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Vivo X50 Pro Review: Inching towards optical excellence

Come, let's talk about the Vivo X50 Pro

July 25, 2020 / 07:52 PM IST

“That smartphone looks so good. What phone is that?”

This is the Vivo X50 Pro, the top-end variant among the two X50 series smartphones and also Vivo’s most-premium offering in the Indian market.

“Premium? In terms of…”

The X50 Pro comes in a single 8GB + 256GB storage variant with a price tag of Rs 49,990.

“Rs 50,000? That is expensive for a Vivo smartphone, don't you think?”

No doubt the smartphone is on the expensive side. However, the company is justifying the premium price tag for some top-of-the-line specs, one of which is an industry-first.

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"When you say industry-first... how is the Vivo X50 Pro any different from the  rest of the 2020 smartphones?"

Here, have a look. The X50 Pro has four camera sensors housed inside the two-step module stacked on the back. The big-eye camera that you see has a gimbal-like stabiliser.

Vivo X50 Pro 6

“Gimbal? What is a Gimbal?”

Gimbal is a pivoted tool that uses motors and sensors to capture smooth and stable footage.

The stabilisation is not limited to just videos as it can also help you capture still photos. The camera, with the help of these sensors, captures stable shots and counteract unintentional/ shaky movements by moving in the opposite direction.

In the case of the Vivo X50 Pro, this gimbal solution is stacked on top of the 48MP Sony IMX598 f/1.6 sensor. That main sensor is also paired with an 8MP 120-degree ultrawide lens, a 13MP 2x telephoto lens for Portraits, and an 8MP 5x periscope lens. These versatile set of camera sensors with different focal lengths, coupled with a whole lot of features, help shoot some fantastic photos and videos.

The gimbal smartphone camera does not offer as good stabilisation as the GoPro Hero or any other action camera but is relatively-better than most smartphones out there.

“What camera features are you talking about?”

The X50 Pro has many modes inside its camera UI. Like many smartphones out there, the X50 Pro’s camera UI has a Photo, Portrait, Night and a Video mode. You can also switch between the lenses by tapping on the toggle at the bottom of the viewfinder.

But there is also a ‘More’ option here, which gives access to more camera features like the 48MP mode, Pro Sports, Starry Sky, AI Super moon mode, etc.

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“That Starry Sky and Super Moon mode you just mentioned… what does it do? Add stars to the sky?”

I wish that was the case, would have made Mumbai’s polluted skies look beautiful… but no. The Starry Sky mode takes multiple frames of the sky and then stitches them into a single shot.

I haven’t been able to get the best result out of this mode, mainly due to the light pollution here. We also shouldn’t be going far off the city limits due to the current pandemic situation. Maybe once things get back to normal, we can try using the Starry Sky mode to see how it performs. However, I did shoot some photos using the Night mode and also the Starry Sky mode. Here, take a look at the Flickr slideshow to see some X50 Pro camera samples using the Night Mode.

Vivo X50 Pro Night Mode

“Pictures look impressive. I must say my current smartphone doesn’t shoot as good night photos.”

Vivo claims to have worked on the camera algorithm, and it shows. There were times wherein the normal photo mode would click functional photos, but you could see some noise and also loss of details in the shadows. The Night mode not only offers a better-detailed shot but also ensures that the highlights and shadows are not overexposed. Moreover, the night sky does not change to a darker shade of blue in most cases, which is a plus.

“Why can I see the same shot having different colours in the night?”

Oh! That is because of the four night mode filters that Vivo X50 Pro comes with. They are more like an add-on in case you want to add some colour to the night. There are four styles that you can find in Night Mode — Black and Gold,  Blue Ice, Green and Orange, and CyberPunk. If you want to know my favourite among the four, I will pick the Black and Gold filter. 

Vivo X50 Pro Night Mode Filters

“I am totally sold on the fact that the X50 Pro performs amazingly in low-light, but then again I mostly click photos during the day. How does the camera click photos in well-lit conditions?”

