Vivo X50 Review
Vivo’s recently launched X50 series is its most premium offering yet. We recently reviewed the Vivo X50 Pro (Review), which turned out to be an excellent 5G smartphone with a unique gimbal camera system. Today we’ll be testing its less-hyped sibling, the Vivo X50. It lacks the gimbal camera system and 5G SoC that its bigger brother boasts of, but apart from these features, both phones are very similar. Add to that a Rs. 15,000 price difference between the two models’ base variants, and you have a strong mid-tier contender, on paper anyway.
Should you pick the Vivo X50 at its starting price of Rs. 34,990? I’ve been using this phone for about a week and it’s time to see if Vivo has hit another home run, just like with its bigger sibling.
Vivo X50 design and display: Very striking
Just like the Vivo X50 Pro, the Vivo X50 looks striking from any angle and is easily one the best looking phones I’ve seen from the company of late. It feels premium and well-built too, thanks to the metal frame and frosted glass back. Fun fact: units in the Frost Blue colour that I have are a tiny bit slimmer (7.49mm) and lighter (171.5g), than those in the Glaze Black trim. Vivo tells Gadgets 360 that the black variant uses a slightly different anti-fingerprint coating technique, which is why it’s slightly thicker, although it didn’t comment on the weight difference.
The matte finish of the Frost Blue variant looks good and it rarely attracted fingerprints in my experience. Just like the Vivo X50 Pro, the Vivo X50’s frame is flattened on the top and bottom, lending it a distinct look. On the bottom, it has a dual Nano-SIM tray, a USB Type-C port (USB 2.0) and a single speaker. The volume and power buttons are on the right of the phone, and deliver good feedback.
The Vivo X50 has a 6.56-inch AMOLED display with a full-HD+ resolution, 90Hz refresh rate, and HDR10+ certification. I like the fact the bezels are fairly slim on all sides, including the bottom chin. There’s a hole-punch cutout for the selfie camera and an in-display fingerprint sensor. The latter is very quick at authentication, and the same goes for face recognition too.
Finally, the Vivo X50 does have a camera bump at the back, but its multi-tiered design masks the protrusion quite well. Overall, the Vivo X50 is a very well-built smartphone with a premium in-hand feel. The display is on the wider side, which could be a problem if you have smaller hands. Luckily, there are plenty of gestures in Funtouch OS to remedy this, which we’ll talk about next. In the box, you get the usual accessories including a case, a headset, and a Type-C to 3.5mm headphone adapter.
Vivo X50 software: Bloated but still good
The Vivo X50 runs the same software as the X50 Pro, Funtouch OS 10.5, based on Android 10. There’s a lot that’s packed into this custom Android skin, starting with plenty of redundant apps such as Vivo’s own app store, browser, and email client — none of which can be uninstalled. My unit even had a few apps such as TikTok and Helo, which have now been banned by the Indian government, but these can be uninstalled.
However, Funtouch OS also offers plenty of interface customisation which really let you fine-tune your experience. The left-most homescreen can be set to show you the Google news feed, or with a tap of a button, you can switch to Vivo’s Smart Launcher. This offers app shortcuts, Digital Wellbeing information, a calculator widget, and lots more. The ‘Dynamic effects’ menu in the Settings app lets you set custom lighting effects for incoming calls and notifications. It also lets you set an animation for when the phone unlocks, and different animations for a fingerprint match, face recognition, charging, etc.
You also get an always-on display feature, with a nice selection of clock faces. There’s a one-handed mode, which is useful when you need to reach the extreme corners of the display. Bloatware aside, Funtouch OS offers a lot of useful features and customisation options, which I quite liked.
Vivo X50 performance: Good enough
The Vivo X50 uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 SoC, similar to the Redmi K20. It’s not the most powerful SoC for a phone at this price, especially when you have alternatives based on the Snapdragon 855+ and Snapdragon 765G SoCs to compete with. It’s still a well-performing, power-efficient chip though, and it manages to hold its own even with heavy tasks.
The Vivo X50 is available in two variants — 8GB of RAM with 128GB of storage for Rs. 34,990, and 8GB of RAM with 256GB of storage for Rs. 37,990. I’ve been using the base variant of the X50 for about a week and so far, performance has been nothing but great. Unlocking the phone is quick and seamless, the interface is always snappy thanks to the high-refresh-rate screen, and multitasking isn’t a problem. The AMOLED display gets very bright, colours look punchy, and I didn’t notice any off-axis tinting either.
HDR videos looked good when played locally or through YouTube. However, for some reason the Netflix app failed to detect the HDR capability when I tried it. Still, videos in general looked very good. The bottom speaker can get quite loud for multimedia playback or even phone calls, but a stereo setup is sorely missed.
I found gaming performance to be pretty solid too. The Game Space app organises all your installed games in one place, but getting to this menu takes a couple of extra steps, which feels unnecessary. You can bring up the Game Space menu mid-game with a simple swipe gesture. This pop-up carousel lets you block incoming calls, lock the screen’s brightness, begin a screen recording, and so on. Most of the games I tried ran just fine. There was minimal heating, even playing heavy titles such as PUBG Mobile. The Vivo X50 did well in benchmarks too, scoring 2,80,418 points in AnTuTu and 68fps in the T-Rex test in GFXBench.
