vivo X80 Pro, which was launched last summer, received an interesting reception due to its optical elements at the Zeiss institute in Berlin. I had the opportunity to discuss the phone with experts and even use it at concerts. Now, the successor to the X80 Pro, the vivo X90 Pro, has been launched, just in time for spring. It takes two steps forward and two steps back: two forward for the CPU and design, two back for the gimbal and zoom. Read on for more information.
It seems that vivo has chosen not to include USB-C headphones in the box this time, at least not in the version we tested. Instead, we found a metal key that offers access to the nano-SIM slots, a transparent and flexible case, a manual, warranty, a 120W charger, and a USB-C to USB-C cable.
Design If you put the vivo X80 Pro and vivo X90 Pro side by side, you will notice that they are made of the same material. However, I find the new phone easier to handle because it is narrower and has a faux leather back, which provides grip. By the way, the box also has the same texture. It measures 9.3 mm in thickness, weighs 215 grams, and looks bulky on paper. In reality, its length and narrowness make it ergonomic.
I can criticize the fact that the buttons are not raised enough for me at least. The back is covered with “vegan leather,” and the frame is made of aluminum. It has an IP68 certification and comes with heavily curved screen edges, similar to the Motorola Edge Pro. It also has factory-installed screen protection. The camera module is very protruding, and it’s shocking how much it props up and lifts the phone on a flat surface. We have it in black, but I’m curious about how it looks in red.
The screen is a long and curved AMOLED panel on the edges, measuring 6.78 inches, with a resolution of 2800 x 1260 pixels. It has a 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+ support, and displays one billion colors. It offers 1300 nits of brightness and even has a special Zeiss Natural Color color setting.
The processor is atypical: vivo could have easily chosen a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, but it went with a MediaTek Dimensity 9200, which is supposed to be equivalent to Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. It is a 4nm CPU produced by TSMC, with 8 cores and a GPU with a very cool name: Immortalis. I expected ray tracing, but unfortunately, there are no mobile games with that feature yet. We also have 12 GB of LPDDR5X RAM and 256 GB of UFS 4.0 storage.
The 4870mAh battery can be charged at 120W with a cable (apparently 50% in 8 minutes), 50W wirelessly, and even has reverse charging via cable. Other features include stereo speakers, an optical fingerprint reader, and excellent connectivity options: 5G, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3, dual-band GPS, infrared, NFC, and a USB-C 3.2 port with OTG.
Here things get complicated. The 32 MP fixed-focus selfie camera sounds like something we would get on the Xiaomi 13 Pro. On the back, we find the new Sony IMX 989 “1-inch” sensor, also seen on the Xiaomi 12S Ultra and Xiaomi 13 Pro. It has 50.3 MP, F/1.8 aperture, Dual Pixel PDAF, laser rangefinder, and optical stabilization. Then comes a 50 MP telephoto camera, which seems more designed for portraits since it only has 2X optical zoom. It offers F/1.6 aperture, autofocus, and optical stabilization.
The third camera is a 12-megapixel ultrawide one, with autofocus and a 108-degree capture angle. Less generous than Samsung’s 120+ degree lens. We also have a dual-tone dual-LED flash, as well as Zeiss optics, manifested through lenses, filters/software, color calibration, and a Zeiss T Star coating, which prevents ghosting and unwanted effects.
Stabilization is available at the electronic level, assisted by a gyroscope, but we no longer have a gimbal, unlike its predecessor. It also doesn’t appear on the Pro+ variant, if you’re wondering. Video recording is up to 8K at 24 FPS, and we have many special photo/video modes:
Ultra HD Document Long Exposure Zeiss Landscape/Architecture Double Exposure AI Group Portrait Panorama Time Lapse Astro AR Stickers Live Photo High Resolution Slow Mo Super Moon Food Dual View Pro, with RAW and Super RAW capture For video, we have four stabilization options: OFF, Horizontal Line, Ultra, and Standard. There’s also HDR10+ for filming and a Cinematic mode. Zeiss manifests itself through classic looks of its lenses, now as filters: Biotar, Distagon, Planar, etc. We also have Super Macro and Portrait modes, but also a Night mode with surprisingly many sub-modes: Astro, Super Moon, Long Exposure, Panorama Night, Tripod. Let’s not forget about the Sports mode for fast-moving subjects.
The vivo X90 Pro runs on Android 13 with Funtouch OS 13 applied over it, with customization options, Monument Valley-style widgets, and outdated iconography for Quick Settings and Settings. Even the widgets haven’t changed from Android 12 to 13. We have surprisingly many customizable animations, an iManager that scans for viruses and has encryption and cooling functions for the phone, but also, again, many tuning options for gaming. There’s an Ultra Game Mode that also has an eSports mode, a Sidebar with performance settings, DND, and optimization for the tactile experience.
Impressions The vivo X90 Pro tries a different design from the X80 Pro, tries a different type of CPU, leaves behind the gimbal and generous zoom. These are brave decisions, and the company seems determined to offer us a rival worthy of the Xiaomi 13 Pro, only having Zeiss on its side instead of Leica. Zeiss contributes more optical elements and filters than Leica, to be fair.
The phone also has extra gaming functions, nocturnal capture, advanced stabilization even without a gimbal. Its predecessor was excellent for nightlife and concerts, and I’m curious about what the X90 Pro can do. What’s clear is that it’s more comfortable to handle, charges much faster, and the processor is not prone to throttling. We’ll test the cameras and come back with a review.