Vivo X60 Pro review: Second time’s the charm
If you can pardon the ‘gimbly amazing’ pun, you’d recall that the Vivo X50 Pro launched to high praise for its unique gimbal camera setup, but the smartphone was held back by decidedly mid-range specs for its 50,000-rupee price point. The Vivo X60 Pro aims to do one better – not only is it kitted with the new Gimbal Stabilization 2.0 and Zeiss optics, but Vivo has also packed it to the gills with flagship-grade hardware that goes up quite competitively against the OnePlus 9. Is this the one that will move the needle for Vivo?
Straight up, someone has to say this – Vivo’s gotten into the habit of making the best-looking phones out there. The frosted glass matte finish rear feels instantly luxurious in the hand and complements the sloping metal rails on the mid-frame perfectly. Like with the X50 Pro, the two-level camera bump is attention-grabbing and juts out enough to make the phone rock on a flat surface, but it’s integrated really well into the otherwise slim design. Seriously, this is one slick phone, and at 7.59mm and 177g, among the thinnest and lightest in its segment, and it’s a testament to the fact that phones can be designed to be compact and ergonomic without sacrificing features. Well, almost – a dual speaker setup would have been nice, as would some degree of water resistance.
A curved-edged, almost bezel-free 6.56-inch display dominates the front of the device, with an almost unnoticeable punch-hole selfie shooter in the center. It’s a full HD+ resolution panel with a smooth 120Hz refresh rate and 800 nits of peak brightness – colors look good on the screen (if a little boosted), outdoor viewing isn’t an issue and HDR10+ content on Netflix and YouTube look crisp and plenty bright. There’s support for 240Hz touch response, which helps during gaming and with the overall responsiveness of the screen. Audio output is a bit of a letdown, with the slim profile affording only a mono speaker and no room for a 3.5mm headphone jack.
As impressed as I was with the X60 Pro in the hand, we’re all here for the cameras, right? My opinion on the gimbal setup on X50 Pro was that it was a genuine technological advancement, allowing for mind-boggling low light images and super-smooth video. With the X60 Pro, you get a more advanced version, dubbed Gimbal Stabilization 2.0, which adds in an additional stabilization axis sitting on an all-new mount to counteract against vertical and horizontal hand movement, and it has a profound and tangible impact on the photos and videos you take across all shooting scenarios, but only on the primary camera, mind you. In a sense, it is far more useful than bumping up sensor sizes and genuinely feels like the most worthwhile upgrade to mobile cameras in a while. There’s also the Zeiss partnership for the lens to correct for distortion and removing artifacts in tricky lighting conditions. Proof that the X60 Pro takes its photography duties seriously is the absolute lack of gimmicky 2MP macro sensors and the like – you get a 48MP Sony IMX598 sensor as primary, two 13MP sensors for ultrawide and portrait (2x) and a 32MP selfie shooter up front.
The results are evident – daytime shots are packed full of detail, sharp, well exposed and with great dynamic range. Focusing is fast, and colors are most on point, although they do tend to lean towards oversaturating the reds. Ultrawide shots too are tack sharp, and there’s a dreamy instant bokeh when you go up close and shoot a subject. Keep in mind that the gimbal stabilization is limited to the primary camera, but the ultra-wide does pull off some great looking shots with restrained barrel distortion on the edges of the image. The periscope 5X telephoto shooter on the X50 Pro makes its way to the Pro+ this year, so in some senses the 2x portrait shooter does feel like a bit of a downgrade. Sure, you do get gimbal-assisted 20x digital zoom on the primary camera, which is better than most purely digital zoom implementations but that’s about it.
The low light performance is on another level, thanks to the large f/1.5 aperture and gimbal stabilization on the primary camera, and you get some of the brightest and sharpest low-light images in the sub-50,000 category. As is the case with video output, where the 4K @ 60fps and 1080p @ 60fps are delightfully detailed and stable, particularly when you’re walking around and panning in your shot. The gimbal at play is super effective, and you can walk around and still not get any noticeable shake in your videos.
Yet, it’s the performance department where the X60 Pro got its biggest upgrade, addressing one of the biggest complaints one had with the previous generation. This is the first phone to launch in India with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 chipset and 12GB LPDDR4X RAM along with 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage. The 870 is a chip that has a lot in common with last year’s flagship Snapdragon 865+ that we last saw on the Asus ROG Phone 3. Performance wise, that places it somewhere in between last year’s OnePlus 8T and this year’s OnePlus 9 with the Snapdragon 888, which translates to the X60 Pro handily meeting your performance needs, even over extended gaming sessions with only the slightest temperature rise to show for it. CoD Mobile runs smoothly on the Adreno 650 graphics with all settings maxed out, as does Genshin Impact. App launching, multitasking and everyday use of FunTouchOS is stutter free, with the 120Hz display lending the buttery smoothness to the interface. When you’re pushing the device with several heavy apps, the virtual RAM (which caches the apps in unused storage instead of bumping them off the memory) keeps up to 20 apps running in the background. The downside is the number of pre-installed apps and notifications one gets to see, which is not the ideal experience for a phone at this price point (granted, phones twice its price try to get away with similar behaviour, so…)
Battery life is, given the thinness of the device, expectedly average, and you get between 5 to 6 hours of screen-time with 120Hz enabled on the 4200mAh battery, and a little more with adaptive refresh rate. Also along expected lines, camera usage (particularly with the primary camera and its gimbal) chews through battery. No wireless charging, though you do get 33W fast charging for a zero to full in under 80 minutes.
Vivo’s taking on from where Huawei left off, in experimenting with innovative camera tech and (mostly) making it work in a commercially viable form factor. The X60 Pro represents the refinement of that idea – not only do you get an incredible set of cameras with the insane gimbal setup, but you don’t have to compromise on the hardware or the in-hand feel either. Little wonder that the X60 series is evoking the sort of audience response and genuine purchase queries that I’ve personally yet to see in Vivo phone at this price point. If you’re someone who loves to push your smartphone camera to the limit and appreciates good design, the X60 Pro checks all the boxes and makes a legitimately compelling case against the OnePlus 9.
Vivo X60 Pro
Pros: Excellent primary cameras and gimbal setup, best in class design and ergonomics, good performance
Cons: Lacks stereo speaker setup, wireless charging and IP rating, bloatware, middling battery life
Price: Rs. 49,990 (12GB+256GB) in Midnight Black and Shimmer Blue
Tushar Kanwar is a tech columnist and commentator, and tweets @2shar