can easily be filled up with various files. In our case, we nearly filled up the Y71’s internal storage by installing just three games, leaving us with barely a hundred MB left for other files like photos. Given this issue, it is highly recommended to get a MicroSD card for the Y71 to lessen your worries about storage space.

Face unlock works better than the competition, but we still consider it a novelty

To make up for the lack of a fingerprint scanner, the Y71 comes with Face Unlock as an alternative security measure. Setting it up is pretty easy, and unlocking the phone using our face is zippy in good lighting. In times where lighting is insufficient, the Y71 increases the screen’s brightness to aid the 5-megapixel camera in unlocking the phone.

While the thought having Face Unlock is a welcome feature, we still recommend the usual PIN or pattern in unlocking the Y71, as Face Unlock can be unreliable at times.

Cameras are pretty much on the average side for a budget-centric device

Depending on the variant you are getting, the Y71 comes with two different rear cameras. With the 3GB version we are reviewing, we have a 13-megapixel camera that captures photos that are OK in daylight. In tricky lighting and low-light situations, the Y71 struggles in balancing exposure, oftentimes leading to loss in detail. Colors are more on the neutral side; they have the right amount of saturation and vibrancy that makes you get photos that are not laden with too much filters.

As for the camera UI, the Y71 is an interesting offering, as it has a Pro mode that lets you adjust shutter speed (up to 16 seconds), ISO (up to ISO 3200), autofocus mode, and white balance. Such feature is a definite treat, considering that the Y71 is a sub-Php 9k phone.

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The same goes with the 5-megapixel front camera, where we managed to get decent selfies with it. The Y71’s bokeh mode yielded good results, though it struggles to get that much-wanted bokeh effect right in bad lighting.

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Battery efficiency is a strong point for the Y71

Just like the V7+, one of the Y71’s strong points is its battery efficiency. In fact, the Y71 outperformed the V7+ in our battery tests by scoring close to 11 hours on PCMark at 50% brightness. While the Y71 comes with a slightly bigger battery compared to the V7+, the use of a Snapdragon 425 processor, along with an updated version of FunTouch OS, are some of the possible factors with the Y71’s stellar performance in the battery efficiency department.

Just like the V7+, you charge the Y71 using a Micro USB charger. It does not come with any form of fast charging, so expect a little over two hours to fully juice up the Y71.

Verdict: A missed opportunity?

One of the biggest criticisms of the V7+ last year was its pricing, where its original SRP of 17,990/$346 placed it in a tough battle against rivals sporting similar or better specs while having a lower price. Don’t get us wrong: The V7+ was a good device during its time. If it wasn’t for the price hurdle, the V7+ could have performed well, sales-wise.

The same goes for the Y71. At a hair under Php 9000/$173.11, the Y71 is a viable offering in the budget mid-range segment. However, with the sub-10k market becoming competitive as well, the Y71 will face a tough battle as well. Given its similarities to the V7+, the Y71 could have been easily marketed last year as a “lite” version of the V7+ instead of the smaller V7.

If it was released late last year together with the V7+, the Y71 could have been a big seller in the sub-10k segment. However, it is not yet too late for Vivo as they still have a chance to own the sub-10K/$192 segment with the Y71’s competitive price.