Vivo X80 Pro Review: Still Exceptional?


Last year’s X70 Pro+ was all about Vivo proving that it could go head-to-head with two of the biggest smartphone manufacturers such as Samsung and Apple in the premium segment. In my review of the X70 Pro+, I was completely convinced of its excellent camera performance and its much-hyped gimbal stabilisation system, making it a very unique offering in the premium segment. Vivo also finally added stereo speakers, wireless charging and an official IP68 rating to the X70 Pro+, which were missing on the previous generation and thus, completed the premium package. But, how do you build a successor to such a feature-packed smartphone that is still very relevant even a year later?

Meet the Vivo X80 Pro. It’s missing the “+” in its name, but don’t be fooled as for all intents and purposes, it is the spiritual successor to the X70 Pro+ primarily because of its similar specs and price tag. While I initially felt it was only a small upgrade to the X70 Pro+ in terms of hardware, I’m now convinced that it’s still a solid one nonetheless after having tested it over the past few weeks, and here’s why.

Vivo X80 Pro price in India

The Vivo X80 Pro, just like the X70 Pro+, is available in a single configuration and is also priced similarly. It comes with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage priced at Rs. 79,999 in India. Keeping its price in mind, the phone will compete directly with the Samsung Galaxy S22+ (Review) which is available from Rs. 84,999 onwards.

Vivo X80 Pro design

The Vivo X80 Pro’s overall design is very similar to the X70 Pro+. It’s only available in Cosmic Black in India and this colour has a slight sparkle in the finish when exposed to bright light, but otherwise appears matte black. The Fluorite AG glass on the back and the Schott Xensation Up scratch protective glass over the display have curved sides which meet the aluminium-alloy frame, which also has a matte finish. While these matte surfaces are excellent when it comes to rejecting fingerprints and smudges, it also makes the Vivo X80 Pro very slippery. Thankfully, Vivo has added a premium faux-leather case in the box, which offers good grip.

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The Vivo X80 Pro looks very similar to the Vivo X70 Pro+

 

The back of the phone is where one will notice most of the design changes. There’s a large ‘window’ for the cameras, which looks very similar to the one on the iQoo 9 Pro (Review). It doesn’t rise up too much from the back panel and since it takes up the entire width, it prevents the phone from wobbling when placed on a flat surface. The primary, ultra-wide and one of the telephoto cameras sit inside a circular ring, while the periscopic telephoto camera is placed just below it.

Despite the somewhat recycled design, the Vivo X80 Pro still looks unique and feels premium when compared to any other smartphone in its class. There’s also an IP68 rating and wireless charging, just like its predecessor. The curved cover glass covering the AMOLED display does attract dust and smudges easily, but these can be wiped off easily.

Vivo X80 Pro specifications and software

The Vivo X80 Pro gets upgraded to the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC, which is found in smartphones both above and below this price point. Vivo seems to have missed out on the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 SoC, which was recently announced and would have made for a good upgrade from the Snapdragon 888+ SoC in the X70 Pro+. The company has added a second generation of its V1 imaging chipset called the V1+, which it claims helps with low-light imaging, video recording and gaming.

Communication standards include Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC and support for the usual satellite navigation systems. The Vivo X80 Pro’s internal storage cannot be expanded. The phone now features a 4,700mAh battery, which is an upgrade over the 4,500mAh unit in the previous model and can be charged quickly with the 80W adapter that’s provided in the box. The phone has a 6.78-inch AMOLED display with WQHD+ resolution (3,200 x 1,440 pixels). It features a 120Hz refresh rate and a 300Hz touch sampling rate.

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Funtouch OS 12 is based on Android 12 and Vivo promises three generations of Android OS updates and three years of security updates

 

The Vivo X80 Pro runs Funtouch OS 12 which is based on Android 12. Vivo promises to support the phone with three generations of Android OS updates and three years of security updates, which is good news for buyers. Vivo’s X70 Pro+ was updated to Android 12 in January 2022, so I’m hoping Android 13 also makes its way to the X80 Pro in a timely manner.

Funtouch OS 12 is pretty much what you’d expect from any recent Vivo smartphone. Android 12 adds a certain level of customisation but the OS still has a very strong Vivo flavour rather than stock Android 12. While the software works smoothly with no hiccups whatsoever with regular use, I did encounter some software bugs (mentioned below) which I hope are resolved with future updates.

There’s now a theme engine which matches the colours of widgets and the keyboard to the selected wallpaper. Vivo has added a UI colour picker, much like what you get on Samsung’s One UI 4.1, but it’s limited to changing the colour of just the keyboard and not the accent colour of the widgets on the homescreen. The only way to force the widgets to follow the theme colour is by restarting the smartphone.

Dark mode was a bit buggy too as even though the background of the app drawer changed to black, the text didn’t switch to white, making it hard to read the labels of apps. Apart from the visual bugs that I encountered, there’s also several preinstalled third-party apps such as MX TakaTak, Josh, BYJU’s, Moj, etc, which I could have done without on a phone that costs nearly Rs. 80,000. However, you can uninstall all of them if needed.

