Features / Tech

Vivo X51 5G review: An Android smartphone with sublime photography options

With a world that offers everyone an exciting, and seemingly unstoppable, range of technology with our smartphones, it can often feel like a colossal mountain of decisions when it comes to upgrading or choosing a new direction. Today, we’ve got a whole new company (to the UK) for you to consider, with vivo bringing forth their X51 to the table, which is a remarkably impressive 5G-ready phone with a superb camera setup, all based in the Android operating system.

Over the years, I’ve steadily favoured Android over iOS (used exclusively by Apple) because I think you have more control over your individuality and personality plus, very importantly, affordability. Having gone through everything from HTC to Samsung, I’ve recently settled down with the Huawei smartphones. But as their popularity increases, so does the price and now with this vivo on the market… there’s nothing like some good old healthy competition in the field and when they’re offering one hell of a camera, it’s already stirring interest.

Design and first impressions

Before we break it down, the vivo X51 is a tremendously impressive high-end mobile phone that takes the best of those I’ve already mentioned and steps it up. Much like other superior Android phones, the X51 slips into your pocket effortlessly and isn’t over-sized to the point of distracting. With a 6” long screen (and 3” wide), this also has a welcoming 3D curved Ultra O Screen and uses COP (Chip on Plastic) packaging, which in normal terms keeps the phone slim and light.

In truth, I wasn’t always sure of the point of the curved displays, but it enables a full-screen experience when viewing or streaming videos, providing you with a bigger picture, across the whole screen. There’s also a handy feature that lets you zoom into a full picture/video, so you don’t miss a single detail of whatever you’re watching. This level of precise quality is just a small part of what makes this phone exciting.  

Also, due to the slim screen, the X51 isn’t remotely intrusive or bulky with the idea from vivo that it should remain a smooth, stylish part of your everyday and not be over-baring and here it easily succeeds. It’s clear that vivo have thought about this appropriately, so instead of trying to reinvent everything – and lose the market before they’ve begun – it reflects what’s there but also has its own unique and professional advantage.

Display

Your X51 has a 180Hz Response Rate, the usual is usually 120Hz in most modern phones, with a 90Hz Refresh Rate, which means less of any graphic blurring and should give you a smoother film experience. It also uses E3 AMOLED for its display, which reduces harmful blue light to 7% (better for your eyes) and 61% lower than LCD.  Of course, it’s also HDR, which means your screen will remain at the correct brightness and quality when viewing things. All in all? It’s very crisp and clear.

Audio

Technological-wise vivo were the first to add Hi-Fi on their mobiles, which basically means you should be able to listen to whatever you want with a sharper sound than a phone without. While I don’t see the need to go deeper into the technical details, you probably want to know how it sounds through earphones or without? Personally, I’m a bit of a True Wireless earphone fan (see a few recommendations here) and they connect via Bluetooth, and everything sounded as good as I would want it to. While the phone doesn’t have the classic earphone plug-in, it does have an adapter so you could if you liked – thankfully, they haven’t completely removed it, like some others.

On the side of how the external speakers work, there’s a little less depth so I couldn’t recommend planning your entire purchase around that. However, I didn’t hear any dodgy crackling or concerns but this is still a mobile phone let’s not forget, and I’m not sure anyone will ever solve that problem because an appropriate speaker will never really fit in a phone and, yes, vivo that’s a challenge I’m putting out to you. If you’re after deep bass through an external speak, buy something to stream to – the Bluesound Pulse Mini 2i is incredibly impressive.

Photography

It’s interesting that in 2020/2021, one of the biggest selling points for mobile phones is how good they are at taking a photo. Photography has always been a big part of my life, from 35mm to Polaroid (see the new Polaroid Now here) and onto the ridiculous quality of DLSR. While I’m still bang in the middle when it comes to the ‘truth’ behind small scale lens (a small lens regardless of pixels or technology remains restricted to be truly professional), there’s no doubt of the exceptional strides forward the industry is making when it comes to how lenses are used.

There’s no doubt that the X51 big sell is around the camera, combined with their Gimbal tech, and we’ll come back to what that means shortly. They use 4 lenses on the back, and 1 on the front, but the sheer level of photographic perfection you can create from it is remarkable. Vivo have done something crucial here with ‘home’ photography and considered the issue with ‘shaking’. Integrating their own Gimbal anti-shake, which is especially useful at night, means the stabilization of your photos will remain clear, rather than becoming the classic blur you see from so many.

