Think about the best smartphone cameras and the latest iPhone 13 Pro Max or the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra are usually the first few names that one might come across. However, Chinese smartphone manufacturers have of late brought their A-game in when it comes to smartphone camera features. One such company is Vivo. Over the past year or so, the company has upgraded its portfolio in India with the launch of the premium X-series. The Vivo X70 series launched in India is the company’s third-generation of flagship smartphone series in India.
With the X70 Pro+ price in India set at Rs 79,990, Vivo continues to bank upon the camera tricks and features while offering top-of-the-line smartphone specs in 2021. It is the first and currently the only phone in India to feature a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888+ SoC. To ensure that the device is an all-round flagship, Vivo is also offering the X70 Pro Plus with a 6.78-inch LTPO AMOLED display that supports up to 120Hz, a fairly large 4,500 mAh battery, and 12GB of RAM. However, with all that firepower under the hood, coupled with a much-capable camera system, should you consider picking the Vivo X70 Pro+ as your next premium flagship phone? Here is our Vivo X70 Pro+ review to help you decide.
Vivo X70 Pro+ Review
Design and Display
Vivo’s known for making stylish-looking smartphones that look a lot more premium for the price. We have seen the mid-range V-series that offer a slim and lightweight profile while packing decent specs for the price. Things are kind of the same with the X70 Pro Plus. Look at it from a distance and you will definitely want to have a closer look. The X70 Pro+ comes with a glass body with all sorts of coating done on top to offer a satin-ish, matte finish. While it certainly looks premium, the downside is that the phone is slightly slippery to hold. It would be best to slap on the in-box case that comes with the device.
Unlike other Vivo smartphones in India, the X70 Pro Plus is a heavy boy. It isn’t as heavy as the Asus ROG Phone 5 or even the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra but at nearly 213 grams, you do feel the weight after a few minutes.
The good thing, though, is that despite being a tall phone, the X70 Pro+ is easy to hold, courtesy of the curved edges. That being said, while the power button is quite reachable, someone like me with large hands had to perform some finger gymnastics to increase the volume. Rather than placing it on the right edge, right above the power button, Vivo could have positioned it on the otherwise flush left frame instead.
The phone’s 2K AMOLED 10-bit display is curved, similar to the X60 Pro Plus (Review). However, it is now slightly bigger at 6.78-inches and it continues to offer a great viewing experience. What makes content consumption on this device even better is the introduction of a stereo speaker setup (finally!). With that bright and vibrant display and the loud, clear speakers combined, the Vivo X70 Pro+ offers a rich experience when streaming content or watching the videos shot on the device. I also did not experience any lag at the 120Hz refresh rate setting on the X70 Pro+, be it while scrolling or while playing Call of Duty Mobile.
The Vivo X70 Pro+ is also IP68 rated for water and dust resistance, which I am glad else it would have been difficult to shoot photos of and on the phone in Mumbai’s rainy weather. While we are at it, a third of the rear panel has a rectangular block, half of which looks like a mirror. The other half of this block houses the quad-camera module. More on the camera performance in the latter part of our Vivo X70 Pro+ review.
Performance and software
For the price you pay, you would expect the best-in-class performance from a flagship smartphone. The Vivo X70 Pro+ has got the ground covered here with a Snapdragon 888+ SoC. While the Snapdragon 888 on the X60 Pro+ was more than enough, the X70 Pro+ adds even more power. In smartphones, with more power comes heating issues. Surprisingly though, the X70 Pro+ did not heat as much as I expected it to. This comes after some of the heating issues that I mentioned in my Vivo X60 Pro+ review earlier this year.
I played Battlegrounds Mobile India, Asphalt 9 and a bunch of other popular games on the X70 Pro+. While the phone does get slightly warm to the touch, it does not throw any overheating warning at least. The same was the case while shooting photos and videos on the device. Typically, phones do get hot after a few minutes of video recording. That, again to my surprise, did not happen.
Turns out, the phone’s throttling down the CPU performance slightly to keep the temperature low. A sample CPU throttling test showed that the device throttled to 85 percent of its max performance after 15 minutes of stress-testing. It might not affect your day-to-day tasks but throttling down the performance takes the whole point away of adding all that extra power.
Moving on, The phone has 12GB of RAM inside, which is more than enough. Surprisingly though, some apps did restart after I switched back. For instance, after playing Call of Duty, I went back to check a Twitter notification and the app restarted. One might say that CoD Mobile is a relatively resource-hungry game, which could have led to the phone killing other apps. In another instance, the Instagram app got killed and loaded again after I switched from Twitter, followed by Slack. For reasons unknown, that is some aggressive RAM management and we hope a future software update fixes this.
Funtouch OS 12, based on Android 11, comes with a bunch of minor upgrades over its previous version. Most of it is around making the user interface cleaner. However, it still has bloatware and comes preloaded with apps like Byju’s, ShareChat, etc. For a phone this expensive, I’d prefer bloat-free software. Vivo still offers a ton of options for customisation around animations, always-on display settings, etc. You will, however, have to spend some time in the Settings app and tap through a few options to find these customisation options. Funtouch OS has improved over the years but there are many other Android skins out there that offer better features and feel. Vivo needs to bring some significant overhaul in Funtouch OS to take on the likes of OneUI, Realme UI and whatever’s left of OxygenOS.
