I’ve had my share of reservations about Vivo as a premium smartphone brand – even though it makes undeniably competitive phones. The reason – every time Vivo makes a good phone, brands with better audience perception such as OnePlus seem to always be a step ahead in one way or another. Nevertheless, this year, the premium Vivo X60 is here. It still faces OnePlus as its biggest rival, with the OnePlus 9R in the sub-Rs 40,000 segment. Interestingly, the Vivo X60, the base variant in the series, makes for the most interesting of the lot – so much that I’ve already recommended it to at least two of my peers.
So, a quick specs roundup: you get the Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 SoC, with two variants – 8GB + 128GB for Rs 37,999 and 12GB + 256GB for Rs 41,999, hence under-cutting the OnePlus 9R by Rs 2,000. There’s a 6.56-inch AMOLED display with 19.8:9 aspect ratio and 120Hz refresh rate. The triple rear camera setup with Zeiss optics includes a 48MP primary unit with f/1.79 lens, a 13MP telephoto unit with 2x optical zoom and f/2.46 lens, and a 13MP ultrawide unit with f/2.2 lens. This gets a host of software optimisations, too. There’s a 32MP front camera, a 4,300mAh battery with 33W fast charging, 7.36mm thickness, 176g body weight, Android 11, 5G connectivity and an in-display fingerprint sensor, among other standard fare.
How cohesively do these come together in the Vivo X60? Here’s what you need to know.
Performance: Adequate for almost everyone
Even though the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 is the flagship chipset of the year, the Snapdragon 870 is pretty much as good as one. As a result, the Vivo X60 performs pretty much the way you’d expect a flagship phone to. Everyday apps load smoothly, with no delay barring split-second splash screens that’s increasingly part of app UIs, than a representation of performance gaffes that they once represented. Every regular service such as email, social media, music and video streaming, GPS navigation, cloud storage drives and documents load without any trace of a hiccup, despite the heavier than optimal custom interface, Vivo’s FunTouch OS.
Multi-tasking, such as operating a spreadsheet from Google Sheets alongside shifting through a music streaming app, works absolutely smoothly and without a hint of a stutter. The smoothness of performance is even more apparent with the display refresh rate set to 120Hz, where the smoothness of multitasking becomes apparent. This makes a big difference in everyday usage, which justifies the Vivo X60 being marketed as a premium device. Its benchmark scores are also nearly at par with Snapdragon 888 phones – near enough for users to not be bothered about the difference between the two.
On the gaming front too, the Vivo X60 does really well. Most games load without any screen tearing or stutters, and both Call of Duty Mobile and Formula 1 could run on the X60 without stuttering or dropping frames. However, thanks to the fast frame rate, there were frame drops that I could note after one continuous hour of play. Another area where any performance stutters were noticed was video production – this includes recording a full HD, 60fps video with Vivo’s 5-axis “super” optical stabilisation turned on, and subsequently editing the footage on a mobile video editing app. The latter was also applied with multiple effects including colour grading and motion tweaks.
The Vivo X60 showed frame drops when playing Pokemon Go, while rendering and exporting the above mentioned video as a 1-minute, full HD, 60fps movie file. However, even with these frame drops, at no point was the X60 unbearable to use, or showed lags that were too many to annoy a user no end. Recording videos with the stabiliser mode turned on, for clips more than 60 seconds in length, also leads to the phone becoming uncomfortably hot, and you would need to cool it off for brief, 30-second intervals to make everything running functionally. Interestingly, Vivo appears to be managing its gaming performance better, since the X60 does not heat up that fast even in long gaming sessions.
Display and interface: Very well balanced, but software’s a mixed bag
The AMOLED panel on the X60 does not get the fancy, dual-edge curves, and frankly, you don’t particularly miss it much. The one thing that you do miss, though, is a smooth edge – more on this in the ergonomics section below. As for the screen, there’s hardly a lot to complain about. The Vivo X60 uses a tried and tested AMOLED panel that is programmed for slightly warm-biased neutral colours upon boot. Users can tweak this via the software at a later stage, if need be.
Peak brightness is good enough for most viewing conditions, but I personally found sunlight legibility to be a touch on the dimmer end. This won’t particularly prohibit you from, say, reading an article when you’re waiting under the sun, but you will at least need to squint a bit. Apart from this, the 120Hz AMOLED display is pretty much everything that you can expect – touch response is adequate, and the automatic brightness adjustment is good enough to sense a light source around you to proactively tweak the display.
The software, I personally feel, is a bit of a mixed bag. While there’s no doubt that Vivo has improved a lot over the past few years, the Vivo X60’s FunTouch OS is a shade lacking in finesse, as well as in software ergonomics. The overall icon and menu designs still have room for improvement to be considered among the best, and Vivo’s reshuffled menus and notification formats somewhat feel like customisation for customisation’s sake – nothing more than a marketing mandate of sorts. Thankfully, the Vivo X60 does not come with bloatware, which is what saves it the blushes.
Camera: Very highly recommendable for both photos and videos
What is truly recommendable and impressive is the overall camera performance of the Vivo X60. Ironically, while I found the rest of the software experience to be somewhat of a letdown, the camera customisations are the exact opposite – handy and certainly useful. In terms of photographs, the Vivo X60 produces very clean colours that do not have chromatic aberrations such as misproduced shades – even with HDR mode turned on and while shooting colourful subjects. This colour balance performance is further combined with Vivo’s AI Scene Optimisation mode and other nifty features as a dedicated Slow Shutter mode (which is a whole lotta fun to play around with), and dedicated Astro and Supermoon modes as well.
