I’ve been off Android for quite some time now, so when I was given the chance to review the new vivo Y36, I immediately jumped at the chance. Here’s how I found the phone when I took it for a spin on a week-long work trip.
The review unit we got came in an eye-catching Glitter Aqua colorway with a visual sandblasted back panel that pops when it catches the light. I say visual because there’s a transparent glass piece protecting the textured design, so you won’t actually be able to run your fingers over it. The vivo logo is in the rear’s bottom left, while the upper left houses the camera island with the flash module and huge rear camera lenses.
The volume rockers and power button sit on the phone’s right edge; the top edge has a microphone pinhole and the combination microSD-SIM card tray; and the bottom has a 3.5mm headphone jack, another microphone pinhole, USB-C port, and single bottom-firing speakers. The left edge is bare. Up front is the gigantic 6.64-inch, Full HD 1080p IPS LCD display with a punch-hole display along the top side for the selfie shooter.
The phone also comes with a clear transparent jelly case out of the box so you can use and show it off immediately while increasing its chances of survival against drops and rough surfaces. It’s a thoughtful inclusion for those with butterfingers like me, as I accidentally dropped it from waist level once, and it survived without a scratch.
Overall, the phone looks pretty nice and feels decent in hand. My only gripe is the huge two-piece black camera assemblies at the back, which I feel distracts from the chic aesthetic it has going on.
Starting off with the display, the vivo Y36 has a sizeable 6.64-inch Full HD (1080 x 2388 px) IPS display with a 90Hz refresh rate and a 240Hz touch sampling rate. It runs on a power efficiency-focused but dated Qualcomm Snapdragon 680 chipset with an Adreno 610 GPU and 8GB of RAM, which should make the vivo Y36 a decent performer across the board. However, the chip means no 5G.
The 256GB built-in storage is quite generous. Out of the box, it arrives with around 235GB of free storage, with the rest taken up by the OS and some pre-installed apps, which you can opt to remove. You should have a hard time filling this phone up, but if ever you do, you can bolster it with up to a 1TB microSD card.
One more thing of note is the battery. With 5000mAh of juice and combined with the battery life-focused Snapdragon 680, the vivo Y36 should easily last a whole day of mixed use with plenty to spare. It also ships with a 44W fast charger out of the box to make charging the gargantuan battery a less time-consuming affair.
User Experience: 4/5
I used the vivo Y36 as a daily driver for about a week on the road and in the field, and it has been great for my everyday use case scenario—lots of photo and video taking, intermittent social media and browser use, watching videos here and there, and a few intermittent gaming sessions.
Coming from a smaller phone with just a 5.4-inch screen, the extra real estate from the vivo Y36 was much appreciated both for messaging and viewing media. The screen is quite bright and is still viewable even outside on a sunny day. Colors also came out vibrant and decently saturated, and the 90Hz display made for a fluid scrolling experience.
The cameras also performed nicely in well-lit conditions. Shooting with HDR on, captured images came out nicely with decent sharpness, no horrid-looking color enhancements, and a decent balance between highlights and shadows. As with many phones, the vivo Y36 struggles to resolve details and suppress noise in dimly lit environments. However, the accompanying 50MP Super Night Algorithm technology in the camera is able to churn out surprisingly great low-light photos as long as you can hold the phone steady for a few seconds. The videos I’ve taken also came out nice, and the software-based stabilization still works and does not produce very noticeable artifacts, even if I’m walking haphazardly. I did miss having a wide-angle camera and a 4K video option, though.
As for the battery, the Flash Charge power brick performs as advertised. From totally dead, 30 minutes of being tethered to the wall juiced the vivo Y36 up to 47%. It took a total of around 1 hour and 10 minutes to fully charge to 100%—quite reasonable for the sizeable power source. I also found that I could easily go around two days before I needed to top off the battery, a runtime which is unsurprising given the battery size and power-efficient chip.
Speaking of the Snapdragon 680, the vivo Y36 scored 6897 in PC Mark’s Work 3.0 Performance test. In 3D Mark’s Wild Life test, it scored 587, averaged 3.5 frames per second, and is reportedly outperformed by 94% of all devices. Real-life gaming use was a mixed bag. Mobile Legends performs smoothly, even at the highest graphic settings. Even a shooter like Call of Duty Mobile performed smoothly as long as I didn’t push graphics settings all the way up. However, playing NBA 2K was not the smoothest affair, and navigating the menus had some hiccups here and there. In-game, even on Low graphics, it feels like it barely keeps 30fps.
It doesn’t have the most powerful processor for gaming at this price point, but it makes up for it in other areas. The vivo Y36 was able to keep up with what I needed it to be: a multimedia consumption device that takes decent images and can go on and on without me being paranoid that it will be dead in the middle of the day. If you’re coming from an older phone and are looking for something that looks good, performs decent, can go for hours on end with plenty of battery to spare, with tons of storage, and is quite affordable at PHP12,999, the vivo Y36 makes a great case for itself.
- Display: 6.64-inch Full HD (1080 x 2388 px) IPS display with 90Hz refresh rate and 240Hz touch sampling rate
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 680
- OS: Funtouch OS 13 (Android 13)
- RAM: 8GB,
- Storage: 256GB, microSD expandable up to 1TB
- Camera: 50MP main with super night algorithm and 2MP depth (rear); 16MP (front)
- Connectivity: 4G LTE, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS with aGPS support, USB Type-C
- Battery: 5000mAh, 44W Flash Charge
- Dimensions: 164.06 × 76.17 × 8.07 mm
- Weight: 201g
- Long battery life
- Decent rear cameras
- Looks great
- Snapdragon 680 is not that powerful
- No 5G
If you’re on the hunt for a good-looking daily driver and you’re not looking to play heavy games, then the vivo Y36 is something you should consider.
Review and photos by Chris Noel Hidalgo
Also published in Gadgets Magazine August 2023 Issue