Vivo X series smartphones have always focused on combining excellent camera hardware with fantastic photography smarts for users who love pointing the lens at everything. Its purpose is to combine Zeiss’ glare-cutting lenses with camera hardware that may not be present in the competition but Vivo went a step further with the X90 series. The Vivo X90 Pro has a 1in camera sensor which is a common trend among Android smartphones in 2023 but this time it’s married with Zeiss’ colour calibration smarts, excellent portraiture bokeh and the T* coating on the lenses. This is easily, the most fun camera for photography nerds.
Vivo X90 Pro review
The camera conundrum
12GB RAM/256GB storage
Tradition says we follow the hygiene of comparing design, performance, battery life and so on till you get to the camera but here the meat of the matter is the round bulbous module at the back housing the capable and often moody camera system from Vivo. It’s, in every sense, characterised by the quality of its own making. That means you will not find Vivo’s 1in sensor similar to Xiaomi’s because this one here is fine-tuned by Vivo and Zeiss in partnership. So even if you see hiccups in its pixels compared to the Apples and Samsungs, the overall appeal of the Vivo X90 Pro’s camera is undeniably lust-worthy.
The Vivo X90 Pro is quite the champ with pretty-faced subjects and macro. The 50MP telephoto lens has a 50mm focal length which is ideal for portraiture shots. The fall-off is extremely consistent and creamy. Portrait shots on the Vivo X90 Pro look like they’re taken by an expert and we’re simply playing with point-and-shoot in our test photos. Just get the framing right and the smartphone handles the job like your personal professional shutterbug. It’s not overprocessed either. Vivo does make things look slightly vivid but it’s not in the clownish sense. It’s more appealing and tasteful this time.
Vivo tells us that everything related to colour was done in collaboration with Zeiss and the Zeiss Natural Colour option in the viewfinder will remind you why Vivo’s colour balance is not a joke. In fact, it’s consistent across all three lenses. So your ultrawide, wide and telephoto shots will have similar tonality.
The main 50.3MP camera married to the 1in Sony IMX 989 co-tuned with Zeiss sounds like an absolute treat but I spent more time with the telephoto for portraits and the ultrawide for macro photography. The macro shots from the 12MP ultrawide camera have one of the most impressive photo qualities we’ve seen on a smartphone. The colour, detail and sharpness are so well judged that we had to double check it for any miscalculations.
Honestly, that’s been a common theme across all three lenses on the Vivo X90 Pro. Colour, detail and sharpness are life-like and don’t feel oversharpened like the Google Pixel 7 Pro or unnatural like the 200MP Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Vivo also doesn’t tend to colour-correct the skin tone if the lighting is dictating the tones of your shot. It will preserve the natural light source. Something the Apple iPhone and Google Pixel try to fix using AI and most of the time remove the tint of the accompanying light source from the subject.
Vivo has plonked the V2 chip along with the MediaTek Dimensity 9200 for faster image processing and better low-light photography and videography. The partnership with Zeiss over the years is finally paying off. The Vivo X90 Pro easily dishes out better low-light photos than a similarly priced iPhone 14. The colour accuracy in lowlight photos is better and the Zeiss T* coating banishes any and all glare from harsh light sources.
If you want an in-depth understanding of Vivo’s camera chops, we’ve made a photo album from our recent trip to Vietnam and you can check that out here.
Zeiss says that the partnership with Vivo is not just with lenses and colour correction. The collab actually extends to the way your photos and videos look on the display as well. HDR content looks sharp and entertaining meanwhile any habitual doomscrolling tendencies are managed by the 120Hz refresh rate. This is a long smartphone so reaching to the top of the display is always a stretch. The 6.78in display is also capable of 1300nits of peak brightness and if you’re a gamer, things will play out just fine.
Seeing a MediaTek chip on a high-end smartphone might raise some red flags but in terms of everyday use, the MediaTek Dimensity 9200 processor is more than capable of handling anything and everything. In fact, on Geekbench 5 this MediaTek scores higher in single-core performance than even the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 on the iQOO 11. Although this smartphone spends its brainpower on photography and daily use, you can use it for gaming fairly reasonably.
There’s also a 4870 mAh battery with a 120W charger in the box. It can also charge at 50W wirelessly. We wish the battery was a wee bit bigger but the FuntouchOS is good at preserving battery life. Even if it is at the cost of killing background apps a bit more aggressively than the competition. You do get some bloatware which can be deleted and if you spend a few minutes extra, you can even block access to all annoying apps that keep pinging you for attention.
Things you should know
Other than the basic spec run, the smartphone is adequate in all aspects. Haptics and vibrations? Excellently executed. Stereo speakers? Well, judged with plenty of texture in the low and mid-range. The treble is a bit harsh at higher volumes so keep it at around 70% volume. The vegan leather back makes a return and the whole thing is now IP68 water-resistant. You can also control your house appliances using the IR blaster on the phone. Although, there ain’t many Indian brands included in the list to execute tech wizardry from the couch with the Smart Remote app.
We wish the Vivo X90 Pro could record videos in 4K HDR. Sadly, HDR is only supported for 1080p resolution at 30FPS. The Vivo X90 Pro also struggles with HDR photos at times. There’s a bit of haloing around the subject in photos with vivid backgrounds.
It’s not exemplary but it’s perfect for smartphone photography. The Vivo X series continues to be the most tempting tool for smartphone photographers. It has plenty of modes and features within the camera app to engage in various fields of smart photography. Established by the X50 Pro, the X90 Pro is now a full-fledged camera phone that can compete with the like of iPhone, Samsung and Pixel in its price range.
Point-and-shoot is improved a great deal over the last few years but so has the competition. In skilled hands, the photos will only look jaw-dropping. The Zeiss and Vivo collab is done on all steps of photography. From colour science to lens correction to software and even the display you watch it on. This is a packaged tool for photographers and if you’re one, wipe that drool and give the Vivo a try.
The Vivo X90 Pro manages to sprinkle more than just photo chops though and it inches one step closer to being a complete smartphone.
Camera chops are in the front and centre of the Vivo X90 Pro and it’s executed with attention and care that only the best photographers will appreciate, novices are welcomed too
|Display:||6.78in, 1260x2800, AMOLED, 120Hz refresh rate|
|Battery:||4,870mAh, 120W wired charging, 50W wireless charging|
|OS:||Android 13 (FunTouch OS)|
|Processor:||Mediatek Dimensity 9200|
|RAM:||12GB RAM / 256GB storage|
|Rear cameras:||50.3MP OIS, 50MP (telephoto), 2x optical zoom, OIS, 12MP (ultrawide), Zeiss optics, Zeiss T* lens coating|