Vivo X70 Pro review: A good camera phone with long battery life

Hardware Zone

Design & handling, display & audio, user interface

Is a new update, always better?

Barely just six months after Vivo’s X60 series hit retail shelves in Singapore , the Chinese smartphone company introduced and launched the Vivo X70 series handsets on our shores .

Sadly, the headlining device - Vivo X70 Pro+ - wouldn’t be officially available here, which leaves us with the X70 and X70 Pro. Unfortunately, this means we’re missing out on X70 Pro+’s perks: a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset, LPDDR5 RAM, wireless charging, a dedicated imaging chip for photography, and an ultra-wide rear camera with gimbal stabilisation.

However, the Vivo X70 Pro is no slouch. Built as the casual photo taker’s dream machine, X70 Pro packs in four rear cameras, with a 50MP main shooter that comes with its gimbal stabilisation, a 12MP ultra-wide, a 12MP telephoto, and an 8MP periscope telephoto shooter with 5x optical zoom.

Vivo also added ZEISS T* Coating to every lens, which reduces ghosting and blurring in photos. If you’re coming from the X60 Pro (our review here ), that’s an additional zoom shooter and an improved main camera for you, on top of clearer lenses.

This variant uses a 2021 flagship processor - MediaTek Dimensity 1200 5G . It lends 5G network support to the handset, but we’d have to temper our expectations around its performance - after all, we don’t believe it’s a coincidence that the Snapdragon 888 only goes on its Pro+ variant.

Would the X70 Pro justify its expedited refresh cycle? Are Vivo X60 Pro users missing out on a lot by buying its predecessor just months ago ? Is it even a good flagship-lite smartphone for $1,199 (which comes with 12GB RAM + 256GB storage)? Let’s find out.

Vivo X70 Pro
Launch SRP
  • From $1199
Network:
  • 5G (NSA/SA), 4G, 3G
Operating system
  • Android 11 with Funtouch 12
Processor
  • MediaTek Dimensity 1200
Built-in Memory
  • 12GB RAM, LPDDR4X
Display
  • 6.56-inch / 2,376 x 1,080 pixels (~398 ppi) / 120Hz refresh rate / HDR10+ / AMOLED Display
Camera
  • Rear:
  • 50MP main camera, f/1.75, Gimbal Camera System
  • 12MP ultra-wide, f/2.2, 116° FOV
  • 12MP telephoto, f/1.98 2x optical zoom
  • 8MP periscope telephoto, f/3.4, 5x optical zoom
  • Front:
  • 32MP main, f/2.45
Connectivity
  • Up to Wi-Fi 6 (2.4GHz, 5GHz), Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, GPS, OTG, Type-C USB 2.0
Storage Type
  • 256GB internal storage
Battery
  • 4,500mAh
  • 44W FlashCharge
Dimensions
  • 1.58.3 x 73.21 x 7.99mm (Cosmic Black)
  • 1.58.3 x 73.21 x 8.08mm (Aurora Dawn)
Weight
  • 183g (Cosmic Black)
  • 184g (Aurora Dawn)

Design and handling

Although it feels slightly thicker than the X60 Pro, Vivo X70 Pro is barely above 8mm thick, giving the device a slim profile. While the phone keeps its camera bump lean despite having two zoom lenses, it still wobbles when you prod it while it lays face-up on a flat surface. It would’ve been more ideal if the brand managed to replicate its V21 camera hump , which still remains as one of the slimmest alternatives we’ve seen so far. That said, this is easily resolved with a third-party protective phone cover or bumper, assuming you're unlikely to use a phone without protection.

X70 Pro has a unique feel in hand we've not encountered in recent years. The phone’s rear has a mildly grainy texture that feels like a gentler version of the OnePlus 2’s ‘sandstone’ finish. Since it has a frosted back, it’s also resistant to smudges - a plus in our books.

Our only gripe lies in its power and volume buttons - it’s extremely thin, to the point that you can’t tell which button you’re touching unless you feel around for button length. Most phones would differentiate buttons through various textures, so one can identify the correct button without having a visual confirmation.

Unfortunately, the X70 Pro’s didn’t do enough for its power/lock key for that to happen. Though you can clearly see a raised marking, it isn't enough when you're trying to feel for the buttons. Vivo could’ve simply put either power or volume buttons on the opposite side of the phone to solve the lack of ergonomic hint.

Beyond its appearance and ergonomics mentioned above, the X70 Pro’s build quality is rather average for its price point. Notably, the spec sheet says it uses a glass body, and not Gorilla Glass - the X70 series is also missing from Corning’s webpages too . More interestingly, X60 Pro had scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 6. However, since we don’t know what type of glass X70 Pro uses, we can’t definitively say it’s a downgrade in this arena.

