Vivo has been quietly selling very capable flagship-grade phones for a while now. I say quietly – not for lack of effort or marketing from Vivo, but simply because Vivo is not one of the brands that people associate with flagships.
As with the X70 Pro+ that I , the Vivo X80 that I have with me to review now ticks virtually every flagship box there is. So, the only question is, how well does it perform?
The ‘Urban Blue’ colourway is striking.
I’ve been using the Vivo X80 for a few weeks now (this review has been delayed by my catching Covid, among other things) and from the moment I took it out of its lavish box and set eyes on its dazzling blue colourway, it’s been a striking presence in my life. Putting it through its paces revealed a very interesting device that, at the very least, deserves more attention than it gets.
How much did I like it? Read on.
Like I said, the Vivo X80 I have is in the “Urban Blue” colour and it’s incredibly striking. This is perhaps the most eye-catching phone I have ever used, and regularly elicited questions from people who saw me with it. The device itself is a big glass sandwich slab with curving edges all around and a curved screen, and feels very similar to the X70 Pro+ to hold.
The device is very handsome and well finished.
The Vivo X80 sells for Rs 54,999 and comes with 8 GB RAM and 128 GB of storage. You can also pay Rs 5,000 more and bump this up to 12 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage, and this is the variant I have with me.
The screen is a 6.78” 120Hz AMOLED display, although it lacks the LTPO feature which allows the refresh rate to vary in a granular manner. It’s not much of a miss though. You almost definitely will not notice it.
Despite being a rather hefty slab, weighing in at 203 grams, the X80 is surprisingly easy to use. One-handed use is still a bit of a challenge, but the curved edges mean that it feels comfortable to hold and use in most circumstances.
The Vivo X80 runs Mediatek’s Dimensity 9000 chipset. The Dimensity 9000 is the first time that Mediatek has been able to produce a flagship chipset that can go toe to toe with Qualcomm’s top-tier Snapdragon, and even edge it out in some regards, as you’ll see.
The cameras are set in a shiny island.
At the back, set within a shiny island, are the cameras. There is a 50 MP main camera, with OIS and laser autofocus, a 12 MP 2X telephoto, and a 12 MP ultrawide. The Vivo X80 comes with a 4500 mAh battery and 80W wired charging but sadly misses out on wireless charging, which is my default mode now for overnight bedside charging.
As always, I must register my dismay at the continuing lack of a headphone jack.
The Vivo X80 is an absolute breeze to use. From the snappy and responsive in-display fingerprint scanner to the beautifully smooth 120Hz screen and the very fast and powerful Dimensity 9000 processor, they’ve pulled out all stops to deliver a full-fat premium experience. After the clunky 60Hz screen of the , this felt like even more of a joy. I must reiterate my position here that while you can happily and comfortably use a 60Hz screen, the upgrade when using a 120Hz is profound – and that is why I believe this is a must-have feature for any phone that aims to position itself as “premium”.
The device is a bit big to use one-handed.
Apps open fast. Swipes, gestures, scrolls and switches are all extremely smooth and fast. I was also happy to use button navigation again after using gesture navigation on my Pixel (I opted for that because the Pixel doesn’t allow switching the back-button position to the right). As smooth and seamless as gesture navigation is, I’m always going to prefer button navigation.
The screen is bright and feels like a top-tier OLED even though specs-wise it’s a notch below. You can really only notice this when you’re out in the sun, when it’s still very much usable, but you know you’ve seen a bit better. Videos look sharp and contrasty. The stereo speakers are good but not great, a definite step below the best. While they’re reasonably loud, they lack the bass heft you need to fully enjoy streaming video without earphones, but it should definitely do the job, in a pinch.
I have to mention the haptics on this phone. It’s among the best I’ve ever encountered – the vibrations are crisp, precise and truly add a subtle improvement to the entire user experience. I would say it’s almost at the level of the iPhone, if not exactly the same.
The USB-C port.
