Vivo X70 Pro review: A good camera phone with long battery life
Design & Handling, Display & Audio, User Interface
Note: This review was first published on 13 January 2022.
Is a new update, always better?
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 S$1,199 (which comes with 12GB RAM + 256GB storage)? Let’s find out.
|Vivo X70 Pro|
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 S$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.