The MediaTek Helio P35 processor is a strange choice, as it has shown up in phones that cost much less than the Vivo Y17, most notably the Oppo A5s. This is a mid-range processor with eight ARM Cortex-A53 cores all running at 2.3GHz, and an integrated PowerVR GE8320 GPU. The Vivo Y17 comes in a single configuration with 4GB of RAM and a relatively generous 128GB of storage.
The 6.35-inch screen has a resolution of 720×1544 in a 19.3:9 aspect ratio, and Vivo has used a standard LCD panel. Several other smartphones at this price level, including the Samsung Galaxy M30 and Xiaomi Redmi Note 7 Pro feature superior full-HD panels.
n the box, you get the 18W charger, a Micro-USB cable, a wired headset, a clear plastic case, a SIM eject tool, and some leaflets. The headset looks like an Apple EarPods knockoff and doesn’t have rubber tips. Stock Android has a vocal fanbase these days, but Vivo has gone off the deep end with customisations in its Funtouch OS 9, based on Android 9.0. There’s a lot to take in, starting with the lock screen, which shows random photos and stories from Vivo’s own Lockscreen Poster service. Thankfully there are no ads here yet.
There’s nothing unique or new about the overall design of the Vivo Y17. It’s a flat slab with rounded sides and a waterdrop-style notch for the front camera. However, this phone does have character thanks to the choice of deep jewel-tone colours for the frame and rear panel.
You can choose between Mineral Blue and Mystic Purple, both of which are pretty unconventional. Both options have gradient finishes, with the Mineral Blue one fading into a much darker tone at the bottom, and the Mystic Purple doing the same, but at the top. If you look closely and tilt the phone so it catches the light, you’ll see a fine pattern of diagonal lines. Vivo says this is inspired by the interplay of water and light.
Our blue review unit had an eye-catching gold ring around the slightly protruding triple camera module on the rear, while the purple option just has a matching purple ring. The frame of the phone has the same gradient as the rear.
The material used for the rear panel is plastic, though it does look like it has the depth of glass. As nice as the finish of this phone is, it picks up fingerprints and smudges very easily.
The display of the Vivo Y17 has a slightly unusual 19.3:9 aspect ratio, though this makes no practical difference to usability. The curved sides mask how thick the borders to the sides of the screen are but there’s no hiding the thick chin. Vivo shipped our review unit to us with a plastic screen protector already stuck on it, and we found the upper edge a bit scratchy against our ear.
The power and volume buttons are positioned low enough on the right side to be within the reach of our thumb, but the fingerprint sensor on the rear was just a little too high for our liking. There’s a tray on the left with individual cutouts for two Nano-SIMs as well as a microSD card. We’re slightly disappointed to see a Micro-USB port on the bottom. There’s also a 3.5mm headset socket and a single speaker.
The Vivo Y17 is a fairly heavy phone at 190.5g, and at 8.92mm thick, it also isn’t the most pocketable. That’s the tradeoff Vivo has made in order to fit in the enormous 5000mAh battery, so a lot of buyers will still be glad. Thankfully the rear panel isn’t slippery at all, so even though one-handed usage was awkward, we didn’t feel as though the Y17 might fall from our grasp when we were stretching with one thumb.
The Vivo Y17 might not have the most powerful hardware in its price bracket, but it worked well enough for us during our review. We were worried that Funtouch OS might be bloated and slow, but that wasn’t the case either. The phone was reasonably responsive and UI animations were consistently smooth. Fingerprint and face recognition both worked well and we had no complaints.
The screen is a little underwhelming, with washed-out colours and slightly rough edges around icons and text. However, viewing angles are great and it can get very bright. We found it easy to use this phone under harsh sunlight. You only get Widevine L3 certification which limits video streaming to sub-HD resolutions for some services, but the screen isn’t full-HD anyway.
The single speaker on the bottom was quite bad, producing only grating, harsh sound. The bundled headset has a very open, hollow sound and can’t really handle bass frequencies, but isn’t bad overall for casual listening.
Performance in benchmark tests was as weak as we had expected based on the processor that Vivo has chosen for this phone. The Y17 put up a score of only 87,048 in AnTuTu, and Geekbench gave us 769 and 4,106 points in its single- and multi-core tests respectively. We also got scores of 798 and 9,356 in 3DMark’s Sling Shot and Ice Storm Extreme tests. The phone only managed 29fps in GFXBench’s T-rex scene and 12fps in the Manhattan 3.1 scene.
Speaking of the battery, this is one area in which the Vivo Y17 did well for itself. Our HD video loop test ran for 18 hours, 57 minutes which is pretty impressive. With everyday use, including a bit of photography, an hour or so of video streaming, and plenty of time spent using various apps, we were able to make this phone last for a day and a half before it needed to be recharged. The included 18W charger is a bit bulky but charges the phone quickly.
The Vivo Y17 has a 13-megapixel f/2.2 primary rear camera with a secondary 8-megapixel f/2.2 wide-angle camera and a 2-megapixel f/2.4 depth sensor for portrait shots. This isn’t particularly impressive, especially the high apertures which indicate that low-light performance might not be up to the mark that other phones at this price level have set. Vivo has instead focused on the front camera, which has a 20-megapixel resolution and f/2.0 aperture.
The default video resolution is 1280×720 for some reason, and there’s no stabilisation so our recordings were quite shaky. The quality of video, both under sunlight and at night, was disappointing.
The Vivo Y17 looks good and has impressive battery life as well as quick charging. It has loads of storage space and the front camera is pretty decent. You might be happy with it in day-to-day use if you stick to common social media and messaging apps. Sadly, that’s where the appeal ends.
This phone is quite simply outclassed by other models available at its price, and even by several that cost a lot less. The processor, display, and cameras are not impressive enough given how hard Vivo’s competitors are pushing right now. This phone isn’t well suited for high-quality gaming, it can’t take great photos or record good video, and the software is awkward to live with despite there being some good ideas in there.