Usually, one expects the likes of Google, Apple and Samsung to dominate the conversation around smartphone photography. After all, these three companies have had more influence on mobile imaging than any other brand in the last decade. But it seems like Vivo is ready to be counted amongst the big boys with its X50 Pro. Vivo has been quietly confident in India and it has reached the number two slot in India’s smartphone market overtaking a giant like Samsung. With the new X50 Pro, it is making a prominent overture towards the premium segment of the market for the first time since launching the NEX in 2018. And it is a phone laden with class and innovation which potentially makes it the new master of low-light photography.
- Before one even gets to the camera, the Vivo X50 Pro will make you fall for it with oodles of class oozing from its gorgeous hardware. Dressed in glass and metal sandwich, the X50 Pro looks dazzling in its bluish-grey featuring a matte finish. The phone has ergonomic lines with curved glass from the screen fusing the metal frame seamlessly forming an endless loop of glass across the body of the device. All of this is topped up with flat polished metal ends on the top and bottom enabling one to make the phone stand flat. It’s all very elegant and usable.
- The X50 Pro strikes an impressive balance between high-end specs that matter and not having stuff that’s not going to be useful to anyone. This is the first phone in India to be powered by the Snapdragon 765G chip coupled with 8GB of DDR4X RAM and 256GB of UFS 2.1 storage. This may not be bleeding edge by 2020 standards but still good enough to be better than 2019 flagships and keep up with the cream of the class of 2020. This phone is smooth in day to day use and it also games very well. It does everything one will expect of a flagship phone without breaking a sweat. You wouldn’t realise its specs are inferior to phones like the OnePlus 8 if you didn’t see the box.
- Vivo has also blessed this phone with a 90Hz AMOLED display. It is no teeny tiny screen — it gets a 6.56-inch full HD panel. As already mentioned, it is also a curved screen which adds to the premium nature of the panel. The display quality is also of high calibre with it being great for watching all kinds of videos and even editing photos and videos. This is one of the nicer screens you’ll get on a phone that costs less than Rs 49,999.
- The software experience of the X50 Pro is also highly impressive. Vivo’ s FunTouch OS is highly improved from what it used to be. It is based on Android 10 and increasingly resembles a stock user interface. It also operates in the most painless manner with sifting animations which make it fast and simple to use. Vivo has also shown a good penchant for software updates in the recent past — Android 11 should be on the cards for this phone in 2020.
- The camera tech grabs the most attention and legitimately so. There’s a lot going on which is unprecedented on a phone and also enables the prodigious low-light skills of this phone. Vivo is using a custom Sony IMX 598 sensor that has been built for this phone along with a micro-gimbal which is a first on a phone in India. Besides this, there is a periscope lens which does up to 5x optical zoom, an ultra-wide camera and a macro lens. The end results are stunning in low-light. I’d go out on a limb and say this is currently, the best low-light camera phone out there in the market. It’s not only how good the shots are in the night-time, but how fast one is able to take them as this phone doesn’t need to do 10 second long exposures that say a Galaxy S20+ would need to do. The zoom and ultra-wide lens also make this one of the most versatile camera systems around.
- The micro-gimbal also makes this one of the best video cameras around, period. The stabilisation is superb and it is on times actually better than even the iPhone which is the gold standard of smartphone video. It’s just that the X50 Pro isn’t able to match up to the iPhone in terms of video fidelity, other than that it is fantastic for taking videos including in low-light.
- Battery life on the phone is excellent. Its 4,315mAh battery delivers enough charge for it to last through an entire workday with even heavy usage. In my tests, I managed consistently around 7 hours of screen on time while the phone would last around 15 hours on a single charge. This I believe to be adequate for most people without inducing any battery anxiety. On top of this, the 33-watt fast charger tops up the phone in up to 75 mins which is also quite rapid for a phone of its class.
- High-quality audio aficionados will appreciate the high-resolution audio DAC that’s in the phone. That being said, it is somewhat limited by the absence of the 3.5mm headphone jack. Though wireless audio fiends will like that it supports LDAC and Qualcomm Aptx which works on Vivo’s new TWS Neo earphones. Apart from this, it also has a very fast fingerprint print scanner that works optically on the display.
- It lacks top-level performance that’s essential for playing games like PUBG and Call of Duty mobile at the highest settings without frame rate issues or the thermals becoming toasty. This is mostly a non-issue for people who don’t game much.
- Vivo is lacking in the selfie camera department. Photos are washed out and over beautified — it generally takes tacky selfies and the videos also don’t look too good.
- Vivo has skimmed on a number of small details to hit a price — the vibration motor isn’t great, there is no 3.5mm jack which means the DAC isn’t utilised properly, there is only a mono speaker which is also not top tier stuff.
- The display is a little washed out for my liking. It is not going to be great for creating videos on the phone.
- The software experience is replete with bloatware which includes banned apps like TikTok. That being said, Vivo says that these apps will not be on phones that ship to consumers. These apps made their way on per release units as those were manufactured before the ban on the 59 Chinese apps. Regardless, it will be appreciated if Vivo cuts back on the preloaded gimmickry because it mostly doesn’t help the user experience.
Should you buy it?
If you’re in the market for a top-class camera phone and your budget is not of an iPhone or Samsung — then the Vivo X50 Pro should be on your radar. It is a no-brainer — it has a prodigious camera system that performs in line with the hype coupled with classy hardware that just works. The X50 Pro is a great phone with few minor compromises but for most people, it will be excellent, especially shutterbugs.