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vivo Y31 (2021) Review: Step Up

Is the vivo Y31 (2021) worth considering?

Review Verdict: While the vivo Y31 (2021) shares the same design language as the V20 Pro released in the Philippines last year, it offers folks who aren’t quite ready to jump to 5G an alternative phone to cop. While we would have liked a more usable ultra-wide-angle camera instead of the two feature-stuffers included in the phone, the Y31 (2021) is one of the best Y-series phones vivo has released in recent memory.

Pros:

  • Great photos and videos from the 48-megapixel main camera
  • Android 11 out of the box
  • Impressive battery life

Cons:

  • You get two near-useless rear cameras
  • Dated dewdrop notch

vivo Y31 2021

It has been a good 6 years since we last heard about the Y31 (2021), and vivo chose to revive the model name by giving it proper 2021 upgrades that include a design language borrowed from the more premium X50 series, and a 48-megapixel main rear camera–which is a first for any Y-series phone. Let’s dive in on our vivo Y31 (2021) review and see if this phone is worth considering:

vivo Y31 (2021) Philippines Specs:

  • Snapdragon 662 processor
  • 8GB RAM
  • 128GB UFS 2.1 storage (expandable via MicroSD)
  • 6.58-inch Full HD+ (1080×2408) IPS display
  • 48-megapixel f/1.8 main camera with PDAF, 2-megapixel f/2.4 macro camera, 2-megapixel f/2.4 depth sensor
  • 8-megapixel f/1.8 selfie camera
  • LTE, 4G
  • WiFi, Bluetooth 5.1, side-mounted fingerprint scanner
  • 5000mAh battery
  • 18w fast charging
  • Android 11, FunTouch OS 11

vivo Y31 2021 2Design

The vivo Y31 (2021)’s back camera module looks very similar to the X50 Pro, V20, and V20 Pro, where you have the main 48-megapixel camera taking up most of the space. The LED flash sits below the three cameras, and the polycarbonate back panel comes with a frosted finish–a first for any Y-series phone–that is more smudge resistant than typical glossy finishes.

vivo Y31 2021 3

Despite having a sizeable 5000mAh battery, the Y31 (2021) does not feel heavy or feels chunky. The phone is on the slender side, and it’s impressive vivo managed to keep the phone looking and feeling sleek despite packing a huge battery. vivo Philippines sent us a Y31 (2021) review unit in Ocean Blue that has a subtle gradient, showcasing different shades of blue depending on how light hits through the surface.

vivo moved the SIM tray on top for the phone while keeping the rest of the buttons and ports at the same location: volume controls and power button (that also functions as the fingerprint scanner) on the right side, and headphone jack, USB-C port, and loudspeaker at the bottom. The vivo Y31 (2021) is one of the few Y-series phones that adopt USB-C, and we’re glad that vivo is giving its entry-level phones the modern (and more versatile) port.

Display and speakers

You get a familiar display on the Y31 (2021), which is a 6.58-inch IPS panel with a Full HD+ resolution and a dewdrop notch for the 16-megapixel selfie snapper. Dewdrop notches in 2021 are already dated, as most brands are using punch-holes for their phone offerings–including budget offerings.

Dated notch aside, the Y31 (2021) makes up for it with a good panel, where colors are better compared to other Y-series phone I have reviewed in the past. You can take advantage of the improved colors with Netflix, as the Y31 (2021) has Widevine L1, which means you can watch your favorite shows in HD quality.

As for the lone speaker, the overall sound quality is the same as other Y-series phones. There’s not much to write about the vivo Y31 (2021)’s overall audio fidelity, though it is worth noting that it does not get distorted even when you max out the volume. Don’t expect punchy bass or crystal-clear mids with the speaker–you’re better off using your preferred pair of cans if you want better sound quality.

Cameras

The biggest upgrade on the Y31 (2021) involves its cameras, as you get a 48-megapixel f/1.8 snapper for the main snapper. The other two cameras accompanying it are more of stat stuffers since they are just 2-megapixel sensors–one for macro shots and one for depth sensing. For what the Y31 (2021) has to offer, we wished vivo swapped one of the 2-megapixel cameras for a more useful ultra-wide-angle camera.

With a higher-resolution main sensor, the overall image quality is significantly better than previous Y-series phones. In fact, the Y31 (2021)’s camera performance is comparable to vivo’s own V15 Pro from 2019.

I used the Y31 (2021) when I visited Mt. Porro Nature Reserve a few weekends ago, and I’m quite happy with the amount of detail in the images, not to mention consistent colors in most shooting conditions. While colors are less vibrant in low-light shooting, they still preserved a good amount of detail–even if I did not use its Night Mode feature.

The same can be said for videos. While you can only shoot up to Full HD 30FPS, the footage is usable for vlogging. vivo did not disclose if the Y31 (2021) has EIS, but I did barely noticed any signs of jittery footage when I was using it to take videos.

When it comes to selfies, the Y31 (2021) does shoot good ones with its 8-megapixel snapper. Aside from the good amount of detail in the selfies I took, the Y31 (2021) handles backlit situations better than other rival phones.

Internals and battery life

Powering the Y31 (2021) is a Snapdragon 662 processor that is paired with 8GB RAM–the most in a Y-series phone, along with 128GB of internal storage. The Y31 (2021)’s processor is a step up from the Snapdragon 4-series and Helio P-series processors being used on other Y-series phones like the Y20i and the Y95 from 2018.

With 8GB of RAM, the Y31 (2021) zips through multitasking, and the phone’s UI looks cleaner (read: less bloatware), thanks to the Android 11-based FunTouchOS 10.5 that help make the user experience as smooth as possible.

While we could not run our GameBench tool to measure gaming metrics, the Y31 (2021)’s overall gaming performance is comparable to the realme 7i since both have the same processor and same RAM/storage configuration.

That being said, the Y31 (2021) can handle games well save for Asphalt 9–which is a common issue with phones running a Snapdragon 675, 665, or 662. As my daily driver for grinding through quests in Genshin Impact, the Y31 (2021) gave me generally stable gameplay at the default low settings.

Like we mentioned earlier, the Y31 (2021) packs a sizeable 5000mAh battery that supports 18w USB-C charging. Our video loop test got us a battery life result of a little over 20 hours, which is a good figure that can be credited to the Snapdragon 662’s power efficiency. Topping up the battery takes roughly a little under 3 hours to 100%.

Wrap up and conclusions

Using it as a daily driver, our vivo Y31 (2021) review shows that the brand is ready to give the Y-series a proper level up in terms of features in the Philippines. Aside from having a design language that looks similar to its more expensive siblings, one of the biggest upgrades here is the 48-megapixel main rear camera, which delivers a performance level that is comparable to 2019 V-series phones like the V15 Pro and V17 Pro.

While there are compromises made–like the lack of an ultra-wide-angle camera and a dated notch–the Y31 (2021) is a great budget mid-range phone for content creation and for consuming content with its Widevine L1 certification and Full HD+ resolution.

vivo Y31 (2021) Price Philippines:

Unfortunately, we haven’t been given the price for the vivo Y31 (2021) in the Philippines as of the publishing of this review. We’ll update this section as soon as they give word. That being said, we expect it to be priced at around Php 12k based on the SRP of the 6GB RAM version in India.

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