Vivo X100 Pro Review: A Smartphone With an Eye for Photography

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Vivo’s real success with its premium X series of smartphones took off with the X70 Pro+, in 2021. Back then, I compared it with Xiaomi’s mega Mi 11 Ultra and the X70 Pro+ made good use of its unique gimbal stabilisation system (it also introduced its V1 imaging chip), which provided good stability while shooting video in all types of lighting conditions. Next up was the Vivo X80 Pro, which was a worthy successor to the same, it introduced features like a hand-held astrophotography mode and excelled at low light imaging using all 4 of its rear cameras. The Vivo X90 Pro which followed saw Vivo losing its focus missing some hardware essentials and struggling to deliver on the camera and performance front as well.

Compared to the above three models, the new Vivo X100 Pro appears quite different, even though it retains many of the elements that made the previous models special. There’s the distinct curved edge display which Vivo refuses to let go of, but it all results in a phone that appears different and feels unique. The brand retains the triple rear camera setup but with new hardware. Vivo also introduces its new and more powerful V3 imaging chip with the X100 Pro. This along with the new MediaTek Dimensity 9300 SoC (a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 equivalent) makes it a very intriguing and interesting offering from Vivo. I’ve been using this phone for a couple of weeks and here’s what I think about it.

Vivo X100 Pro Review: Price in India

It may not necessarily be a competitor to Samsung’s Galaxy’s S23 Ultra (as it falls in a completely different price bracket), but it will surely give Google’s pricey and AI-driven Pixel 8 Pro (from Rs. 1,06,999) a run for its money. The Vivo X100 Pro is priced at Rs. 89,999 for the sole 16GB RAM and 512GB storage variant. In the box, Vivo gives you a charger, a Type-C charging cable, and a well-made, durable silicon case.

Vivo X100 Pro Review: Design

Just like the X90 Pro, the Vivo X100 Pro is also available in a single finish and it’s called Asteroid Black, which has a fluorite anti-glare glass back panel. Indeed, Vivo does not give buyers any choice compared to other brands at this price point. The orange vegan-leather finish which was launched in China still remains a distant dream for the brand’s customers in India.

The Vivo X100 Pro’s design has seen plenty of refinements over last year’s X90 Pro. Starting off with size, it’s still quite large and chunky and the massive cookie-shaped camera bump adds to its thickness. However, Vivo has managed to make it appear slimmer with a more rounded design and it’s possibly the reason why Vivo still sticks to a 3D curved edge display, when most manufacturers have stopped using it.

Vivo’s X100 Pro appears very different from the older X90 Pro model.

 

Calling out the Vivo X100 Pro’s thickness and chunkiness does not mean that it is the largest or the heaviest phone in its class. The phone weighs 225 grams which is pretty much the same as last year’s model. Samsung’s Galaxy S23 Ultra is still heavier (234g), while Apple’s titanium laden iPhone 15 Pro Max feels smaller and slimmer but as light (221g) as the X100 Pro. Apple’s gamble with titanium and the new folded optical design for its telephoto camera has surely paid off.

While it has some design similarities with previous X series models, the massive camera bump sure helps the phone differentiate itself from the older models and does look quite unique. Vivo claims it was inspired by the sun’s halo when designing this slightly offset stainless steel ring around the large curved edge glass which sits inside it. I wished that Vivo had given the ring a raised edge as the camera glass seems quite vulnerable given its size.

Coming back to the overall design, it’s matte-finish feels luxurious, but also extremely slippery. Given that it is a camera phone, it’s advisable to attach the included case as soon as you unbox the phone, as it’s hard to grip and is also very top-heavy in terms of balance thanks to the large camera glass and sensors.

vivo x100 pro back design2 ndtv VivoX100Pro  Vivo

The phone feels quite chunky but its rounded appearance make its appear slimmer

 

The phone’s curved edge front glass (from an unnamed manufacturer) remained smudge-free during the review period and also free of any scratches. The display underneath this glass screen which curves on the left and right sides, also bends into the sides but not by much, so I did not find it distracting when viewing content indoors but it does reduce the viewing area (with reflections) when viewed outdoors.

The IP68 rating for dust and water resistance is still very much present and official. This along with the wireless charging coil and a larger than usual 5,400mAh battery seems to justify the X100 Pro’s chunkiness.

