Vivo is known for experimenting with its devices, whether it be introducing in-display fingerprint tech or pop-up selfie cameras. With the Vivo X50 Pro it’s focusing on camera innovation in a way I haven’t seen before.
The headline feature here is a ‘gimbal-style’ camera which is there to aid stabilisation and Vivo says this is the first time a system like this has been included in a mass-produced phone.
It’s an interesting prospect and something different to market your phone’s camera on that isn’t simply hyping up how well it shoots low light snaps or the number of megapixels inside the sensor. A gimbal would normally be used to help stabilise a camera, whether it’s an action camera or a larger DSLR, and it should lead to smoother video.
With the X50 Pro, Vivo is using a “double ball structure to achieve triple-axis rotation” and this should not only aid in capturing smoother video, but also reduce hand shake to improve night photography.
This gimbal system is then paired with the more traditional OIS (optical image stabilisation) and EIS (electronic image stabilisation). That’s quite the stabilisation trifecta.
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To go with this new tech, Vivo is adding in a number of modes that should (I’ll be able to tell if they do all work once we’ve put through our review process) highlight the gimbal skills. There’s a Pro Sports mode where the gimbal stabilisation aims to reduce shakiness and combines with motion autofocus to keep everything in focus. An ‘Astro Mode’ for shooting the stars and ‘Smart Zoom’ uses all three elements of the focusing system to track subjects as they move.
That’s a lot to take in, and while I haven’t been using the phone long enough to judge whether this is revolutionary or merely marketing overload, first impressions are strong. The stabilisation is clearly very stable, almost to the point where it looks slightly artificial, but I think that’s more down to how I think phone stabilisation should look rather than how this works.
In terms of actual camera specs, the Vivo X50 Pro has a 48-megapixel main camera with an f/1.6 aperture, a 120-degree 8-megapixel super wide and a 13-megapixel ‘bokeh’ camera. Finally, there’s an 8-megapixel sensor with a periscope lens attached for zooms of up 5x telescopic and 60x digital. Flip the phone over and there’s a 32-megapixel camera on the front for selfies.
Again, that’s a lot to take in and I will need far longer with this phone to judge what works and what doesn’t.
What is far easier to judge instantly is just how good this thing looks. During a briefing call ahead of the Vivo X50 launch, reps reiterated just how important thin phones were (even to a point where it ditched the gimbal system from its high-end X50 Pro Plus device as it would have made it too thick) and that’s obvious here. For a 5G device with such an interesting camera, it’s incredibly slim and light.
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The rear has this really nice matte glass finish, which eschews fingerprints and smudges completely, and the front is covered by a 6.56-inch display. For a 2020 phone, it almost feels small.
That display is made by Samsung, is an OLED panel and packs a 90Hz refresh rate along with a FHD+ resolution. There’s an in-display fingerprint sensor for unlocking in there too, and a small cutout for the front camera. It’s a nice looking panel with slightly curved sides.
Inside you’ll find the increasingly common Snapdragon 765G chip, 8GB RAM and a 4315 battery. Vivo’s 33w Flash Charge is here too for snappy recharges.
The only obvious standout that hasn’t impressed me so far is the slightly ugly software. This Android skin is heavy and packed with duplicate apps. It certainly won’t be for anyone who likes a simple software approach.
Vivo X50 Pro release date and price
While we know the phone is coming to certain European regions (though not the US) we’re yet to learn final prices and release information. As this is a phone running the mid-range Snapdragon 765G, it likely won’t be priced as high as some flagships.
Vivo X50 first impressions
If the gimbal system works as advertised, the X50 Pro has a unique advantage in the crowded Android marketplace, but it’ll really come down to carrier support and how well priced the device is.