If you don’t believe me, just look at my photos of the full moon (last week), these were taken hand-held, without a tripod and on a cloudy night. I’ve struggled to take a good photo of the moon with that clarity on any other phone I’ve used in the past and this one really gives you the good stuff. Instead of relying on classic OIS (which only captures plain movement), their Gimbal Camera System uses the movement of the entire module to keep everything in its right place, so less (or none at all) blurring to keep your pictures clear.

So, the X51 is great in low-light and perfectly reasonably in everyday situations as well, I have no doubt you’ll find what you need for the everyday user… and then some more but do remember this is a better night-time runner than day. Now, let’s go deeper on the variety of photographic options you have.

Your options for photography styles

Low Light

  • Super Night Mode
  • By using their aforementioned Gimbal system, incorporating stability and a smarter algorithm, it takes in more light and produces a ridiculously clear image on long exposure – See my shot of Exeter Cathedral, taken without a tripod and I was stood in the dark.
  • It does also offer an ‘ultra-dark’ mode, but I think I’d recommend a tripod in those situations
  • Good for shots: City Night, Super Night Portrait, and moments with Stage light

Night Backlight and Super Night Portrait

  • With their dual camera bokeh, the shots you take is separated from the darkness, which means it’ll do the work at taking those shots for you. There are a few other things you can do, depending on the shot you want to take, but rest assured this camera is there to help.
  • The Super Night option, where the foreground might be too dark and the background too bright, this little thing works its magic at RAW level (super HD really) and finds what it needs to.
  • Good for shots: When your subject is backlit at night

Astro Mode

  • Now here’s a fine thing: This works through their Sky Divider algorithm, which separates the sky from the ground, taking multiple frames and putting them back together for you.
  • Designed to capture a starry sky for people at any level of photography. Ideally, you’ll need a tripod and to be somewhere out in the dark though, better away from the bright light of your street or city, especially when diving into long exposure shots.
  • Good for shots: Starry skies over open grounds, capturing the galaxies above out of view from our everyday vision – These are my two below, bear in mind it’s my first ever-time using it on the mobile and usually you’d get nothing. On a shot towards the city you’ve got one of the dippers and so much coming through out into the darkness.

Supermoon

  • This mode takes on two of the cameras to shoot a night scene, along with a clear moon photo with their Supermoon Fusion algorithm.
  • Somehow, it detects the moon and the x2 telephoto lens frames and optimises the outcome.
  • Good for shots: I refer to my full moon shots for this but on a clear night with a tripod? I think you could get something mind-blowing

Stabilization and Motion

  • Another good use for their Gimbal system, reducing shaking, enhancing clarity by using their impressive sensors.
  • With everything going on, I haven’t had a proper chance to fully test this, but I’d think they’d get it on board successfully.
  • Good for shots: Things in motion, running, dancing, or playing sports and even pets!

Hyper Zoom

  • And we haven’t even mentioned the 5x Optical Telescopic camera with a pericopic lens, the 60x hyper zoom or the fact that this mode helps you take pictures of things far away.
  • Good for shots: Stage action, public speeches or if you’re seating far away from the action.

Super-Wide Angle/Super Macro

  • Kept simple: Great for huge landscape shots, or even large buildings.
  • Macro also offers you the chance to get in close, it picks out the small detail you might not even always notice, it’s a fun one to really get into the subject.

Gimbal Super Steady Video and Motion AF Tracking [Video]

They re-use their excellent Gimbal tech in their video, which gives you a much more intelligent capture process if you want to film friends actively moving, in whatever form. This offers a 5-axis VIS video stabilisation, Motion AF Tracking and more, which pretty much means that if your video can’t track eyes, it’ll follow their faces and if it can’t see them, it’ll move to bodies and so forth, reading the motion and subject and doing what it needs to for you.

They also have a set of Style Night Filters, which I think would come down to the individual using them. They’re called Cyberpunk, Black Gold, Blue Ice and Green Orange. They quintessentially give your night shots an extra kick of style, with the idea of offering a standard shot a different edge from futuristic to stylish and so forth. See my shots of the Christmas Reindeer for a little run down…

To summarise

The vivo X51 sets new standard in slickness, with smart new features that kicks them to the front of the Android mobile phone photography market, and one of the finest options out there right now. That being said, bear in mind the battery life does drain if you’re using it regularly, but if you want a thin phone then that’s the compromise. Also, this seems to be targeting those folks who take a lot more photos at night, although the day shots are perfectly reasonable, this sets itself around a night-life of adventure. However, it still has a lot going for it, even at the price of £749 RRP, and is more than modern, stylish, and intuitive to those seeking action. One thing is true though, if this is the early days, I’m looking forward to discovering more future innovations.

The vivo X51 is available to order now: https://www.vivo.com/uk/

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