You might argue that the Vivo X70 Pro+ came too soon with only a few additions over the X60 Pro+ (review), but if you’re the kind of person who takes their smartphone camera seriously, this one has a lot to offer. I’ve been using the Vivo X70 Pro+ for around a week, and it feels like a great camera phone first, a flagship smartphone second.
The biggest improvements on the Vivo X70 Pro+ are in the camera and the display. It uses an LTPO AMOLED display for better control on the 120Hz refresh rate with QHD+ resolution that curves sharply along the edges. And there’s Vivo’s own V1 chip to the mix that helps with low-light image processing and MEMC in games. It’s also powered by the latest Snapdragon 888+ and features LPDDR5 memory and UFS 3.1 storage, and I’m bowled over by this satin finish that makes the X70 Pro+ so comfortable to hold and use. 2021 has already seen some excellent design innovations in the Android space, and this is one of the best results so far. Here’s our in-depth review and camera comparison against the Mi 11 Ultra –
Vivo X70 Pro+: Design and Display
Straight off, the LTPO AMOLED display is pretty good. It’s a 10-bit panel with QHD+ resolution and variable refresh rate. That basically means while you’ll get superior colour output from the panel, you will also end up saving power by only triggering the high refresh rate when you need it. However, it’s not as variable as the new iPhone 13 Pros. The refresh rate can only cycle between 30Hz to 120Hz. It can’t go down to 1Hz like in the iPhone. It’s still better than manually switching the refresh rate to save power, and I managed to get a day’s worth of usage from the phone with the mode turned on.
But this one’s a curved display like before, and like most curved displays, it suffers from discolouration along the edges. The colour tuning is also slightly bent towards the cooler side and it’s quite reflective, but it’s plenty bright with Vivo claiming 500 nits as normal max brightness and over 1000 nits in High Brightness Mode.
The X70 Pro+ with its satin finish doesn’t attract fingerprints or smudges, so it will stay new for longer even if you don’t use a case. It’s IP68 rated now, so you don’t have to worry about taking it out in the rain, and there’s even an IR blaster on top to control your home appliances. And here I thought Xiaomi phones have an undisclosed monopoly over this useful feature.
It’s much more easy to use and carry around than the bulky Mi 11 Ultra. thanks to the slim profile and a manageable camera bump. Plus the Mi 11 Ultra looks like this within a few minutes of use. The X70 Pro+, remains clean and classy.
Vivo X70 Pro+ Review: Camera Comparison vs Mi 11 Ultra
Now, let’s look at the camera. Hardware wise, not a lot has changed over the X60 Pro+. It’s still a quad camera system, and has the same 50MP GN1 sensor in the primary camera and a 48MP ultrawide camera, and both are stabilised by Vivo’s proprietary Gimbal system. There’s also an 8MP periscope lens with 3x optical zoom and a new 12MP f/1.6 portrait lens.
All the lenses on the body are made by Zeiss, and the German lens maker has also supplied its proprietary bokeh system. These are high-transmittance glass lenses with Zeiss T* coating, which you won’t find in any other smartphone camera. The T* coating helps reduce lens flare when you’re taking a photo with a strong source of light in the frame. Notice how the sun is much more well defined on the X70 Pro+ than the Mi 11 Ultra.
The Vivo-Zeiss partnership is actually a lot more pervasive than the OnePlus Hasselblad tie up, and even the Leica Huawei one before them. Zeiss is offering its lenses, it’s proprietary bokeh algorithms and even a Zeiss colour mode in the X70 Pro+, and the result is one of the best tuned cameras you’ll get with a controlled colour science that’s neither too saturated, nor too muted . Sample a few of these shots, against the Mi 11 Ultra.
On the face of it, the photos from the 50MP primary camera of the X70 Pro+ look great. There’s a lot of rich details, and it’s not overly saturated. But the same photo taken from the Mi 11 Ultra is far more accurate, with even more details. Yes, the Mi 11 Ultra image is a little too saturated and the colours are punchier, but look at how washed out the stone walls of the building looks on the X70 Pro+, as compared to the Mi 11 Ultra.
