The VIVO X51 5G is a gorgeous phone – and one that I ignored for too long. But now I’m swapping my Pixel 5 out for it. And this is why…
I have a confession to make: I’ve had the VIVO X51 5G for almost five months now and until last week, it was sat on a shelf in my office collecting dust.
I basically forgot I even had it and, given its outstanding camera, this is something of a travesty. You see the VIVO X51 5G was one of the first phones to ship with a gimbal camera.
And I only realised this when I was researching another post – one about the differences between the OSMO Mobile 3 and OSMO Mobile 4.
I’ve been using the Pixel 5 for about six months now, I think, and while it has been a great phone, after dusting off the VIVO X51 5G and booting it up, I knew it was time to switch.
Why? A couple of reasons. But that could all change again with the release of the Pixel 6, of course…
A Nice Big 90Hz OLED Screen…
The first relates to the size of the VIVO X51 5G; it is a big phone, way bigger than the Pixel 5. And I kind of miss having a big phone. The VIVO X51 5G has a 6.5in 90Hz OLED panel with a 1080 x 2376 pixels resolution.
It also has things like HDR10+ and this combined with its 90Hz refresh rates makes it a proper joy to look at, scroll around on, and view media on. The main reason I kind of forget about this phone, however, was because it turned up at my house, unannounced, and I wasn’t really that aware of VIVO at the time.
Since them, things have changed. VIVO is very much on my radar, thanks to a slew of solid releases since the VIVO X51 5G came out, including the VIVO X60 Pro and the VIVO X60 Pro+.
VIVO’s Phone Software – FuntouchOS – is Just Gorgeous…
The second is VIVO’s unfortunately named software, FuntouchOS. Prior to switching on the VIVO X51 5G, I assumed VIVO would be using some gross Android overlay like Xiaomi or RealMe. But it doesn’t; well, not really. VIVO’s software is remarkably close to the stock Android experience you get on the Pixel 4a and Pixel 5.
That means it is simple, easy to interact with, and doesn’t come with loads of messy design and silly menus, as you can see below.
You get all the usual added-stuff and native apps for Gallery – it’s called Albums here – and such things, but you can easily ignore these and pretty much run the VIVO X51 5G as you would a Pixel phone.
And as someone that has used Pixel phones more or less exclusively for the last several years, this kind of clean, uncluttered UX is exactly what I like. And VIVIO’s bloatware really isn’t too bad all; there’s just a selection of core, native apps and that’s about it.
And, you know what? VIVO’s apps are actually pretty nice to use and, in the case of iManager, actually pretty useful. With iManager, you can quickly check on the health of your VIVO X51 5G and do things like quickly clearing its cache, manage which apps have access to what, and implement quick speed improvements.
The VIVO X51 5G’s software was the most surprising thing about this phone, in a good way, for me as a user. I always assume Chinese brand phones will have fugly software, as many do, but VIVO is apparently the exception to that rule.
Performance: Solid, Reliable & Snappy
The VIVO X51 5G runs Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 730G, the same CPU as the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a, and it comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. There’s no MicroSD slot. But you do get 33W Fast Charging with the included cable and face unlock and an under-screen fingerprint scanner that is really good.
The Pixel 5 has none of these things.
Many claim the VIVO X51 5G is a poor man’s Galaxy S20 Ultra, but I think that’s a little harsh.
The VIVO X51 5G looks as good as the Galaxy S20 Ultra and it certainly costs a lot less too – around £727.99 new. But its lower-grade CPU does mean it lacks some of the more fiery punch you get with the 865-powered S20 Ultra.
With respect to overall performance, the VIVO X51 5G is more than fine. I’d go as far as saying it performs as well as any flagship phone I have tested in the last 12 months.
Navigating around the menu is smooth and seamless, apps load in the blink of an eye, and nothing – not even photo or video editing – seem to slow the VIVO X51 5G down.
For the average user, the VIVO X51 5G has more than enough performance under its hood. Sure, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is more powerful. But are you actually going to need/use any of that additional grunt? Probably not.
What About The VIVO X51 5G Camera?
For this reason, the VIVO X51 5G is an extremely viable alternative to the more expensive Galaxy S20 Ultra. I find using it infinitely more satisfying than my Pixel 5 too, although I do find the Pixel 5 has much better image processing abilities, despite not having quite as much camera hardware.
But that’s always been Google’s party trick with its Pixel phones; do more with less and let the machine learning sort out the rest.
And that’s fine, Google’s Pixel 5 camera is great. But I’d argue so too is the VIVO X51 5G’s camera. It even has a gimbal which means you can shoot video while running and it’ll look as smooth as if you were standing still – or stood on some kind of level platform.
It’s not GoPro Hero 9 Black good, but for a phone it is damn impressive.
The 48MP main sensor is also very good too, especially when combined with its gimbal.
For shots taken in low-light, the gimbal ensures makes for truly impressive results.
How? Simple: the gimbal tech allows for longer exposures which is exactly what you want for low-light photography.
All the light gets to the right place in maximal quantities and this makes for better looking low-light shots than some of its more expensive peers.
Which peers? I’ll go out on a limb and say, in the right settings, the VIVO X51 5G wipes the floor with the Galaxy S20, iPhone 11, OnePlus 8, and OPPO Find X2 Pro.
I’m not a massive camera geek by any stretch of the imagination, my technical knowledge is limited, but even I can appreciate what VIVO has come up with here. The inclusion of a gimbal makes a huge difference to both photos and videos, and it also improves its low-light performance too.
Add in an already solid array of camera modules on its rear and you’re looking at one hell of a camera phone. Again, overall image quality isn’t quite as good as the Pixel 5 – or the iPhone 12 Pro Max, for that matter – but it is damn close, and the action video you can capture on this phone is amazing.
You also get a very impressive 32 MP front-facing camera (f/2.5, 26mm wide, 1/2.8″, 0.8µm) with HDR and 1080p video at 30fps.
Lastly, Battery Life
The VIVO X51 5G runs on a 4315mAh battery. That’s neither massive nor small, sitting somewhere in the middle. Thanks to its 1080p OLED display and relatively lightweight software, the VIVO X51 5G will last a full day with ease – even with heavy usage.
You also get a 33W fast charger cable in the box too, so you can quickly charge the phone from dead to 60% inside 20 minutes or so. There’s no wireless charging. But that’s fine, I could care less about wireless charging so long as I have truly fast fast charging functionality.
So there you have it, my musings on switching from the Pixel 5 to the VIVO X51 5G. If you asked me last week about ditching my Pixel 5 for a VIVO phone, I would have laughed in your face.
But here I am, a week later firmly loving life with the VIVO X51 5G.
The thing I like most about the VIVO X51 5G is 1) its design, it is a gorgeous-looking phone, 2) its software; it’s about as close to stock Android as you can get without using a Pixel phone, and 3) its camera – the camera is excellent in plenty of areas and punches well above its weight, thanks to that all-important gimbal.
It’s also A LOT cheaper than most other flagships of this calibre.
I now REALLY want to get my hands of the VIVO X60 Pro+ – that thing is a beast. But until then, I’ll be happily using my stunning VIVO X51 5G.
Richard Goodwin has been working as a tech journalist for over 10 years. He is the editor and owner of KnowYourMobile.