Vivo Z1 Pro Review: Budget Heavyweight That’s Literally Too Heavy

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Vivo Z1Pro Lead

In the Indian budget smartphone market, Vivo enjoys a strong reseller network whereas Xiaomi dominates online sales. With the latter making its presence felt in the brick-and-mortar shops, Vivo is taking on the top-selling Redmi line-up with its own online exclusive handset the Z1Pro. The new phone brings exciting features such as a punch-hole display, triple camera setup, and a massive battery on a budget. Owing to its gradient hue on the back, the device looks quite trendy too. But, does it have enough substance to beat the Redmi Note 7 pro?

Vivo Z1Pro Back

Vivo Z1Pro Design And Build

For its price, the Z1Pro looks quite premium. The phone has a reflective finish that imitates glass. It has a trendy dual tone gradient that goes from teal to blue. The same hue continues through all four sides. Even the buttons are painted in such a way to match the color of the chassis.

Vivo Z1Pro Front

The back holds a triple camera assembly on the top left side. A recessed fingerprint sensor sits in the middle. It is too high to reach without adjusting the grip of the phone. The phone’s large footprint and heft make things even more tricky. It weighs in 200+ grams. Not that it is very heavy, but using it with one hand for hours gets quite uncomfortable. I know the heft is due to the large 5,000 mAh battery. Honestly, I would happily trade some battery capacity for better ergonomics.

Vivo Z1Pro Display

The Vivo Z1Pro’s 6.5-inch screen stands out due to its fancy punch-hole display. Compared to a notch, this is a more elegant solution to house a front-facing camera. It is impressive that Vivo is offering cutting-edge technology in the budget segment. On the flip side, the panel’s quality isn’t good. The colors look washed out. You can easily notice that the moving text or icons don’t look sharp. Thankfully, the viewing angles are quite good. And the screen is bright enough to retain legibility under direct sunlight.

Vivi Z1Pro Display

Vivo Z1Pro User Interface And Performance

The Z1Pro runs Android 9 Pie with Funtouch OS 9 on top. As mentioned in the Vivo Y17 review, Vivo’s ColorOS has gone from bad to worse in the latest iteration. The interface looks cluttered and lacks a cohesive theme. For instance, the notification panel has a transparent background while the control panel is opaque. It is surprising how Vivo can’t get such basic things right.

Vivo Z1Pro UI

Many of the UI elements are too crowded for my liking. Even a settings menu is overwhelming. What’s worse is that the search option in the settings menu offers so many results that it leaves you confused. For instance, typing “screen” in the search bar will return around 35 results!

The phone comes pre-loaded with many apps including vivoCloud, V-AppStore, and UC browser, NewsPoint, and iManager. All these apps save for the last one are utterly useless. The only saving grace is that at least Vivo’s Android customization is not infested with ads like MIUI.

The ColourOS lacks an app drawer. Though you can use folders to arrange the icons and tidy up your screen. Swiping to the left from the first home screen takes you to the smart launcher, which aggregates weather, sports, and news updates. The company lets you customize a few things such as the number of icons on a grid and other usual stuff. There’s even an option to enable dynamic icons. When activated, the icons animate to seek your attention whenever there’s an alert.

The Z1 Pro is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Snapdragon 712 chipset. This 10 nm chip comprises of four Kryo 360 Gold performance cores and four power-efficient Kryo 360 Silver cores. Coupled with 6 GB of RAM, the processor offers enough power to keep running smooth or the majority of tasks. The best part is that the Snapdragon 712 with its Adreno 616 GPU excels in the gaming department. By default, PUBG mobile runs on High Settings. The performance is consistent too. I played multiple rounds and did not notice any drop in the frame-rates. Here are the synthetic benchmark results for our review unit with 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB internal storage. The phone also comes in a more affordable 4 GB variant.

The phone houses a mono speaker at the bottom. It is quite loud but lacks any depth. And with the volume set to maximum, it simply produces noise. You could use it for watching YouTube videos, but for movies and music, you will have to switch to earphones. Speaking of which, the bundled earphones are similar to what you get with the Vivo Y17. These first-gen EarPod clones lack silicon tips and hence don’t fit well for everyone. The bass reproduction is underwhelming too. However, with a decent pair of earphones, the Vivo Z1Pro produces excellent sound.