The 48MP ultrawide camera on the X70 Pro+ is equally capable. It’s great to see the ultrawide camera not treated as a step-child of the primary camera, but Vivo extended the T* coating and the gimbal system for this camera as well. The results are a lot more superior than the low-res ultrawide cameras you find in cheaper flagships, but the Mi 11 Ultra manages to maintain the lead with its own 48MP ultrawide camera. Here are the results —
For one, the Mi 11 Ultra offers a wider FOV, but more or less the same details. The colour science is slightly better on the X70 Pro+ with the balanced Zeiss tuning coming into play here, but both muck up details around the edges with the details focused more on the center. I’d expected the glass optics on the X70 Pro+ to address this common issue, but there’s still a lot of scope for improvement.
Now, my favourite camera in this system – The 12MP zoom lens that’s reserved for 2x zoom and portrait shots. There’s also the periscope zoom lens that sort of works, but I don’t really see many uses of 5x zoom in real-world scenarios. The Mi 11 Ultra, on the other hand goes for an equally capable 48MP telephoto lens with a periscope lens with 5x optical zoom. Here’s how they compare —
First thing I noticed is that Mi 11 Ultra zooms closer at 2x and 5x than the X70 Pro+, and yet offer more detail. However, the X70 Pro+ has a different colour science for the zoom lens where the Mi 11 Ultra maintains the same saturated aesthetic as the primary camera. The details are slightly better on the X70 Pro+ at 2x, but at 5x and above, the Mi 11 Ultra just kills it with the details, which albeit, is gained in post-processing.
Both the Vivo X70 Pro+ and the Mi 11 Ultra have mastered the art of low-light photos, and the results are droolworthy on both. They aren’t as good as the latest iPhones of course, but with these large sensors, wide aperture and lots of software enhancements, both phones capture GOOD low-light shots, but if I have to pick one of the two, I’d go for the X70 Pro+ here. Here’s why —
Both of these shots were taken from the ultrawide camera with night mode engaged. Notice how the texts are more readable on the X70 Pro+ than the Mi 11 Ultra. The Mi 11 Utlra also adds a deeper shade of blue to the sky, while the X70 Pro+ keeps it natural.
This sample, shot from the primary cameras with Night Mode engaged once again showcases the superior colour science of the X70 Pro+. Here, where the sky had to look darker, the Mi 11 Ultra brightens it. Further, the leaves at the bottom look a lot richer in detail on the X70 Pro+.
Even closeups come out a lot more detailed from the X70 Pro+ night mode, and you can make out the veins of the leaves and the flower more prominently on the X70 Pro+. The Mi 11 Ultra’s result has softer details and lacks focus.
Indoors also, the X70 Pro+ brings out more details to the Mi 11 Ultra. Notice how you can see the details on the bricks much better on the X70 Pro+ than the Mi 11 Ultra. The tungsten colour is also balanced out by Vivo, while the Mi 11 Ultra just pops out.
But the Mi 11 Ultra has one excellent low-light trick up its sleeve that the X70 Pro+ hasn’t quite cracked yet. The Supermoon mode. Here, the Mi 11 Ultra absolutely kills it with more details.
Lastly, the Vivo X70 Pro+ captures some excellent portraits with orgasmic bokeh and facial details, given good lighting.
Both these photos were shot with the 12MP telephoto cum portrait lens and this is where it truly shines. The Zeiss portrait algorithm lets you control the shape and size of the bokeh, and the results are some of the best portrait shots I have taken this year from a camera. I used to regard the old Huawei P30 Pro to be the benchmark for portrait shots, but this one surpasses it by miles.
I forgot to talk about videos. You’ve already seen the gimbal camera in action in our X60 Pro+ review, and this time, Vivo has enabled HDR10+ recording, a low-light video mode and an astonishing horizontal stabilisation, which are super cool features to have. The output is generally more stable than its peers, and the larger sensor helps capture sharper details. But I’d suggest you stick to shooting videos under ample light for the best results.
Vivo X70 Pro+ Review: Performance, Software, Audio and Battery Life
So that was the camera. But lest you forget, this is also one of the first smartphones with the Snapdragon 888+ inside, a speed-binned version of the Snapdragon 888 with a prime core clocked at 3 GHz, which should result in higher performance than the Snapdragon 888 flagships. But what I was more concerned about was the thermal efficiency of the smartphone. The Snapdragon 888 has not been kind to Indian users, with phones like the OnePlus 9 Pro often overheating when simply using the camera, while gaming flagships like the ROG Phone 5 often heated up well over 50 degrees. The X70 Pro+ doesn’t heat up if you’re only browsing Instagram, or replying to an email, but games, benchmark apps and longer camera use causes the display, frame and rear panel to heat up beyond 40 degrees. In fact, a 30-minute CPU Throttling test revealed Vivo has tuned the Snapdragon 888+ conservatively. The CPU throttled to 55% of its maximum capability.