Vivo X100 Pro Review: Specifications and software

The Vivo X100 Pro has a MediaTek Dimensity 9300 SoC, which is a first for India. The processor is accompanied by the new V3 Imaging co-processor, which Vivo claims helps with imaging and gaming. The phone offers 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM and 512GB of UFS 4.0 storage, with no room for expandable storage. However, you do get space for two physical nano SIM cards in the SIM card tray and the phone also supports eSIM functionality along with dual 5G standby.

The 6.78-inch full-HD+ curved edge AMOLED panel has 120Hz refresh rate and uses LTPO technology letting the refresh rate scale down when needed to save on battery life. The fingerprint reader is of the regular optical type and is embedded into the display itself. It worked accurately and reliably during the course of the review.

Communication standards include Wi-Fi 7, Bluetooth 5.4, NFC, an infrared port, and a USB-C port (version 3.2) along with support for the usual satellite navigation systems. The large 5,400 mAh battery (made up of two cells) can be charged up using Vivo’s proprietary 120W wired charger (which is included in the box) but is limited to 100W. The phone also supports 50W wireless charging, which again requires a separately sold charging dock.

The phone runs Funtouch OS 14 which is based on Android 14 and has even been updated to the latest December 2023 security update. Vivo also seems quite committed to software updates and promises to deliver three years or security and firmware updates.

vivo x100 pro front theme ndtv VivoX100Pro  Vivo

Funtouch OS 14 appears very similar to the previous version with the addition of some new Android 14 personalisation options

 

The software experience when using Funtouch OS 14 is not very different from what it was on previous models with Funtouch OS 13 (and Android 13). From what is obvious, the Material You-esque theming engine is now more polished and offers a lot more variety in terms of colours and swatches. Applying them too happens instantly and it is not as buggy as on the older software. However, Vivo claims to have worked on the optimisation and smoothness bit and now offers an instant start up mode which boots the phone in 20 seconds after plugging it into a charger from a dead battery. The software, while appearing quite polished, is a far cry from what is possible on a Pixel 8 Pro with Google’s customised version of AI-enriched Android 14 software.

Vivo X100 Review: Performance

As for software performance, things do appear and feel quite smooth. Whether multitasking or running several apps at the same time, the 16GB of RAM (along with 16GB of virtual RAM) seems more than enough for even the most demanding smartphone requirements and leaves apps and games in memory for long periods, which can be recalled instantly without a restart.

Given the new processor, I was eager to try out the various benchmarks and the numbers are quite impressive. The phone managed a score of 20,20,631 points in AnTuTu, which is even higher than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3-powered iQoo 12’s 19,83,471 points. In Geekbench the Vivo X100 Pro managed 2,190 and 7,218 points versus the iQoo 12’s 2,225 and 6,726 points. In the GPU benchmarks the performance seemed to be capped at 120fps which is where the iQoo 12 managed to score around 140fps in most GFXBench test suites. The bottomline is that the chipset is as capable if not better (in some aspects) than the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, which recently debuted with the iQoo 12 in India.

Apart from the processor, Vivo also claimed that the new 6nm co-processor brings a 30 percent increase in energy efficiency and also allows for 4K cinematic video portrait video camera feature. The imaging chip also allows for lower power consumption when playing games by using game frame interpolation (limited to 90fps).

vivo x100 pro front display ndtv VivoX100Pro  Vivo

Vivo retains its 3D curved edge display design from previous models

 

The LTPO panel is a big step up from last year’s basic 120Hz display. Vivo also claims that the display is optimised to match the software frame rate, so it automatically and dynamically adjusts depending on exactly what’s happening on screen and will instantly drop to 1Hz when not needed leading to better battery savings. Vivo has also optimised its software and GPU to sync with the display’s refresh rate which makes the whole software experience buttery smooth, with no sign of lag or stuttering. It also offers up to 3,000 nits of peak brightness when outdoors, meaning that one can comfortably watch movies without squinting at the display as it can easily tackle direct sunlight. The panel also supports 2,160Hz high-frequency dimming which worked as expected in dimly lit settings reducing eye-strain.

Some games including Call of Duty: Mobile (CODM) already support up to 120fps with low/medium graphics and ultra frame rate enabled. Vivo’s Game Frame Interpolation feature (or MEMC for games) basically makes a game “appear” more fluid even though the system isn’t running at the achieved frame rate. While it appears quite smooth after being enabled, there is some touch sampling lag because of the overlaid MEMC system so it’s not ideal for FPS titles. Since games like CODM already support it I found the feature useful only for titles that don’t go over the usual 60fps target like Asphalt 9 Legends.