Display and audio

Vivo X70 Pro comes with a 6.56-inch AMOLED display rated at 2,376 x 1,080 pixels resolution. If you’re particular about colour accuracy, we recommend using Professional Mode (under Settings > Display & Brightness > Screen Colours) and adjusting the colour temperature to your liking, since the other modes skew towards a blue tint. The image we have for reference above uses Default Mode colours, which you can tell is a bit saturated.

X70 Pro’s display has its optimisations like eye protection turned off by default, while refresh rates start at Smart Switch (Vivo’s name for adaptive refresh rates based on app type and content). You’ll need to quickly dive into X70 Pro’s display settings to milk its maximum 120Hz if you want it to be active most of the time (at the cost of battery life). The phone’s display also has HDR10+ support, along with 240Hz touch sampling rate.

The single-firing speaker at the bottom offers a bloated sound signature that’s stingy on bass. We feel that Vivo missed an opportunity to use its call speaker up top and create stereo sound. On the plus side, the handset supports Hi-Res Audio, so you should pair the phone with a nice set of headphones and the correct file formats if you want to get more out of it in the audio department.

UI and features

Out of the box, Vivo X70 Pro has FunTouch OS 12, which is a proprietary reskin of Android 11. It’s largely similar to the X60 Pro’s user interface , with negligible design differences. For example, icons in Quick Settings (the pull-down menu) are now squares with rounded corners, instead of circles. Some parts of its UI are still inconsistent (like the brightness slider in different menus), but Vivo kept the bloatware down to a minimum this time around.

What we liked is the inclusion of an entire Settings category called Dynamic Effects . It lets the user customise animations seen during regular phone use, like the swiping and zooming motions when moving between Home Screen and the active app.

However, it’s quite limited in practicality since you can only make Home Screen transition animations faster. The rest are aesthetic choices, where you opt between different icons and symbols for fingerprint and facial unlocking. No animation when unlocking or putting away the phone makes for a really swift user experience.

Crucially missing from the X70 Pro is IP-rated water resistance - you’ll have to look towards the Pro+ variant for IP68 rating (which is also a first for Vivo’s X series).

The lack of IP-rated water protection is another reminder of how we’d expect flagship-class phones to have everyday features intact. For comparison, Xiaomi 11T Pro has a S$300 lower starting price, with IP53 splash-proofing and a Snapdragon 888 chipset. The ASUS ZenFone 8 with $200 lower starting price comes with IP68 and a Snapdragon 888 too.

We can understand why Vivo needed to tap into a variety of chipmakers to meet demand in these uncertain times, but you’d think they’d bother with some water resistance for the Pro version, given how competitive the smartphone market is. More so at the thousand-dollar price point.

Imaging performance

The Vivo X70 Pro packs four rear cameras with ZEISS T* Coating, of two which are dedicated to optical zoom:

  • 50MP main camera with Gimbal Stabilisation
  • 12MP ultra-wide
  • 12MP telephoto for 2x optical zoom
  • 8MP periscope telephoto for 5x optical zoom

While it boasts an impressive array of cameras, it’s the X70 Pro+ that gets an additional V1 imaging chip to further boost its image processing capabilities. The X70 Pro doesn’t have that, so it relies on its MediaTek processor and Vivo’s software smarts to deliver. 

Fans of Vivo would already know of its gimbal stabilisation system keeps the camera sensor steady to get less blurry shots. Vivo already did a great job with the X50 and X60 series, which meant that the X70's series stabilisation is old news by now. You can see how it works below.

With that, we now look at the sample images.

Generally speaking, the Vivo X70 Pro handles colours well, but it overcompensates whites, leaving brighter areas blown out at times. Its 5x optical zoom performance is surprisingly delicious. You'll see more with other examples below.

Again, the X70 Pro's 5x optical zoom camera performs above our expectations.

Benchmark performance

The Vivo X70 Pro packs a MediaTek Dimensity 1200 chipset. If you’re looking for a Qualcomm processor, that’s unfortunately in the Pro+ variant only, which isn’t officially available in Singapore. 

This MediaTek chipset pits the Vivo against other SD888 alternatives given its positioning and performance. Without a Pro+ variant here, this also makes Vivo’s X70 Pro its latest, highest-end offering you can legitimately buy here. 

