Vivo Z1X review: Best smartphone under 20K
Deccan Chronicle| Chetan Nayak
With great performance, gaming, battery life and an exceptional camera, the Vivo Z1X is perhaps the best phone in under Rs 20,000.
A successor to the Z1 Pro, the Vivo Z1X sits below the Rs 20,000 mark and offers the kind of performance that would make one wonder how can a phone this good, be this cheap?
Not long after putting out its inaugural ‘S’ series device, the S1, Vivo has a new device hitting virtually the same market segment. While the S1 was marketed heavily as a stylish device, it was a decent mid-ranger in its own right. But it wasn’t the kind of mid-range device that would make you forget that there are better phones in the same price segment.
All that has changed with the Vivo Z1X, a successor to the Z1 Pro and a phone that sits just below the Rs 20,000 mark and offers the kind of performance that would make one wonder how can a phone this good, be this cheap? The phone excels in everything it can do and looks stunning too.
Let’s have a quick run at the specs here. The phone has a 6.38-inch Super AMOLED screen with an in-display fingerprint scanner, a Snapdragon 712 chipset, 6GB LPDDR4X RAM, and 128GB onboard storage. There’s also a 4500mAh battery with Vivo’s 22.5W ‘Flash’ charging. Throw in a triple rear camera setup comprising of a 48MP primary sensor and a 32MP front-facing camera and the Z1X is already pretty good looking on paper. But does it live up to it?
We reviewed the Z1X thoroughly and weren’t disappointed at all. Here are our thoughts on the smartphone.
The Vivo has simply put out a near-perfect device when it comes to looks. The variant we have is the Phantom Purple and it features a cool gradient finish that is a deep violet near the edges and a tint of purple near the centre. The phone feels very light and has a slim design. The phone has a 6.38-inch screen on the front with a dew-drop notch on top, which is still the best looking way a phone can miss out on a pop up/flip camera mechanism. The back of the phone has the triple camera and flash in one bumped module on the top left and the Vivo branding on the bottom.
There’s a 3.5mm jack on the bottom along with a USB-C port, a speaker grille and a primary microphone. The top edge has a secondary microphone and nothing else. The right edge of the device has the power button in the centre and volume rockers on the top. The left of the device has the SIM tray and an extra button that can be configured to trigger either Google assistant or the built-in image recogniser.
The phone feels sturdy in hand and the aluminium edges help with that. If you still cannot help but feel the design is fragile, you can always slip on the provided transparent case.
The phone has a 6.38-inch Super AMOLED screen with a built-in flash in-display fingerprint scanner that is decently fast and accurate. We still haven’t witnessed any false registrations since we set up the biometrics. The screen is just awesome and we had no complaints with it at all.
The max brightness is not the best but definitely above average. The resolution here is 1080 x 2340, which gives you 404 PPI. The viewing angles are great too. The screen hits all the spots and even has its proprietary DC dimming, a flagship feature unheard of in this segment, which prevents the flickering observed on screens in low brightness.
The software is perhaps the only thing that could steer you away from the phone. The Z1X runs on Android 9.0 Pie with Vivo’s FunTouchOS 9 on top. This is one of the drastic skins of Android. Fans of the stock Android look might not get the same appeal from FunTouchOS, just like we didn’t initially. However using the Vivo S1, which also ran FunTouchOS 9, and now the Z1X over all this while, our opinions were swayed. The customisability, one of the Android operating system’s USP is multiplied twofold here with the options you find on the UI. You can turn around the looks of every nook and corner of the OS, even elements where you didn’t think customisability was possible, like the Always-On-display screen.
There is a lot of attention to detail in this skin, and they’re not just gimmicks. A dark mode, for instance, turns not just system apps, but even third-party apps like WhatsApp and Instagram dark. There’s a built-in secure keyboard that automatically pops up when you’re typing passwords or sensitive information on browsers or other apps. The Always-On display can be scheduled to be turned on only at particular hours in the day. The one-hand mode lets you minutely customise the dimensions of the smaller screen. Even the battery saver has three different levels of saving power that you choose from. Like Captain America says, we could do this all day and rave on about FunTouchOS 9, but we think we’ve made out point.
There are a few sponsored apps pre-installed on the phone when you turn it on but they can be uninstalled in like two touches. There is stuff you cannot remove like a Vivo.com app and a Vivo app market. While they’re only a few of these and they cannot be removed, they aren’t intrusive at all. But that still counts as bloat so, make what you want of that.
It’s not all perfect, and there are a few things here and there we feel FunTouchOS could improve on, like the default launcher for example. While the transition effects you get are great, the launcher misses out on something as little as the ability to change the wallpaper. This means you cannot long-press the screen, open up the settings and change the wallpaper. You need to go into the settings to do that. But regardless, as far as ‘heavily-skinned’ versions of Android go, this one’s our favourite so far.
