Smartphone innovations (or the lack, thereof) is an interesting topic. In the past few years, smartphone innovations have been too far and too few. Yes, certain features (once limited to flagship devices) are now available on budget phones as well (like a fingerprint scanner). Over the years, the fingerprint scanner has sped up and has been relocated. But it has remained the same – a small panel on the phone which one has to place their finger on to activate. In this light, the Vivo X21 is ground-breaking. It has made the fingerprint scanner panel vanish from the phone by relocating it under its display. The phone costs Rs 35,999 (a pretty penny, so to speak). Does the phone rely on this sole gimmick to appeal to customers? Or does it have the hardware-software combo to seriously challenge the likes of OnePlus 6?
|Processor||2.2GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 660|
|Display||FullView Super AMOLED, 6.28-inch, Full HD+ (2880x1080p) resolution and 19:9 aspect ratio|
|Internal Storage||128GB (expandable up to 256GB with microSD card)|
|Operating System||Android 8.1 Oreo with FunTouch OS 4.0 skin|
|Rear Camera||12-megapixel + 5-megapixel|
|Battery||3200mAh with fast charging|
|Dimensions||154.45mm x 74.78mm x 7.37mm|
What’s new about the Vivo X21?
The Vivo X21 is the first production phone (not a limited edition model) to have an in-display fingerprint scanner. This is an impressive feat when you consider neither Samsung nor Apple could do it earlier. Vivo developed this technology together its Synaptics. Having the fingerprint display under the screen offers the X21 two advantages. First, it helps give the phone a clean look (despite the additional ‘Designed by Vivo’ text on the back). Two, it finally gives the user a reason to keep this phone on a table with its display up. Phones that have their fingerprint readers on the back have forced users to keep their phones on a flat surface with display facing down. Not a big deal? It is, but in a subtle way.
Even when the phone’s screen is off (unless the phone is off), a fingerprint on the display tells the user the reader’s location. Even when the display is lit (or under direct sunlight), the user can see the reader by way of light-bleed. It will likely have some issues in operation, which is why the phone also offers facial recognition. Speaking of the facial recognition system, it has an infra-red sensor. The real benefit is that this system works in almost every lighting condition. It is not devoid of issues either but it isn’t laggy and isn’t a cheap implementation either. Vivo claims the X21’s facial recognition system scans the user’s face in just 0.1 seconds. That’s fast by any measure
The front and back of the Vivo X21 are covered by glass while the sides get metal rails. Up front, it has a small notch and a narrow chin. The rear has a vertically-stacked dual-camera setup (with flash), and Vivo and ‘Designed by Vivo’ texts. The left side of the phone is clean. The right side has power button and volume rocker. Up top is a (surprise, surprise) 3.5mm headphone jack. Down below is a microUSB port. Hardware-wise, the Vivo X21 gets an octa-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 chip with 6GB RAM and 128GB internal storage space (expandable up to 256GB). It gets a Super AMOLED FullView display measuring 6.28 inches with FullHD+ (2280x1080p) resolution and 19:9 aspect ratio. The phone runs on Android 8.1 Oreo skinned with Funtouch OS 4.0 UI.
The phone’s rear camera has one 12-megapixel lens (with f/1.8 aperture) and the other a 5-megapixel lens. The front gets a 12-megapixel camera. Since the phone is marketed as a ‘Camera and Music’ device (there’s more to this in a bit), it offers various camera features. Connectivity options include USB 2.0, Bluetooth 5.0, Wi-fi, OTG, GPS/GLONASS, Dual-SIM with dual standby, and 3.5mm headphone jack with Hi-fi DAC (Camera and Music phone, remember?). The phone has a 3200mAh with fast charging support. It measures 154.45mm x 74.78mm x 7.37mm.
Is the Vivo X21 worth consideration?
Since devices like the OnePlus 6 exist alongside the Vivo X21 and they also have similar prices, this becomes an important question. The simple answer to this is yes. The Vivo X21 is worth consideration. This phone breaks the stereotype of ‘flagships get the best stuff’. It may be Vivo’s flagship, but it does not compete against flagships from other companies. For less money than, say a Samsung Galaxy S9, this phone does offer quite a bit of kit.
Looking to show off a cool trick? Show off the Vivo X21’s under-display fingerprint reader. An audiophile? The Vivo X21 has them covered too with audio codecs and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Camera person? There’s dual rear cameras on the Vivo X21 to exploit. Worth consideration? Definitely. Worth buying? Buyers decide. It is no OnePlus 6 but it doesn’t need to be either. It has a unique identity of its own and that’s all it needs.
Vivo X21 India – Synopsis
- Priced at Rs 35,999
- Powered by an octa-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor with 6GB RAM
- Gets a Super AMOLED FullView Display measuring 6.28 inches with FullHD+ (2880x1080p) resolution and 19:9 aspect ratio
- 128GB internal storage space with expansion of up to 256GB with microSD card
- Runs on Android 8.1 Oreo skinned with FunTouch OS 4.0
- Dual rear camera setup gets a 12-megapixel lens and a 5-megapixel unit
- Front camera gets a 12-megapixel snapper
- Connectivity options include Wi-fi, Bluetooth 5.0, USB 2.0, GPS/GLONASS, dual SIM, and OTG
- 3200mAh battery powers the phone, gets fast charging support as well
- First production smartphone to have an in-display fingerprint reader
- Facial recognition feature uses an infra-red sensor to operate in different lighting conditions
- Black only colour option available