Vivo X70 Pro Review: Split personality
Vivo recently released the X70 Pro device as part of their mid-year refresh. AndroidHeadlines did a review of the Vivo X70 Pro Plus a few days ago but now it’s time to take a look at its younger sibling the X70 Pro in this review.
At first glance, you might have a bit of a hard time trying to spot the differences between the new X70 Pro and X60 Pro which came out in March 2021. This is because a lot of the changes are incremental in nature.
In this deep dive, we will mainly focus on the big changes with the new X70 Pro in comparison with the X60 Pro. Since there are no differences between the X70 Pro and the just reviewed X70 Pro Plus in terms of software we will skip that portion in this review entirely.
What are the noticeable changes on the Vivo X70 Pro?
Cameras, processor, battery capacity, charging speed are the biggest changes in comparison to the X60 Pro. Physically there are two changes, one noticeable and the other imperceptible. The height of this phone is smaller by 0.01 inches or 0.3 mm which is imperceptible to the eyes. The camera module on the other hand gets a new layout which looks better than the previous generation in my opinion.
There are a few subtle changes such as no Gorilla Glass on the front or the back, a bump up to Bluetooth 5.2 and 32-bit audio instead of BT 5.1 and 24-bit audio in the prior version.
From a computing perspective, the Snapdragon 870 gives way to a bespoke Dimensity 1200-vivo processor. And instead of just one memory/storage option, Vivo offers 5 different versions from 8GB/128GB all the way to 12GB/512GB with the X70 Pro.
Last big change is a bump of 250 mAh in battery capacity to 4450 mAh. But charging speeds go from 55W to 44W with the newer X70 Pro which is a bit of a head-scratcher. The bigger battery also increases the weight slightly by about 7 grams or 0.15 oz which is imperceptible in my opinion.
Unboxing experience is familiar
There is basically no change in the box or contents between the X70 Pro and X60 Pro. We still get the “Co-engineered with Zeiss” on the front of the square blue box.
Inside the box besides the phone, we get a 44W charging brick, USB-C cable, SIM tool, a slim TPU clear case, headphones, headphone tips, and a headphone jack dongle. As usual, the phone has a factory film screen protector on it. The biggest change is the 44W charging brick in lieu of the 55W charging brick in the prior version of this device.
Hardware design language is pretty much unchanged along with the 120Hz display
Side by side the biggest difference between the two devices is the camera module. Otherwise, the entire device looks exactly like the X60 Pro from earlier in the year. This includes the excellent 120Hz display with a center hole punch. This is a new Samsung E5 AMOLED panel that is capable of hitting 1300 nits in terms of peak brightness.
Another minor change is that the new glass back cover has a nice etched surface which provides a better tactile feel than before. While the grip is better than the X60 Pro on this device, it is not as good as the ‘Reno Glow‘ process etched glass cover found on the Oppo Reno 5 Pro. There is no Gorilla Glass protection on either the display or the back cover so there is some cost-cutting going on in terms of the glass on this device.
Having used the bigger X70 Pro Plus for a while, I like the smaller X70 Pro and the slight increase in weight (10% larger battery than before) is pretty negligible. Another small change Vivo made is that they now include a clear TPU case instead of the hard polycarbonate shell from the previous version.
Long story short, I prefer the size of the X70 Pro because it is extremely pocketable and perfect for single-hand use as a daily driver.
Let’s talk about the performance of the MediaTek processor in the Vivo X70 Pro
Vivo decided to switch over from Snapdragon to MediaTek for the X70 Pro. So this time around we get a special bespoke Dimensity 1200-vivo chipset on the X70 Pro. The review units still keeps 256GB UFS 3.1 storage along with 12GB RAM.
In daily use, I didn’t experience any slowdowns with the Dimensity 1200 processor. There is however a shift in Geekbench 5 scores. The single-core score is now 871 as compared to 1030 and the multi-core score is 3178 versus 3442 in the X60 Pro.
From a sheer benchmark perspective, this is a reduction in performance even though you would be hard-pressed to notice it while playing Genshin Impact. But the lower scores out the gate compared to the X60 Pro means that the longevity of this device might not be as good. So performance-wise I think this move is a downgrade.
Since the price of this device is around $700, it is a bit difficult to recommend the newer device from a performance perspective. Especially now as you can find deals on the X60 Pro.
