When smartphone companies talk about how they are taking camera innovation to new heights as they so often do, I invariably roll my eyes. Call me a cynic, but the ‘our camera innovation is the best’ is a marketing tagline I’ve heard far too many times now. And while it might seem like camera innovation has stopped in the smartphone world, every so often a device comes that proves this perception is wrong. The Vivo X80 Pro is that smartphone.
When Vivo announced the X80 Pro, I was wondering just how this camera would be different or an improvement over the previous X70 series, which I have reviewed in the past and appreciated for this very aspect. The X80 Pro’s camera hardware in particular comes with a lot of new innovations and claims.
Yes, it continues with the Zeiss branding we saw in the previous two generations. There’s a new 50MP main camera at the back with Vivo using a bigger Samsung GNV sensor, a 48MP ultra-wide camera, a 12MP Gimbal Portrait camera built in partnership with Zeiss and an 8MP periscope camera. There’s a new cinematic video mode again built in partnership with Zeiss to offer a new video experience. But what does all of this mean for the user? Here’s my review.
Yes, that camera island at the back of the phone is huge. I’m not a fan of the design, and it does look overwhelming. There’s no doubt that the Vivo camera is capable of delivering excellent results, no matter the lighting conditions. Be it the portrait mode or the ultra-wide or just regular shots, this is a premium smartphone camera. Portrait mode in particular is what impressed me the most on this phone.
The portrait below, for instance, is taken inside a bar which is poorly lit. But the camera just does the job, without any extra effort involved.
The picture of the dog is taken out on the street at night. The lighting conditions are not ideal, but the camera delivers a good result.
Inside the bar, the chandelier is captured without any problems. Even at 4X zoom, Vivo X80 Pro manages to retain details.
A selfie I took outside at night also comes out well, with the camera retaining the shadows, and skin texture very well.
If you want a great camera on your phone, no doubt the Vivo X80 Pro is the right answer. But then isn’t that every single premium phone on the market?
Another area where Vivo really shines through is in the video department. And I say this as someone who invariably turns to the iPhone for any video that has to be shot. But Vivo’s Zeiss cinematic mode, which is a filter that you turn on before you start recording video, is something I’ve not seen in a smartphone. I took two cinematic style videos of my son, and the camera kept him in constant focus, while gently blurring out the background. Vivo does insist you shoot this in landscape mode so keep that in mind. And yes, these are heavy video files.
This background-subject segmentation, which takes place in real-time in this video recording, is not easy to do on a smartphone camera, but Vivo gets it right perfectly. There’s another ‘Natural’ mode as well for shooting video, which does something similar but allows you to shoot vertical. Yes, the iPhone also has a cinematic mode, but it feels very unpolished compared to this—at least on the iPhone 13 that I have used.
Poor lighting conditions are clearly not a problem for Vivo and the colours are mostly accurate. Even videos taken in low-light are sharp with details retained well. But I did notice in some light situations the camera tends to over brighten and perhaps needs to tone things down a notch. In some cases, I manually tweaked the exposure before framing some shots. There’s still some aggressive skin smoothing happening in photos, which I’m not a fan of. But at least Vivo is doing better at retaining skin textures as seen on many of my own portraits.
Do keep in mind that this camera is packed with a lot of features and frankly it will take a while to test all of them out. But so far what I’ve seen is very convincing.
The Vivo X80 Pro is a tall phone and not everyone will appreciate this. It can make single-handed use difficult at times. The back is glass but with a unique soft finish that is sparkly at times depending on the lighting. Sort of reminds me of the Xiaomi 12 Pro. Vivo is packing this with a leather cover in the box, which will protect the phone. But removing that cover can be a challenge at times.
The 6.78-inch display is AMOLED with a 2K resolution and a 120Hz refresh rate. By default, the resolution is set to full HD+, but you can change it to 2K. Vivo is offering a Smart refresh rate option, which will switch this based on the scenario, instead of keeping it at 120 Hz and just consuming battery life.
Like the previous two Vivo X series phones, the screen has curved edges. It also comes with an in-display fingerprint scanner. It works quickly to unlock the device. But I kept forgetting the scanner is inside the display. The display quality and audio experience are no doubt excellent, though it is expected at this premium price.
The Vivo X80 Pro runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor coupled with 12GB RAM, and 256GB storage. The phone also has Vivo’s own V1+ Imaging chip, which does all of the heavy lifting for tasks related to computation around photography, gaming, etc. One expects smooth performance and the Vivo X80 Pro delivers on this.
Resource-heavy games such as Genshin work without any hiccups and daily browsing on apps such as Facebook, Instagram, etc is not a problem. I did not notice any significant heating issues either, even while using the camera for prolonged video.
What still remains a weak point is the software. I’m not happy to see Hot Games and Hot Apps folders on a phone that costs nearly Rs 80,000. Users need to have the option to delete and remove these. Even with the camera, there are so many software-driven features and finding them might be a challenge for most users. Vivo has improved on some of these aspects, but it can do better.
The phone gets a 4700 mAh battery, which will get you through the day. Vivo is bundling this with an 80W fast charger and you should be able to charge this fully in just close to half an hour if you need to do so.
There’s no doubt that the Vivo X80 Pro is an expensive proposition at Rs 79,999. If you are a premium user looking for a great camera experience, perhaps beyond what Samsung, OnePlus or Apple offers, this one has all the chops to deliver. This is ideal for someone who wants a smartphone camera they can flaunt, and does not mind paying the premium price.