48 hours with the Vivo Y11: is this the perfect phone for load shedding?

Vivo Y11

Ready for more Vivo? Last week we took at look at the company’s budget Y91C. This week it’s the turn of the Vivo Y11.

Priced slightly higher at R2699 in South Africa, the Y11 is taking on some tough competition.

In this price range, you can grab the Samsung Galaxy A20, the Huawei Y6 2019, or the Xiaomi Redmi 8. It’s an incredibly competitive segment of the market, and to sell units in it, you have to stand out, offering good value.

So, does the Vivo Y11 accomplish this?

Like its cheaper brother, we’ve spent 48 hours with this phone thus far, and these are our snapshot initial impressions.

Vivo Y11 initial impressions

The good

  • When it comes to look and feel, the Y11 is distinctive and attractive in its blue coat.
  • And it’s not just a solid colour. There’s a subtle gradient. The paint also has a micro pattern which shimmers in sunlight.
  • In the hand, it feels sturdy and more premium than its price would suggest, something we seem to say often about Vivo phones. This despite its plastic body.
  • A screen protector is pre-applied, and a protective case is also included in the box.
  • And I’d recommend using the phone with the case, not just because it provides protection (and a deep lip around the screen), but it actually makes it easier to hold and one-hand.
  • The 6.35-inch IPS display doesn’t feel too large either, and the 1544×720 resolution is what you’d expect at this price range.
  • 3GB of RAM is a welcome addition. The phone feels much nippier than the Y91C.
  • The Y11’s best feature, without a doubt and easily its biggest selling point, is its battery. A 5000mAh capacity battery powers this phone, and you can expect more than a day between charges.
  • Thanks to this, it’s probably the perfect budget phone for load shedding.
  • A Low Power Mode makes the battery last even longer, too.
  • Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 439 is a decent budget chip, offering high efficiency with snappy daily multitasking performance.
  • A 3.5mm headphone jack is always worth a mention.
  • A dual camera setup at the rear isn’t standard on phones this price yet, and gives the Vivo Y11 an edge over the likes of the Huawei Y6 2019.
  • The physical fingerprint sensor at the rear is an absolute dream. It’s well-placed, quick to respond, and more reliable than most flagship phones’ under-display sensors.
  • One good thing about FunTouch UI is its Ultra Game Mode, which lets users switch off notifications, calls, and more distractions.
  • Like the Y91C, there’s also a Motorbike Mode, making this phone a good option for delivery riders.
  • There’s also a built-in Dark Mode, which is a lot darker than the stock Android version.

The ordinary

  • Storage is a bit low at 32GB (only 22GB is usable on first boot), but you can use the microSD card expansion slot. However, this occupies the second slot on dual SIM models.
  • Camera performance is average. I mean, you should expect much at this price range, but I’d expect shots good enough to share on social at least.
  • It launched with Android 9 Pie, but it remains to be seen if it’ll get Android 10 in South Africa.
  • Depending on what charger or power bank you use to charge this phone, times span from 2.5 hours to around 4. 10W charging isn’t quite fast enough, so it’s going to be a device you want to charge when you don’t need it.
  • Speaking of which, I would’ve loved to see some type of reverse charging feature for this phone to use it as a power bank for other devices.

The bad

  • This phone’s around 40 grams heavier than its two closest rivals. The benefit of this is a larger battery, but does the benefit outweigh (pun intended) the penalty for consumers?
  • My review version was a single SIM unit, but Vivo does promise to bring dual SIM models to SA. But when?
  • Again, most of my criticism about this phone is actually about FunTouch UI.
  • Just like the Y91C, I can’t understand why FunTouch UI is so difficult to use, why settings placements aren’t where they are on other Android phones, and why the Apple-like “Control panel” exists.
  • FunTouch UI actually ruins the user experience to the point where I can’t imagine using this thing as a daily driver, even though it has some excellent hardware.
  • There’s some bloatware installed: a number of Vivo apps, and Facebook.
  • And like the Y91C, apps like Albums needs permissions beyond simple “Storage”. I have no idea why, but it’s not needed. At all.

So final thoughts? While R2699 is a fair price, wait a few months and pick this phone up for a little cheaper. Also, I can’t think of another phone that offers a 5000mAh battery at this price, making it the perfect phone to use in flight, on the road, or during load shedding.

Feature image: the Vivo Y11, by Andy Walker/Memeburn

Andy Walker, former editor


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