The makings of a highly regarded flagship phone have to meet specific criteria. Can it handle your daily tasks? Does it look nice? Can it last you through the day before needing a recharge, or, at least, does it offer fast charging? How’s the camera? Will you be confident to whip it out on any occasion to capture your memories?
Most flagships won’t have a problem meeting these criteria. You are, after all, paying a premium for these, well, premium phones. How does the vivo X80 fare? It is a flagship phone, but kind of like a “baby” flagship, given there’s the more premium Pro version.
Why would you want to pick it up? I’ll attempt to answer this after almost a month of using the phone.
Cameras ready to capture your daily life
If you saw the excerpt for this phone, I raised the question of this phone as a tool for romanticizing your life. And that idea isn’t too far off. I love watching those “Day in the life” videos on social media, and the camera setup on the vivo X80 makes it possible to do that without too much work from your end. Many people don’t want to fuss with the settings, and the vivo X80 makes this process easy for these users.
But if you are a photographer or a hobbyist, there are pro modes you can use to get better control over your photos and videos. Thanks to the partnership between ZEISS and Vivo, you get some ZEISS tech integrated into this phone. It looks like a fruitful partnership with built-in modes, filters, and even coating on the lenses. All the lenses on the back get the ZEISS T* coating that helps reduce glare and ghosting. There is a ZEISS Super Night Camera and a ZEISS Cinematic Video. The latter mimics the look of ZEISS’ Anamorphic film lenses, so you get that oval flare effect in photos and videos. There are several filters to check out in the different modes. I’d recommend you to play around with those in the Portrait option.
I usually just used the primary 50-megapixel Sony IMX866 sensor, but you get a pretty capable pair of 12-megapixel IMX663 wide-angle and portrait sensors. There doesn’t seem to be too much of a color discrepancy between the sensors, so you don’t have to worry about them looking too different. In front, there’s also a high-quality 32-megapixel sensor.
As expected from a flagship phone, the photos and videos on this phone turn out well. It doesn’t tend to overexpose or underexpose your pictures, even if you just use the default Photo mode. It can quickly achieve a subtle bokeh even if you aren’t using the Portrait mode. The colors will come out a bit saturated, which I’m used to seeing on these devices. But you can use a built-in ZEISS mode to get a more natural color out of your photos. This mode, though, is built more for scenery and inanimate objects because it’s not as flattering on human skin.
If you’re used to and like vivo’s approach to selfies, then you won’t be disappointed here. You get a high-quality camera that captures a lot of detail. I find that it likes to soften features a bit, which gives it a hazy effect, and some might not like that. If you aren’t too fond of the beautification features, you might not like this about this phone. I use it to enhance what I have rather than mask imperfections. It’s a feature to tinker around with to get your desired look.
The vivo X80 is a pretty dependable device for low-light photography and videography. I’ve noticed it will sometimes blow out highlights (like on street lights), but it gets a good amount of detail and stays relatively sharp even with handheld use, like that photo of the bottle you see below, which I took in a pretty dark speakeasy. There was also this little early morning moment in my kitchen that made it look quite dramatic.
And the vivo X80 seems to be quite good at that. One of the features I loved playing around with is the one vivo is promoting on this phone. The ZEISS Cinematic mode lets you experiment with the idea of cinematic footage in a film-standard clip (2.39:1 aspect ratio). I shot that early morning kitchen moment in the Cinematic mode. It can quickly identify people in the frame and give you that oval flare, bokeh-like focus. It heavily blurs everything else out; if you’re wearing a mask or covering your face, it might also blur you out.
If you want a more conventional aspect ratio for your videos, you can also try out the AI Video Enhancement feature. This option lets the phone decide what settings you need for a specific situation. Personally, I just stick to recording in 4K to get higher-quality videos. The vivo X80 can record up to 4K at 60 frames per second. You can check out my in-app vlog test on Instagram and TikTok linked here.)
There’s so much more the vivo X80 can offer. And if you wanted the hardware to help you experiment, this phone has that.
LiTT Tip #1: Looking for more natural colors in that perfect beach shot you’re trying to get? Try out the ZEISS Natural Color mode on the vivo X80. When you’re in the Photo mode, tap on the ZEISS icon at the top center of the camera app, and then you’re ready to shoot.
LiTT Tip #2: Portrait mode in your camera app is handy for getting those flattering portraits of you and your loved ones. The vivo X80 takes that further with different Portrait effects developed with ZEISS. There are five bokeh effects to choose from (Biotar, Sonnar, Planar, Distagon, and Cinematic). To access them, head to Portrait and tap on the Style icon on the right side of the app. You’ll see the ZEISS effects there alongside other portrait effects.
Polished design and performance
If I had to describe the vivo X80 in one word, I would call it polished. The Cosmic Black version we were lent gives the air of a professional’s smartphone. The Fluorite AG Glass-covered back subtly sparkles when hit by light. Its finish means it resists fingerprints and smudges, which I appreciate as someone who has to photograph phones.
If you still want that extra layer of protection. It has a nice-looking leather-like plastic case. That matches the phone’s aesthetic while protecting the camera module a bit. It also prevents any wobbling that can happen when the phone is on a table. The phone doesn’t feel slippery, but this case does give that extra grip.
