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Vivo pushes out X51 5G: Chipper whippersnapper, quite a battery-sapper, but at least the wrapper's dapper
Hip to be square and aimed at the Euro crowd
Review First impressions are important, and the X51 5G is Vivo's inaugural device for the crowded European smartphone market.
It's a solid early effort, winning points on differentiation alone. The headline feature of this phone is a camera apparatus that includes gimbal-like stabilisation, allowing the user to capture shake-free video and photos. In a world of identikit smartphones comprised of the same off-the-shelf components, Vivo's managed to avoid the cardinal sin of consumer tech: being boring.
Since this is primarily a photography-focused phone, let's talk about the cameras. This 158 × 72 × 8 mm handset is a quad-camera device. Superfluity? No, each lens actually has something to offer to the end-user, and isn't merely a low-quality sensor added to tick a box.
The primary sensor is a 48MP affair, which is situated on a gimbal-type mechanism, and touts pixel-binning thrown into the mix to reduce noise and improve low-light performance. An 8MP periscope telephoto lens provides 5x optical zoom, with optical image stabilisation (OIS) added into the mix to reduce shakes while capturing long-distance snaps.
Further down, there's a 13MP portrait lens for bokeh-filled close-ups which is capable of 2x optical zoom, as well as an 8MP ultra-wide. In real-world testing, this set-up proved to be an effective all-rounder, and was especially capable of producing excellent low-light shots. If we weren't collectively heading into a punishing second lockdown, the Vivo X51 5G would be well-suited to producing the kind of career ending Instagram snaps made during a debauched night on the town.
It's not just the photos that look good. The backdrop to this camera apparatus is a genuinely attractive mesh of glass and metal. This phone costs £749 and feels like it.
Flip it over, and you catch sight of the X51 5G's 6.56-inch AMOLED display, which is bright and vibrant, but with a resolution of 1,080 x 2,376, it's not as high-res as others at just 398 PPI density. This panel supports a 90Hz refresh rate, though, allowing UI animations to feel fluid.
There's no 3.5mm headphone jack, but it does tout a surprisingly responsive under-screen fingerprint reader, comparing favourably to some physical readers we've used.
Specs wise, the Vivo X51 5G ships with a Snapdragon 765G platform. This is a mid-tier chip, appearing on affordable devices like the OnePlus Nord, which retails at half the price of this device.
Vivo tries to make up for this by instilling the phone with a relatively generous amount of RAM. The X51 5G comes with 8GB RAM and 256GB internal storage, and proved sufficiently capable of handling day-to-day tasks without any perceptible slowdown. While this won't top any benchmarks, the X51 5G is sufficiently powerful for most people.
Our unit shipped with Android 10, skinned with Vivo's FunTouch environment. This is a fairly sparing modification of the stock Android experience — although it's worth mentioning that Vivo is seeking to replace FunTouch with a separate environment in the near future called OriginOS.
Battery life proved so-so, and with 5G and the 90hz refresh rate enabled, we saw ourselves running to the mains multiple times throughout the working day.
The X51 5G comes with a 4,315mAh cell, which supports 33W fast charging. Less than thirty minutes tethered to the mains gets you past the halfway point. Sadly, there's no wireless charging. This is something of a trend for BKK Electronics, which owns Vivo, as well as Oppo, OnePlus, and Realme.
Ultimately, the X51 5G is a strong first effort. The camera is among the best we've seen in its category, particularly when it comes to capturing videos and low-light images. The screen is solid, and Vivo didn't cheap out on RAM and storage.
Still, there's a few missing elements that may divide Reg readers. The lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack is a shame. So too is the absence of wireless charging. Meanwhile, those aiming to play graphics-intensive games may bemoan the lack of a more potent chipset. ®