By Ankita Chakravarti: Can smartphones replace cameras? Every time there is a new camera-centric phone in the market, the chatter around whether smartphones can replace professional cameras grows. While smartphones still have a long way to go before they can fully replace professional cameras, they are certainly capable of replicating the performance of DSLRs, to some extent if not entirely. This is precisely how I feel after spending a significant amount of time with the Vivo X90 Pro. I have begun to question whether I need to carry my Nikon DSLR on trips anymore or not.
Do I really need that bulky device when smartphones like the Vivo X90 Pro can perform just as well? To the average user, I would describe the Vivo X90 Pro as a smartphone with exceptional camera performance, but it’s much more than just a camera-centric phone—it’s a stylish and functional masterpiece, which might entice a buyer looking for a complete package.
The Vivo X series is known for its exceptional camera prowess, and the Vivo X90 Pro takes it to another level. This latest addition to India’s list of camera-centric smartphones was made official alongside the slightly less expensive Vivo X90 in India today. In this review, we’ll be focusing on the former.
Although the camera is the highlight of the Vivo X90 Pro, it also comes with a powerful set of internals. The device is powered by the Mediatek Dimensity 9200 octa-core processor and features a 4870mAh battery with 120W charging support, among other things. So, in a world full of Pixels, Galaxies and iPhones, does the Vivo X90 Pro stand a chance to shine? Let us find out in the review.
Vivo X90 Pro design
Design is subjective, but to me, the Vivo X90 Pro’s design is undeniably appealing. The vegan leather finish at the back reminds me of the leather finish on some of the mirrorless Fujifilm or Leica cameras, and the design highlights where the focus is on – the camera.
The circular camera bump, nestled on the vegan leather rear panel, gathers all the attention towards itself. Although it looks eye-catching, the camera bump is huge and may cause the phone to rotate when placed on a flat surface. Additionally, users may face problems with the huge camera bump while sticking the device into their skin-tight jeans pockets.
There is a Zeiss T-coated glass finish logo, placed right next to the cameras, highlighting the partnership between the two brands. If you are familiar with Sony cameras, you will find the logo placement similar.
Below the camera module, Vivo has included a shiny band with “Xtreme imagination” written on it. Although some may feel that the glossy band muddles with the aesthetics of the rear panel, I find that it jazzes up the look. The phone is tastefully designed and feels extremely premium. In fact, the vegan leather back panel provides impeccable grip, and you can easily use the device without the silicone case provided in the box. This is my first phone that has not triggered my paranoia about dropping phones on a flat surface and cracking them open.
At the front, the Vivo X90 Pro comes with a curved display, which is synonymous with premium flagship phones of late. However, despite having a slim profile, I found the Vivo X90 Pro to be on the heavier side. Nonetheless, carrying the phone around wasn’t much of a task.
On the right side of the phone, the volume rockers and power button are placed too close to each other. Many times, while pressing the power button, I accidentally pressed the volume buttons. A little more space between the two buttons would have been just fine. Despite this minor issue, one-hand operation is a breeze on this otherwise heavy smartphone.
Vivo X90 Pro display
The Vivo X90 Pro boasts a stunning 6.78-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 2800 x 1260, providing an excellent visual experience. The display is HDR10+ certified, which means that it can produce a wider range of colors and contrasts, making it ideal for watching movies and other multimedia content. I had fun watching a web series on the Vivo X90 Pro during my 4-hour-long flight to Vietnam.
The display offers a brightness of 1300 nits, which is quite impressive. The high brightness rate makes the display easily visible even in bright sunlight. That said, playing games on the device can be tricky as accidental touches due to the display’s curved edges are just unavoidable.
The vibrant bezel-less display is supported by the dual stereo speakers that provide an immersive audio experience, making the device perfect for entertainment purposes. The 120Hz refresh rate ensures that the display is incredibly smooth, allowing for effortless navigation and interaction with the operating system.
Vivo X90 Pro performance and battery
After testing the Vivo X90 Pro, I can confidently say that its performance is impressive. It’s powered by MediaTek’s latest flagship chipset, the Dimensity 9200. Notably, the Vivo X90 Pro is the first phone in India to feature Dimensity’s flagship processor- the 9200.
The phone delivers snappy and responsive day-to-day usage. The phone runs any game smoothly at maximum settings without getting too warm. I played Asphalt 9 on the phone and did not face any lags or heating issues while playing the game at a stretch for almost 30 mins. There was however, a slight drop in the battery percentage after the intense gaming session. The only time the phone heated up a bit was while using the camera and video mode continuously for about 15-20 mins. The phone got a little warm to touch.
While all the other flagship devices have used Snapdragon’s flagship chipset — the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, Vivo has opted for a Mediatek processor. The Vivo X90 Pro benchmarks marginally lower compared to Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 handsets. It scored 1685 on the single core test and 4111 on the multi core test. The last 8 Gen 2 phone I tested was the iQOO 11, which scored a 1,455 on single core test and 4,515 on multi core test. The higher the score, the better the performance. That said, it’s hard to tell the difference in practice.
The battery life is decent and should easily last a day, but not as long as some Snapdragon-powered devices like the iQOO 11. The smartphone houses a 4870mAh battery that lasts a day. The Vivo X90 Pro makes up for it with its fast-charging capabilities. It comes with a 120W FlashCharge and 50W wireless charging, so you can expect to get from flat to 50 per cent in just over eight minutes with the included wall adapter.