The phone deals with heat quite well thanks to its vapour chamber cooling system. However, I noticed that it does heat up when recording video and if you continue doing so for about 10 minutes, the preview in the viewfinder also starts stuttering. However, this on-screen stutter in the camera app’s viewfinder does not affect the recorded footage.

Given that this phone has a large 5,400mAh battery, I expected it to be quite a challenge to deplete it. In our standard video loop battery test, the phone performed well managing a solid twenty hours and fifty-three minutes.

vivo x100 pro front software ndtv VivoX100Pro  Vivo

Vivo promises three years of security and firmware updates with the X100 Pro

 

My daily usage included WhatsApp messages, scrolling through Instagram, about thirty minutes of gaming and fifteen to twenty minutes of camera usage. With this the phone easily managed to last a day and a half without the need to plug it in at night. Even on days with an hour of gaming and an hour of camera usage, this phone managed to last a whole day with about 35 percent left to spare, which is pretty good for a flagship phone.

Vivo’s 100W wired charging system came to the rescue whenever I needed it. Letting me charge this massive battery rather quickly from 0-90 percent in 30 minutes, completing the charge in just 37 minutes, which is pretty quick. I did not get to try out the 50W wireless charging system as it requires the proprietary charger, which Vivo did not provide for this review. But it charges up just fine on a standard Qi charging pad.

Vivo X100 Pro Review: Cameras

Glance through the Vivo X100 Pro’s camera spec sheet and it’s not hard to tell that despite retaining its triple camera setup from the X90 Pro, every one of these cameras has changed. Thankfully, this time around, all of these have changed for the better.

Aiming for consistency, Vivo claims to have gone with three 50-megapixel camera sensors this year for its rear camera layout. The primary is a 1-inch type (Sony IMX989) camera with PDAF, laser-assisted autofocus and OIS. There’s a new Zeiss APO floating periscope telephoto lens setup backed by a half-inch OV64B sensor, which lets users shoot people and objects up close (including macro) using the same 4.3X optical zoom camera. Lastly, there’s a 50-megapixel ultra-wide camera which now uses a Samsung JN1 sensor. Selfies are handled by a 32-megapixel camera which Vivo claims is different from the one on the X90 Pro.

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The camera app has three colour modes when shooting photos

 

Given that this is a camera-focussed smartphone, it is a given that the camera interface is going to be loaded with options. However, Vivo has managed to make sense of it all with all the right controls available in the right place and in the expected section. This means that I rarely entered the camera app’s settings menu, which is a good thing. Vivo also lets one choose the colour treatment when shooting photos. Users can choose between Vivid, Textured and Zeiss Natural. I preferred the Natural mode because it captured colours which were mostly accurate or closer to the actual scene.

Since the Vivo X100 Pro’s closest competitor will be the Google Pixel 8 Pro, I have compared the general image quality between the two smartphones to give you a better idea about how one compares with the other despite sitting at slightly different price points.

Vivo X100 Pro primary camera sample (tap image to expand)

Vivo’s X100 Pro excels in detail and dynamic range in low light (tap image to expand)

 

 

 

The primary camera captures some really detailed photos without going overboard with sharpening, which is typical of most smartphones these days. The photos no matter the lighting condition seem to pack in detailed textures accompanied by excellent dynamic range (an area where the Pixel 8 Pro faltered at times), which seemed to be spot on, getting enough details in the shadows without getting too contrasty. Bright lights are also handled well, thanks to the multi-lens Zeiss T* coating which drastically reduces lens flare especially when shooting under street lit conditions at night.

The highlight of this year’s camera setup is indeed the new telephoto camera. Typical periscope telephoto camera aside, Vivo along with Zeiss managed to squeeze in another lens which is placed in front of the prism. This basically lets users shoot close-ups of objects or people at 4.3X zoom, without distancing themselves too far away from the subject, which is a big advantage when it comes to shooting portrait photos.

