Vivo's latest offering — the Vivo Z1x — is an example of how a company can take a winning product and improve on it to cater to even more people. Vivo has taken everything that was good about the Vivo Z1 Pro and has made some tangible enhancements, such as more capable camera hardware, an AMOLED screen, and an in-display fingerprint sensor. The improvements brought by the Vivo Z1x are certainly welcome, but they all come at a premium. This raises the all-too-important questions — is the Vivo Z1x a worthy sibling, and is the starting price of Rs. 16,990 justifiable? Dive right in and find the answers in our review.
Vivo Z1x design
The design of Vivo's latest offering is unabashedly flashy but slightly conventional at the same time, especially if you're tired of the gradients that have now become mainstream. The Vivo Z1x swaps the dual-tone gradient design of the Vivo Z1 Pro (Review) with a gaudier colour scheme that alternates vertically between varying shades of the same colour. There is a wavy pattern beneath the rear panel that Vivo claims to have achieved via a nanocoating process.
The rear panel of our Phantom Purple review unit flaunts a light shade of purple in the middle region flanked by dark violet accents at the sides and bottom. The surface finish is glossy and quite reflective, making the phone highly prone to smudges and dust. The frame is made out of polycarbonate and meets with the flat rear panel smoothly. Over on the front, you'll find a relatively small waterdrop notch with a thin earpiece above it. The display on the Vivo Z1x is protected by Schott Xensation 3D glass, an alternative to Corning's Gorilla Glass.
Vivo Z1x is powered by the octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 712 SoC
The volume and power buttons are located on the right, while the dedicated Google Assistant button and dual nano-SIM card tray can be found on the left. The speaker, USB Type-C port, 3.5mm headphone jack, and mic are on the bottom. Despite being smaller and lighter than the Vivo Z1 Pro, the Vivo Z1x is still relatively large and heavy at 189.6g. We have no qualms with the phone's build quality, but we wish it was a tad smaller and lighter.
One-handed usage is not easy unless you have fairly large hands, and reaching for content at the upper extremes of the display is a stretch. To add to this, the exterior of the phone is slippery. We also struggled to reach the volume up button without adjusting the phone in our hands.
Some people might like the contrast provided by the gold branding against the shiny rear panel, but we are not a big fan of too much glitter on a phone. The Vivo Z1x offers good build quality, but the ergonomics could have been better and the aesthetics might not be palatable for folks who prefer a more understated look. The Vivo Z1x is available in Fusion Blue and Phantom Purple colour options.
Vivo Z1x specifications and software
The Vivo Z1x sports a 6.38-inch full-HD+ (1,080 x 2,340 pixels) Super AMOLED display that the company claims covers 103 percent of the NTSC colour gamut and offers 430 nits of peak brightness. It has a 19.5:9 aspect ratio and over 90 percent screen-to-body ratio. This phone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 712 processor — the same SoC that also ticks at the heart of the Vivo Z1 Pro — paired with 6GB of RAM.
Vivo Z1x runs Funtouch OS 9.1 based on Android Pie and offers some useful features
The phone comes in two storage variants — a base 64GB storage variant priced at Rs. 16,990, and a higher-end 128GB model that carries a price tag of Rs. 18,000. It must be noted that the storage is non-expandable, so going for the 128GB variant is the safer bet. In the imaging department, the Vivo Z1x packs a 48-megapixel rear camera with a Sony IMX582 sensor, assisted by an 8-megapixel wide-angle camera with a 120-degree field of view and a 2-megapixel depth sensor.
On the front is a 32-megapixel selfie snapper with an f/2.0 lens. The lights are kept on by a 4,500mAh battery. This phone supports Vivo's proprietary 22.5W FlashCharge technology and can be quickly topped up using the supplied 22.5W charger. There's also an in-display fingerprint sensor, which is claimed to unlock the phone in 0.42 seconds.
The Vivo Z1x runs Funtouch OS 9.1 based on Android 9 Pie. Now, this is where things get interesting. Funtouch OS is a heavily customised version of Android, changing everything from aesthetics and iconography to the locations of tools in the Settings app. It also moves all the quick settings toggles to an iOS-like Shortcut Center that has to be accessed by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.
It takes some time getting used to, and some UI elements will downright annoy users. For example, the needlessly huge brightness and sound profile bars occupy a lot of space, forcing users to scroll all the way down to access quick toggles such as location, low-power mode, and airplane mode. Above the quick toggles is a row of icons for apps running in the background, but this is almost entirely redundant. The row of shortcuts for quickly accessing features such as 'search in Flipkart' app and ‘Add money' in Paytm app is also useless if you don't use these apps.