 
  Vivo X70 Pro Vivo X60 Pro Xiaomi 11T Pro ASUS ZenFone 8
  Vivo X70 Pro Vivo X60 Pro Xiaomi 11T Pro ASUS ZenFone 8
Launch SRP
  • From $1199
  • From $1199
  • From $799
  • From $999
Network:
  • 5G (NSA/SA), 4G, 3G
  • 5G (NSA/SA), 4G, 3G
  • 5G/4G/3G/2G
Operating system
  • Android 11 with Funtouch 12
  • Android 11 with Funtouch 11
  • Android 11 on MIUI 12
  • Android 11 on ZenUI
Processor
  • MediaTek Dimensity 1200
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 870
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
Built-in Memory
  • 12GB RAM, LPDDR4X
  • 12GB RAM
  • 8GB RAM (LPDDR5)
  • 12GB RAM (LPDDR5)
  • 8/16GB RAM (LPDDR5)
Display
  • 6.56-inch / 2,376 x 1,080 pixels (~398 ppi) / 120Hz refresh rate / HDR10+ / AMOLED Display
  • 6.56-inch / 2,376 x 1,080 pixels (~398 ppi) / 120Hz refresh rate / HDR10+ / AMOLED Display
  • 6.67-inch, 2,400 x 1,080 pixels, AMOLED DotDisplay, 20:9 ratio, 120Hz refresh rate, 480Hz touch sampling rate, HDR10+, DCI-P3
  • 5.9-inches 2,400 x 1,080 pixels (445 ppi) AMOLED, 20:9 ratio, 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+, 1,100-nits brightness
Camera
  • Rear:
  • 50MP main camera, f/1.75, Gimbal Camera System
  • 12MP ultra-wide, f/2.2, 116° FOV
  • 12MP telephoto, f/1.98 2x optical zoom
  • 8MP periscope telephoto, f/3.4, 5x optical zoom
  • Front:
  • 32MP main, f/2.45
  • Rear:
  • 48MP main camera, f/1.48, Gimbal Camera System 2.0
  • 13MP ultra-wide, f/2.2, 120° FOV
  • 13MP telephoto,f/2.46 2x optical zoom
  • Front:
  • 32MP main, f/2.45
  • Rear:
  • 108MP main, 0.7μm pixel size, 2.1μm 4-in-1 Super Pixel, f/1.75
  • 8MP ultra-wide, 120° FOV, f/2.2
  • 5MP telemacro, f/2.4, 3-7cm AutoFocus
  •  
  • Front:
  • 16MP, f/2.45
  • Rear:
  • 64MP main, 1/1.7-inch sensor size, 0.8μm pixel size, 1.6μm with Quad Bayer, f/1.8, 4-axis OIS, 2x1 OCL PDAF
  • 12MP ultra-wide, 113° FOV, f/2.2, Dual PDAF, 4cm macro shooting
  •  
  • Front:
  • 12MP, 1.22μm pixel size, Dual PDAF
Connectivity
  • Up to Wi-Fi 6 (2.4GHz, 5GHz), Bluetooth 5.2, NFC, GPS, OTG, Type-C USB 2.0
  • Up to Wi-Fi 6 (2.4GHz, 5GHz), Bluetooth 5.1, NFC, GPS, OTG, Type-C
  • Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, L1+L5 GPS, G1 GLONASS, E1+E5a GALILEO, Beidou, USB-C, NFC
  • Wi-Fi 6/6E (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, 2x2 MIMO), Bluetooth 5.2, L1+L5 GPS, L1 GLONASS, E1+E5a GALILEO, USB-C, NFC, 3.5mm audio jack
Storage Type
  • 256GB internal storage
  • 256GB internal storage
  • 128/256GB internal storage (UFS 3.1), no MicroSD slot
  • 256GB internal storage, UFS 3.1
Battery
  • 4,500mAh
  • 44W FlashCharge
  • 4,200mAh
  • 33W FlashCharge
  • 5,000mAh
  • 120W wired fast-charging
  • 4,000mAh
  • 33W wired fast-charging
Dimensions
  • 1.58.3 x 73.21 x 7.99mm (Cosmic Black)
  • 1.58.3 x 73.21 x 8.08mm (Aurora Dawn)
  • 158.58 x 73.24 x 7.69mm
  • (Shimmer Blue is 0.1mm thicker than Midnight Black)
  • 164.1 x 76.9 x 8.8mm
  • 148 x 68.5 x 8.9mm
Weight
  • 183g (Cosmic Black)
  • 184g (Aurora Dawn)
  • 179g
  • (Shimmer Blue is 2g heavier than Midnight Black)
  • 204g
  • 169g
Video Support
  • 8K30FPS, 4K60FPS, 1080p60FPS (front)

 

JetStream 2.0

JetStream 2 is a combination of a variety of JavaScript and Web Assembly benchmarks, including benchmarks that came before, like SunSpider and Octane. It primarily tests for a system’s and browser’s ability in delivering a good web experience. It runs a total of 64 subtests, each weighted equally, with multiple iterations, and takes the geometric mean to compute the overall score.