Coming to the battery life, the phone packs a 4,500 mAh battery which will last for a day roughly with close to five hours of screen-on time. Play games or record videos and expect to get close to 4.5 hours of screen-on time. The phone doesn’t offer the best battery backup as the iPhone 13 that I am currently using offers double the screen-on time. However, the latest iPhone has a smaller screen that supports only a 60Hz refresh rate. I would like to highlight that throughout my Vivo X70 Pro+ review period, the refresh rate was set fixed at 120Hz (and not smart switch) at 1080p resolution. Maybe setting it to Smart Switch or 60Hz could offer an additional hour of juice at max.
You get a 55W charger bundled in the box, which takes about an hour and a half to charge the phone completely. The phone also comes with support for Vivo’s proprietary 50W wireless charging, which we couldn’t test as the company hasn’t launched the charger yet in the country. You can, however, wirelessly charge the device at a slower speed on any Qi-wireless charging pad/ stand.
We thought of saving the best for the last. As we mentioned earlier, the USP of the X70 Pro+ is its camera system. The Vivo X70 Pro+ is possibly the best smartphone camera of 2021. Here, there’s our verdict. To back it up, check some of the sample images attached at the end of our Vivo X70 Pro+ camera review section.
The photos are sharp and detailed and offer punchy colours that are upload-ready for the Gram. We were also impressed with the dynamic range as the phone also managed to not blow the highlights while capturing a good amount of details in the shadows even in photos with the sun in line with the subject. Typically, the colour of the sky is blown out when you shoot a subject that is in line with the sun. That wasn’t the case with the X70 Pro+. Be it the 50MP 1/1.3” wide camera sensor or the 48MP ultrawide camera, both offer excellent details in both day and night shots. A lot happens behind the scenes. Vivo tells us that the V1 chip, which it developed over the past several months, has played a key role in the device’s improved camera performance. That, along with some tuning by Zeiss, has led to the camera click detailed photos that offer rich colours.
The colours are mostly accurate and remain almost consistent across all focal lengths up to 5x. Zoom in further and you’ll notice loss of details. This is because the 8MP periscope camera and the 12MP telephoto lenses shoot 5x and 2x optical zoom, respectively. Anything further (till 60x zoom) is all digital zoom. Oh, by the way, all four camera sensors on the back come with support for some form of optical image stabilisation (OIS).
Vivo also offers many camera features like Astro mode, Super Moon mode, Pro mode, Portrait mode, etc. The Portrait mode on the Vivo X70 Pro+ is unmatched. Vivo has probably outdone itself here and we wouldn’t expect this to get any better going forward. The company could offer more filters to the already existing bunch. That being said, the skin tone in some images wasn’t right. The software, at times, sharpens the face slightly more to get more details.
The ultrawide camera on the X70 Pro+ also features an improved gimbal-like stabilisation. It has multiple stabilisation modes like Standard, Ultra and the new Horizontal Line stabilisation. The former two were also available on the X60 Pro+ and perform quite well. In Horizontal Line, the sensor and software combined ensure that the horizon line is maintained no matter how much the phone shakes or rotates. While the feature does manage to keep the horizon levelled, it cannot replace a full-fledged gimbal. You are likely to notice some shake in case your hand moved a bit up or down while rotating the device.
For selfies, the phone has a 32MP front camera. It clicks detailed selfies but the skin is usually slightly smoother than in real life. Portrait mode for the front camera also increases the exposure slightly, resulting in a slightly fairer shade. Edge detection is on point and the bokeh looks natural and creamy. If you click a lot of selfies, the X70 Pro+ will not disappoint you. Click here or on the Flickr slideshow below to check some photos we shot for our Vivo X70 Pro+ review.
If you have come this far, it must be clear that we are pretty impressed with the overall performance of the X70 Pro+. The phone ticks almost all the boxes that are required for us to recommend a smartphone. Yes, it comes with a premium price tag but the company has introduced features that offer value for your money. As we mentioned earlier, Vivo X70 Pro+ probably has the best camera setup on a smartphone in 2021 and could be a photographer’s delight with the set of features it offers. The device also overcomes the shortcomings of its predecessor with essential features like stereo speakers and an IP68 rating for water, dust resistance. For content consumption, there is a bright, curved AMOLED display that offers punchy colours.
The phone is also suitable for those who play a lot of games on their smartphone. With Snapdragon 888+ under the hood, the X70 Pro+ should not give any performance issues for the next 2-3 years at least. It does throttle the performance a bit and we hope Vivo does something to avoid that while keeping the temperature under a check. The battery life, though, is above average. All of this is packed inside a glass body that is premium to the touch and also in terms of looks. The Vivo X70 Pro+ is certain to attract some eyeballs with that Enigma Black matte finish.
What takes away from the experience is the software. While it isn’t as bad, FuntouchOS still doesn’t feel flagship-like OneUI or ColorOS. The latter two aren’t perfect either but the user experience is far supreme on Samsung and Oppo flagship phones. Vivo needs to hit the drawing board and do something to ensure that this particular box is ticked to get a 10/10.
All in all, Vivo X70 Pro+ is certainly our recommendation for a flagship Android smartphone in 2021, especially for its versatile camera setup.