Vivo X80 Pro performance and battery life

The Vivo X80 Pro’s E5 AMOLED display produces natural-looking colours and is bright enough to tackle direct sunlight when outdoors. Text and images appear sharp and I did not find the screen’s curved edges distracting when watching movies or playing games. This is the first smartphone display we’ve come across that uses the latest LTPO 3.0 technology which promises even better power efficiency. The X80 Pro has a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz and a minimum refresh rate of 1Hz.

I noticed that the display only hit 1Hz when the Settings app was open and that too only under bright sunlight. With regular use, the display’s refresh rate usually dropped down to 10Hz and fluctuated rapidly depending on the on-screen content or app. Smart Switch lets the display automatically switch between refresh rates depending on the content but you can force the display to run apps at 120Hz all the time if needed.

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The Vivo X80 Pro has a 6.78-inch E5 AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and a large 3D Ultrasonic fingerprint reader

 

The Vivo X80 Pro’s display also has an HDR10+ playback certification and supports the same in apps such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube. The stereo speakers get loud and the clarity is maintained even at high volume, which along with the vivid display, makes the X80 Pro ideal for watching movies or TV shows without requiring a pair of earphones.

The larger-than-usual 3D Ultrasonic fingerprint reader (first available on the iQoo 9 Pro) was a delight to use. Registering a fingerprint took one single tap and unlocking the device worked flawlessly during my review period. I also found Vivo’s Quick Actions feature quite handy, which lets you launch any native or third-party app the moment you unlock the device. Vivo has also thrown in a two-finger verification system for additional security and it worked as expected. Apart from the lockscreen, you can use your registered fingerprints for authenticating locked apps as well as hidden ones.

With Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 SoC inside, I did not face any trouble when it came to benchmarks and the Vivo X80 Pro delivered very good performance as expected. The phone managed a score of 9,69,340 points in AnTuTu, along with 1,236 and 3,631 points in Geekbench’s single and multi-core tests, respectively. The Vivo X80 Pro’s performance in the benchmarks was definitely on par with the competition but was only marginally higher than what last year’s X70 Pro+ (with its Snapdragon 888+) managed.

Gaming performance was top notch. The phone was more than capable of running popular mobile games such as Call of Duty: Mobile and Asphalt 9: Legends at the highest settings, and it did so without breaking a sweat. What impressed me was the Game interpolation feature, which worked well. There’s only a handful of smartphones that are capable of running Call of Duty: Mobile above 60fps and Vivo’s Game interpolation feature (basically MEMC for games) which can be enabled via the slide-out console within a game, managed to render it at 90Hz which made the game feel smoother to play.

Vivo also claims that the phone consumes less power when using this mode as compared to actually running the game at such a high frame rate. The downside to this is the slightly lowered touch sensitivity which I did not find to be a problem in Call of Duty: Mobile. The feature will require you to adjust the in-game graphics settings (frame rate set to “Max or higher”) but it looks visually smoother when it works.

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The Vivo X80 Pro has four rear cameras, all of which are quite impressive

 

I did not have any issues with the Vivo X80 Pro’s battery life. I managed to get a day and half of heavy use with the display’s refresh rate set to Smart Switch. Forcing it to 120Hz also did not seem to have any negative impact on battery life. The phone managed to last 16 hours,15 minutes in our HD video loop test and I was able to charge it from empty to full in 36 minutes when using the bundled 80W charger, which is quite good. The phone also supports 50W wireless charging, but you will need Vivo’s proprietary wireless charging dock that is sold separately.

Vivo X80 Pro cameras

The Vivo X80 Pro has four rear cameras just like its predecessor, but with a slight change. There’s a new 50-megapixel primary camera that uses a customised Samsung GNV sensor with optical image stabilisation (OIS), a 48-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera with autofocus, a 2X telephoto portrait camera with Vivo’s gimbal stabilisation system and finally, a 5X periscopic-style telephoto camera with OIS. Selfie duties are handled by a 32-megapixel front camera which uses a fixed-focus system.

The camera interface is all very familiar and just like the X70 Pro+, the camera app has well laid out controls and some of them are customisable. There’s the usual Pro mode for both stills and video, and a new Astro mode, which resulted in some really interesting photos.

Vivo X80 Pro daylight samples from the rear cameras (tap to see full size)

Vivo X80 Pro hybrid zoom camera samples (tap to see full size)

 

The primary camera captured excellent photos with good details and impressive dynamic range (thanks to the Zeiss T* coating) in all kinds of lighting conditions. In low light especially, it performed equally well with reduced noise in the photos. Lens flares and strong glare emanating from bright street lights, neon signs and other sources of light were kept under control, which helped boost dynamic range and detail in the shadows.

