The sub-20K price range is significant for almost every smartphone brand that operates in that space. It requires a tough balancing act — offering good features at a reasonable price. Vivo has been taking a shot at it with its new Z series of smartphones. A couple of months back, the company introduced its first smartphone of the series — Vivo Z1 Pro. The Z-series, as per the company, caters the generation Z, and the Z1 Pro actually created some steam in the segment. Now, the company has launched its second smartphone in the segment called Vivo Z1x . As the smartphone is based on the same Z ‘philosophy’, the smartphone packs some interesting hardware at a competitive price.
As the base variant of the smartphone is priced at Rs 16,990, it falls in direct competition with Samsung’s M-series (M40) phones and Realme X. We have been using the Vivo Z1x as our daily driver for a while now and here’s what we have to say about the phone.
Vivo Z1x: Design
Someone rightly said that there are no free lunches. There has to be some trade-off that needs to be made and that’s definitely true for smartphones in this price segment as well. Vivo Z1x is definitely slimmer and lighter compared to the Z1 Pro at the cost of battery capacity. The lost weight and thickness make the smartphone more usable and easy to handle during one-handed operations.
Not much has changed in terms of design and aesthetics, the block-like design, that we loved with Vivo Z1 Pro is still there. The block and flat form factor of the phone gives a sense of confidence while holding it and it also provides good grip. We tested the smartphone by holding it in different ways and not a single time it felt slippery in our hands.
Though Vivo Z1x is based on the similar design philosophy of the Z1 Pro, there are a few things that we guess Vivo has addressed with this phone. First, the punch-hole camera is now gone and is replaced by a minimalistic looking notch which does make this phone a common-looking smartphone. Having said that, punch-hole wastes too much screen estate and isn’t that practical as well. Another thing that’s gone is the micro USB port. The smartphone now comes with the latest USB tech onboard.
The front of the smartphone is covered with a screen that has thin bezels at the top and sides but the bottom has relatively thick bezels as per 2019’s standards. Above the screen, there’s a notch housing front camera and earpiece grille. The bottom of the phone has speaker grille, USB Type-C, primary microphone and a good-old headphone jack. Towards the left, there’s a triple-card slot, a dedicated digital assistant button for Jovi and Google Assistant, while the right side of the phone gets the power and volume rocker. There’s nothing at the top, except the secondary microphone.
The back panel of the smartphone is a dual-tone and it gives the phone a distinctive look and feel, but it is a shiny panel and captures all the dust, smudges and fingerprints easily. Thankfully, Vivo has included a transparent case in the box. There’s triple-rear camera setup at the top-left corner at the back with the Vivo logo print towards the bottom. The triple camera is placed over a slight protruding module that makes the phone wobble a bit when kept at the flat surface.
Vivo Z1x: Display
On the display front, Vivo Z1x features a 6.38-inch display with FHD+ (2340 x 1080 pixel) resolution. It is good to see that this time Vivo has opted for an AMOLED panel over the LCD panel from Vivo Z1 Pro. This might be to ensure the excellent battery backup from a relatively smaller battery pack compared to the Vivo Z1 Pro.
As per the property of any other AMOLED panel, the black levels are great, colours are well pronounced and details are good too. Viewing angles and outdoor visibility is also acceptable. The auto-brightness feature is responsive and accurate. The overall display is not extraordinary but it is good enough for binge-watching movies and kicking enemies during hardcore gaming sessions.
Apart from this, Vivo has also added an anti-flicker mode that reduces the screen flickering and hence reduces the eye-fatigue during long usage hours.
With the latest version of FunTouch OS, Vivo has done a good job of bringing most of the menus towards the bottom still there are several menu options and buttons that are still hard to reach while using the smartphone single-handedly.
Talking about sacrifices, Vivo hasn’t cut corners in terms of basic display features like auto-brightness, Eye Protection, Rotation lock, colour temperature adjustment and manually change the resolution for the third-party apps. Another essential element is the addition of the Dark Mode that turns the entire UI theme to dark Grey, including Vivo apps and notifications. Overall, the Vivo Z1x is pretty impressive in terms of display quality and features.
