vivo’s launching both of their new X-series of smartphones in the Philippines in the next few days, bolstering a lineup that hasn’t seen a new device since the X21 in 2018. Both the X50 and the X50 Pro will be landing in the country, with the former being the subject of this review.
The new phone might not have the same gimbal mechanism that makes its more expensive brother great, but that doesn’t stop it from taking great photos and being an excellent all-around phone.
-High refresh rate display
-Flagship-like camera quality
-FunTouchOS has drastically improved
-Use of a 4G processor is debatable
Unboxing and packaging contents
Unlike the V-series and Y-series, the X50 comes in a square box that is reserved for vivo’s more premium models. You get a textured dark blue box with X50 branding in front. Inside the box, you get the phone itself, documentation, SIM ejector tool, USB-C cable, 33w FlashCharge power brick, USB-C to 3.5mm jack adapter, and the headset.
We find it weird that vivo decided to include a headset with a 3.5mm jack instead of a USB-C connector—unless you already have a pair of TWS earbuds, you will need to use the supplied dongle to use the headset.
Skinny is still cool
vivo is no stranger when it comes to skinny phones, and the X50 is no exception. At 7.5mm thin, the X50 is on the thinner side and is pretty hefty for a skinny phone. Unlike with the build used on glass-backed V-series phones like the V17 Pro, you get a high-gloss finish on the X50, which is a stark contrast when put up against its X50 Pro brethren.
Our review unit’s Glaze Black color is so shiny, it can double as a mirror when you’re outdoors. Like the X21, you have a glossy aluminum frame that is solid to the core.
vivo is serious in promoting the X50 as a phone that can deliver professional-quality photos (more on that in the latter part of this review), even going so far as labeling the words “professional photography” at the top of the phone.
The X50’s button and port layout is straightforward: power and volume controls on the right side and SIM tray, USB-C port, and loudspeaker at the bottom. You are not getting a headphone jack this time, so that 3.5mm dongle is handy unless you are already using wireless earphones.
Superior AMOLED display, but with a higher refresh rate
vivo has been equipping a majority of its offerings with an in-display fingerprint reader, along with AMOLED panels these days, and the X50 is no different. What’s unique about this particular phone is that it comes with a 90hz refresh rate. It is the first vivo phone officially sold locally with a high refresh rate display, and you can feel the difference when using the phone: animations and scrolling are more fluid, and overall UI experience is smoother compared to conventional 60hz displays. While the smoother interface of a 90hz refresh rate takes a toll on battery life, the X50 offers dynamic refresh rate switching if you want the best of both worlds.
As for the display itself, we in the team prefer AMOLED over IPS as the former deliver deeper black and more vibrant colors—two key characteristics that are essential for an enjoyable experience with watching videos. Speaking of videos, the X50 comes with Widevine L1, so you can enjoy your favorite Netflix shows in Full HD glory.
Flagship-like camera quality
Being a premium mid-range phone with photography as its forte, vivo equipped the X50 with a great set of snappers: a custom 48-megapixel f/1.6 IMX598 main camera with 4-axis OIS, 13-megapixel f/2.46 portrait camera with 2x optical zoom, 8-megapixel f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle camera, and 5-megapixel f/2.4 macro camera. The IMX598 is a customized version of the IMX582—vivo claims that the X50’s main camera is 10% more light-sensitive compared to phones using an IMX582 sensor.
Those claims do hold true: together with its four-axis OIS and vivo’s tweaked post-processing algorithm, the X50 delivered images that can rival those taken by more expensive flagship phones. Color accuracy is very much on point, and image detail is definitely one of the better ones we have seen on a premium mid-range device. The X50’s stellar image quality is not limited to the main camera: even the macro camera, portrait camera, and ultra-wide-angle camera delivered equally great photos, closely maintaining the same post-processing treatment done with the main camera.
While the X50’s 4-axis OIS is not as fancy and groundbreaking as the X50 Pro gimbal stabilization system, it is better than conventional OIS systems used on most phones. Shooting Full HD videos at 60FPS is smoother than ever, and vivo’s Ultra Steady feature adds a layer of software-based stabilization to achieve results close to what you’d expect from dedicated action cameras.
Selfies are a strong point for any vivo, and the X50 does not disappoint. Its 32-megapixel selfie snapper delivered excellent amount of detail even if we disabled any form of beautification.
Choice of internals might be up for debate
Like the majority of mid-range phones in the market, the X50 comes with 8GB LPDDR4X RAM and 128GB UFS 2.1 storage. However, unlike the Chinese version of the X50 that comes with a 5G-ready Snapdragon 765G processor, the X50 available at our shores uses a Snapdragon 730 processor instead. While we question the processor of choice—especially at a time where 5G phones are slowly arriving at our shores (including the more premium X50 Pro)—the Snapdragon 730 is still a very capable processor despite lacking 5G capabilities.
While it is a tad slower than the more frequently-used Snapdragon 720G, the X50’s Snapdragon 730 processor delivered good numbers as far as gaming is concerned. Even at the highest possible graphics settings, figures we obtained from Gamebench indicate that the X50 is a very capable phone for gaming. For titles like Marvel Super War and PUBG Mobile, vivo’s Multi-Turbo tech is activated by default, further improving overall gameplay for both titles.
We are not fans for FunTouchOS for trying to copy Apple’s iOS too much, and vivo thankfully addressed that with the iteration of FunTouchOS for the X50. The notification panel and quick control panel are now lumped into one place, and the home screen UI is much cleaner compared to previous versions.
One of the things FunTouchOS does well is battery life, and it shows: even with 90hz refresh rate enabled, we managed to score close to 13 hours on PCMark—which is not bad for a skinny phone with a 4200mAh battery. The score we got in PCMark translates to at least a days’ worth of use. Using the supplied 33w FlashCharge brick and USB-C cable, it takes a little over an hour to top up the battery from 15% to 100%.
Verdict: Buy if you care more about photography than 5G
vivo’s decision to use a Snapdragon 730 processor for the global version of the X50 instead of a Snapdragon 765G processor is going to generate much debate especially with the first crop of 5G phones (vivo’s own X50 Pro included) coming to the Philippines.
However, if you are not after 5G (it will take a year or two before it gets fully rolled out in the Philippines), the X50 is one of the best-performing phones in both photo and video. Its custom main rear camera and 4-axis OIS are powerful tools in helping the X50 deliver flagship-like photos and smooth video footage. If you want to level up your content creation and not worry about 5G in the meantime, the X50 is the best tool you can get right now.
We do not know what is the official price of the X50 as of this writing, but a post said it will have a sub-Php 26k price tag, which puts it on the pricey side of things.