Consumer technology maker Vivo launched their X50 Pro handset back in August. The phone is the current flagship of their Australian line-up priced at $999 and promising great camera chops with a new gimbal based camera system for the main sensor.
Vivo isn’t the biggest smartphone in Australia, with a number of budget oriented Y-series handsets making up most of their range, though the X50 Lite is another option if you want something more premium.
Though they only have a small presence in Australia, they are a top 10 smartphone maker globally, cracking the top 5 earlier this year. That says a lot for a smartphone maker, so when they announced the X50 Pro with the gimbal camera, I wanted to try it.
Vivo has sent across the X50 Pro for review, and I’ve given it a solid week of use, and here’s how it went.
Hardware and Design
To start with the phone looks great in a ‘Alpha Grey’ coloured option which has a frosted, almost matte look to it, though it is a soft-touch finish so you can see some marks on there, but far less than other glossy glass backed phones we’ve seen on the market. The rear has a decently large camera bump, but thanks to the in-display fingerprint sensor, there’s not much else on the rear to mar the fairly clean lines of the phone.
The X50 Pro includes a large 6.56-inch FHD+ (2376×1080) resolution AMOLED display, which curves off at the sides. The curved display slopes down to the side of the aluminium chassis, and there’s a volume rocker and power button on the right – both of which are decently ‘clicky’. The back of the phone is a little ‘thicc’ here, but it makes the phone easier to grip overall.
My personal preference has moved away from curved displays due to the accidental taps you can have with the screen curving around the edge where you hold it – but the Vivo X50 Pro is pretty good on this front.
The display on the X50 Pro is bright and easy to see, even in bright daylight – though as usual the auto-brightness can be a little lax, so manually adjusting it can help.
The screen supports a 90Hz refresh rate making it look great – if you have it on. By default the refresh is set to use ‘Smart Switch’ which intelligently sets the refresh rate based on what you’re doing, but you can force either 90Hz or 60Hz, though you’ll see a battery hit when you force the 90Hz display mode. It’s worth it to enable 90Hz refresh though as the OS looks a lot better with smoother scrolling and animations.
Vivo have included an in-display fingerprint sensor, and like most of these optical sensors it can be slow, or even inaccurate depending on the angle you hold your finger at. It’s good enough though for the most part – but there will be a few times it will miss.
There’s a small punch hole notch in the top left corner which houses a 32MP selfie camera, and it’s barely noticeable when you’re using the phone.
The Vivo X50 Pro does include a screen protector pre-applied to the display, which helps to protect it from everyday knocks and bumps. Vivo tells me that their partners, including Amazon, will soon be stocking Tempered Glass screen protectors for the X50 Pro which will offer even more protection.
Other notes on the design of the X50 Pro include that it has a USB-C port on the bottom, with the dual-SIM tray on one-side and a speaker grille on the other. Notably there’s no headphone jack on the phone though this is expected for phones in this category. Audio is fairly decent through the bottom speaker, though it’s a phone speaker, so don’t expect amazing things.
Internally, the Vivo X50 Pro, like most phones targeting the burgeoning 5G market in Australia, uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor. Vivo have paired this with 8GB RAM and 256GB of on-board storage – it’s dual-SIM, but there’s no microSD card support to expand storage.
Vivo have included a big 4,315mAh battery for all-day battery life, though you can top up the phone very quickly with the 33W FlashCharge 2.0 charger in the box. Vivo claim just 30 minutes charge from the charger will top you up to 57% charge which is decent – if you need it.
I managed between a full day to a day and a half between charges during my testing of the phone. It’s a pretty impressive battery life, as I wasn’t babying it, and used some hot-spot which definitely killed the battery faster than your average daily use.
I’d love to see some wireless charging on a future model, and it’s a little hard to see why it wasn’t included on the X50 Pro – other phones in this price range offer it, so it’s a miss on this front.
Performance wise, the X50 Pro doesn’t skip a beat. As we’ve seen with a few phones this year, Qualcomm’s SD765G processor works best with 8GB RAM and the phone handles pretty well.
There are moments when you feel you’re waiting for the system to respond, but those moments are mostly few and far between. The phone feels nicely optimised with no system crashes or any other little stumbling blocks along the way. I feel the Pixel 5 was slightly faster overall, and given that phone comes with wireless charging and IP68 dust/water resistance (which the X50 Pro doesn’t) it feels like Vivo needs to do some work here.
