REVIEW: Vivo X50 Pro
Need super-steady shots? This phone has a gimbal built into it
Vivo made the headlines some months ago when it announced a smartphone with a gimbal in it. Now we get to see the actual thing.
The Chinese smartphone maker has rolled out the X50 Pro, and it means business. (Not to be confused with the Realme X50 Pro; along with the same name, they also both share the same parent firm, BBK Electronics. House party.)
It has some interesting, high-calibre specs, and it's positioning itself as a really premium smartphone. Let's find out why and how.
TALE OF THE TAPE
Yup, they've skipped on '40' over there. There wasn't anything official on it, but this may have to do with that tetraphobia thingy observed in some Asian countries, avoiding the number four (in particular, the Chinese word for 'four' sounds similar to 'death'), similar to what Nokia practices out of respect to our brothers and sisters over there.
Vivo's in this game for quite a while now that they know to make quite an impression — and that starts off with a design that has curved edges that's very familiar to all of us already; there's that tiny portion of the screen that goes downward on the edges, adding to a premium feel.
On the right are the volume rocker and power button, below are the card tray and USB-C port, and nothing on the right. Gone is the 3.5mm audio port, but the weird thing is you still get a headset with a 3.5mm jack — along with a 3.5mm-to-USB-C adapter (yeah, we know; made me go through the phone again to see if there was some secret compartment hiding good ol' jack). As a consolation you have this laser-printed '5G Professional Photography' text on top, which is nice to look at. And it's light and slim enough to be in your hands.
Right behind is a matte back with a plastic finish, but it seems to be tough enough (nope, we don't do phone-dropping tests, out of our love for devices). The camera block, meanwhile, is also slim and fits proportionally overall.
The device runs on Android 10. And when it's vivo, you know FunTouch OS is in here as well. We really don't have any complaints about bloatware or native apps, unless they needlessly meddle and become a bit intrusive; those on FunTouch don't do that so we're cool with it.
Speaking of which, however, these native apps tend to be overlooked — they can be quite useful, as a matter of fact. For example, FunTouch has its own Notes, as well as Kids' Mode.
From the home screen, you can swipe up to show all apps, left for another top-level screen (with some apps of your picking), right for Google and down for global search; if you want to access the notifications and control panels, you have swipe from the top. And again, you do have the option for those virtual home/recent apps/back buttons or for swiping gestures.
The X50 Pro has both fingerprint and facial recognition unlocking, with the latter on-screen where your thumb is most comfy. Both do pretty well and fast, with the latter even doing good in low light — provided your screen is bright enough.
Speaking of the screen, it's brightness, even at max, isn't an eye-strainer, with colours appearing solid.
Four lenses, with dedicated portrait and periscope lenses. On paper, it looks really nasty; not as 'big' compared to its predecessor, but that's the trend nowadays: Trim down the fat on some areas to put some muscle on others. Oh, and it also has a maximum zoom of 60x.
Vivo touts the X50 Pro's camera system as its best yet, and it delivers.
We're particularly enjoying this set because of the oh-so-natural feel the images give out; everything is clear and sharp.
In the set above, you can see how the portrait lens works; it's able to focus on what you want to, and its blur effects work great.
Meanwhile, over at night...
...still clear. As you know, there's regular mode and night mode; the latter gives brighter detail, but for us it's bordering on being overexposed. In both cases, however, you can't help but admire how lively those lights are on the background.
Okay, now this one merits an overexposed rating. Seems the sensors are a bit overzealous when more lights are present. In this case, the regular-shot mode is the better output. Looks like it goes this way: If you think there's enough light, go for regular mode... or take shots on both modes for good measure.
But the biggest addition — and first on a smartphone — is the gimbal system built into the X50 Pro.
As described by vivo, the system uses a double-ball structure to achieve a triple-axis rotation, ensuring three-dimensional stabilisation. The final stacking design balances exterior look and interior layout as it reduces the structure surface area by 40 per cent and thickness by 1mm, while still ensuring satisfactory functioning; its maximum anti-shake angle is plus-/minus-three degrees.
In garden-variety terms, it basically means it's an OIS on steroids; try shaking the X50 Pro while on video mode and you'll notice that the screen doesn't shake along with it compared to other smartphones (violent shaking will result in the obvious).
Now, if you're taking a stroll you won't make out the effects of the gimbal system, but take a little run and that's when you'll notice it; it ensures maximum stabilisation of your recordings. That said, it's not, however, as sturdy as an actual gimbal stick; it's a new and clever feature on a mobile that we hope others will take and run with. We'd like to post some samples here, but there are ghosts in the system causing some glitches (at least in this particular part of the site), so we hope to get back with some at the soonest.
At a good day of mixed use, the device can last for an entire day, and most of the time we found ourselves below the 20 per cent mark by the time we got home. That's enough to merit a nightly charge. Going a little easy, meanwhile, can make it last until around after lunch the following day, meaning that you'd need to have a charger nearby.
In our standard one-hour YouTube-at-full-brightness test, the X50 Pro lost 14 per cent. That's rather high if you consider the levels flagships should be at.
To offset this, however, it will give you a zippy boost with its very own FlashCharge 2.0 tech and a bundled 33W charger. Note: We had to do this with the phone switched on as the level isn't displayed while it's off, but did so without unlocking it, therefore rendering all connections moot.
Well, full power below an hour or almost 100 per cent three-quarters of the way is fine in any day. Again, this speed works with the 33W charger, so we can safely say that using any charger below that will definitely extend your wait time.
The vivo X50 Pro wants to spark a new point of contention in smartphones with its inclusion of a gimbal system in its cameras. While it does the part well and is noticeably different from OIS features in other smartphones, it could use some tweaks to really make it stand out.
However, its price tag is a bit of a sticking point. Rarely do we see a brand of this tier (practically) touch the (in our case) Dh3,000 mark; at Dh2,999, the X50 Pro is more expensive than the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G and is at par with the iPhone 12 mini.
But if you want to have something rather unique in your hands, this one's for you. And just like its ultra-stable camera capabilities, its performance is just that — it's highly reliable, too.
GOODIES: Great camera with good stabilisation, fast charging, reliable performance
GOOFIES: Battery could last longer, price a bit high, gimbal could use some more improvements
EDITOR RATING: There's a new feature in town, so we'll give it that. But we're also stunned by the underwhelming battery. 4.0/5
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