It’s refreshing to see a premium device with more than just the phone and charging cable in the box. vivo throws in everything you can want and need with the X80—charging cable, charging brick, case, and even USB-C earbuds. I’m all for reducing electronic waste, but I would also like the option to choose if I need the extras or not. Don’t charge me extra for something I would need for your phone, especially if I’m switching to your brand. But I digress.
This phone is on the taller and larger end with a 6.78-inch AMOLED display with a Full HD+ resolution and 120Hz refresh rate. The FHD+ resolution might seem lacking, but then I’m reminded there is a Pro version of the X80, and vivo is using the resolution as one of the differentiating points between the phones.
It’s by no means a bad display. It’s just you know there’s a better option out there. But the screen itself is crisp. You get deep blacks, making watching shows and films on it enjoyable. I was re-watching Knives Out recently and can still make out details in the darker scenes. It’s also bright enough to be used outdoors.
However, I’m also not a big fan of curved displays, which this phone has. The downside to this kind of display is some shadowing at the edges, especially when you have a lighter background. I also just don’t like the feel of touching the edges of the display. It feels a bit dated to me, but that is a matter of preference.
What might be another divisive design decision (alliteration unintended) is how the camera module looks. vivo calls it the Cloud Window 2.0 design that tries to balance a round camera module with a squarish, reflective plate. It certainly makes the X80 distinctive, but it might not be for you.
Since this is a taller phone, it would require some maneuvering if you want to use it with just one hand. But it is a slim device, making it comfortable to hold. Durability doesn’t seem to be an issue you have to worry about. Of course, I can’t speak about its long-term use. But it does feel well-built. However, it doesn’t have an IP rating. Again, vivo reserved this for the Pro version. And that feels like a misstep to me.
One thing you don’t have to worry about is this phone’s performance. Running on a MediaTek 9000, it can handle your basic tasks without much effort. I’ve said this countless times, but I’m not too demanding on my phones, so the vivo X80 could handle everything I threw at it. If I spent hours recording content for LiTT and editing the 4K footage on the device, it didn’t slow down or freeze.
I could easily switch between apps, enjoy watching content, and more. It indulges my love for the game Mirrorverse without any issues either. The only time I really felt it heat up was when I was shooting content outdoors for a while, but that wasn’t to the point that it made the phone usable or that it crashed because of that. It’s not a phone that will disappoint the regular user.
That’s unsurprising, given vivo sent us the model with 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage. There is no storage expansion here, so it would be wise to get this larger capacity model, especially if you shoot a lot of content or keep many files on your device.
LiTT Tip #3: Get better color and contrast on the content you’re watching on apps like YouTube and Netflix with the vivo X80’s Visual enhancement feature. You can enable it individually on the apps it supports to help reduce its power consumption. If you want to turn this feature on, head to Settings and tap Display & brightness. Scroll down until you spot the Visual enhancement option and enable the feature from there.
LiTT Tip #4: As an Android 12 device, it means you get one of my favorite customization options: matching the wallpaper’s colors with accent colors. For vivo’s implementation, there are four options. To change your UI colors, long-press the home screen. Then tap on UI color and choose the palette you want.
Speedy charging for on-the-go people
If a large capacity battery is a priority for you, the vivo X80 has a slightly smaller battery than usual. vivo balances that out with speedy 80W wired charging support. There is no wireless charging here. vivo reserves that again for the Pro version. I don’t use wireless charging much, so it isn’t much of a loss for me. But this is something to consider if you rely on this charging technology.
Power management seems to be good on this phone. I typically get over a day’s use, or at least it’ll get me to the end of a hectic work day. Charging time is typically around 40 minutes for me, so it’s the kind of phone you can recharge in the morning if you forget to do it right before you sleep.
What’s lit and what’s not
What’s lit about it:
- Different photo and video modes that are both beginner-friendly and useful for pros and enthusiasts
- Cinematic video effects and other filters to play around with
- Polished, sleek design
- Smudge-proof back
- Extra accessories, including a nice-looking case
- High-quality display
- Smooth performance
- Speedy wired charging
What needs the extra spark:
- Aggressive beautification features might not be your cup of tea
- Wish it had more than an FHD+ resolution
- Not too fond of a curved screen (but this might be a positive for you)
- Camera module design can be divisive
- No IP rating
- No storage expansion
- Could do with a larger battery capacity
- No wireless charging
I feel like I’m nitpicking with the vivo X80, but I am a bit more critical with devices like this phone because you are investing more in them. But at the same time, I feel its cons can boil down to personal preference. Except for when we think about the lack of an IP rating, storage expansion, and wireless charging, I digress, though.
I still feel like it gets the fundamentals down to be considered a highly regarded flagship. It can handle my daily tasks. It has a striking design. I don’t have to worry about it running out of battery on me when I’m out in the field. And I can confidently pick it up if I need a smartphone to shoot with for the day.
Of course, I want the extras that are missing and included in the Pro version of this phone. But I don’t feel like you’ll be compromising too much if you opt to save a bit and get the vivo X80 over the Pro.
The vivo X80 retails for PHP 45,999 (approx. USD 869).
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