While the Z1X aces in almost every other aspect, in our view the camera setup on the device is the biggest highlight of the phone. A triple camera setup on the back consists of the main 48MP lens, along with an 8MP ultra-wide lens and a 2MP depth sensor. There’s even a 32MP front-facing camera in the notch. Until we see commercial rollouts of the 64MP sensors, this is the best possible camera setup you can find in the segment and one of the best camera setups so far, period. The camera lenses on the Z1X, especially the primary lens, are amazing but the real MVP here is a key element most big brands usually lose focus on—the camera software.
The interface of the phone’s camera is something we love. It has enough features to overwhelm you the first time you open the app, but somehow doesn’t by neatly tucking in the features in easy to find options here and there. There are enough features here to talk about all day but the highlights are the ability to shoot video from the ultra-wide lens, lots of real-time lighting effects that are actually useful, taking 48MP shots with all those effects, AR stickers, a night mode, a built-in document scanner, and even integrated picture and video editing tools. We’ve also rarely seen facial recognition this fast with multiple faces in the frame. This is a complete package. The camera interface and optimisation alone on the Vivo Z1X is so good it could save poor camera quality, but then again, the lenses on the phone are beasts in their own right.
The primary camera is the 48MP Sony IMX582 sensor, and it takes great pictures with accurate colour reproduction and fast focusing. The 48MP shot option is a toggle away and can be used with almost all the filters and studio lighting modes on offer.
The ultra-wide lens does the job, and does it well, getting you that larger frame when you need it. It misses out on the software correction that some OEMs have started offering which lets you automatically correct the cylindrical fish-eye effect at the edges of the pictures, but let's hope that pops up in a software update.
The depth sensor is a decent addition when you consider the great primary camera and interface, and all three work together to give you good bokeh shots. There’s a slider that lets you set the depth of field you want by adjusting the lens opening. Very useful, but it needs some getting used to.
The 32MP front camera is breathtakingly good too. Colours are well balanced and accurate and we didn’t see abrupt bursts of over-exposure, something many front cameras still fall prey to. The quick filters and studio lighting effects from the rear camera are present here as well and so is HDR support. Oh, and yeah, you can turn on options to click a picture automatically when you show the camera your face or even when you say "cheese".
In short, the camera on this smartphone is a total win, despite being a triple camera setup when quad cameras are popping up in the market. From a reviewer’s perspective, we actually struggled to find flaws with the camera performance and had to resort to some light nitpicking.
The Vivo Z1X is silly fast and day-to-day performance is a breeze. The phone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 712 SoC coupled with 6GB LPDDR4X RAM. The DDR4X means you get faster speeds than LPDDR4 and LPDDR3 systems and even better power efficiency.
Also, both variants of the phone have 6GB RAM, which means regardless of what storage variant you buy, you get great multitasking performance. The phone scored a neat 1,84,855 on Antutu. After enabling the flashiest transitions and having many apps open at a time we are yet to find stutters and even with over 10 apps running together, none restarted when we switched between them.
With great performance comes a great gaming experience. Okay, that may not always be true, but with the Z1X, it is. Testing medium-level titles like Mini-Militia, BombSquad and heavy titles like PUBG on the device had us amazed. PUBG can be played at the ‘high‘ graphics setting and supports high framerate as well. The dedicated gaming mode offers neat features like optimising the CPU and RAM, and auto rejection of calls, blocking notifications and disabling the AI button and screen gestures.
Yes, the performance is great but even apart from that, the compact form factor of the smartphone, the big battery life and the dedicated gaming mode add to the experience. We had to do a separate review of the Ultra gaming mode on the phone because it was just that awesome, with features like 4D vibrations and more. Click here to know more.
Also read: Best PUBG Phone with unique gaming features under Rs 20,000
The 4500mAh battery is great and offers a day and a half’s worth of usage on moderate use. In light usage scenarios, the phone should last you two days easily before running out completely. Unsurprisingly, there’s 22.5W ‘flash’ fast charging on the device. We have appreciated fast charging coming to the mid-range segment and are glad Vivo didn’t miss out on this. Charging times were great too and the phone charged from 0 to 50 per cent in around 30 minutes. A full charge took us over an hour, but that was with Wi-Fi connectivity and some light usage.
The Vivo Z1X is a great device in every aspect and nears the utopian perfect mid-range smartphone. With a compact size, sleek body, great performance, neat features, extraordinary cameras and battery life to back it all up, the phone hits all the right boxes. And if you are a fan of custom Android skins like FunTouch OS, this is hands down the best device for the price of Rs 18,990. There is even a cheaper variant for Rs 16,990 that still has 6GB RAM but with 64GB storage.