Vivo have talked up the camera system on the X50 Pro at launch, pointing at the ‘professional-grade gimbal camera technology’ included for the 48MP main sensor on the rear. The gimbal system uses a double-ball suspension mount that Vivo says can track ‘objects, or pivots back into place when you hit reset’. All-in-all, it’s aimed at taking great shots even with movement.
Along with the 48MP main sensor, Vivo include an 8MP sensor with 120° Super Wide-Angle lens, a 13MP sensor for ‘Professional Portrait’ mode and an 8MP sensor with 5x Telescopic lens that also supports hybrid zoom up to 60x.
The gimbal mounted 48MP sensor is actually very, very good, though it’s not perfect. The tracking of the camera is the main winner here, though it can be a little slow to lock on to a subject at times – but for the most part it acts like Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS), but on a far more professional level. There’s a gimbal indicator which can be overlaid over your shot which is a good indicator for when you need to hold your hand a little more steadily.
Pictures on the main sensor are as you’d expect. It’s great in daylight, no matter whether it’s bright, overcast or even heading into night/low-light conditions. The 48MP sensor supports binning, so you’ll get a 16MP final shot in your camera roll.
The ultra-wide sensor offers a decent shot, though the drop down in quality from the 48MP sensor can be noticeable – though the utility of an Ultra-Wide can’t be denied, even with the drop in quality.
By far the best use of the gimbal is for video mode, where on the fly stabilisation is key. The X50 Pro offers video modes up to 4K/60fps, but it’s fairly impressive for a video mode with fast focus and a nice, steady shot when moving. Getting video off through the USB 2.0 type-C port is a little slow, but video quality is quite good.
Vivo has done a good job with the night mode option on the X50 Pro, with night shots definitely picking up a lot of details, even in low light.
Lastly, Vivo includes a number of modes in their ‘More’ section of the camera app. The modes include a number of staples like Panorama, Slow Motion, Time-Lapse and Live photo – but also more night mode options including Super Night, Astro and Supermoon Mode.
I was pretty impressed with both the Astrophotography and Supermoon mode. The Supermoon mode allows you to take shots at 1x, 10x, 30x and 60x and with a basic tripod it gave some awesome shots. The Astrophotography mode requires the tripod, with exposures taking a shade over four minutes. The results speak for themselves though as you see below.
Vivo as a company is part of the BBK Electronics conglomerate which also includes other phone makers OPPO, RealMe and OnePlus. The software is reflective of that, and though it’s called ‘FunTouch OS’ it feels similar to Color OS from OPPO and RealMe OS from Realme.
FunTouch OS is built on Android 10, and comes with the 1st of September 2020 security update which is delivered via a software update when you power up the phone for the first time. Vivo haven’t spoken about plans for updates on the X50 Pro, though it did receive the 1st of September update, so it’s likely looking at quarterly security updates for at least a while.
As a whole FunTouch OS isn’t terrible, though it fails to add anything to Android that would account for the addition. There’s also some decent bloatware as part of the X50 Pro software load, and while you can uninstall some of it, there’s some system apps that can’t be which is annoying.
Should you buy this phone?
At the tail end of 2020, there’s an absolute abundance of 5G phones on the market in Australia. The Snapdragon 765G processor is at the heart of most the 5G phones available in Australia, and it performs well paired with 8GB of RAM, and while FunTouch OS isn’t my cup of tea, it works well for performance.
My main concerns with the X50 Pro are the ‘missing’ components like wireless charging and IP68 water resistance, which is fine, except when you see them included on other phones in this price range. I’d also like to see the microSD card expansion, and a headphone jack, but these aren’t dealbreakers. Nor is the software, though FunTouch is scaling back from what it was, it’s still far from stock Android, and the included software needs more options to enable users to rid themselves of unwanted apps.
Camera wise, the X50 Pro is spot on with what it offers. It’s a good camera in both low and bright light, with an absolute motza of optional modes you can play with. I’m also very impressed with the moon and astro-photography modes.
Overall, the Vivo X50 Pro is a good phone all round with a few nice camera features, and for $999 it’s pretty well priced. It comes down to whether you’re after options like wireless charging, expandable memory and those ‘extra’ features. If you’re not fussed with those, the X50 Pro makes for a great phone.