Vivo Z1x: Performance
Vivo has been betting big in terms of performance with its Z-series smartphones. Just like its predecessor, the Vivo Z1 X is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 712 SoC which one of the finest mid-range processors. Vivo Z1x is not a lazy log by any means as the performance of the phone is well optimised, thanks to the improved FunTouch OS. Gaming performance, switching between apps, navigating through menus, opening and closing apps are also smooth and lag-free. The overall UI feels smooth and snappy.
The octa-core chipset from Qualcomm is based on the 10nm architecture with Kyro 360 CPU. Out of eight-core, two of them are clocked at 2.3GHz, while six cores are clocked at 1.7 GHz. The processor also comes with Adreno 616GPU, which is quite efficient as well as powerful at the same time. The overall performance from the processor is quite good. There was no noticeable lag or delay, even with several resource-hungry apps like Google Chrome or PUBG running in the background. The processor managed to handle the load pretty well without breaking a sweat. We were happy with the overall performance of the smartphone, considering it to be just a mid-range processor in a mid-range smartphone.
Talking about the benchmark scores, Vivo Z1x scored 1,85,188 on Antutu test and 5,979 on Geekbench 4 test which is impressive considering it as a mid-range device and it comes closer to some of the previous generation flagship smartphones.
Moving to FunTouch OS, as mentioned above, the user-interface is overall smooth and fluid, but Vivo has also added some nifty features to the OS like gesture navigation, option to hide the notch from the Settings app, Ultra Game mode, App Clone, Smart Click and more.
Out of all the features, Ultra Game Mode is something Vivo itself is boasting about and during our test, the claims proved to be right. As described by the company, the Ultra Game Mode helps the smartphone to optimise the smartphone’s performance automatically for lag-free gaming experience and it seems to work. We tried playing several triple-A titles like PUBG Mobile, Asphalt 9 and Clash of Clans and kept switching back and forth between the games and the smartphone surprisingly handled them well.
The Ultra Game Mode settings page also allows users to customise the game settings like turning off notifications, off-screen Autoplay, etc. But the key feature here is the addition of 4D Game Vibration, Game Countdown and Game picture-in-picture.
The Game Vibration gives users the vibrating feedback just like we get with Xbox or PS4 controller. This also helps players understand the direction of firing in case of shooting games. The Game Countdown is another feature that starts a timer based on the game settings right on the homescreen and it also overlays over other apps. This comes really handy while waiting for the match to start in PUBG. The Game picture-in-picture is just like a split-screen feature which brings the assigned chatting app like WhatsApp on the top of the games display when swiped down with three fingers.
Combining all the features, Vivo has definitely put some extra effort to attract the gaming audience.
Despite all the improvements, the only setback with the phone is still the FunTouch user interface. Though it has come a long way since its induction, yet there is room for improvement. Another noticeable aspect this that the OS comes with tons of bloatware pre-installed with the phone like Daily Hunt, GPhonePe, Paytm, WPS Office, Opera, Webnovel, etc to name a few. Considering most of them can be uninstalled, there’s a little less to worry about but still we would have loved to see if Vivo made it optional for the users to download or at least they would have given an option to choose the apps at the time of setting up the device just like Samsung’s OneUI.
Vivo Z1x: Camera
Vivo has always been proactive when it comes to the camera. Their tagline once used to be ‘Camera and Innovation’. That being said, the camera has always been one of the USPs of Vivo smartphones. The Vivo Z1x also packs some interesting camera hardware and along with performance and other features, the camera is another department where Vivo is claiming big.
Looking at the market trend, Vivo has also got on board the 48-megapixel train and the phone comes equipped with triple rear camera setup of 48MP + 8MP + 2MP sensors, of which 48MP sensor is the primary camera, while the 8MP is the ultra-wide-angle lens and 2MP sensor is for depth detection.