Vivo X70 Pro gets new rear cameras
So far it seems like most of the changes on the X70 Pro are the rear cameras. And the new quad-camera module is the biggest upgrade over the Vivo X60 Pro.
So for the main camera, we get a new 50MP f/1.8 Sony IMX766 sensor. This sensor is 1/1.56″ and has 1.0µm pixels and has built-in gimbal OIS and uses Laser AF for fast focusing.
There are two telephoto cameras on the X70 Pro. First is the 125mm focal length equivalent which is a true 5X optical zoom via a periscope system. The 5X telephoto camera has an f/3.4 aperture and OIS. The 8MP OmniVision OV08A10 sensor is 1/4.4″ in size with 1.0µm pixels and is a carryover from the X70 Pro Plus.
The second telephoto camera is a 2X Sony IMX663 sensor. This 12MP sensor is 1/2.93″ with a wide f/2.0 aperture and 1.22 µm pixels but it lacks OIS. The 2X telephoto with that very wide f/2.0 yields excellent results though despite lacking OIS.
The biggest change is in the ultrawide camera which gets a downgrade from the 48MP to a slightly wider 12MP f/2.2 unit. The ultrawide camera uses a Samsung S5K3L6 sensor measuring 1/3.1″ in size with 1.12µm pixels. This camera has a 16mm focal length equivalent and offers a 116-degree field of view (FOV). You can use the ultrawide camera for macro shots or extreme close-ups since it has autofocus.
And the final bit of good news is that the special Zeiss optics and Zeiss T* lens coating are now on all cameras to help reduce glare, especially for night photography. The selfie camera on the front is a carry-over 32MP Samsung S5KGD1 (1/2.8″, 0.8µm pixels) unit with f/2.5 aperture.
The camera app is chock full of features as before and does take a bit of time to get used to the different menus and settings. But even out of the box you can start taking some great pictures because the layout is simple and intuitive.
Main camera results are excellent in day and night
Daytime pictures are great for the most part in terms of color, vibrancy, dynamic range, and detail. The sharpness is the only item not on par with other devices in this class but this might be because of the AI scene detection. For specific situations you can just shoot in 50MP mode with AI turned off or shoot in RAW mode and tune the image later. To discover these issues you need to really pixel peep on a monitor. Most results are great for social media sharing without any fine-tuning.
Low-light photos have great dynamic range, contrast, and detail, and especially colors. I would say the lowlight color accuracy is on point and the camera could see better than the naked eye consistently. Noise is well controlled and sharpness is so-so just like daytime pictures.
Since the main sensor is so huge there is only a minor difference in results between Night Mode and regular Photo mode. You can see some pictures side by side and judge for yourself.
Portrait results are remarkably good as well. Overall this is an excellent click-and-forget camera day or night. You will be quite happy with the main camera results regardless of the lighting conditions.
Zoom Camera results are very good in daylight and passable in lowlight
The 2x telephoto camera produces excellent photos despite lacking OIS. The samples have good detail, sharpness, dynamic range, and punchy colors without a lot of noise. If you zoom in during less ideal conditions the results are good on a smartphone screen but noise and sharpness increase when you look at the pictures on a wider screen format.
Nighttime pictures are good in terms of detail, color temperature, contrast, and shadows thanks to the wide f/2.0 aperture. You will have to hold the phone still since the 2X zoom camera does not have OIS. I wasn’t able to see a big difference between night mode and regular mode on the 2X zoom telephoto camera during my review.
Depending on the lighting conditions the 5X periscope camera yields great results in daylight. Nighttime results aren’t that great and I didn’t use the 5X zoom much after sunset. See the daytime results below and decide for yourself.
Ultrawide camera results along with Macro Samples
The ultrawide camera pictures aren’t as punchy as the main camera for some reason. They seem more natural-looking and there is a bit more noise and less detail when you crop in. The FOV is also a bit narrow however there is minimal fringing towards the edges which is always welcome.
You get reasonably decent pictures at nighttime from the ultrawide camera. The colors are good, the detail is definitely manageable and the sharpness is quite good. Dynamic range is not as great but that is expected in dark situations. Overall you should be able to get reasonably decent pictures as long as there is some ambient light.
The ultrawide camera also takes great macro shots because of the AF on the sensor. Once you get close to the subject the Super Marco mode kicks in on the camera app. Check out some macro shot samples below.
