Vivo X70 Pro Review: Good but confusing

Vivo X70 Pro Review: Good but confusing

More than four months after its launch in other regions, the Vivo X70 Pro has finally made it to UAE shores. Priced at Dh2,999, it is a smartphone worth considering. But some of the choices Vivo has made with it are rather surprising.

Design and build

In traditional Vivo fashion, X70 Pro has an incredibly attractive design. It is only 8mm thick and weighs around 186g which is the perfect size and weight for comfortable one-handed use. Moreover, the smartphone is also slightly narrower than your average device which helps further with this.

The design of the smartphone is excellent

The back of the X70 Pro is also unique. It is made up of a new Flourite AG process which definitely feels different compared to previous generations. This essentially makes for a fine layer of crystals on the back of the smartphone adding both grip and also eliminating fingerprints. As for its durability, we have dropped the smartphone a few times from pocket height and it has held up well.

At the back, you also find a unique design for the camera. It gives the smartphone a clean look and compliments the overall aesthetic well. Most of the buttons and I/O around the device is as standard with the IR blaster being a standout feature, although throughout the review, we never found a use for it. In fact, we would appreciate it greatly if this was to be replaced by a 3.5mm headphone jack but alas, those days are gone.

While having the IR blaster is useful, we have not used it throughout our review period

Overall, if you find yourself picking up the Vivo X70 Pro, you will not be disappointed. But one omission still remains which is baffling. Despite of our recommendations since the X50 Pro, the X70 Pro does not feature official IP water or dust resistance. We are not sure why Vivo omits this time and again but it is something that the smartphone should definitely have, given all of the competition at this price point has it.

Display and multimedia

Up front, the X70 Pro packs 6.56-inch AMOLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate. It is designed with a subtle curvature around the edges and a hole-punch at the top, making for an impressive 90.3 per-cent screen-to-body ratio. Whether with indoor use or outdoor, the display holds its own. It comes with HDR10+ certification, a Full HD+ resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. While the latter helps with fluidity, the certification and resolution helps with multimedia consumption. We did not find the visual experience on the smartphone to be lacking in any manner, having watched episodes on Netflix and consumed countless YouTube videos.

The Vivo X70 Pro has an excellent display

Moreover, viewing angles, colors and black levels are extremely good. However, once again, a recurring miss is that you do not find stereo speakers. This has been the case since the X50 Pro and we fail to understand why Vivo continues to make these choices. The mono-speaker on the X70 Pro is loud and on its own, it sounds good. However, when compared to any smartphone with a stereo experience at this price bracket, you notice the inferior experience almost immediately.

User experience

These days, a lot of the user experience for any smartphone depends on both hardware and software. Powering the X70 Pro is the MediaTek Dimensity 1200U octa-core chip clocked at 3.0GHz with 256GB of storage and 12GB of RAM, which can be expended a further 4GB using Vivo’s Extended RAM feature. Like we mentioned earlier in the review, the processing power on this year’s flagship is inferior to last year’s. And this can be seen from the benchmark results we have obtained on the X70 Pro compared to last year’s X60 Pro. We are not sure why Vivo decided to do this but unfortunately, this change does have an impact on performance.

While you can still browse through applications, have multiple applications open and take advantage of some strong RAM management, raw power is missing. Given this change in processing, you will find experiences like video editing and high-graphic gaming to be a bit underwhelming. We even found that when having multiple applications open on screen or during stress testing, the smartphone’s full 120Hz refresh rate failed to keep up with some visible frame drops.

We also think this change in hardware accounts for some software behavior. The X70 Pro is running Android 11 topped up with Vivo’s FunTouchOS 12 skin. While this is an extremely lightweight skin, it has its fair share of bloatware. But this time, we uninstalled most of these applications so that they do not get in the way. And for those applications that cannot be uninstalled, we have avoided even opening them. This way, you do not get any annoying advertisements or notifications which we think should be a default experience. Oddly, we also found a few hiccups with connectivity here and there, when it came to both sporadic loss of WiFi as well as cellular reach.

