Vivo has been trying to make it into the premium segment for a while with its X series of smartphones. These high-end devices focus on the camera but past models have often fallen short of expectations in other areas, given their premium pricing.
The Vivo X50 Pro (Review) introduced a unique gimbal stabilisation feature, but had a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor at a premium price. Vivo fixed this performance gap with the X60 Pro+ (Review), but it offered no IP rating, wireless charging, or stereo speakers.
With the new X70 Pro+, Vivo seems to have done its homework. It's priced at Rs. 79,990 in India, which means it competes with the iPhone 13 (First Impressions), Samsung S21+ (Review), Mi 11 Ultra (Review), and top-end variants of some other premium Android models. Vivo has filled in the gaps of the X60 Pro+ and also upgraded its camera system. After using this phone for a week, it's easy to conclude that this might be one of the best smartphones in the flagship segment.
The Vivo X70 Pro+ plus ditches the faux leather back that the X60 Pro+ had. Vivo has instead gone with a matte glass finish and a skinny metal frame. The phone is available in a single Enigma Black finish which looks and feels premium but is also quite slippery. The glass rear panel feels durable and does a very good job of rejecting fingerprints and smudges.
It's easy to tell that Vivo has paid a lot of attention to the X70 Pro+'s design. The right and left sides of the frame are skinny, the bottom is a lot thicker but is flat, and the top has a glass insert with a more rounded appearance. It all looks good together, but the materials are very slippery. Thankfully, there's a high-quality faux leather case in the box, which is soft to touch and adds plenty of grip, but it will increase the overall thickness of the smartphone when snapped on.
While the phone feels surprisingly slim at 8.89mm, the quad-camera module on the back protrudes quite a bit. At 213g, it's not exactly light, but not too heavy for a premium smartphone either. Right next to that large camera module is a large reflective panel, which is a cosmetic touch, but can also be used as a mirror so you can take selfies with the rear camera.
The X70 Pro+ has a large 6.7-inch WQHD+ AMOLED display panel with curved sides. The Schott Xensation cover glass is prone to smudges, but these can be wiped off easily. A new feature on this generation is the stereo speaker setup, with the earpiece doubling up as the second speaker. Also new is the IP68 rating which means you get good protection against dust and water.
The Vivo X70 Pro+ goes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888+ processor, which is a minor upgrade to the Snapdragon 888 found in most premium Android flagships. This processor has a higher 3GHz (2.999Ghz to be precise) clock speed and a faster Hexagon 780 AI Engine. There's 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage, with no room for expansion. Communications standards include Wi-Fi 6 ac/ax, Bluetooth 5.2, and NFC. This phone supports several SA and NSA 5G bands, which were missing on the X60 Pro+.
Vivo's custom Android skin, FunTouch OS, has been upgraded to version 12 with Android 11 as the base. The company's much-talked-about widget-based Origin OS has yet to make it to any of the Vivo handsets in India, but the X70 Pro+ does get a handful of those cool-looking widgets including a Clean up & Accelerate function, a Nano music player, a few basic stickers (quotes, water counter, countdown), a featured album, and one for the weather. Apart from these, there are also the usual Android widgets to pick from.
What makes the FunTouch widgets special is their skeuomorphic design. There are buttons that open and close a jukebox-like music player (with Spotify integration) with some interesting animations like a CD slotting into a tray. Their overall fluidity is far cry from the usually clunky Android widgets. They are also very interactive. You can swipe across the album widget to glance at a few photos, or swipe across the weather widget to switch between hourly and daily weather reports. As interactive and fun as they are, there's a lot missing in terms of deeper integration, which is something Apple's iOS does much better.
Widgets aside, the software felt very fluid with no lag or stuttering whatsoever. While the phone does come with several preloaded third-party apps (which can be uninstalled), I was surprised to not see a single promotional notification pop up during the review period.
The Vivo X70 Pro+ features a WQHD+ (3200x1440 pixels) display which is very sharp and gets quite bright outdoors. It claims to be able to reproduce a billion colours and has very natural-looking colour tones. The curved edges made swiping from the sides easier while navigating the software, and didn't cause too much distraction when watching content. The display also supports HDR10+. While video on YouTube and Amazon Prime looked sharp and vibrant, Netflix's HDR certification is still pending. Vivo has confirmed that it has applied for this and that it will be enabled later.
The AMOLED panel features a 120Hz peak refresh rate, which apart from making the software experience feel fluid, is also evident while playing games. Vivo's Ultra Game mode has been revamped with a new interface and now has a lot of useful gamer-friendly controls including 4D vibration, a voice changer, and Eagle Eye View, which brightens up the game to let you see more clearly in darker areas.
I played Call of Duty: Mobile, and as expected, the gaming performance was flawless. Touch sampling was spot on with no lag or stutter, and the game loaded quickly. Despite playing at Very High graphics quality and Max frame rate (with all effects switched on), the phone only warmed up a little, even during extended gaming sessions. The dual speakers made for a very immersive audio experience delivering balanced sound that was loud and clear. The 4D vibration feature strangely did not work with Call of Duty: Mobile even though it was supposed to be supported.
In terms of benchmarks, there were minor differences between smartphones with the original Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor and the Snapdragon 888+. The Vivo X70 Pro+ managed a score of 8,16,115 in AnTuTu, and also scored 1,112 and 3,621 in Geekbench's single-core and multi-core tests. The iQoo 7 Legend, for example, scored 8,05,450 in AnTuTu (v9.1.2), and 1,130 and 3,668 in Geekbench's single-core and multi-core tests respectively.
