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Vivo X50 Pro review: All eyes on the ‘Gimbal’ camera

We got our hands on it almost a week ago and tested it out to the hilt.

Vivo X50 Pro.
Vivo X50 Pro. (HT Tech)

Brand: Vivo

Product: X50 Pro

Key specs: 6.5-inch FHD+ AMOLED display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G, 48-megapixel Gimbal camera, 33W fast charging.

Price: 49,990

Rating: 3.5/5

It’s the age of smartphones with unique camera features. This year itself we have seen smartphones with 108-megapixel sensors and periscope-style lenses. Adding to the list of unique cameras is Vivo’s X50 Pro, the smartphone with a Gimbal-style camera at the back.

You must’ve gotten an idea about what this camera does based on its name. That’s right. It aims to deliver the most stable video and photo capturing experience in a smartphone camera. So, we got our hands on it almost a week ago and tested it out to the hilt.

While there’s a lot to say about Vivo’s X50 Pro cameras, the phone as a whole is also important as this mark’s Vivo’s entry into the ‘premium’ segment – something the company had announced a few days ago. This seems like the most obvious move by the Chinese firm since it has enough to boast about in the ‘affordable’ range. So, is the X50 Pro worth it? Or are you just paying for the cameras here? Let's find out.

Design

Vivo X50 Pro’s design is, well, new. Kind of.

Vivo X50 Pro
Vivo X50 Pro (HT Tech)

That’s because there are enough smartphones in the market with a sleek design that have curved sides and sport a metal chassis. It sure is a new design in Vivo's world even though sister brands like OnePlus and others like Samsung are done and dusted with this design language.

But then, it is not completely boring. Despite sporting almost the same design as the OnePlus 7 Pro from last year, it is more refined and looks way better than what others are offering right now. We got the Alpha Grey colour variant that simply looked beautiful. There are Frost Blue and Black colours as well. We only hope the Black one comes in a matte finish to do the design justice.

The smartphone is compact, delicate and surely gives that required ‘premium’ feel when you hold it. And the camera setup at the back with metal finish compliments it.

But like we said, it is delicate, and we really mean it since you have the curved screen sides and a very little area to hold the phone while picking it up or operating in general. In case it’s in your pocket, you have to be careful since it might just slip out while you’re sitting.

Vivo X50 Pro
Vivo X50 Pro (HT Tech)

Besides being more refined in looks, what makes Vivo X50 Pro different is the flat metal bezels on the top and bottom – something that looks really good. At the top you have the 5G engraving while at the bottom you get the type-C port, speaker grille and a SIM card slot. The fingerprint sensor is under the display and the power buttons with volume rockers are on the right side and are reachable using one hand.

Display

The X50 Pro has a 6.5-inch Samsung AMOLED FHD+ screen, which looks pretty good. The colours are punchy, saturated and viewing Netflix shows on it is a delight. A minor yet annoying factor, which is also common with many smartphones with curved screens, is that the curved area looks brighter and not the same as the rest of the screen. We have seen this in other smartphones as well and Vivo here proves that it is no exception. But then this is visible from acute angles only and won’t be bothersome if you are looking at it even from a slightly tilted view point.

Also see: Vivo X50 Pro - In pics

Other than this, you have all the bells and whistles here including a 90Hz optional refresh rate, which is disabled by default, 180Hz response rate (which you won’t get to know when you start using the handset). There is also HDR10+ support and 1300nits peak brightness, which is not there in every other handset and makes it really easy to look at the screen under bright daylight (only if you are outside for some reason during the pandemic).

Vivo X50 Pro
Vivo X50 Pro (HT Tech)

That said, the panel gets dim enough in low light so it doesn’t make you go blind when you check the handset in the middle of the night.

Performance

Although Vivo went all guns blazing before the launch, claiming to have entered the ‘premium’ segment with the X50 Pro, as it turns out, most of that money you are paying, are for the cameras.

It is not for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor, which we can’t call a ‘premium’ offering. You get 8GB of RAM alongside and the handset works just fine. There are no lags or any delay on app firing. Everything works just as smoothly as expected. The Funtouch interface is ‘typical’ Vivo so if you are upgrading from a Vivo smartphone, this should be familiar.

Curious minds, the X50 Pro scored 324440 in Antutu, which is a decent score for a Snapdragon 765G processor smartphone. The 3D mark score was 3213 (Sling Shot extreme - OpenGL ES 3.1) and 2983 (Sling shot Extreme Vulkan) while the Geekbench score was 621 for single-core performance and 1863 for multi-core.

Vivo says its X50 Pro includes the HiFi AK4377A chipset for audio. Frankly speaking, we found that to be average and nothing that is exceptionally loud. But that said, it is clear enough and for the most part, captures details as well while streaming videos.

Vivo X50 Pro
Vivo X50 Pro (HT Tech)

And yes, in certain situations, the phone does get warm. We’re talking about very specific tasks here like clicking RAW images that require a lot of processing or while shooting ultra stable videos. Playing games like CoD Mobile and PUBG Mobile won’t be an issue.

Cameras

Cameras are everything that will make the X50 Pro a hit or a miss in the smartphone market. Its claim to fame is definitely the Gimbal (Vivo pronounces it as Gym-bell) camera setup that ‘redefines’ what stabilisation means in handsets. And while for the most part it is true, there are some obvious limitations as well.

You get a 48-megapixel primary camera with Sony IMX 598 sensor to do most of the heavy lifting. It’s a fairly decent sensor and the resulting images in combination with f/1.6 aperture left us with no complaints. In daylight everything looks just fine including sharp, detailed shots with good colours.