Vivo X100 Pro telephoto camera samples. Top to bottom: 1X, 4.3X (tap images to expand)

 

When shooting portraits using the Portrait camera mode, Vivo lets you select specific professional portrait focal lengths (24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 100mm) which have been optimised keeping in mind the camera sensors and lenses. Portrait photos captured at all of these focal lengths came out well with excellent detail even under artificial or low light conditions.

While I loved using the various software enabled Zeiss Style portrait modes, I found these images to be a bit soft compared to shooting in the regular Photo camera mode at its native 4.3X focal length, which was tack sharp (with granular detail) and still had enough natural bokeh, which is perfect for portraits.

Vivo X100 Pro’s zoom image quality is impressive but not as capable as the Galaxy S23 Ultra (tap image to expand)

 

As for zoom range, the phone is capable of shooting as far as 100X using hybrid zoom. The Vivo X100 Pro’s capabilities here are not as great as the Galaxy S23 Ultra’s telephoto mainly because of its limited native telephoto camera (4.3X versus 10X) and the fact that the former is geared more towards portraits than all out zoom. One can get great photos up to 10X which pack in good detail and texture, but it all starts to fall apart beyond this point.

A notable new addition in its feature set is a special mode for clicking sunsets called Telephoto Sunshot. This is enabled automatically between the 10X-30X zoom range and helps with shooting perfectly exposed sunset photos and silhouettes but I found the colours to be exaggerated and not natural.

Vivo X100 Pro Super Macro camera sample (tap image to expand)

 

Just like on the iQoo 12, Vivo has also included a Super Macro mode which allows for macro photography using its telephoto camera. It lets one focus on objects from as close as 18cm and this leads to some really sharp and detailed photos which can be captured at 4.3X (optical) and even at 8.6X (digital) with good background separation (even before enabling software bokeh).

While Vivo’s X100 Pro excels at dynamic range, Google Pixel 8 Pro offers a much wider field of view (tap image to expand)

 

Lastly there is the ultra-wide angle camera that does a fine job of shooting photos in daylight but not so much in low light. Despite its 50-megapixel sensor resolution, I did not find the photos all that impressive in terms of resolved detail. I also found the photos to be a bit washed out in comparison to what the Google Pixel 8 Pro is capable of.

Vivo X100 Pro selfie camera samples (tap image to expand)

 

As for selfies, these are just about passable and aren’t the best I’ve seen on a smartphone in this class. While skin tones are accurate, the camera tends to smudge out details despite disabling all types of beauty enhancements. Edge-detection could have been a bit softer as well as it seems to have some random and roughly cut out edges when applying the software bokeh.

Video captured at 4K at 30fps from the primary camera looks really good in all types of lighting conditions including low light. The enough detail and dynamic range and the bright spots also seem to be under control. Recorded video is also surprisingly stable in low light with limited noise. Footage from the Ultra-wide camera appears better in daylight but is loaded with noise in low light. The camera also packs a Cinematic Portrait mode which does a decent job of recording with 4K footage with an artificial bokeh but the edge detection leaves a lot to be desired when compared to Apple’s iPhone 15 series of devices.

Overall, it was easy to conclude that while Google’s Pixel had the upper hand in terms of photo editing capabilities, it was easily outpaced by the Vivo 100 Pro’s updated camera hardware.

Vivo X100 Pro Review: Verdict

When it comes to cameras, Fujifilm seems to have found its sweet spot with photographers as an enthusiast’s camera. Among smartphones, Vivo too seems to be the best suited to smartphone camera enthusiasts or those who love extracting the most out of their smartphone cameras. It hits the sweet spot when it comes to mobile imaging, delivering a delicate mix of AI imagery while also giving enough emphasis to hardware. It’s not out to defeat the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (Review) in a zoom contest, or the Pixel 8 Pro (Review) with its AI smarts, but it has the potential of becoming a favourite with those who are into street- photography or love clicking portraits (kids, pets, objects) and generally spending more time on the telephoto camera than the primary. At the same time, the Vivo X100 Pro also provides enough flexibility for general camera requirements.

And that’s just the photography bits. The rest of this phone is also equally impressive in terms of capability whether its entertainment, raw performance, software, gaming and even battery life. And this makes it a solid all-rounder in the premium smartphone segment, with an equally impressive price tag to take on 2024’s flagships.


The Vivo X90 Pro has finally made its debut in India, but is the company’s flagship smartphone for 2023 equipped with enough upgrades over its predecessor? We discuss this and more on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
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