vivo X3s first impressions: modest specs, not-so modest pricing

“The X3s sports a good design and decent specs, but its high pricing may act as a deterrent”

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Alongside the vivo X5Max and Xshot (first impressions), the Chinese brand also showcased its mid-range offering, the X3s. While we are certainly impressed by the brand top-end devices, we know that it’s the mid-range that drives the sales for most companies. So let’s take a closer look at the vivo X3s.

The vivo X3s looks quite similar to the Xshot since both of them are built around a display panel measuring 5-inches diagonally. The devices also share similarities in terms of design since both of them sport unibody construction. In fact, both look almost the same from the front, unless you see the placement of sensors above the display. However, instead of a metallic frame, the X3s is crafted entirely from plastic.

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While the vivo X3s is dipped in a white hue at the front, it sports a dual-colour finish at the rear. The silver colour extends across the edges as well, and gives the impression of a metallic frame, even though it’s not. On the back, you’ll find the primary camera unit which juts out slightly with an LED flash at the top and the speaker grille towards the bottom.

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The placement of buttons and ports is also reversed in the device when compared to the vivo Xshot. On the right of the vivo X3s, there’s a tray which houses the micro-SIM card. The left spine sports the volume buttons followed by the power button.

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On the top, you’ll find the 3.5mm audio socket, whereas the micro-USB port is available at the base. The vivo X3s also has a primary microphone and a noise-cancellation mic on the bottom and top respectively.

Being a mid-range offering, the 5-inch display of the vivo X3s flaunts HD resolution instead of 1080p resolution. With a pixel density of 294ppi, the display offers rich colours and sharp text and we didn’t notice any pixelation.

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The vivo X3s draws power from the popular MediaTek MT6592 SoC, which offers eight cores running at 1.7GHz. It gets help from a gigabyte of RAM. As can be expected from the combination, the device worked really smoothly during our brief time. However, we feel that the RAM can be a bottleneck, especially when too many apps are running at the background. Of course, we will test it out once we get the vivo X3s for review in our labs.

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For storage needs, the smartphone comes with 16GB of flash memory. Unfortunately, there’s no option to increase it further, since the vivo X3s lacks an expansion slot. However, it does come with USB OTG support, allowing users to plug in flash drives directly.

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In terms of software interface, the handset runs FunTouch UI 1.0 atop Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. While the brand will be updating it soon to Android KitKat with the next version of its custom overlay, there’s no definite timeline as to when it will receive the sweet taste of Lollipop 5.0.

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We have discussed the basic interface elements and interesting features in our hands on impressions with the Xshot, but there’s a ton of useful things that are available in the UI. The lock screen itself offers a couple of screens that can be accessed by swiping left or right. If you swipe left from the main lock screen, then the phone displays the music control right there, while swiping right takes one directly to the camera. There are quite a few customisation options, and you can change the lock screen wallpaper, homescreen wallpaper, transition effects, and unlock mode amongst other things.

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The notification panel is also a bit different in the vivo X3s as compared to the Xshot (most probably since the former is running an older version of FunTouch UI). Both the notifications and quick toggles are available in the notification shade, which can be accessing by pulling down from the top. However, the quick toggles are placed towards the bottom, making it easier to access them. The multitasking menu an be accessed by long-pressing the home key, and is similar to the stock Android interface.

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Similar to Chinese skins like MIUI and Vibe UI, the vivo’s custom skin considers the security aspect of the phone seriously. With the i Manager app, you can get rid of junk files, cache, etc., monitor your data consumption, manage apps, efficiently use the phone’s battery and more.

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The imaging duties on the vivo X3s are handled by a 13-megapixel primary camera at the back, which is supplemented by an LED flash. On the front, the handset offers a 5MP shooter. The camera interface is also heavily customised with variety of settings and modes available at the click of the button.

The connectivity comprises the usual options, including 3G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS. Juicing up the device is 2,000mAh sealed battery. MediaTek’s octa-core chipset is known to be power hungry, so we aren’t quite sure if a mere 2,000mAh battery will be enough to get through an entire working day.

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The vivo X3s will go on sale starting December 22nd and will retail between Rs 23,000 and Rs 25,000. The specs of the smartphone are quite decent, however it’s pricing puts in the upper mid-range category where we have a deluge of options such as the OnePlus One (review | cheatsheet), Lenovo Vibe X2 (review | FAQs), Huawei Honor 6 (review), HTC Desire 820 (first impressions) that come across as better choices.

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