Even in daylight, the camera performed pretty well. The main camera shoots well-detailed shots, which is not limited to the central area. Many times, these 48MP/64MP sensors tend to lack details around the edges, and the final output has softer corners. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case with the X50 Pro. What I did notice is that the software tends to boost the reds and greens in some cases and increases the saturation. If you like the poppy colours, then you will like the X50 Pro… should be among your options.

Vivo X50 Pro wide and ultra wide shots

“Hmm.. what about the other three cameras?”

The 8MP ultra-wide isn’t as detailed as the main camera and performs above average. Do not expect too many details here. When it comes to colour temperature, the ultra-wide and wide camera have an almost-similar parity. You can also take portraits using the 13MP 2x telephoto camera, which has a 50mm focal length. Edge detection is pretty good, and I did not see the software blurring my hair or ears.

Surprisingly, one of the most marketed features for many smartphones out there, the 60x zoom, is the least exciting part of the X50 Pro’s camera. I am saying so because the X50 Pro’s camera with it’s set of features is capable enough to outperform many other smartphone cameras in its segment. You can take 60x zoom shots and the gimbal stabilisation will assist you in getting a stable shot up to a point but expect detailed shots with decent colour accuracy up to 5x zoom. Anything further will give you noisy photos with washed-out colours. Check the set of photos I have clicked on the X50 Pro.

Vivo X50 Pro Zoom photos

“And is the front camera good for video-calling?”

Vivo X50 Pro 5

Oh yes! You cannot and should not get a smartphone that costs Rs 50k to come with a poor front camera! Vivo X50 Pro has a 32MP front camera that clicks good quality selfies. My complaint here is that the skin tone is not accurate, and the software tends to make it smooth, even without the beauty mode. Edge detection using the front camera is mostly accurate. I would give this a 7/10 for selfies.

Vivo X50 Pro portait mode and front camera

Regarding your video-calling query, the person on the opposite side will certainly get a clear view, provided you have a stable connection. By the way, you should probably wear the earphones while video-calling as the bottom-firing speaker isn’t the loudest and the front-facing earpiece does not double-up as a secondary speaker.

“Does this even have an earpiece speaker? There is barely any bezel at the top!”

Like you, even I was surprised to see how narrow the bezels on the X50 Pro are. The X50 Pro goes a notch up in terms of design. The chin, too, is very narrow and as you can see, the side bezels do not exist, thanks to the curved edges.

Vivo X50 Pro 4

“But what is the use of a curved display? Aren’t they popular for the infamous accidental touches or even cracking when the phone falls? Also, how is the display overall?”

I really have started to like curved displays. There’s no additional advantage over flat screens as such apart from a more-premium vibe while offering a more immersive experience. I did not experience any accidental touches either. Vivo says that the display has a layer of Gorilla Glass which makes it more immune to scratches and drops, but I wouldn’t test that on purpose.

Regarding the display quality, it is indeed very bright. Vivo says the display has a peak brightness of 1200 nits. If I were to translate it for the common man who doesn’t want the technicality but practicality, it simply means that you will not face any issues even when using the phone in direct sunlight. The AMOLED screen is well-calibrated, and I did not notice any colour shifting when viewing it from different angles. I also used the device to binge-watch some episodes of The 100 on Netflix and loved the overall viewing experience.

“Can I just hold the phone and try it out?”

Here you go..

Vivo X50 Pro 9

“The X50 Pro feels light. It does feel compact and lightweight.”

Yes. The X50 Pro weighs a bit over 181 grams, which is rare these days. A 6.5-inch display with such edge-to-edge bezels is tall-enough to enjoy content while being compact enough to hold the phone. The curved back of this frosted rear panel also aids in giving that additional grip you require to ensure that the phone does not slip out of your hands.