The phone runs on FunTouch OS 13 based on Android 13, and the software experience is similar to the previous Vivo phones that I have tested. The skin is not bad, and it has some useful features, but there’s a significant amount of pre-installed bloatware, which detracts from the premium feel of the device. I hope that Vivo will clean this up in future updates. Overall, the Vivo X90 Pro delivers excellent performance and fast charging capabilities, making it a great choice for those who want a high-performing device.
Vivo X90 camera performance
The camera is my favourite feature of the Vivo X90 Pro. I took the device for a spin to majestic Vietnam and never once felt the need to take my go-to device, the iPhone 13, for capturing perfect shots.
In terms of technical aspects, the Vivo X90 Pro is packed with advanced features that enable it to capture high-quality images even in low-light conditions. The phone features a ZEISS 1-inch main camera with the industry’s largest IMX989 sensor. The company claims that the phone also features a 50MP portrait camera, which uses a large IMX758 sensor and has a large aperture of f/1.6, along with optical image stabilization (OIS). The camera is supported by a stabilization system, an exclusive large-aperture lens, and 4-in-1 sensor technology. The company also claims that the camera is supported by intelligent OIS, which is smarter than the standard OIS found in other mid-range devices.
As fancy as the specs sound, the camera performance feels even better in practice. The Vivo X90 Pro captures the best portraits I have ever seen on a smartphone. The 50-megapixel portrait camera with a large IMX758 Sensor manages to capture a shallow depth of field, which separates the subject from the background and provides a visually appealing blur effect. For example, you can refer to the image I captured of two young boys posing in front of a lake. The lighting is so good that the colours of the boys’ clothing appear vibrant, and the green hues in the background cast a nice bokeh effect, which is authentic. Irrespective of the lighting condition, the camera sensor performs well. The portraits taken in dimly-lit environments are sharp and well-exposed.
The Vivo X90 Pro is a nightlife king, and the dedicated night mode is supported by the Zero Shutter Lag Motion Snapshot feature. This means that when you press the button to take a picture or start recording video, there is no delay before the camera actually takes the picture or starts recording. This is important for capturing fast-moving action because you don’t want to miss the moment while you’re waiting for the camera to respond. The fast shutter speed also helps tremendously while capturing images in daylight conditions. For instance, you can refer to the image of a woman rowing a boat. She is in motion, but the camera makes her look as if she has stopped for the picture.
Other than that, the images captured using night mode are sharp, well-exposed, and capture a lot of details. You can find this out if you zoom in on a picture after capturing it.
I can say the same about the low-light imaging capabilities of the Vivo X90 Pro. I have captured some enticing low-light pictures, and you can refer to the picture of an ancient telephone to see how well the camera performs. The details are well-captured, and the images do not appear dull at all. The camera does not lose focus from the subject, no matter what.
Another favourite thing about the camera is the macro mode. The camera does not falter even when you go too close to the subject and casts a nice bokeh effect as you move closer. The subject is highlighted, and the background is blurred. It did not take me too long to capture the image of a fly sitting on a leaf. Look how well the camera has captured the hues of blue and black on the fly’s back. Managing focus and shutter speed at the same time was commendable on the Vivo X90 Pro’s part.
Daylight shots are something that every smartphone gets right, and the Vivo X90 Pro is no exception. The images were crisp and detailed, but sometimes the colours were not punchy enough. However, that is not much of an issue.
The phone also features an astrophotography mode, which can capture moon shots similar to the Galaxy S23 Ultra. However, I found the moon shots taken with the Vivo X90 Pro to be more natural-looking and not overly processed. While the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra boasts a 100X space zoom, the Vivo X90 Pro only has a 40X zoom. However, in my opinion, this is not a major issue as long as the images captured are accurate and not grainy.
The front camera on the Vivo X90 Pro also performs well. However, every time you open the front camera, the default portrait mode is enabled, which can be a bit of a hassle to change every time. It would have been nice if Vivo had allowed users to select their preferred mode.
Overall, the Vivo X90 Pro’s camera performance is commendable and can compete with some of the best smartphones on the market
Vivo X90 Pro review: should you buy?
The Vivo X90 Pro is an excellent smartphone for those who prioritize camera performance and stylish design. The camera app offers various modes and styles that can make your pictures appear dramatic. You can even shoot a portfolio using its RAW mode. While the camera is the standout feature, the phone performs well in day-to-day usage, with a decent battery life that can last a day if usage is moderate. Additionally, the 120W fast charging support refills the battery up to 50 per cent in less than 8 minutes, which solves half of the problems one can face.
The design of the phone is premium, but the camera bump may pose an issue. The bloatware, as with previously launched Vivo phones, remains within the ecosystem. The Vivo X90 Pro is priced at Rs 84,999 for the 12GB RAM and 256GB variant, which is on the higher side. Although the price is competitive, the smartphone would be even more desirable at a slightly lower price.
Overall, I had a great experience with the Vivo X90 Pro, particularly while testing out its camera in majestic Vietnam. It is a great tool for people looking to improve their photography skills as it will compel you to explore your interest in photography if you haven’t already.