The Z1Pro comes with two dedicated SIM slots and one microSD slot. On my Airtel SIM in Hyderabad, the phone’s 4G data speeds were good. However, I had to deal with a few dropped calls, but that’s probably due to Airtel’s terrible coverage in the Hitech city locality.

Vivo Z1Pro Cameras

The phone has a triple camera set up at the back. It has a 16 MP main sensor, 8 MP wide lens, and 2 MP depth sensor. The camera offers standard, wide, portrait, panorama, and pro mode. The last one lets you fine-tune ISO, white balance, and shutter speed.

Vivo Z1Pro Camera

Moving onto the image quality, the primary sensor performs well in daylight. It captures enough detail to let you zoom in a bit. However, you can notice some bright fringe, especially near the corners. The image quality goes south as the Sun goes down. You can see the troubling amount of noise and artifacts in low light photography.

Unlike Samsung’s wide-angle mode that suffers from barrel distortion, Vivo’s implementation is much better. However, Vivo has narrowed the standard sensor to make the wide mode appear more effective than it actually is. Another issue is that switching to an 8 MP wide-angle camera significantly deteriorates the image quality. Though it ads a nice warm tone to the photographs compared to a bit cold main sensor. The portrait mode is a hit or miss affair as the edge detection isn’t that great.

Vivo means serious business when it comes to the front-facing camera. The Z1Pro features a 32 MP front shooter. To test it, I handed it over to selfie expert Rushil. As you can see in the samples below, the snapper captures the insane amount of detail in good lighting conditions. The resolved detail is so good that you can actually zoom in and see dandruff on his shoulders.

The video recording feature is capped at 4K at 24 to 30 fps. In high-efficiency H.265 codec mode, shooting a one minute clip in 4K takes up 160 MB. For the same duration, higher compatibility H.264 codec expends 320 MB. Much like the still photography, the videos recorded by the primary sensor captures a good amount of detail. However, due to the lack of OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), the videos turn out to be jittery.

Vivo Z1Pro Battery

The Vivo Z1Pro packs-in a large 5,000 mAh battery. The phone’s battery lasts for a day and a half on a single charge. The phone ships 18 W dual-engine fast charger. With its dual power delivery mechanism, the phone takes around 2 hours and 35 minutes to charge the battery from zero to 100 percent. That’s quite good for a budget phone with a massive 5,000 mAh battery. My only gripe is that the phone features the dated micro USB port.

Vivo Z1Pro Grip

Verdict

The Vivo Z1Pro offers a trendy punch-hole design on a budget. The phone pulls off very good gaming performance. Its selfie camera is exceptionally good and the battery life is better than anything found in this price range. However, the triple camera setup on the back leaves a lot to be desired. Vivo’s Functouch OS is also due for a major overall. Another downer is the phone’s dull screen, which looks washed out. For me, the biggest concern is the device’s heft. It is not something you notice immediately, but after a few hours of continuous use, the Z1Pro feels uncomfortably bulky to hold. For RsĀ 16,990, I can’t whole-heatedly recommend the Vivo Z1Pro. Especially when the Redmi Note 7 Pro with the same 6 GB of RAM and 64 GB storage is available for a grand less.

Vivo Z1Pro

6.9

Design & Ergonomics

5.0/10

Display

6.0/10

Rear Camera

6.5/10

Front Camera

8.5/10

Performace

8.0/10

Software

6.0/10

Battery Life

8.5/10

Value For Money

7.0/10

What Is Good?

  • Long battery life
  • Excellent selfie camera
  • No screen notch
  • Good gaming performance

What Is Bad?

  • Too bulky for comfortable use
  • Dull screen with washed out colors
  • Wide-angle camera fails to capture detaill
  • Disappointing low-light photography
  • FunTouch OS is no fun
  • Dated Micro-USB port

Chandrakant is a sci-fi movie aficionado and wannabe space explorer. He writes about consumer technology for bread and butter. He has worked with some of the esteemed publications like PCMag, TechTree, Asian Age, Deccan Chronicle, NDTV Gadgets, and more.