“What about the performance in general? Assuming the X50 Pro is a flagship, this must be having that Snapdragon 865 processor you get on the OnePlus 8 Pro.”

Umm.. no. The X50 Pro has a Snapdragon 765G processor that can manage day-to-day tasks quite smoothly. I have been using the phone to play games like Stick Cricket, Asphalt 8, PUBG Mobile. I did not come across any lag or stutter while using the phone. The phone also has 8GB RAM and there is enough buffer memory.

“Why no Snapdragon 865 though?”

The primary reason could be keeping the costs down. Snapdragon 865 is an expensive chip and offers slightly better performance. While the 765G may not be as fast, it is still capable of handling your day-to-day activities. Besides, the phone has a 4,315 mAh battery, which when coupled with a 90Hz refresh rate display, drains the battery faster. The use of Snapdragon 765G ensures the chip consumes less power while being efficient and not compromising on the performance.

“90Hz refresh rate. I have heard that a lot lately.”

Yes, many phones these days feature a 90 or a 120Hz refresh rate screen. A 90Hz refresh rate simply means that your screen will refresh 90 times per second. Theoretically, it is supposed to make your scrolling experience smoother while you are swiping through your apps like Twitter or Instagram. The feature is particularly handy for smartphone gamers. However, the app needs to support a 90Hz refresh rate and the software too needs to be well optimised for you to notice the difference.

Vivo X50 Pro 3

“They should have included a 120Hz display, no? The OnePlus 8 Pro has it and even the Galaxy S20 Ultra.”

Well, they could have but remember, the other two flagship smartphones are priced higher and also feature a bigger battery packed inside the thicker body. With a 4,315 mAh battery, I wouldn’t prefer using 120Hz as the battery will drain a lot faster. Even with 90Hz refresh rate always enabled, I managed to get close to eight hours of screen-on time with a single charge. This included a lot of gaming, clicking photos, particularly night mode photos and other basic tasks like scrolling through Instagram, Twitter, etc. And recharging the battery from zero to 100 takes about an hour, thanks to the 33W fast charger.

“So far it seems like the X50 Pro is the perfect smartphone of 2020.”

No, no smartphone is. Each smartphone out there lacks one or more things that make it short of being the perfect or the ideal smartphone. In the case of the X50 Pro, while the hardware is top-notch, the software is its Achilles' heel. Funtouch OS 10.5 has come a long way. The company has fortunately removed most of the bloatware apps and, thankfully, included the app drawer as well. But the Android 10-based skin misses out on getting some basics right.

For instance, dark mode didn’t work well on certain apps and the colour of the text blended with the dark background. Also, I would prefer pulling down the notification tray instead of the hit-and-miss universal search when I swipe down from anywhere on the screen. 

“So, do you think I should buy the Vivo X50 Pro?”

If you are looking for an excellent and a versatile set of cameras on an Android smartphone without compromising on daily performance, the X50 Pro should certainly be your pick. Sure, it does not have the Snapdragon 865 processor you get on the Mi 10 or the OnePlus 8 Pro and as a consumer, you would want top-end features after paying a premium. But the X50 Pro has a nearly-flagship grade performance unit when you compare.

The X-factor for the X50 Pro is its camera and it does hit the point of focus quite accurately. Minus the selfie camera, the X50 Pro’s camera unit is among my favourite. In fact, it is among the best smartphones out there to shoot night photographs. Let’s not forget the gimbal camera that aids in recording stable video footage unlike any other smartphone in its price range.

The clean and elegant design, coupled with that gorgeous curved display, makes the X50 Pro look premium from a distance.

Software is where Vivo needs to work upon to go head-on and match the likes of Color OS 7 and Oxygen OS, if not stock Android. It’s not bad but it isn’t the best one out there either.

If you are looking for a smartphone under Rs 50,000, give this one a shot.
Pranav Hegde
first published: Jul 25, 2020 03:27 pm

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