Night mode on the main camera also delivered noise-free photos along with colours that were very close to the actual scene. The Astro mode which is typically meant to capture the stars in the night sky (in the right weather conditions) was quite impressive. While it’s meant to work when the phone is mounted on a tripod, I managed to capture a few handheld photos with this mode and they looked equally good, with low noise and good detail.

Moving to the ultra-wide-angle camera, it captured photos that had good details and dynamic range. There was surprisingly very little barrel distortion, but the quality of the photos was not exactly on par with the primary camera, especially when shooting in low light, even with Night mode. This could be down to the lack of an OIS system for this camera, which was present on the X70 Pro+. Regardless, these were still some of the best looking ultra-wide-angle photos, in my opinion.

Vivo X80 Pro low-light samples from the rear cameras (tap to see full size)

 

Vivo X80 Pro camera samples: Astro mode (top) and macro photo (bottom) (Tap to see full size)

 

The ultra-wide-angle camera is also capable of taking macro photos up to 4cm from your subject. The results were quite good and I’m glad that Vivo chose to go with this implementation instead of using a dedicated macro camera. The colours in macro photos were equally impressive, which were very similar to the results from the primary camera.

Vivo’s choice of using the gimbal stabilisation system on its Portrait camera is a curious one, but it delivers good output for the most part. The brand’s intention behind the same was to enable a user to shoot better low light portraits with the help of its 5-axis gimbal stabilisation. In daylight, the results from this camera were excellent, with impressive edge detection along with good sharpness and detail. The colours were a bit saturated in auto mode but switching to any of the Zeiss Styles or the Natural Style filters resulted in more true-to-life colours. In low light, the results were still quite good but the details were a bit soft. I expected them to appear equally sharp in low light, given the stabilisation system in place, but that wasn’t really the case.

As for the telephoto camera, the quality of the photos were similar to X70 Pro+. The OIS-stabilised periscope camera system captured good quality photos at 5X optical zoom in daylight. Photos taken in low light appeared a bit murky, but switching to Night mode produced better quality photos with enough detail and dynamic range.

The one thing I really appreciated was how close the colour tones were between photos captured by all the four rear cameras. Also, if you aren’t a fan of the slightly saturated colours that this phone captures by default, you can enable Zeiss mode, which captures more true-to-life colours with all cameras.

The selfie camera captured sharp photos with good detail in daylight. The edge detection in Portrait mode was spot on and so was the dynamic range, with the subject and background exposed correctly. Low-light performance was equally good as images looked sharp and colours were rendered well.

Vivo X80 Pro selfie sample taken with Portrait mode (tap to see full size)

 

The Vivo X80 Pro can shoot up to 8K videos at 30fps which looked crisp, with excellent detail and dynamic range. But the footage lacked stabilisation so motion was a bit jerky. Videos recorded in daylight at 1080p and 4K had good details, contrast and impressive stabilisation, especially at 30fps. 4K footage looked the best as it packed enough details and also looked quite sharp.

HDR 10+ footage looked good but had oversaturated colours and was only available when shooting at 1080p and 4K 30fps. In low light, details were a bit low but noise was under control provided the scene was sufficiently lit. I did not like the output of the AI-enhanced video as it lacked stabilisation and did not have a steady bitrate.

The new ‘Cinematic video Style’ introduced by Vivo automatically blurred the backgrounds of subjects for a cinema feel. It only worked well under good lighting and could capture footage at 1080p resolution only. The key to good cinematic video is tracking your subject as they move and while objects appeared fine, the edge detection fumbled a lot when tracking human faces, and was nowhere close to Apple’s Cinematic video mode.

Verdict

The Vivo X80 Pro is not a gigantic upgrade over the X70 Pro+ (Review), which was already a great phone to begin with in terms of imaging and performance. If you own a X70 Pro+, the X80 Pro won’t seem too impressive. For a new buyer though, the X80 Pro is definitely worth getting over the X70 Pro+ as Vivo hasn’t yet dropped the price of the older model. The X80 Pro is a proper premium smartphone for 2022 with the latest SoC and display tech, and has a unique set of cameras that is like no other at this price point.

As for the competition, there’s plenty to choose from. The Samsung Galaxy S22+ (Review) is a solid contender and is packed to the brim with premium features, but lacks the flexibility of the X80 Pro’s cameras and is also priced higher (from Rs. 84,999). Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra (Review) may be a year old, but can be found for around Rs. 76,000 online and offers crazy zoom capability and good battery life along with all the features you would expect from a premium flagship.

If you are on a tighter budget, the OnePlus 10 Pro (Review) is a good choice as it offers an impressive set of cameras for its price, minus an official IP rating. On the iOS side, Apple’s iPhone 13 (Review) is another good option. It may lack the flexibility of Vivo’s quad-camera setup, but it offers rock-solid consistency, a sensor-shift stabilised main camera, Cinematic video and Dolby Vision video recording, all at slightly lower market price than the X80 Pro.




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