Vivo X50 battery life: A trooper
I found the battery life of the Vivo X50 to be more than satisfactory. Even with light gaming and camera use, I was easily getting at least a day and a half, and sometimes even up to two full days on one charge. This reduced when I was testing the cameras, but even so, I was easily making it through a day with enough left over for the next. The 4,200mAh battery is a bit smaller than what you get in the X50 Pro, but it still ran for a good 15 hours and 42 minutes in our HD video loop test. The bundled charger supports Vivo’s 33W FlashCharge technology, which was able to charge the X50’s battery fully in under an hour.
Vivo X50 cameras: There is potential
The Vivo X50 might not have the gimbal stabilisation system or the telephoto lens of the X50 Pro, but it still packs in a good set of cameras. At the back, you get a main 48-megapixel Sony IMX598 sensor with optical stabilisation and an f/1.6 aperture lens; an 8-megapixel ultra wide-angle camera with autofocus and a f/2.2 aperture; a 13-megapixel portrait camera with nearly 2.2x the focal length of the main one; and a 5-megapixel macro camera.
The main rear camera was pretty impressive overall. In daylight, landscape shots packed in plenty of detail, colours were vibrant, and exposure was balanced. Close-ups looked excellent too, with sharp details and generous background bokeh, thanks to that large f/1.6 aperture. With AI scene recognition enabled, colours are generally boosted, so if you want a more natural look to your photos, it’s best to leave it off.
There’s a maximum zoom range of 20x, however when you move past the 2x magnification mark, the Vivo X50 switches to its portrait camera, thereby effectively giving you 2x optical zoom and then hybrid digital zoom till 20x. Image quality is decent at 2x, but I found the autofocus to be a little inconsistent.
In low light, the main camera automatically decreases shutter speed for better exposure. There’s a bit of grain, and brightly lit areas can look overexposed, but switching to Night mode fixes both these issues. The X50 even has Night mode filters such as Cyberpunk, which we saw in the X50 Pro.
The ultra wide-angle camera captured good details and colours in daylight. You can switch to this camera by tapping the ‘Lens’ button in the viewfinder and selecting ‘Super Wide-angle.’ The advantage of having autofocus for this camera is that you can capture extreme close-ups too. Tapping the ‘Lens’ button and selecting ‘Super macro’ lets you capture good quality macros. This pretty much renders the dedicated macro camera obsolete, since it captures comparatively weaker colours and poorer details. Wide-angle shots in low light have weaker details, compared to those captured with the main camera. Night mode helps fix the exposure a bit, but it doesn’t make a dramatic difference.
In portrait mode, the X50 switches to the 13-megapixel camera, which gives you a highly zoomed-in view of your subject. Pressing the 1x button gives you a wider shot (by switching back to the main sensor). Before taking the shot, you can adjust the level of background blur, and add beauty effects and filters. Portrait shots of people and objects generally looked good. Autofocus was a little slow when using the portrait camera (in 2x mode), but details and colours were good.
The 32-megapixel front camera captured high-quality selfies during the day. Bokeh mode also worked very well. Low-light selfies taken under artificial light looked decent, but there was a noticeable hit in quality. In extreme low-light situations, you can use Night mode, but the final result wasn’t often pleasing.
The Vivo X50 can record up to 4K 30fps stabilised video. Details were sharp, noise was minimal, and colours looked good. The ultra wide-angle camera can only shoot up to 1080p, and the quality is not as good as when using the main one, even during the day. The ‘Ultra stable’ toggle button is useful if you’ll be moving around a lot and need good stabilisation. In low light, it’s best to stick to the main camera for good details.
The Vivo X50 also has some neat little tricks for video. Smart Zoom, which can be activated via the little video camera icon, will automatically zoom in and out to follow your subject, provided you’re a reasonable distance from it. This works well but the autofocus isn’t quick enough to keep up and footage looks a bit grainy if there isn’t enough light. There’s eye detection autofocus, which worked very well. Object tracking is also impressive, and the X50 is able to continue tracking the subject even if it briefly drops out of the frame and comes back.
Verdict: Should you buy the Vivo X50?
I have no trouble recommending the Vivo X50, as it has proven to be a pretty solid all-rounder. It looks stylish, is built well, and has good cameras. Battery life and the AMOLED display are also some of its strong suits. However, I need to address that at its starting price of Rs. 34,990, it’s a little underpowered compared to phones such as the Realme X2 Pro (Review) and OnePlus 7T (Review), which both have flagship-level SoCs. While this shouldn’t hamper day-to-day performance, it could prevent certain high-end games from running at their full potential. Another miss from Vivo is the exclusion of stereo speakers.
If neither of these things bother you, then I think you’d be happy with the Vivo X50, especially if you’re looking for a good cameras and a premium design.
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