With a 4,500mAh battery, I was a bit worried about the battery life of the Vivo X70 Pro+ given its large 6.7-inch pixel-dense display. However, even with the display refresh rate set to 120Hz, I easily managed a day and half of heavy usage. Setting the refresh rate to Auto might even have extended that a little. With regular use, I was left with about 40 percent at the end of the day, which is quite good for a premium flagship.
Vivo includes a 55W charger in the box, and it takes about 55 minutes for this phone to go from a dead battery to 100 percent. Wireless charging also makes it to the X70 Pro+ and this phone supports 50W wireless charging when used with Vivo's own dock, which will be coming to India and will be sold separately.
The Vivo X70 Pro+ features four rear cameras. This includes a 50-megapixel wide-angle camera, a 48-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera, a 12-megapixel telephoto camera with 2X optical zoom, and another 8-megapixel telephoto camera with 5X optical zoom. The 48-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera has a gimbal, which is used for the various stabilisation tricks this smartphone is capable of. All of the cameras offer autofocus and optical image stabilisation (OIS). Selfie duties are handled by a 32-megapixel front-facing camera.
But there's more. Vivo has also added what it calls a Professional Imaging Chip V1, which helps in multiple ways. This chip is said to help with frame interpolation, which according to Vivo, also improves smoothness when playing games, and helps the camera with brightness and denoising images accurately. All the camera lenses also have a Zeiss T* coating, which along with software, should help with reducing glare and ghosting in low-light photos.
Photos taken indoors and outdoors in daylight came out noise-free and with good detail and dynamic range. Sharpness was also spot on, and the X70 Pro+ did not go overboard with it. There was noticeable barrel distortion towards the edges of photos when using the ultra-wide-angle camera. Colours (with and without the Zeiss colour mode switched on) were faithful to the actual scene.
The ultra-wide-angle camera doubles up as a macro camera. The 12-megapixel binned macro photos are quite clear and pack in plenty of detail as well.
When zoomed in to a scene using the telephoto cameras, images came out sharp and free of noise, and showed good detail up till 5X optical zoom. Beyond this and all the way till the 60X digital zoom level, photos showcased a watercolour-like effect and the level of detail dropped progressively. Still, images taken at up to 10X zoom were usable. What impressed me most was how the X70 Pro+ managed to retain colour and white balance across the zoom range.
Selfies came out clean and sharp, with loads of detail. Edge detection in Portrait shots was excellent, and this applied when shooting plants and other objects using the rear camera as well. Vivo has included a couple of different Style Portrait modes that replicate the look of classic Zeiss lenses (Biotar, Planar, Sonnar and Distagon) using software. I tried all of them and they all have very distinct looks, and can all work effectively in both daylight and low light.
The camera system's overall zoom performance remained surprisingly good even around sunset, which is impressive. Moving on to low light, the X70 Pro+ captured photos with exceptional clarity up to 2X with some noise showing up at 5X zoom. Switching to night mode solves the noise problem and delivers better dynamic range, bringing out more detail in the darker areas of the photo. The Zeiss T* coating also took care of the glare emanating from nearby lampposts and other sources of light. I even tried taking a 60X photo using Night mode and the results were surprisingly usable.
The Vivo X70 Pro+'s cameras tackled daylight video recording without breaking sweat, no matter what resolution and frame rate I selected. HDR videos looked quite sharp and offered excellent dynamic range, but were limited to 30 fps. Around sunset, areas of a scene with artificial sources of light flickered a bit. This flickering problem was not present when HDR was switched off. While details took a hit in low light, stabilisation was still quite impressive. I noticed a bit of a shimmery effect when walking through dimly lit areas. I even tried out the Super Night mode but I was not impressed with the results, and I preferred video taken in the Auto mode.
Horizon line stabilisation is a neat trick and works better in daylight. When enabled, the camera system switches to the ultra-wide-angle camera (with the gimbal). This basically keeps the scene level with the horizon even if you rotate the phone 360 degrees while shooting, since the larger frame can be cropped and adjusted. This could be very useful when shooting videos with the phone mounted on a vehicle, or when running.
While shooting photos for this review, I had Xiaomi's Mi 11 Ultra with me to give you an idea about what a similarly priced premium smartphone is capable of. I concluded that the Vivo X70 Pro+ did better on most fronts, save for low-light video where the Mi 11 Ultra managed better detail with less noise.
There are a few things that I did not like about the camera interface. First, the zoom controls aren't great and it takes a bit of effort to zoom in and out smoothly. The hard stops switch abruptly with no smooth transition between the two telephoto cameras, especially when shooting video. It's also not possible to transition from the wide camera to the ultra-wide-angle one when shooting video. HDR video is limited to 30 fps no matter what resolution you choose, and gimbal stabilisation is also limited to 1080p at 30 fps.
Vivo has not held back in any way with the X70 Pro+. With unique features such as its gimbal camera stabilisation and V1 chip, it has successfully made a space for itself in the premium smartphone segment. The X70 Pro+ also has enough other updates to warrant an upgrade even from the X60 Pro+ (Review). It's not perfect, but it sure comes close, and with a barrage of features (most of which work as expected), there's little to complain about.
There are plenty of options at this price level including those from bigger brands such as Samsung and Apple, but none of them offer so much flexibility in terms of cameras, core hardware, and features.