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Saturday, August 15, 2020

Vivo X50 Pro hands-on: A slick phone with 60x zoom and a gimbal

The Vivo X50 Pro Plus is the highest end from the X50 series.

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Vivo

Chinese phone-maker Vivo unveiled its X50 series on Thursday, marking the launch of its first global flagship this year. Vivo, which is one of the top 10 phone manufacturers by market share despite being relatively unknown in the West, advertises its latest phone as a “professional photography flagship.” It introduces an internal gimbal camera system to the series, which it’s selling outside China for the first time. 

There are three phones in this range, the X50, X50 Pro and X50 Pro Plus. The X50 Pro has a cutting-edge Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor (as seen in the Galaxy S20, among others), while the X50 and the Pro both have Snapdragon 765G CPUs. But although the X50 Pro has a slower processor, it also has a gimbal. Vivo said it chose to add the gimbal to the Pro, rather than the more costly Pro Plus, to make the feature more widely accessible.

The company says the X50 Pro’s system has a 300% increase in performance over more traditional stabilization technology. That’s thanks in part to that gimbal, which uses a “double-ball structure to achieve triple axis rotation,” effectively letting the camera float inside the phone.

x50-pro-alpha-grey-photo-3

Vivo

While only the X50 has the hyped-up gimbal, all three devices support 5G. All three phones have the same 6.56-inch displays, too. But there’s one other key difference: the processors these phones run on. The X50 Pro Plus gets the best CPU, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865, while the Pro and the X50 both run on a Snapdragon 765G. 

Vivo says it doesn’t currently have plans to release the phone in the US. But X50 phones will be released throughout Asia, Africa and Europe over the next three months, so they’ll be reasonably easy to import. 

Pricing details haven’t been shared yet, but the cost will vary based on country. In China the X50 Pro starts at 4,298 yuan, which converts to roughly $610 (about £490 or AU$880), while in India it starts for 49,990 rupees or approximately $660. As usual, you can expect higher price tags in Western countries. If you want more details on specs, scroll down to the chart below, which compares all three phones.

The X50 Pro cameras in depth

The X50 Pro’s rear camera system is headlined by a 48-megapixel main camera, which relies on a gimbal-like camera system along with optical image stabilization and electronic image stabilization technology for video stabilization. When I first tested it, I compared it with the one-generation-old iPhone XS Max while walking in daylight, but I didn’t see much of a difference between the two phones, even while panning the cameras. Both phones captured stable footage without any obvious jerkiness. The differences were noticeable, however, when I was capturing video while running and in darker conditions. 

When I used ultra-stable or anti-shake mode, the Vivo X50 Pro’s video stabilization tech was kicked up a notch. This is where the difference between the iPhone XS Max was more evident. Footage I captured was buttery-smooth and glided seamlessly. Even when I shot with my nondominant hand, which usually produces shakier videos, the footage was unusually smooth. There is a tradeoff though: It couldn’t capture much detail in subjects that were further away. From what I gather so far, ultra-stable mode seems like a fantastic tool for shooting steady close-up shots. 

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The Vivo X50 Pro (picture) has a 6.56-inch AMOLED screen.


Vivo

The X50 Pro has 4 rear cameras

In general, the X50 Pro made it easy to take crisp, color-accurate and vibrant photos that captured my surroundings wonderfully. I’ll have to spend more time with the phone, but so far I’ve noticed that in certain lighting conditions — during sunset for example — photos were more saturated and punched up. iPhone XS Max captured photos that were more true-to-life, by comparison. Whichever photo you prefer is likely a matter of personal preference, but you can see the difference for yourself in the photos below. 

1

The Vivo X50 Pro captured a fiery yellow-orange sunset (left), while the photograph taken by the iPhone XS Max (right) was more true-to-life. 


Sareena Dayaram/CNET

There are four cameras on the rear of the X50 Pro. In addition to the main 48-megapixel shooter, you’ll find a periscope zoom lens and an 8-megapixel ultra wide-angle lens. There’s also a 13-megapixel portrait telephoto snapper. I look forward to trying out the X50 Pro’s camera system in more depth.

The X50 Pro has 60x zoom

An 8-megapixel periscope lens is one of the (three) sidekicks to the main 48-megapixel shooter on the Vivo X50 Pro. I was blown away by the power of the Vivo X50’s 60x Hyper Zoom. Although the photos were blurry — 60x is a long way away, after all — it still managed to capture detail that I couldn’t see with my own eyes, including the sign on this hotel across the harbor in Hong Kong. I’d love to compare it to the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra’s 100x Space Zoom. 

2

Vivo’s X50 Pro has range. Using its 60x hyper zoom, I was able to zoom into the sign on the hotel on the opposite side of the harbor. I couldn’t see the sign with my naked eye and did not know it existed until I zoomed in with the phone.


Sareena Dayaram/CNET

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This photo was taken on default settings (1x).


Sareena Dayaram/CNET

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Zooming in 5x.


Sareena Dayaram/CNET

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Zooming in 10x.


Sareena Dayaram/CNET

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Zooming in 60x.


Sareena Dayaram/CNET

3

The four zoom modes side by side.


Sareena Dayaram/CNET

A 4,315-mAh battery with fast charge

In the few days that I used the phone, the Vivo X50 Pro’s 4,315-mah battery life was strong on default settings. My daily activity typically involves making a few short calls, regularly using WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, checking emails, reading news apps and playing music on Spotify. I also used social media, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I don’t use my phone for heavy-duty gaming. The X50 Pro’s battery easily lasted a whole day.

Using Vivo’s 33-watt “flash charge,” I was able to fill up the battery in 52 minutes. That’s great, but not as fast as Oppo’s pricier Find X2 Pro flagship, which charges its battery in 38 minutes. What was incredible, though, was when it revitalized a dead battery by nearly 60% in just 15 minutes.

Vivo X50 series specs

Vivo X50 Vivo X50 Pro Vivo X50 Pro Plus
Display size, resolution 6.5-inch AMOLED 6.5-inch AMOLED 6.5-inch AMOLED
Dimensions (Inches) 6.2×2.86×0.31 inches 6.28 x2.97×0.29 inches 6.2×2.8×0.34 inches
Dimensions (Millimeters) 159.54×75.4×7.55 mm 158.46×72.8×8.04 mm 158.5x73x8.83 mm
Weight (Ounces, Grams) 6.16 oz, 174.5 grams 6.4 oz, 181.5 grams 6.77 oz, 192 grams
Mobile software Android 10 Android 10 Android 10
Camera 48-megapixel (main), 8-megapixel (ultra wide-angle), 5-megapixel (macro), 13-megapixel (portrait telephoto) 48-megapixel (main), 8-megapixel (ultra wide-angle), 8-megapixel (periscope), 13-megapixel (portrait telephoto) 50-megapixel (main), 13-megapixel (super wide angle), 32 megapixel (portrait telephoto)
Front-facing camera 32-megapixel 32-megapixel 32-megapixel
Processor Snapdragon 765G Snapdragon 765G Snapdragon 865
Storage 128GB/256GB 128GB/256GB 128GB/256GB
RAM 8GB 8GB 8GB, 12GB
Expandable storage No No No
Battery 4,200 mAh (33W Vivo flash charge) 4,315 mAh (33W Vivo flash charge) 4,350 mAh (44W Vivo flash charge)
Fingerprint sensor Yes Yes Yes
Connector USB C USB C USB-C
Headphone jack No No No
Special features 20x digital zoom, 90Hz refresh rate Gimbal-like camera, 60x hyperzoom, 90Hz refresh rate 120Hz refresh rate, 60x hyper zoom

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