The phone's weight and large size take a toll on the ergonomics
The custom Funtouch OS navigation gestures feel half-baked, and surprisingly, there are still legacy Android navigation buttons if you don't want to rely on gestures. There is no app drawer, and swiping left on the home screen opens a Jovi Smart Scene page that is populated with shortcuts to tools such as a calculator and voice recorder, plus news headlines, weather updates, a to-do list widget, and a theme download ad among others.
On the bright side, there are a few nifty tools in Funtouch OS. For example, you can quickly create a second instance of a compatible app on the home screen itself, and take a scrolling screenshot with ease. There are a tonne of UI customisation options, ranging from themes and fonts to the app icon roundness control tool, which is a little too fanciful in our opinion. There is a file safe feature that lets you hide media files, documents, and other items for privacy.
The dark mode is a neat addition as well, but instead of rendering a black background that is typically useful on devices with AMOLED panels, Funtouch OS produces a dark shade of grey. Vivo's proprietary Smart Motion tool and split-screen shortcut can also come in handy. There is a lot of bloatware though; both in-house apps that can't be uninstalled as well as third-party apps such as Gaana, WebNovel, PhonePe, Paytm, Facebook, and Opera among others.
There are some gaming-centric tools as well. The Game picture-in-picture tool opens a floating window for messaging apps without closing the game itself. Ultra Game Mode is the phone's gaming hub and provides quick access to notification controls, while Off-screen Autoplay ensures that the game keeps running when the screen is off.
The Vivo Z1x has a triple rear camera setup that is highlighted by a 48-megapixel primary shooter
Thankfully, we did not come across shady ads and spammy notifications. However, some of the in-house apps do prompt users to download even more third-party apps. You can find more information about Funtouch OS in our Vivo Y17 review. To sum it all up, Funtouch OS offers some neat features, but has a learning curve and won't appeal to stock Android purists.
Our review unit was stuck on the July security patch, but we expect Vivo to roll out an update before the phone goes on sale.
Vivo Z1x display and performance
The Vivo Z1x's Super AMOLED panel is sufficiently bright and crisp, and renders vibrant colours. The colour output is slightly cold by default, but one can adjust the colour mode and temperature in the Settings app. The viewing angles are also quite good and there is minimal colour shift when viewing content at an angle. Under daylight, we did not feel any need to crank the brightness up beyond the halfway mark to read emails and use social media apps comfortably, but the reflective nature of the display sometimes proved problematic while watching videos.
Vivo claims the company has implemented a low brightness mode, which mimics DC dimming to avoid flickering and make usage more comfortable. Additionally, the Schott Xensation 3D glass protecting the display is touted to be stronger with Vickers Hardness ratings of 640 (non-strengthened) and 690 (strengthened), compared to Corning Gorilla Glass 5, which is rated 601 (non-strengthened) and 638 (strengthened) respectively.
The in-display fingerprint sensor is quite zippy and is one of the quickest we've come across on a phone in this price segment. We did not encounter any issues with fingerprint recognition accuracy during our review period either.
The in-display fingerprint sensor on the Vivo Z1x is one of the fastest in its price segment
The Snapdragon 712 powering the Vivo Z1x proved to be a reliable performer, handling everything including day-to-day tasks, heavy multitasking, and gaming with ease. Despite Funtouch OS being a heavily customised Android skin, we did not come across instances of slowdown or stuttering. A quick look at the benchmark scores show that it is measurably faster than the Snapdragon 710 when it comes to CPU performance, and also graphics prowess to some extent.
The Vivo Z1x scored 1,917 in Geekbench 4's single-core test and 6,014 in the multi-core test. The tally was 1,56,933 in AnTuTu. The phone also returned 2,096 in 3DMark Sling Shot Extreme and 31,625 in 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited. Running the graphics-intensive GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 returned 23fps, while the GFXBench T-Rex score stood at 59fps.
As for media performance, the phone's speaker has a decent volume output but some distortion and shrillness seeps in when the volume is set above the 80 percent mark. The bundled headset — which apes the Apple EarPods design — are good enough for calls and casual music listening, but don't expect good bass response or vocal clarity.