Left: Portrait mode, AI Scene Optimisation; Right: Slow shutter, OIS, AI Scene Optimisation. (Image: Shouvik Das/News18.com)
The Vivo X60’s AI optimiser is great at sectional brightness adjustment in photos. For instance, it makes actual difference when you shoot subjects with a very bright background, adjusting the shadows and dynamic range of the foreground very well, while also maintaining reduced but optimal brightness in the background, as well as textures and details. This can work really well in, say, shooting a portrait silhouette in the sun. overall details are acceptable for average, everyday social media usage, but there are fine optical artifacts at times – especially in low light conditions. This probably stems from Vivo’s tendency to reduce shutter speeds in order to improve the overall brightness of frames, but can be counter-productive. This is pretty much the only point of actual inconsistency in a camera that is, otherwise, very consistent and reliable.
Vivo also appears to somewhat over-soften sharp edges in a bid to reduce image noise. Coarse grains are rarely retained, and fine noise reduction is slightly more aggressive than optimal, therefore reducing the apparent benefits of Zeiss branded lenses on the X60. However, move on to videos, and the X60 seems to perform even better – you get up to 60fps in 4K, which is industry standard for premium and flagship phones (barring the 120fps-wielding OnePlus 9/9 Pro). General stabilisation of videos on the X60 is pretty decent – even without the gimbal stabilisation mode that the X60 Pro and Pro+ come with.
There is no interpolation or notable rolling shutter artifacts, so thankfully, you can record 60fps videos and break them down into 30fps slow motion segments. Video shots also retain decent dynamic range and good colour accuracy, which is great. Unfortunately, there appears to be a bug where if you use the 2.35:1 Cinemascope mode, trying to lock focus on the subject freezes the camera app. This is certainly a bug that Vivo will likely fix in future, but for now, it can be surprisingly limiting for those serious about their videos. From the overall quality standpoint, though, the Vivo X60 is more than adequate, and fares very well in colour, overall details and dynamic range.
Design and ergonomics: Super sleek, good to hold but not very sturdy
With the X60, Vivo has attempted to keep its bezels as uniform as it could. The result are chin bezels that on first glance look minimal and sleek. Despite a 6.5-inch display, the X60 still feels easy to grip thanks to it being super slim and light by present premium smartphone standards. The ‘midnight black’ variant of the X60 that we have with us is the slimmest of all X60 phones, with 7.36mm thickness and 176g weight. In a way, the X60 reminds us that one can have all the requisite features of a modern-day premium phone, and not make it extremely bulky. For the design team, this is a big win.
It reflects very positively on the ergonomics of the Vivo X60 as well. The smartphone is easy to grip and does not feel unwieldy if you have smaller palms or wear tight trousers (therefore having smaller and narrower pockets). However, Vivo disappointingly breaks the continuity of design with bevelled edges, where the rear panel, the display and the side edges do not smoothly fuse at the sides. For this convenience, you’d have to pay an additional Rs 12,000 and buy the X60 Pro. Ironically, it is this – and not the lack of gimbal stabilisation or wider aperture lenses on the rear camera – that makes you wonder if you really should spend the extra bucks and upgrade to the Pro.
I am also quite fond of Vivo’s rear camera module design. It does not look unnecessarily pretentious by labelling it with AI and other such hot keywords. On overall terms, the only thing that I wish is that the side edges were smoother and easier to grip, which would have made the X60 as good as any other premium phones in the market.
Battery life: Good enough for average usage, not for power users
The 4,300mAh battery pack on the X60 is not a monster per se, and I could easily wear it down to battery-saver-mode levels within eight hours on the average work day. Even using it mildly as a secondary phone, where the X60 was largely kept for music streaming, social media, games and a fitness tracker pairing, the X60 could wind down within a day and a half, which is not great per se. However, its 33W fast charging is a boon, and the bundled charger that it comes with offers more than adequate fast charging speeds. As a primary device and with average usage without any significant gaming or video streaming, the Vivo X60 is good enough for an entire work day’s usage – but it certainly is no battery giant that devices such as the Samsung Galaxy F62 are.
Verdict: Definitely recommendable as a solid overall smartphone
On overall terms, the Vivo X60 is a very, very likeable smartphone. It looks good, is very easy to grip and operate with one hand, offers excellent overall performance, and very good cameras to boot. Its quirks include a strangely disrupted edge design that does not sit well with the rest of the phone’s ergonomics, fine optical fidelity shortcomings with the camera, a tendency to heat up in continuous gaming and video recording, a software experience that clearly has room for improvement, and sub-optimal battery life. Even with these points at hand, the Vivo X60 is a solid overall smartphone that you won’t regret buying. I’ve recommended the X60 as a smartphone worth buying, but here’s the catch – despite offering everything, the X60 is still up against a steep competitor.
You see, even without the Hasselblad branded camera, the OnePlus 9R offers a smoother grip, better software and better battery life. While the latter’s camera performance may not be as good, everything else that’s on offer with the X60 are also offered by the OnePlus 9R. Given that the chances of you using your phone for mobile filmmaking are slimmer than you using it for everything else, the OnePlus 9R may just be a more mature choice to make. That, though, also means that if you do want better cameras, the Vivo X60 should certainly be at the top of your choices at the Rs 40,000 price point.