The X50 Pro is the latest flagship offering from manufacturer Vivo. With a beautiful aesthetic and taking some of the best photos of any phone on the market today, the X50 Pro will have you taking stunning photos in style, all at the competitive price of $999.
Making a recent entry to the Australian market late last year, you’d be forgiven for not having heard the name Vivo before, and for wondering how a rookie phone company could have come out of the stocks with such an eye-catching phone. In fact, Vivo has been manufacturing smartphones for the non-western market for the best part of a decade. It now follows in the footsteps of predecessors OnePlus and Oppo, both owned by the same parent company as Vivo, in promising a flagship quality phone at budget prices for the whole world. And yes, with Apple’s flagship iPhone 12 (with the same 256GB storage as the X50 Pro) costing $600 dollars more, a near thousand dollar phone is the budget option!
So, can it compete with the very best?
The first thing you’ll notice about the X50 Pro is the beautiful design. While reviewing the phone, numerous friends commented on its striking aesthetic, and then, when I gave it to them to hold, the lightness and smoothness in their hands…
…that is until it was a little too smooth in my hands, and slipped out! The beautiful, curved metal chassis and glass bent to the final micrometres of its pretty face that form its good looks also risk it becoming a beautiful tragedy. As was the case when it fell from my hands taking it from my pocket, splintering cracks across its screen. I only have myself to blame of course: but if you’re a little clumsy like me, you might want to invest in a nice case and good quality glass screen protector just in case.
The second thing you’ll notice about the X50 Pro, and indeed a significant part of its clean aesthetic, is its four rear cameras. It’s primary 48MP sensor is responsible for high quality landscape snaps with rich colours and great detail.
In supporting roles, it also features a 13MP portrait camera, an 8MP wide angle and macro camera, and a 8MP telephoto lens that uses a periscope lens to achieve sharp 5x optical zoom.
The most exciting part of the Vivo’s camera setup, however, is not the cameras themselves, but the revolutionary, world-first new gimbal technology that Vivo has introduced behind its main sensor, that allows this camera to maintain excellent focus even in the shakiest of hands. This works by allowing the lens to move slightly in the opposite direct to the movements of the holder, so the camera maintains a constant level with the outside world, leading to clear, detailed photos and particularly impressive video performance even when moving quickly with the phone in hand.
Combined with its also excellent quality front facing portrait camera, this setup makes this Vivo’s versatile camera competitive with even the best in class cameras available in phones that cost closer to twice the price of the X50 Pro.
The X50 Pro competes with the very best in looks: aesthetically and through its excellent cameras. Can the rest of the phone maintain this impressive standard?
Let’s start with the good: the X50 Pro boasts only a 1080p display, but makes up for it with a high 90Hz refresh rate, combining for a smooth and sharp viewing experience on its all-encompassing screen that has only the tiniest of camera notches. Also excellent are its battery life and charge time, with a 4315 mAh battery that gave me full charge after less than an hour, and that easily lasted two days with moderate use. Finally, it sports 5G capacity, allowing you to take full advantage of the increased internet speeds available from the recent 5G network rollout across Australia.
While nothing drags down the phone significantly, there are a couple of compromises that come with the cheaper price tag and a company newly entering the flagship market. The processor, a Snapdragon 765G, is fast enough to run most games at least 60Hz and ensure a mostly silky smooth experience, but is slightly but noticeably slower than the top of the line processors in most flagships. Additionally, its software should be applauded for sticking close to base Android with avoiding the pitfalls of bloatware and duplicate features that have been a stick in the mud for similar phones. There are a few rough edges to be ironed out however: app icons periodically failed to display for some apps in the notification bar, and it had occasionally failed to play music over Bluetooth in my car and to speakers, necessitating a reset to the connection. Also, the activation area for the controls at the bottom of the screen extends only to the middle and bottom of the on-screen buttons. The nit-pickiest of all nit-picks to be sure! But it makes enough difference that for me, even as someone with moderately large hands, it is difficult to reach the back button using the phone with only my right hand.
Who should buy this phone?
There are a few rough edges to the Vivo X50 Pro 5G to be sure, but none at all in the phone’s excellent presentation and photography. In all, it was a pleasure to use, and for only $999, it comes highly recommended for those who want a pay a budget price for a phone that feels premium in the hand and in the editing room.