Selfies and videos are so-so
The selfie quality is disappointing just like before since the 32MP camera is a carryover. I am not a big selfie person let alone letting someone take my picture so for me this is not an issue. But if you take selfies a lot look elsewhere as the portrait mode is wonky, there’s a lot of softness on the skin and images look noisy even in daylight.
Videos are good enough to be shared in small clips via social media but overall results aren’t as good as Samsung or Google in the Android world. Again I am in the minority, as I prefer still photography to videos.
For still photos, this is an excellent camera setup on the Vivo X70 Pro sans the selfie camera. In a pinch, you can definitely use the selfie camera and the rear cameras for videos. But in most decent light conditions day or night you will be quite happy with the results from all four rear cameras. I would say that if you like taking a lot of still photos and want a modern smartphone that isn’t too huge then the Vivo X70 Pro is worth a look.
Battery life is easily all day and charging times are quite good with 44W Fast Charging
The Vivo X70 Pro packs a 4450 mAh battery and a 44W Fast charging brick in the box. Between the new processor, newer more efficient AMOLED display and the increase in battery capacity the Vivo 70 Pro gets excellent battery life.
A bigger battery with a slight weight increase is always a good thing. During my review period, there were no issues with getting about 6 hours of SoT. So this is definitely a smartphone that lasts from morning to night unless you are an extreme mobile gaming enthusiast.
Even though the charging brick is only 44W now, charging times are still good and you can top up the device in just over an hour. I am surprised as to why there is no wireless or reverse wireless charging available. The reviewers and fans have been clamoring/complaining about this feature for a while now. I mean the Samsung S21 has it, the Pixel 6 has it so why shouldn’t the Vivo X70 Pro have wireless charging?
Another rant is why can’t Vivo give us full 65W charging like Oppo or OnePlus devices. There is no excuse as Xiaomi 11T Pro that just came out has a whopping 120W Fast Charging brick in the box.
Software, Audio, and Connectivity on the Vivo X70 Pro
The software on the Vivo X70 Pro is identical to that on the flagship X70 Pro Plus. So check out that review if you want to learn more about FunTouch OS 12.
As far as audio goes, there isn’t any discernable change from the X60 Pro. The phone has a single bottom-firing speaker which does the job well. But you kind of wish that it has dual stereo speakers. Other devices that compete against the X70 Pro all pretty much have dual stereo speakers.
There is still Hi-Res audio certification and plenty of options in Sound settings to customize sound output especially via headphones. During my review period, I found audio output via Bluetooth 5.2 or wired headphones via the headphone dongle to be quite good.
4G LTE data speeds but there is NFC on the X70 Pro
Just like the X60 Pro, I only saw a 4G signal on my new X70 Pro during the review period. And 4G/LTE download speeds are comparable to my spare Pixel 4a which is a 4G LTE device. So I did not have too much of a problem with calls, texts, occasional app downloads, or playing music while out of Wi-Fi zones.
Other connectivity options include NFC, Nearby Share, Vivo Share, Bluetooth 5.2 and Smart Mirroring. So the only big complaint is no 5G at least in the USA. I suspect that this is a carrier issue and in Asia, this device should be able to get 5G connectivity.
Would you consider upgrading to the Vivo X70 Pro?
Vivo X70 Pro takes a few steps backward in comparison with its predecessor. The processor, charging wattage, factory case all take a hit. Also, there is no Gorilla Glass protection on the display or the back cover anymore. There are some positives such as a better display, a bigger battery, NFC, and a new quad-camera module on the back.
A few things do not change which include the overall hardware design, and the single audio speaker. And sadly there is no official IP rating or wireless charging still available. The last two features are a must if the X70 Pro wants to compete with devices like the Pixel 6 or Samsung Galaxy S21 in my opinion.
The camera experience is improved versus the X60 Pro since the newer cameras have better specs. But the end result isn’t too different for the main camera or ultrawide camera. The most meaningful upgrades are to the telephoto zoom cameras which most people tend to use sparingly. So while the X70 Pro is better I don’t know if it is reason enough to upgrade.
If you love Vivo devices and are wanting to upgrade then this device may make some sense. But depending on the country you live in the X60 Pro Plus might be a better choice. Or for a little bit more you may want to get the excellent X70 Pro Plus. And if you are agnostic to Vivo then for $750 there are plenty of great Android smartphones that offer great camera output, superb high refresh rate displays, IP68 water resistance, and wireless charging.