Vivo X50 Pro+ 5G Review – flagship-level without gimmicks
Vivo made a big splash when it launched its new Vivo X50 Pro to global markets, giving particular attention to its unique gimbal system, a first in smartphones. That, however, wasn’t Vivo’s top of the line phone, a distinction that belongs to the Vivo X50 Pro+. It had none of the non-Plus model’s compromises but also none of its special tricks. How does that make the Vivo X50 Pro+ fare in the end? We take a deep dive to bring you that answer.
If the Vivo X50 Pro was designed to bring a sense of confidence and serenity, the X50 Pro+ sends a message of luxury. That’s mostly thanks to the eco leather material it uses on the back of its most premium configuration.
It’s still a rather eccentric touch by today’s standards but not entirely original to some extent. After all, Samsung was notorious for its faux leather obsession not too long ago.
More than just being flashy, that textured back does also serve a practical purpose. It increases the phone’s gripp7-ness, making it easier to hold the phone with confidence. That’s especially important given how thin and light the X50 Pro+ is, belying the power it packs inside.
The front of the phone may not be as fancy but it is from being unexceptional, especially when the display is turned on. You’ll easily forget the punch-hole cutout in the corner as your eyes take in the colors of the 6.56 AMOLED FHD+ display, which is capable of a 120Hz refresh rate. It is one of the brightest and most vibrant screens we’ve come across, making it easier to use the phone even under a bright sun.
Specs, Performance, and Charging
Unlike the X50 Pro, the X50 Pro+ makes no compromises in the hardware department, save for one important camera detail we’ll get to later. That means you’re getting 2020’s best, or at least early 2020, with a Snapdragon 865 providing the muscle, including 5G connectivity. There’s ample 12 GB of RAM and 256 GB of UFS 3.1 storage, or 8GB and 128 GB if you’re on a tight budget.
What all these boil down to is a smartphone that won’t be wanting in power for whatever purpose you may have for it, be it for number-crunching games, frantic multi-tasking, or long days of binge-watching. Synthetic benchmarks will put it around the vicinity of this year’s top smartphones, though your own mileage will vary, of course. Suffice it to say, we found no instance of the Vivo X50 Pro+ chocking on any of the tasks we put it to.
Sooner or later, however, that phone’s battery will run out, even if it’s a large 4,350 mAh pack. That’s where Vivo’s 44W charging comes in. It only took 30 minutes to charge the phone 35% to 100%, well in line with the manufacturer’s advertised figures. Of course, you’ll need to always use Vivo’s charger for that magic to happen.
Vivo explains that the X series has always been geared towards offering pro photography features but it is also where the phone makes its one and most important compromise. Unlike the somewhat mid-range X50 Pro, the X50 Pro+ doesn’t have Vivo’s touted new gimbal system, opting instead to use Samsung’s large 50MP ISOCELl GN1 sensor. It could have chosen to combine both but it would have broken the phone’s sleek design by bulging up the back too much.
That said, it was almost as if the Vivo X50 Pro+ didn’t need it anyway, at least for taking still photos. Samsung’s sensor combines its best in terms of Dual-Pixel AF and Tetracell technology with large pixels, ensuring that the phone is able to produce excellent color reproduction and details, no matter the lighting situation.
Of course, the X50 Pro+ has a dedicated night mode which, like all night modes, uses an HDR-like algorithm to compose multiple exposures into one bright shot. It works great but you do need a steady hand. In other words, it’s one area where that absent gimbal would have worked wonders.
The X50 Pro+ does have a 5x optical zoom lens attached to a 13 megapixel sensor and while the output isn’t terrible, it’s not exactly outstanding either. Color reproduction seems to be a bit inconsistent, depending on your zoom level, though at 5x zoom the amount of detail captured is quite impressive. The advertised 50x zoom is, of course, a hybrid type that is barely usable.
Although Vivo has a specific smartphone line just for selfies, the X50 Pro+’s 32 megapixel front camera takes great photos nonetheless. Our only criticism, as always, is the creamy output even when beauty mode is turned off. Speaking of modes, Vivo’s camera app naturally supports a good number of them, even going as far as modifying aspects of your face if that’s your thing.
The Vivo X50 Pro+ runs on the company’s latest Funtouch OS version that’s thankfully based on Android 10. That isn’t, however, the most notable part of the phone’s software experience. This particular phone has so far launched only in China where Google’s Play Store and apps are all but nonexistent. Some users have resorted to sideloading APKs just for that but Vivo makes a surprising move to make that easier.
Vivo’s App Store actually ships with popular Google apps like Gmail and Google Photos but you don’t even have to do that. You can also install Google Play Store from the Vivo Store and then install apps from Google as normal. How it managed to do, hopefully legitimately, that is still a mystery but it’s definitely a welcome convenience.
The Vivo X50 Pro+ is an admirable 2020 premium smartphone that checks all the boxes without going overboard. Powerful specs, well-performing cameras, and no-nonsense fast charging make it a well-balanced option in the smartphone market today. It definitely has the makings of a contender in the premium smartphone race but a spec sheet does not a successful smartphone make.
Unfortunately, these very same features also make it harder to stand out from the crowd. In that sense, the Vivo X50 Pro with its Gimbal System stands a better chance at getting noticed. The $720 starting price (8 GB RAM, 128 GB ROM) is definitely worth noting but that price advantage is made moot until Vivo finally reveals its global launch strategy for this otherwise remarkable phone.