Image quality from the primary sensor is good. Images are sharp, clear and overall balanced. But it does tend to make the image look a little too artificial with enhanced colours and vividness. Vivo has also added an AI or Artificial intelligence camera feature that automatically switches to a camera profile based on the scenario. Well, this is nothing new but comes in handy sometimes. The idea here is to get the perfect shot with accurate colours, capture more details and balanced shadows. We tried capturing the same picture with and without the AI mode there’s not much of a difference here. Actually, pictures taken without AI turned out to be slightly more natural.
The wide-angle lens on the phone also does a reasonable job with minimal distortion and details are preserved in bright daylight conditions. Take out the lights out of the picture and things start getting worse. The smartphone struggles with keeping up with the details, clarity and noise also kick into the shot. Thankfully there’s a Night mode that captures multiple shots and renders details from each to create a well-lit and detailed photo.
Talking about the photos taken using the Bokeh mode, the 2MP depth sensor does a good job here. The edge detection is proper and managed to separate the subject from the background really well. But that’s not the only place the smartphone uses the third camera sensor. Vivo Z1x also has a dedicated aperture mode that allows users to manually adjust the aperture to get the level of blur as per the need and good thing here is the aperture mode does not need to have a face detected to blur the background it works with almost anything.
There’s a 32MP sensor at the front which also backed by AI features like AI filters, AR Stickers, which still looks like beta phase and need lots of improvement, Portrait Light effects, Bokeh effect and more. Other features like Live Photo and AI Beauty mode.
The front camera quality is satisfactory, and pictures are detailed, sharp and crisp. The camera has good dynamic range as well. Portrait Light effects and Bokeh effect works fine too.
Talking about the video quality, the smartphone is capable of capturing 4K UHD videos at 30fps and the quality is good, the image stabilisation works fine and does focus on the subject quickly.
Camera user interface is fast to load and there’s no shutter lag while taking pictures. The only issue here is the placement of the mode selector as some modes have their dedicated name and is placed just below the shutter button, while some of them are placed as an icon on the viewfinder which seems to be a little confusing.
Vivo Z1x: Battery
Vivo Z1x is backed by a 4500mAh battery which is smaller to what we have seen in the Vivo Z1 Pro. But don’t let the battery capacity fool you. The smaller battery capacity combined with an AMOLED display actually results in better overall battery backup. What we mean here is the battery backup of the smartphone hasn’t taken a hit because of smaller battery capacity
During our test, the battery lasted for a good over 10 hours without giving up on medium usage which included small gaming sessions, browsing, scrolling through social feed, texting, watching videos and hours of phone calls. We never felt the need to reach out for the charger as the phone’s battery is dying out in the middle of the day. Even if we forgot to charge the device at night, the next day, there were very less battery drain as we left our phones at 22% and next morning it was at 21%, which is very rare to see in an Android device.
Apart from this, Vivo has also added some battery optimisation features like Low Power Mode and Super Power-Saving mode. The Super Power-Saving mode really comes handy as it disconnects from all the other features automatically and only gives access to Calls, Contacts, Messages and Clock app. Charging the device is also not a problem as it comes with 22.5W Vivo Flash fast charger out of the box that charges the smartphone really fast.
Vivo Z1x: Verdict
At the starting price of Rs 16,990, Vivo Z1x seems to be an all-rounder. The display is reasonably good, battery performance of the phone is at par compared to other smartphones in this price segment. The smartphone also gets a thumbs up from us in the performance section for its overall smooth performance and resource management. Camera duties are also handled well with the right level of detail and sharpness. Though there are a few rough edges like AI tends to make images look artificial sometimes or the camera UI is a little confusing, but they are issues which might not sway the buyers’ decision.
Vivo has also done an excellent job with the design by removing the punch-hole camera design though it has lost one of the USP’s from the last generation phone for good.
At the given price, the smartphone will compete with Realme X, Realme K20 and Motorola One Vision and with all the features, performance and battery backup, Vivo Z1x won’t find it hard to find an identity in the crowded price segment.