Review: The Vivo X50 Pro is a glimpse at the future of smartphone cameras, wrapped in a solid device
By Tan Jee Yee February 3, 2021
- Pros: Excellent, revolutionary camera system; great screen; solid build and design
- Cons: Snapdragon 765G feels like a step-down
The Vivo X50 Pro is the most fun I’ve had with a smartphone camera throughout the dour year of 2020. Timing has a lot to do with this – I had, after months of limiting my walks to shop lots, finally found a park that I could visit without being too close to crowds.
Instead of just taking photos of nearby Laundromats, I can now snap pictures of unsuspecting birds, or try my hand at sports photography by snapping at passing cyclists. There are also hibiscuses to get up close and personal with, plus actual lakes to fully take advantage of the wide-angle lens with.
The X50 Pro, then, became a camera toy box. It helps that it features a terrific quad-camera system – one that is somewhat revolutionary, even. The phone features a gimbal system that provides for better, more impressive stabilisation which makes shooting at night and taking stable videos much easier. I initially chocked it off as a gimmick. Now, I think it’s the near future of smartphones.
Most smartphones that exist more as “cameraphones” typically come with compromises. You can’t include an innovative camera system without making checks and balances to avoid ballooning the price, after all.
The Vivo X50 Pro has compromises. It makes a few sacrifices that – on paper at least – feels like a step down from what other phones are offering at that price. But a few shortcomings aside, the X50 Pro is a solid phone wrapping a great camera system, while proving a good starting device to step into the 5G realm.
For those who aren’t abreast on these sorts of things, the X50 Pro is one of three X50 devices from Vivo. They’re distinctively different from each other – the X50 is a premium mid-ranger offering 5G connectivity without breaking the bank, while the X50 Pro+ touts a Snapdragon 865 chipset, making it the muscle of the trio.
The X50 Pro is technically the middle child, but one-ups each of its siblings by pioneering a gimbal system for camera stabilisation. This is fitted to the smartphone’s 48MP primary shooter, which forms the heart of its quad-camera system. The rest of is made up of a 13MP portrait, an 8MP telephoto, and an 8MP ultra-wide snapper.
This the first time we’ve seen a micro-gimbal system in a smartphone. It takes up a lot more space than a regular OIS setup, which explains the bulging camera unit at the rear of the device. The gimbal helps in several ways. The first is with video. The system helps provide stable shots, even with significant movement.
It also helps with photography, especially with night shots. Here, the increased stabilisation allows the X50 Pro to use lower shutter speeds to capture more light, thus reducing noise. Night shots turn out brighter without sacrificing too much detail, and manages to produce livelier colours. It’s great!
Aiding this is a Gimbal Radar feature that can be turned on. This is an onscreen moving ball within a circle on the viewfinder, which represents the gimbal’s movements. If the ball is within the circle, it means that the gimbal is doing a perfect job in keeping the video still. It’s a neat tool to have, especially if you’re shooting video.
Image quality is excellent overall. The main shooter provides photos with great contrast and dynamic range, albeit a little over-saturated. You can opt to turn on the 48MP mode, which allows you to shoot in more detail without diminishing contrast and colours.
The rest of the camera round-up does well, too. The 8MP ultra-wide snapper doesn’t provide the best details and sharpness does take a hit, but contrast and colours come out great and it does a good job straightening the corners. Essentially, it’s just as good as most ultra-wide shots we’ve seen.
The 8MP telephoto lens offers 5x zoom lens, and it works well as a long-range shooter in terms of providing good details and true-to-life colours. I’d wager, as a whole, most people would be happy with what the cameras offer, even if they’re unaware of the gimbal system.
Power and pleasantries
The camera may be revolutionary, but the X50 Pro doesn’t deviate too much in terms of what you’d expect from a glass sandwich flagship. That said, it does look classy. This is a thin and lightweight device, with a curvy OLED display accentuated by super thin bezels.
It may sport a 6.56-inch screen and a fairly large 4,315mAh battery, but this is still a compact device that fits comfortably in the hand. It sports the same 90Hz refresh rate screen as with the X50 (the X50 Pro+ features a 120Hz one), which makes for a smoother screen experience. It’s bright enough to work under the sun, and produces great colours.
The 32MP selfie camera takes up a tiny hole at the top left corner of the device, and is barely noticeable. Underneath the screen is the fingerprint scanner, much like most top-tier devices. This is an optical scanner, and it works fast.
Accuracy-wise, I’d put it on the “slightly better” end. Your finger placement needs to be more exact than some of its competitors, but once I got the gist of it, it unlocks with ease most of the time. One thing to note, however, is that the device isn’t technically waterproof as with some high-end devices.
As a whole, the X50 Pro works well as a multimedia device, even for gaming. The innards are powered by a Snapdragon 765G, which is probably the biggest point of contention for the X50 Pro. The Snapdragon 765G is classified as a mid-range 5G capable chipset, which is lesser in terms of performance when compared to the X50 Pro+’s Snapdragon 865.
On a day to day usage, however, one may hardly notice the performance gap. The X50 Pro runs smoothly, and works well enough to run Genshin Impact and PUBG with few performance problems. You may be able to get better performances at the same price range elsewhere, but you’ll also be balancing this with a camera system that is arguably better.
The battery life here is great, too. A day’s worth of social media browsing, picture taking and some Netflix here and there still left me with a good 20-30% of just to end the day with. It features 33W fast charging, which in my test managed to provide 55% of power from flat in 30 to 40 minutes.
As far as 5G devices go, the X50 Pro presents itself as a premium device that is truly worthwhile. This is aided by its excellent (and inventive) camera system, combined with sleek design and a good display.
But it also doesn’t necessarily set itself above devices of its ilk – its Snapdragon 765G innards, while solid, does feel like a step down compared to other devices at a similar price range. You’re also paying for a premium device with lesser resistance to water.
It’s a balance you’ll need to seek for yourself. But I can honestly say that the X50 Pro’s camera system is well worth carrying you well into 2021 and the 5G realm.
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