Also read: Vivo to set up industrial design centre in India; increase headcount to 50,000

The regular photo mode gave us more details with slightly more saturation as compared to clicking images at night, while the dedicated Night Mode delivered brighter shots without reducing the pixel size. So this may confuse you as to what mode one should use. We’d say go for the dedicated Night Mode since the image size stays the same and a brighter image is more important than a saturated image at night.

Vivo X50 Pro
Vivo X50 Pro (HT Tech)

But then you will only spot these minor things when you see the two images side by side. Otherwise, the camera works wonders and is reliable enough to simply take out from your pocket and click.

Vivo X50 Pro does handle noise very well, provided you have the right settings. It does take half a second to process night shots, something that many might find annoying, but we mostly found the resulting images usable and well-balanced.

The bokeh effect in Night portrait shots is fairly decent and works well. However, since the portrait shots in Night Mode is something that most smartphones find tough to belt out right, X50 Pro might just be the best in the segment. What we specifically loved was the different Night modes or ‘Styles’ for clicking cityscape images - Black and golden, Blue Ice, Green orange and Cyberpunk.

What’s interesting here is that you can shoot RAW images in Night Mode as well. Now that is something enthusiasts would really love. Of course, they are heavy (24MB on an average) but they are mostly usable when clicked in bright daylight. If you click an image in low light or slightly dim light situations and try to edit that on your handset, the results may not be convincing.

Vivo X50 Pro
Vivo X50 Pro (HT Tech)

But if you like to click stars, this might be the phone you’re looking for. The astrophotography or the ‘Starry Sky’ mode, which you can find in the ‘More’ section of the camera app delivers some good results. Although you can’t see enough stars if you’re staying in Delhi NCR, what you can see is how the phone processes the image and the end result. Yes, it does take a good 5-10 seconds to capture the sky multiple times but it does deliver a sharp image showing clouds, stars (we were able to see just one) with minimal noise.

You also have a ‘Sports Mode’ to capture fast moving subjects. We found ourselves often using this more in general while clicking human subjects. There will be hardly any difference between this and the regular image that you take in Auto except for the shutter speed and aperture controls.

But the Gimbal camera tech is a delight, especially when recording videos. It is really a job done well by Vivo. And we are not talking about minor differences in video shake reduction but a rather drastic and visible change. Vivo claims that the X50 Pro’s Gimbal lens module is able to move more freely and cover more degrees of shake since it moves the sensor along with the lens. This results in the entire frame being stable instead of the centre like what’s seen in other phones that have a moving lens but a fixed position-ed sensor.

If you want the best result, you would have to enable the ‘Stabilisation’ option from the Settings and tap on the ‘Ultra Stable’ hand icon. For us, it worked wonders and it's really commendable how the Vivo X50 Pro pulls it off.

One of the drawbacks, however, is that the ‘Ultra Stable’ feature (which actually makes the difference) locks the videos at FHD resolution and 60fps. Option to move to 4K 30fps would’ve been better. It is only after disabling the feature that you can flex to 4K or 720p as per your choice.

Vivo X50 Pro
Vivo X50 Pro (HT Tech)

The front-facing 32-megapixel camera does a decent job. We didn’t find anything mind blowing in this one. The portrait mode works well, filters, Beauty and other usual features are also present so there’s nothing to complain about. There’s one tap access to the Bokeh mode as well, which we found to be pretty useful because of how conveniently it is positioned.

A special mention also goes to the Motion autofocus feature wherein you can lock a subject to track and keep it in focus, alongside ‘3D Sound Tracking’. This is customisable with eye tracking, face tracking and body tracking as well.

Battery

We expected the Vivo X50 Pro to be a power hungry smartphone, specially when it came to Gimbal camera usage among other factors including handling multiple apps, FunTouch UI and more. As it turns out, the handset in average use, gave us some 6+ hours of screen on time - a good performance. This is of course subjective and totally depends on how you use the X50 Pro. But after using the cameras, playing games, streaming videos and working on emails, Chrome, making video calls and more (on a daily basis), we still managed to stretch the handset for almost 12 hours.

And if you think this is impressive, the 33W fast charging tech will just add to the entire package. We got 10% charge in the first five minutes of plugging in. The smartphone touched 42% in 30 minutes of charge, 76% after an hour and 100% in total 1.5 hours. Now this is not bad at all considering you get the best performance in the first 30 minutes. That’s meaning enough battery to run for the next 3+ hours on regular use.

All this comes in addition to the usual set of battery saving features in X50 Pro so - all thumbs-up to Vivo on this front.

Vivo X50 Pro
Vivo X50 Pro (HT Tech)

Verdict

Vivo X50 Pro is one really good looking smartphone that has an impressive camera, AMOLED screen and a battery that can stretch through the day. Now that already sounds like everything you ever wanted in a smartphone. However, the 49,990 price tag is something people might still think about twice before paying. We have equally capable smartphones with good processors, AMOLED screens and a good battery performance in India priced much lower. So, if you are paying a ‘premium’, it’s mostly due to the camera system that’s present in the X50 Pro.

Yes, it's a new tech and does make a difference when you use it. But paying almost 50k for a Vivo camera smartphone with a good combination of specs might still seem a bit overboard for now. If there wasn’t a Gimbal camera, the smartphone might be priced around 30,000 or less. So we’d recommend you to go for it only if you are hell-bent on using the impressive Gimbal camera system and need super stable shots from your phone. Lots of fishes in the sea otherwise.