This is going to be brief as far as reviews are concerned. The reason being that a lot of what I wrote in my review of Vivo X50 Pro applies here as well. We will focus on what is different. You might wonder why I didn’t club the two devices in a single review. The answer is that I got this device later and didn’t have time to set it up. That brings us to the device in question: Vivo X50.
Vivo X50 launched alongside X50 Pro and got overshadowed by his feature rich sibling. However, it shares the “X” factor with its sibling and has a lower starting price. So, does that make it a better device for those who can’t shell out Rs 50,000 on a smartphone? Well, the answer to that question is Yes but in India’s smartphone market, even good is not good enough. Vivo X50 amplifies that narrative because it is a good smartphone that fails to be excellent. Here is my review.
Vivo X50 vs X50 Pro: Cameras
The obvious place to start for Vivo X50 Series is the cameras. The Chinese smartphone maker seems to have taken every criticism seriously and has gone all out to produce a great camera phone. I would say Vivo X50 Pro is one of the best camera phones out there right now. The X50 comes very close to matching it’s premium sibling, at least when you look at the main camera. It lacks the fancy gimbal camera tech but there is OIS for steady shots. The main sensor is still 48-megapixel and has identical color reproduction. This means, the pictures shot during broad daylight will have excellent dynamic range and accurate colors.
The camera is so flagship quality that if you don’t add “Vivo X50” watermark then it can be passed as one from Huawei or Samsung flagship. It is a tall order when it comes to imaging. Only Huawei has managed to impress among Chinese smartphone makers while Apple, Google and Samsung have carved out their own niche. With the X50 Series, Vivo is reaching that level and not the level set by OnePlus, which has struggled badly to get the camera right. While I could not compare Vivo X50’s camera with that of OnePlus Nord, I do have a feeling that Vivo will be better. That main camera is where all the action is but if you are into videos, the gimbal stabilization found on X50 Pro might be more suitable.
This main camera is supplemented by a dedicated 5-megapixel macro camera. This dedicated macro shooter is not there on X50 Pro and during my time testing them side by side, I found the Pro to produce better details while the X50 lets you get closer to the subject. I would rather be away from the subject and capture details than get close and lose those precious information. Since the main camera is the same on both the models, you can capture an image at 48-megapixel and crop in to get closer. The two other cameras on the back of this device are an 8-megapixel super wide-angle camera and a 13-megapixel telephoto camera for 2x optical zoom.
Again, the optical result is identical to that seen on the X50 Pro. They are good but I’m that person who would shoot portraits with the main camera rather than using the telephoto camera. Vivo lets you shoot portraits with the main camera but the default is set to 2x telephoto lens. I have this same gripe with Apple and Samsung as well so Vivo is not doing anything wrong per se. The super wide-angle camera is fine but it wasn’t of much use during this lockdown phase. I also had mixed feelings about the 32-megapixel selfie camera. In a nutshell, this is a great camera setup that can challenge even the flagship smartphones and does so without any gimmicks.
Performance and Battery Life
Vivo X50 comes equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 chipset unlike the Chinese variant, which uses SD765G. There is 8GB of RAM and either 128GB or 256GB internal storage. Our review unit is the 128GB storage model and I must say that there is a lot of content to consume and download these days. Also the cameras capture big files. The 48-megapixel images take anywhere between 15MB and 20MB for each photo and the storage might fill soon depending on how many photos you click each day and the shooting mode.
The raw performance, however, is not in the sub-Rs 40,000 league but instead it is in the sub-Rs 20,000 league. At Rs 24,999, OnePlus Nord is half the price of Vivo X50 Pro and has the same Snapdragon 765G chipset. Vivo X50 has Snapdragon 730, which has similar performance to Snapdragon 720G seen on Redmi Note 9 Pro or Poco M2 Pro. Even Poco X2 priced at Rs 17,499 has a Snapdragon 730G mobile chipset. So, on paper, Vivo X50 is using a chipset that is found even on affordable devices in the country.
In a market where specifications have become an obsession for brands, this is a serious failure on the part of Vivo. There is no other way to say this but competition is getting so intense that you cannot indulge with one feature but cut down on another. Yes, the flagship camera is powered by a mid-range processor and the overall user experience is not bad. However, you cannot tax the device by setting highest graphics or refresh rate settings with PUBG Mobile. Even Snapdragon 765G is not that fast in this department but it is marginally better than Vivo should have used that chip instead.
Under the hood, there is a 4,200mAh battery that supports 33W fast charging. During my time using this device, I managed screen-on time between 5 and 6 hours, which is respectable. This is with screen refresh rate to 90Hz at all times. With the display set to 60Hz refresh rate, you should be able to extend the battery life further. Even though this is a smaller battery compared to X50 Pro, I found it last longer that it just shows how power consuming the 5G enabled chipsets are and how difficult it is to find a balance for smartphone makers.
Design, Display and Software
Vivo X50 Series is basically a statement that Vivo can compete in terms of merit. This shows the design of both the smartphone. The X50 comes in two color options of Glaze Black and Frost Blue. Our review, finished in Frost Blue, looks understated but also premium. There is glass back frosted to the metal surface allowing for a nice feel. When you touch the surface, it feels very much premium and there is minimalism thrown in for good measure. There is a vertically positioned rear camera module, which protrudes a bit and Vivo logo at the bottom side of the device.
At the front, there is a 6.56-inch Full HD+ AMOLED display like its Pro sibling but lacks the dual curved edges. I prefer a flat display over curved ones, which result in color bleed or off-axis shift in display. This display also supports 90Hz refresh rate, which makes Android 10 and Vivo’s own Funtouch UI good to use. However, the advantage does not show everywhere. For instance, scrolling through Instagram, which is a photo heavy feed or Twitter, which is a mixture of photos, text and videos, did not feel superior to a 60Hz panel. My primary phone with a 60Hz OLED felt the same most of the time.
However, if you are buying a smartphone in 2020, it would be better to opt for one with a faster refresh rate. Vivo also seems to have cleaned up its UI to a good extent. There are duplicate Vivo-branded apps for web browsing and even for downloading apps, which could have been avoided. When I compare the days of Vivo V3, there is a sign of maturity here. I like the music effect which shows light in a rhythmic effect when music is played on a locked device. The option to switch between Google Feed or Jovi is another good example. However, I am not sure whether Vivo will push the Android 11 update on time.
Vivo X50: Should you buy?
If you want an absolutely good camera without having to shell out more than Rs 40,000 then Vivo X50 is a very good option. However, it is hard to argue in favor of a specifications sheet especially now that OnePlus Nord is out. The success of OnePlus in the premium market shows that consumers are willing to compromise on camera experience. So, the OnePlus Nord becomes a better value proposition than Vivo X50. This proves that Vivo built a good phone but then it became not good enough within a week. That is the state of the smartphone market, which is good for consumers.