Vivo X50 Pro review: Going steady

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8.3 Solid

Coming in at just R17,000, the Vivo X50 `pro offers far more than just a decent smartphone experience. The camera is up there with the greats, and functionality is ace. If you’re not keen on bloatware and annoying OS skins, the experience may be a bit tainted. But looking at the specs, the wacky built-in gimbal, battery life and 33W charging should convince you this is a mid-ranger worth checking out.

  • Battery Life 9
  • Design 9
  • Software 7
  • Camera 8
  • User Ratings (1 Votes) 7.1

Turns out Vivo’s first flagship in South Africa is also one of the most interesting devices of 2020. A gimbal built into the phone’s body? Why not?

Vivo squeezes a whole gimbal into a smartphone camera and the world goes mad. For good reason. The Vivo X50 Pro looks just like any other 2020 flagship but produces some fire pictures and very stable video footage. The main camera sensor sports a unique gimbal system that shifts the lens along two axes using electromagnetic induction. And guess what? It really works well. 

Even more, it’s a beauty. Smartphone designs have become increasingly similar in recent years, so when someone does something unique, it’s a standout feature. But don’t get us wrong — the Vivo X50 Pro isn’t a flagship that’ll cost upwards of R20k. 

The only non-flagship sign is the fact that the X50 Pro is powered by a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 765. Up front you get the 6.5in display with the ‘3D screen’ that drops off the edges and with tiny bezels around the edges. We can’t downplay the attention to detail in design here. It’s a beautiful piece of tech. Let’s get into it. 

Almost alien

Its 6.56in Full HD+ OLED display has small bezels, and a slight curve around the left and right edges. You get a punch-hole front-facer here for the selfie cam. The display is speedy too, and doing even the most medial of tasks on a 90Hz display makes it worthwhile. Alternate between 60Hz and 90Hz according to your needs that day, while an adaptive mode switch it for you based to your use. Lazy bastards. 

Around back, it’s got a sandblasted glass finish that rarely picks up dirt or fingerprints. We’ll invest in this device just for this luxurious back panel. In terms of overall aesthetic and industrial design, the X50 Pro is certainly one of the best-looking devices of the year. Fight us. 

Okay, it’s not like the company invented ‘frosted finish’, but hell, did they do a good job of this one. The perfectly velvety back with top and bottom “chokers” look premium, with the words ‘5G Professional Photography’ subtly printed on the top. 

The display features HDR10+ support, which is brilliant, especially when you start playing with the live wallpapers and customisable options in Vivo’s Funtouch OS on Android 10. Also. We really dislike the FunTouch OS, but we’ll get to that later. 

In its Stable

On to the moneymaker. The X50 Pro goes all-in on photography and videography. As you’ll find with most devices launched in the year 2020, a lot of it is software tweaking, but this time you’ve got an actual gimbal built into the camera module and that’s wild. 

In the camera module, you’ll find an arrangement of sensors: a 48MP (f/1.6) Sony IMX598 sensor main camera, an 8MP (f/2.2) wide lens, a 13MP portrait/depth sensor and an 8MP telephoto zoomer. Obviously, it’s capable of some stellar pictures with this hardware, but Vivo bulked up the software, and we’re not convinced we like it. The periscope lens promises 5x optical/60x digital zoom, but the best pics came out un-zoomed. 

The X50 Pro takes great pictures, right? But its inherent tendency to oversharpen and overexpose is consistent throughout the system, no matter which mode or lens you choose. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing since along with the added noise, it also does deliver on detail and resolution — but pop those pics over to the PC and you pick up some oddities. 

You’ll find random blurry spots, overexposed spots and oversharpened spots in some cases. But you know what? If you’re gonna use your smartphone pics for social media all of this is not relevant, and your photography will look bomb. One place where Vivo really shines, is its true-to-life colour reproduction. Very few Android cameras manage to keep saturation natural, but Vivo really does well here. 

Obviously, video is the tell-all here. Stabilisation is brilliant, thanks to actual hardware helping along smoothness. In other devices, stabilisation tech is software-related. Because this device has a gimbal, stabilisation is akin to that you’ll find with an external gimbal. 

The choices continue in the 32MP selfie cam, where you can do everything to your face every plastic surgeon ever dreamt of (or didn’t). Expect softening of skin texture and removal of most blemishes but that’s only in Portrait mode. Switch to regular mode and you get a crisp, as-is selfie that is on par with some top tier phones, if a little overexposed.

Power to the Vivo

We wish Vivo would bin its Funtouch OS skin for good, with previous models featuring a ton of bloatware. This time, however, Funtouch seems more refined on Android 10. With a battery that lasts almost two days, we’ll deal with an average Android skin. But there is quite a bit of bloatware you’d need to deal with, and it can’t just be removed from the phone. Well, not all of it.

8GB RAM is enough to handle every task, although it does take a tad bit longer for images to process before being saved to Albums, especially if you use burst mode a lot. We powered through most games we could throw at the device, from CoD to Asphalt. Even with Ultra Game mode off and the 90Hz screen with curved edges on the X50 Pro does make it a fun experience. Pity about the onboard mono speaker though. 

The quest for thin bezels means that only a bottom-firing speaker could be installed and while there is no headphone jack, a dongle is provided in the box. The audio is loud and clear though, so unless you watch a lot of streaming content on the phone, it won’t be a concern. 

Vivo X50 Pro Verdict

Video quality on the X50 Pro is just… exemplary when captured at 4K 60fps. Not many smartphones can rival the smoothness you get from an actual gimbal. Also not lugging additional gimbal accessories around is a great advantage. 

Vivo really tried to make FunTouch feel far more ‘grown-up’. You’re still greeted with a bunch of bloatware and unnecessary functionality, but it doesn’t take away from the Android experience as much as previous devices. You’ll also get the phenomenal Vivo Neo TWS earbuds if you invest in the Vivo X50 Pro in SA.

Coming in at just R17,000, the Vivo X50 Pro offers far more than just a decent smartphone experience. The camera is up there with the greats, and functionality is excellent. If you’re not keen on bloatware and annoying OS skins, the experience may be a bit tainted. But a look at the specs, the wacky built-in gimbal, battery life and 33W charging should convince you this is a mid-ranger worth checking out.

 

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Deputy Editor at Stuff. Nevermind the fancy title, I like writing about things that are cool. Like games, gadgets and sometimes even software. Depending on how cool it is.

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