Budget and mid-range smartphones aren't about compromising anymore. Instead, the category has an influx of some good looking, feature-packed devices from brands across the spectrum, which includes names such as Samsung, LG, Asus, Xiaomi, Real, HMD Global and many more. Vivo too has joined the bandwagon with the Z1 Pro that dares to compete against the dominance of the Redmi Note 7 Pro.
It might sound surprising but there is a lot of design and colour to be found in mid-budget smartphones today. The Vivo Z1 Pro is a perfect example. While the front is dominated by a big screen with punch hole, the rear has glossy multi-colour finish, which is carried over frames as well. But unlike the glass rear on the Redmi Note 7 Pro, this one has a plastic rear. However, it is of good quality and does not feel flimsy or cheap. The rear houses a triple camera module on the top left and a capacitive fingerprint scanner towards the centre, which is quick to unlock the phone. The device also supports facial recognition, which isn't very secure and the phone can be unlocked using a photograph. Overall, the phone is a bit too broad - making it difficult to reach the fingerprint sensor when operated with just one hand.
Talking about controls, power key and volume button have been placed on the right panel whereas there is a smart key along with the SIM tray on the left. This smart key can be used to wake up Google assistant on one press and image recogniser on the double press and can be customised for other functions too. While most manufacturers have started adding Type-C charging port, this phone continues to pack a micro-USB port.
The Vivo Z1 Pro houses a big 6.54-inch Full HD+ display with a punch-hole towards the top left. Interestingly, bezels on top and the sides of the display are very thin, with just a slightly thicker bezel at the chin. Having such a big display is a mixed bag as some of the apps are not able to utilise this and often leaves black spaces on the sides. For instance, while streaming videos on YouTube, I was able to zoom in the video to the full screen. But this failed to work with other streaming apps. Talking about the brightness and clarity, the display is rather impressive. It has got good sunlight legibility. The text appeared sharp and colours appeared bright and vibrant.
FunTouch OS and Performance
The device runs on the proprietary FunTouch OS based on Android operating system. The UI is nowhere close to stock Android and even different from most of the custom UIs. With this phone, swiping down from the top displays notification and a search bar. For accessing shortcuts including Wi-Fi, mobile data, Bluetooth and more, I had to swipe up from the bottom. This also includes more options such as recent apps, quick access to tomorrow's reminder, view files, home (Google Maps displaying time to home) and trending (on YouTube). For such a big screen, I could easily access the shortcut bar even while operating the phone with a single hand. All apps are placed across multiple home pages and there isn't any app tray. However, even after using the phone for a few days, I wasn't excited about using the FunTouch OS.
The device is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 712 processor paired with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, of which close to 51.34 was user-accessible. In terms of performance, the phone offered a smooth performance - from loading apps to switching between the apps and multitasking. One big downside is the bloatware onboard - other than Google apps and services, it has plenty of third-party apps installed - Facebook, Whatsapp, Dailyhunt, Paytm, Webnovel, Amazon, UC Browser, Gaana, PhonePe and more apps. Thankfully, I was able to uninstall them. The device also has this EasyShare app that helps in quick transfer of data including contacts, messages, photos from the old device. To remove unwanted files, I was able to use the space clean up option hidden under the RAM and storage under settings.
From dual camera set-up, smartphone companies are quickly graduating towards adding a triple camera set-up in the mid-range smartphone. The Vivo Z1 Pro houses one with a 16-MP main sensor with f/1.78, 8MP ultra-wide-angle camera and a 2MP depth sensor. The camera app is an extensive one. All the modes - photo, night, pano, pro, doc, AI beauty, video, fun video, and AR Stickers - are listed at the bottom and I was able to switch between the modes just by swiping my finger.
A lens-like option appears just above the shutter button in Photo mode that suggests keeping the subject with 2 meters and even allows to adjust the aperture. I was also able to readjust the blur effect and subject while editing the images captured in this mode. The images captured in bright natural lights were sharp with accurate colours and a fair amount of details. The ultra-wide-angle lens comes in handy while capturing landscapes or a large group of people. Low-light imaging isn't a strong point. Not only there is noise, but also the camera missing out on details. If you are a selfie lover, you will find the 32MP selfie camera rather impressive.
With so much power and features onboard, battery consumption has gone up. The Vivo Z1 Pro comes with a 5000 mAh battery onboard. This easily lasted me over a day and a half on a single charge that includes fetching emails, social networking, web browsing, camera usage and gaming. To juice up the battery, the 18W fast charger (bundled in the box) manages to charge the phone in less than two hours.
The Vivo Z1 Pro is a pretty decent smartphone that handles gaming and daily usage with ease. The battery backup is also impressive. While it offers triple camera module, the Redmi Note 7 Pro scored over this one on imaging front. While my review unit was the one with 6GB RAM with 64GB onboard storage priced at Rs 16,990, Vivo Z1 Pro is available for Rs 14,990 for 4GB RAM and 64GB storage variant and Rs 17,990 for the variant with 6GB of RAM and 128GB onboard storage.