Despite that, the X70 Pro+ sets a record on AnTuTu for Android smartphones launched in India this year scoring almost 800 thousand on the benchmark test. But funnily enough, it gets beaten by its own predecessor on the Geekbench test. The result is similar on the cross-platform 3DMark wildlife test where all its rivals score higher, probably because of thermal throttling.
I quite like the in-game game mode you get on this one where you can set performance profiles to suit your gameplay. There’s also support for in-game haptics, an eSports mode that improves thermals, frame rates and minimises distractions, and an Eagle Eye View that adds a tinge of saturation to the visuals.
The X70 Pro+ can run both BGMI and COD Mobile at their highest settings. You can run BGMI at up to Ultra HD graphics but that will cap the game to 40 FPS. But switch to HDR and the game can run at 60 FPS. There was never a lag or frame drops during the Battle Royale match I played on this, but I wished the audio was better.
Similarly, on COD Mobile, the X70 Pro+ clocks 60 FPS at Very High graphics and the gameplay is equally smooth. The 240Hz touch sampling rate comes into play here and you can feel the extra sensitivity improving your game.
The X70 Pro+ runs on FunTouch OS 12 based on Android 11, and as the name suggests, the UI is more fun than useful. You can spend hours customising every aspect of the UI. Like the always on display, lockscreen magazine, homescreen layout and the likes.
There are interactive weather and music widgets and even virtual RAM extension, which I’m yet to find useful in any way over the 12GB RAM already there. Because, even with the feature turned on, Vivo is super aggressive in killing off background apps. The battery log app I use to track battery drain got killed off within minutes of going to the background.
The system-wide dark mode also clashed with the dark mode within apps, which broke the UI in certain apps like Instagram. The notification center isn’t as interactive as I’d have liked. It remains static in the lockscreen, and I can’t scroll down to check older notifications until I unlock the screen. These things, however, can easily be addressed with software updates, but at present these quirks exist and make using the X70 Pro+ as a daily driver a little less intuitive.
The audio performance is noticeably weaker as compared to its peers like the Mi 11 Ultra. This is despite a stereo speaker setup that uses the earpiece as the second speaker. The audio is simply not loud enough to be enjoyed outdoors or in a noisy environment.
The Vivo X70 Pro+ supports 4G carrier aggregation and 9 standalone 5G bands, and the call quality was excellent over a Jio connection in my area. You also get WiFi 6 support.
Lastly, the battery life — The X70 Pro+ packs a larger 4500mAh battery that now supports fast 55W wireless charging that was missing from the X60 Pro+. You can also charge this using the 50W Flash Charge brick you get in the box, and it tops up the battery from 0-100 in 40 minutes. I routinely got above 5 hours of screen-on time with a lot of camera use, Slack messages and social media browsing, which is just about okay at QHD+ resolution with variable refresh rate enabled.
Best Android Camera Phone of 2021?
So, summing up, the Vivo X70 Pro+ is now an even more capable camera flagship than before, and useful additions like an LTPO display, IP68 rating and wireless charging goes a long way in billing this as a true Android flagship at par with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. You can experiment a lot with the cameras, and capture some truly great photos and portraits, and the performance is good enough to power through any app or game you throw at it. The battery life could have been a bit more,and the UI a little more utilitarian. Is this a better smartphone than the Mi 11 Ultra? In some aspects like portrait mode and videos, the X70 Pro+ surpasses the Xiaomi flagship, it’s also a lot more comfortable to hold and use and feels much more premium. So considering everything, and not just the cameras, the Vivo X70 Pro+ is the better choice of the two, and is a strong contender for the Android Smartphone of the Year in 2021.
Vivo X70 Pro+0.00
Design and Build9.3/10
Day to Day Usage10.0/10
Value For Money10.0/10
What Is Good?
- Excellent overall camera performance
- High fidelity display
- IP68 water resistance
What Is Bad?
- Weak stereo speakers
- FunTouch OS not very utlilitarian
- Battery life is average
Thanks for reading till the end of this article. For more such informative and exclusive tech content, like our Facebook page