The Vivo Z1x defaults to the High graphics presets in PUBG Mobile and Asphalt 9, and provides smooth gameplay experience. Loading titles such as Mortal Kombat and Injustice Gods Among Us was also quick, something we've seen other phones struggle with. We were also pleasantly surprised by the Vivo Z1x's thermal performance, as there was minimal heating even after 30-50 minute long gaming sessions.
Vivo Z1x cameras and battery life
The Vivo Z1x packs a 48-megapixel (f/1.79) primary camera with the Sony IMX582 sensor, assisted by an 8-megapixel (f/2.2) ultra-wide-angle camera, and a 2-megapixel (f/2.2) depth sensor. The rear camera took vibrant pixel-binned photos in daylight. Close-up shots were a strong suit of the Vivo Z1x, as they retained a healthy amount of surface detail and there was minimal edge bleeding.
The Vivo Z1x packs an 8-megapixel wide-angle camera and a 2-megapixel depth sensor
Focus locking was quick and accurate for the most part. Landscape photos, however, appeared overprocessed with an underwhelming amount of detail. The Redmi K20 (Review), which packs the same 48-megapixel sensor, captured better images with more accurate colours and a higher amount of detail. The phone also struggles with dynamic range in challenging scenarios, and despite rending textures in the sky with decent clarity, colours looked somewhat suppressed.
The native AI beauty mode helps with the dynamic range issue to some extent and makes photos look more vibrant, but it does so at the cost of sharpness and softening at the periphery. Low-light photos, on the other hand, turned out grainy with a lot of noise. The dedicated night mode adds some colour to the frame and makes elements look a bit sharper, but the results are far from what we'd call impressive. We've seen the Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review) and Motorola One Vision (Review) perform better in low light.
The wide-angle camera comes in handy for capturing more people or objects in one scene, but unsurprisingly, the quality of shots is lower compared to those shot using the main sensor. Wide-angle photos looked dim and were less sharp too. One can also capture 48-megapixel photos in the 4:3 aspect ratio. The full-resolution photos exhibit more detail compared to the pixel-binned 16-megapixel photos, but colours don't pop as much as we would have liked.
Portrait shots had decent subject separation, but the application of the blur effect was inconsistent. One can adjust the blur effect even after capturing portrait photos in the pre-loaded album app. There are a host of portrait lighting effects to play with, along with scene modes, AR stickers, dynamic filters for short videos, and live photos.
Tap to see full-sized Vivo Z1x camera samples
The 32-megapixel front camera took crisp selfies with punchy colours, although some skin smoothening was clearly visible. The selfies with bokeh effect also came out looking nice, and the portrait lighting effects were applied particularly well.
As far as videos go, 4K and 1080p recording maxes out at 30fps, which is a little disappointing, because phones that cost less can shoot full-HD videos at 60fps.
As for the actual video quality, 1080p videos are stabilised well and colour reproduction is also decent, but the focus lock is jittery. 4K videos, on the other hand, turned out jerky. The wide angle camera can also record videos at up to 1080p, but the results were hazy with inaccurate colours.
The Vivo Z1x packs a 4,500mAh battery which comfortably lasted us over a day. Even with around two hours of playing PUBG Mobile at high graphics settings, calling, social media usage, around three hours of music listening over wired headphones, and day-long Internet connectivity, the phone still had around 30 percent juice left in the tank at the end of the day.
In our HD video loop test, the phone lasted 18 hours and 52 minutes before shutting down. The supplied 22.5W charger took the battery from empty to 50 percent in just 38 minutes, and took around one and a half hours to charge it fully.
The Vivo Z1x boasts of an eye-catching design that is unapologetically flashy, but might appeal to some buyers. The build quality is solid, but this phone is on the larger side. Its AMOLED display is impressive and a notable upgrade over the Vivo Z1 Pro (Review).
General performance is not an issue, and graphics-intensive games are handled without a hitch. The camera output is decent for the price, but we've seen the likes of the Realme X (Review)and Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review) deliver better results. Battery life is great, and the endurance figures in our HD video loop test were also impressive.
The Vivo Z1x is a meaningful step up over its sibling, but underperforms in the camera department despite commanding a premium. The lack of expandable storage could also be a problem if you are considering the base variant.
At a starting price of Rs. 16,990, the Vivo Z1x is definitely an attractive option considering the entire package and the experience you get. However, this phone has plenty of rivals at around the same price, including the Realme X (Review), Redmi Note 7 Pro (Review), Oppo K3 (Review), which are all worth a look.