Geekbench 5

Geekbench CPU is a cross-platform processor benchmark that tests both single-core and multi-core performance with workloads that simulate real-world usage. Geekbench 5 scores are calibrated against a baseline score of 1000, which is the score of an Intel Core i3-8100.

3DMark Sling Shot Extreme

3DMark Sling Shot is an advanced 3D graphics benchmark that tests the full range of OpenGL ES 3.1 and ES 3.0 API features, including multiple render targets, instanced rendering, uniform buffers and transform feedback. The test also includes impressive volumetric lighting and post-processing effects. The test's Unlimited mode ignores screen resolutions.

We’re also collecting scores with 3DMark’s new benchmark, Wild Life. Below are the test’s Unlimited Mode scores. 

Performance benchmark remarks

In benchmarking tests, the Dimensity 1200 5G chipset seems to offer lower horsepower than its Snapdragon 888 peer and also less than the Snapdragon 870 that's used on the Vivo X60 Pro. Despite the slight letdown in raw performance scores, it still fared well in day-to-day use, and was able to comfortably handle its gimbal-assisted video recording without hitches over an extended period of time.

Battery life

Our standard battery test for mobile phones has the following parameters:

  • Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100 per cent
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter

With its 4,500mAh battery, the X70 Pro lasted a whopping 1,070 minutes in our battery test, which was nearly 18 hours of non-stop usage. Even at maximum brightness and volume, the phone’s bigger-than-before battery and lower-powered chipset choice are likely reasons why it fared better than its predecessor and its rivals.

With its 44W wired charging adapter (included in the box), the X70 Pro took 29 minutes to juice up from 0 per cent to 50 per cent, and a total of 71 minutes to go from 0 per cent to 100 per cent. It’s reasonably fast for getting a full 4,500mAh of charge, and its charging rate at low battery levels is impressive, to say the least.

Our gripe is the lack of wireless charging on the X70 Pro, making it less competitive than other alternatives of its price range. Wireless charging is only available on the Pro+ model (which as you've noted by now, isn't available locally).

Conclusion

While it’s difficult to match the X70 Pro’s camera versatility and quality at its price point, Vivo could’ve done more to make this variant more palatable within the competitive budget flagship space. 

Solely counting handsets we’ve experienced, it costs S$200-S$300 more than alternatives like the Xiaomi 11T Pro and ASUS ZenFone 8. These other options give you a true 2021 Qualcomm flagship processor, IP-rated water resistance, and Gorilla Glass protection.

They also pack better audio quality and comparable photography features, on top of 11T Pro’s blazingly fast 120W fast-charging that blows competitors out of the water. Even the similarly priced OnePlus 9 offers Gorilla Glass, Snapdragon 888, faster charging, and a similar-enough display. 

Also, bear in mind that the X70 Pro doesn’t come with the dedicated imaging chip like its Pro+ variant, so it’s not like we can say you’re paying more for dedicated imaging performance. Hard to match, yes, but not dedicated. Coupled with the short refresh cycle of six months since the X60 Pro, this makes the X70 Pro compete against its very own handsets. 

Think of it this way - if a user really wanted additional gimbal stabilisation for photos and near-flagship performance, the X60 Pro is still good and fresh enough to qualify, especially with the X70 Pro being around to lower the predecessor’s street price. That’s even before you consider models outside of Vivo’s stable of phones.

The upside for X60 Pro owners is that you’re not missing out much from the new X70 Pro and similarly, for those shopping for a new phone, you probably are getting a good deal out of the Vivo X60 Pro if you can find it priced lower than the newer X70 Pro.

We felt that Vivo could’ve either brought in the X70 Pro+ to compete with the big boys, or choose to price the X70 Pro at a competitive price point to give Xiaomi, ASUS, and even OnePlus extra pause.

That said, you’re not likely to be disappointed should you choose to get a Vivo X70 Pro. It has a great photography suite, an appealing design, a decent display, and an extremely long battery life. Priced at  $1,199, you can get the Vivo X70 Pro from authorised telcos (Singtel, StarHub, M1), its LazadaQoo10, and Shopee online stores, authorised consumer electronics and IT stores, and Vivo’s very own flagship outlet (at Causeway Point).

This article was first published in Hardware Zone.