RAM management given the Extended RAM feature is good on the X70 Pro

The general fluidity of the software experience is great though. Its design elements, especially the widgets are clean and we like having the ability to open applications in separate windows for almost a desktop like experience. However, one drawback of this software is experience is natural sluggishness. Last year, with the X60 Pro, the software experience was quick, snappy and responsive. In an attempt to make the X70 Pro smoother feeling, the process of switching between applications is now slower. Vivo says this is the intended experience although we prefer the experience from last year’s flagship.

Camera performance

You will find five cameras on the Vivo X70 Pro, namely a 32MP selfie camera and a quad-camera array on the back. Before addressing the latter though, we want to highlight the selfie experience. While the front camera is wide and captures detail, it seems like the processing of pictures is highly subjective. The camera applies almost a filter-like layer to selfies that make them brighter and not true to life, which is something we do not like. This is even more apparent when using the portrait feature.

Moving to the back, the quad-camera array is made up of a 50MP primary shooter, an 8MP periscope telephoto lens with 5x optical zoom, a 12MP telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom and a 12MP ultra-wide lens. With the 2x and 5x lens in particular, zooming into far-away objects is made easier. The gap between these two zoom ranges does produce some mixed results but otherwise, photos turn out pretty good with fairly similar color tones.

We like how minimal the camera bump is

With the 50MP primary sensor, photos turn out extremely realistic. In the last couple of years, especially with the era of social media and sharing, we often tend to prefer photos that have a bit of a pop. And while the the Zeiss optics on the X70 Pro can replicate that, on cloudier days, photos seem to look dull and unappealing when compared to photos taken from other smartphones. Almost all the time, our friends and family preferred the photos from other smartphones just because they were enhanced just right, without being too over the top.

While this was the case for some occasions, on other occasions, the colors the smartphone captured seemed off. For instance, I found myself taking a picture of a black object but on the photo taken, looked purple. Another slight issue is the slower shutter speed also the failure to focus on close-up objects especially in lower lighting conditions. To address close-up images, the X70 Pro does have a macro mode which works well however in low-light, it results in quality loss.

Speaking of low-light, we think the smartphone performs well. In photos with and without night-mode, it is able to replicate the mood of the scene well without overexposing elements like lights. Even when using this mode to capture images of people, it worked well. But perhaps the biggest hardware let-down is the smartphone’s ultra-wide lens.

On paper, the 12MP sensor sounds good but in practice, it just fails to deliver. In comparison to the primary sensor, the color balance is quite different and pictures turn out much softer than ideal. Given this drawback, we often avoided using the the ultra-wide lens for a lot of situations, especially if it involved usage in low-light.

Video wise, the X70 Pro is able to capture 4K videos at 60fps. We actually did notice its gimbal stabilization coming into play a number of times when filming videos involving movement or low-light. For instance, capturing distant fireworks worked extremely well on the smartphone even with movement. However, if you do plan on filming in low-light, we would recommend only using the 30fps option because at 60fps, there is quite a drastic drop in video quality.

Battery life

If there is one aspect of the Vivo X70 Pro that has thoroughly impressed us, it is the battery. There is a 4,450mAh cell here which easily lasts through an entire day and more. Whether we used the smartphone on cellular data, WiFi or mixed, it always managed to last us the entire day which is extremely impressive. With moderate use, you should even be able to get two days of usage from the phone for an equivalent of around 9-10 hours of SOT on a full charge. To top up the battery, you can use the 44W charging brick provided with the smartphone which takes just over an hour to full charge. But with the smartphone lasting for the whole day for us, we only ever needed to charge it overnight. As great as the battery experience is, we would have appreciated it if the smartphone also supported wireless charging.

Conclusion

Every year, Vivo’s places its flagships in tough predicaments. With the X70 Pro, you find an incredible design and display experience. But there are far too many things that are above average, but could have been better. This includes the camera experience as well as overall performance. If you own a phone from last year like the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE or the Vivo X60 Pro, there is no need to upgrade. But if you are coming to older smartphones, the Vivo X70 Pro will make your shortlist of options.