The new Vivo Y95 is out now in the Philippines for P13,999 or around $268, giving the local market yet another affordable option to check out.
It’s the cheapest Vivo phone with a smaller notch design, and it’s one of the first, if not the first, smartphones running Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 439 processor. On top of that, the Y95 has dual cameras on the back, which flaunts a gradient design that changes from black to violet (Starry Black) or red to purple (Aurora Red), depending on the color variant you choose.
But the question that needs to be addressed is, should you choose this phone over the fantastic selection of equally affordable handsets like the Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite and the Huawei Y9 2019? Continue reading for our thoughts on the Vivo Y95, which we’ve been using as our daily driver over the past couple of days.
The first thing that jumps out about the phone is its color design — two-tone, eye-catchingly glossy, and interesting. And combined with the water-drop notch on the front and narrow bezels on three sides of the screen, this is arguably one of the most attractive phones Vivo has ever produced at any price point. The combination of colors, too — red and purple on our unit — is perfect for the high-gloss backing.
It’s made of plastic, yes, but it doesn’t look or feel cheap or flimsy at all. The company’s use of plastic also means that the Vivo Y95 is lightweight; handling it is a joy, especially thanks to the curved edges that hold the glass front within the frame and will remind owners of Vivo’s other handsets.
One-handed usage is possible without being a struggle even for users with smaller hands, and the Y95’s form factor is a core part of this experience. Vivo even earns brownie points for including two small dots on the rear panel to prevent the device from sliding when placed on its back. This phone just feels like it’s meant to be seen and admired in the hand.
Unlocking the home screen can be done through the rather large fingerprint-reader area on the rear or front-facing camera via Vivo’s face-unlock feature. Both are good options, but defaulting to fingerprint unlocking can be much less of a hassle.
The base of the Y95 has a headphone jack, microUSB port (sadly, no Type-C and fast charging here), and mono speaker in order from left to right. The audio port will always be a welcome sight for audiophiles and heavy gamers who play shooters. The bottom-firing speaker, on the other hand, sounds decent and can actually get loud enough without distorting the sound quality.
Switching over to the left-hand side, the Vivo Y95 features three card slots that can sit two nano SIMs and one microSD card simultaneously. We’ve always felt that it should be a standard that manufacturers include a triple-card tray in their low- to mid-end smartphones, so props to the company for getting it right in this handset.
On the front, the smartphone arrives sporting a 6.22-inch, 720 x 1,520 LCD. The overall quality of the panel is good, not great, with colors that look quite accurate and the picture, pleasingly sharp for a device in this price range. Outdoor visibility is fine, although sunny conditions will make it difficult to see what’s being displayed.
As with many other smartphone displays from Vivo, you can adjust the color temperature of the screen, as well as the aspect ratio of third-party apps to force them to run at the Y95’s native ratio of 19:9. Vivo has also included full-screen gestures for navigation and greater ease of use. We recommend that you check out these options and more in the Settings to get the most out of the features baked into the Funtouch OS 4.5 software.
The Vivo Y95 has three cameras in total — two on the back, one on the front. The rear-facing system is comprised of 13 and 2 megapixels, with the latter added for bokeh shots, while the front camera is 20 megapixels. Additionally, the camera app has artificial-intelligence or AI features built into it for object and scene recognition and retouched selfies that still look somewhat natural.
Pictures taken with the Vivo Y95
Auto mode vs Portrait mode (with bokeh effect)
Auto mode vs Face Beauty mode
The latter is self-explanatory and something that we’ve come to expect from a Vivo device, but the ability to adjust the camera settings based on what is being shot, without you doing anything, is new and potentially very helpful.
With the AI turned on, the Y95 will take brighter and more colorful food shots, for example, and it will guide you through taking that perfect portrait-style photo when shooting a human subject.
On the inside, the Vivo Y95 makes use of Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 439 chipset, which is built using a 12-nanometer process for better performance and battery efficiency. It offers eight Cortex-A53 cores divided into two clusters. Four high-performance cores are clocked at 1.96GHz, while the other four run up to 1.46GHz. It’s also mated to 4GB RAM and 64GB storage.
Using a lower-end processor doesn’t seem to hurt the phone’s performance too much, as it runs fine most of the time. And compared to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 450, the only major disadvantage of the Snapdragon 439 is that it’s paired with an Adreno 505 graphics chip that’s slightly slower than the Adreno 506 in the Snapdragon 450.
That said, we don’t think you’ll notice the difference anyway, with the Vivo Y95 running most games the way it does. High-end titles like NBA 2K19 and PUBG Mobile are perfectly playable on our unit even when the settings are on medium or medium-low. Granted, there are other more powerful phones out there, and especially in this segment, but the Y95 will only feel like it’s a step below if you’re into heavier games.
Take a look at our gameplay video below, though do take note that the frame rate isn’t as smooth as when you’re actually playing on the handset due to Vivo’s native screen-recording app running alongside the games.
Gaming on the Vivo Y95
Additionally, the Y95 launches with a dedicated Game Mode that can mute notifications, block incoming calls, and enable picture-in-picture view while playing, so you can still chat with your buddies without switching between apps. There’s even a Bot Mode toggle that will allow games to continue running even with the screen turned off to save power.
In terms of battery capacity, the Vivo Y95 is powered by a 4,030mAh cell, which is good enough for two days of regular use on a single charge. These days, that’s long for any smartphone. It takes roughly two hours to get a dead battery to full capacity when connected to the 10-watt charger.
Vivo follows up the superb V11 by releasing another quality midrange phone that’s even cheaper. The Vivo Y95 looks especially appealing from the outside, and the insides, while not particularly impressive, round out a solid smartphone offering from one of the industry’s biggest names.
Vivo Y95 specs
- 6.22-inch Halo FullView display, 1,520 x 720 resolution (19:9)
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 439 octa-core processor
- Adreno 505 GPU
- 4GB RAM
- 64GB storage
- Dual 13-megapixel and 2-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
- 20-megapixel front camera
- Fingerprint reader (rear-mounted)
- 4,030mAh battery
- Android 8.1 Oreo
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