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The Vivo X80 runs Funtouch OS on top of Android 12. This is a good, very tweakable Android skin, and I have no major quibbles with it. It does come with a ton of bloatware but almost all of it can be uninstalled. I don’t love the aesthetics, especially after spending time with the pretty Material You stylings of stock Android, but I don’t hate it either. As a matter of fact, if forced to pick between aesthetics and tweakability, I’d go for tweakability any day.
The battery life on the Vivo X80 is excellent. The Dimensity 9000 is a very efficient chip and you can easily get between six and seven hours of screen on time, even edging past seven hours at times. It easily outclasses the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 in this regard. Add to this the 80W fast charging and the battery experience with this phone is nearly top class. I say nearly because they left out wireless charging and it’s a feature I’ve gotten a bit too used to.
The phone stands out even in a sea of colour.
Now, I live a minimal notifications life – I have all my notification alerts off – but I heard that aggressive RAM management on the Vivo X80 means that notifications don’t always pop up instantly. I tested this out and it does seem a bit hit-or-miss whether you get notifications instantly. This shouldn’t be the case when there’s 12 GB of RAM to play with, and here’s hoping that Vivo addresses this in a future update.
You’ll remember from my X70 Pro+ review that I am a fan of Vivo’s cameras. This does carry forward to this one, but with one reservation.
In my , I had complained that the camera on that phone consistently brightens people’s faces. Now, Oppo went on to fix that issue when it , but this Vivo X80 unfortunately appears to have caught that affliction.
It’s not as severe as it was with the Reno 7, and pictures of people still end up looking good, but coming from the spot-on skin tones of the Pixel 6, you can see that the Vivo X80 is subtly brightening skin tones consistently and I couldn’t figure out a way to turn this off. The X70 Pro+ also did this occasionally but on this phone, this is a consistent phenomenon.
The primary camera does a superb job.
Apart from this, the cameras perform superbly. Colours, contrast and dynamic range are spot on most of the time, and white balance is well judged. The ultrawide performs very well and also features autofocus, which many phones tend to drop. This also means you can get nice macro shots as long as you get your positioning right.
Another remarkable aspect of the Vivo X80’s camera is that shutter lag is virtually non-existent. The camera app responds as quickly as the iPhone’s and takes very little time to process the images, even in low-light situations.
The three focal lengths have broadly consistent colours.
Low-light performance is superb, with accurate colours and well-judged noise control, but again taking pictures of people in low light exacerbates the skin-brightening tendencies of this camera. You can work around it by manually pulling down exposure, but you really shouldn’t have to do this much to get accurate skin tones. I really hope they at least give people a toggle for this in some future update. It would be very easy to do, and just a question of them realising it’s necessary.
The telephoto performs well.
The telephoto performs well and is always a nice-to-have camera unit. The selfie camera is excellent and, oddly enough, the only unit that gives you accurate skin tones reliably! Dear Vivo, please just carry over the skin tone processing from your selfie camera to your other cameras. Thank you.
Photos of people look good, but the skin tones are subtly brightened.
Video recording is very good, with capable OIS (although not the Gimbal stabilisation available on its more expensive sibling), superb focus tracking, and very good low-light performance.
Autofocus on the ultrawide means fun macro photos.
Should I buy it?
The Vivo X80 is, without question, one of the most capable phones you can get under Rs 60,000 – if not the most capable phone. It’s incredibly powerful, packed with features, and delivers great performance and top class battery life. The skin tone niggle with the cameras is my only complaint with the phone and, as you’ll see in the sample above, it’s not a severe or obvious failing, but it’s definitely something to be kept in mind.
If you can live with this, and live without wireless charging, this should definitely be right at the top of your list when you’re looking for a mid-range flagship in the region of Rs 50,000-60,000. The alternatives include the slightly more expensive Xiaomi 12 Pro, which has decidedly inferior battery life, and the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, which has an inferior processor but does feature wireless charging and costs Rs 5,000 less.
The Vivo X80 is not a slam-dunk recommendation only because of its skin tone foibles. If you’re someone who doesn’t care too much about this, however, it is probably the best phone to buy in this price range.
The Vivo X80 was sent to the reviewer as a loaner unit for review purposes. The unit will be returned on completion of the review. Vivo has been given no advance information about the content of this review and exercises no copy approval.
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