Vivo has just launched the Vivo X21 in India and there’s a lot of hype around it and well, rightly so, it’s the first smartphone to go on sale with an under screen fingerprint scanner. Yes, it’s definitely innovative but it’s sporting a price tag of ₹35,990, which pits it against the likes of OnePlus 6 and the Honor 10. So, the question is, does the Vivo X21 justify its price tag? How does the under-screen fingerprint scanner tech work in day to day usage? Well, we have been using the Vivo X21 for more than a week now, so here is our Vivo X21 review:
Vivo X21 Specifications
Before starting off with the actual review of the device, how about we discuss the kind of horsepower that the X21 comes with. The Vivo X21 comes with some pretty good hardware, which you can check out below:
|Dimensions||154.5 x 74.8 x 7.4 mm|
|Display||6.28-inch Full-HD+ Super AMOLED|
|Primary Camera||Dual 12MP (f/1.8) + 5MP (f/2.4) with PDAF and LED Flash|
|Secondary Camera||12MP (f/2.0)|
|Operating System||Android 8.1 Oreo-based FunTouch OS 4.0|
|Sensors||In-Display Fingerprint, Accelerometer, Proximity, Compass|
|Connectivity||Hybrid Dual Nano-SIM, Wi-Fi 802.11 A/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.0, -GPS, GLONASS, microUSB Port|
What’s in the Box
The Vivo X21 comes in a nice and premium looking blue colored box, featuring simple and decent packaging. The box has almost everything you’d expect from a device at this price point, including:
- Vivo X21
- Charging Adapter
- microUSB Cable
- Protective Case
- SIM Ejection Tool
- Warranty Card
- Quick Guide
What I admire is the fact that Vivo has bundled a pair of earphones along as well, which is something that most OEMs are missing out on these days.
Design and Build Quality
I never thought I’d be saying this, but the Vivo X21 is undoubtedly one of the best-looking smartphones I’ve used. The 3D curved glass back on the device accompanied by the aluminum body is the personification of premiumness. Now, while many of the devices have a glass back, they also double up as a fingerprint magnet. The Vivo X21, on the other hand, is not a fingerprint magnet, which is something I really admire. Additionally, there is also a shiny finish to it which brings it at par to the premium offerings from the company’s Chinese counterpart Huawei. The entire body has these smooth curves on the sides that give you a grippy feeling, and despite the device weighing just 156.2 grams, gives you a sense of confidence.
The front itself is quite beautiful, to be honest. Yes, it’s inspired by the iPhone X (fair warning that this statement is the first of many to come). But then again, the Super AMOLED display on the X21 is just too good. The screen is almost bezel-less and gives a really premium look to the device. Also, unlike the iPhone X and other smartphones with a notch on them, the absurd black space on the top is not as big as you think, and honestly, it takes little to no time to get accustomed to it.
The right side of the device has the volume rockers followed by the power button below it. On the top side, we get the infamous 3.5mm headphone jack and a noise cancellation mic. On the bottom side, there’s the SIM tray, microUSB port, and the speaker grill. Personally, I was really let down by the lack of a USB-C port, but other than that, the Vivo X21 manages to check all the boxes here.
The overall form factor of the Vivo X21 is quite minimalistic. The device maintains the feel of a premium device despite not being one. Almost everything is perfect here, and there’s hardly anything to complain in terms of the overall design language exhibited by the Vivo device. For me, it is easily one of the most exquisitely designed smartphones that I’ve used in recent times.
Under Display Fingerprint Scanner
Now I know many of you are really interested to see how this new technology on the Vivo X21 fares up. Truth be told, it is not that bad. In fact, for something in its early stages, the under display fingerprint scanner works remarkably well and manages to give decent competition to the likes of capacitive fingerprint scanners found on smartphones these days. In my time with the Vivo X21, the fingerprint scanner worked pretty well.
The registration process is quite long since you have to really drill your finger into the screen in order to let the scanner recognize you. But once you’re through with that, the Vivo X21 can be unlocked using your fingerprint in under a second. And the scanner works well with screen protectors as well.
That being said, when it comes to using the fingerprint scanner under non-ideal conditions, the smartphone’s performance is a hit and miss. While it manages to work with oily fingers as well as fingers covered in dust, the under display fingerprint scanner fails to function well under moist or wet fingers. Furthermore, the scanner in itself isn’t that accurate, managing to recognize my fingerprint only 6 out of 10 times.
If you’d like to get into the depths of, I also did an in-depth review of the under-display fingerprint scanner on the Vivo X21. Make sure to check that out.
Right off the bat, the Vivo X21 features a stunning display. The smartphone features a 6.3-inch, 19:9 display which stretches from edge to edge with 85.2% screen to body ratio which is an impressive feat in itself. The panel itself is of Super AMOLED display, with a resolution of 1080 x 2280 and a pixel density of 402.
Like every other AMOLED display, the screen looks absolutely stunning, with great contrast and sharp text and images. The colors are natural, and the blacks look quite deep. The display also gets fairly bright and remains quite usable even in the direct sunlight. The display also packs in Gorilla Glass 3 protection, which is decent, but I would have personally preferred a higher protection, especially since the display also hides the fingerprint scanner underneath.
All things considered, the Vivo X21 has a great display, which in itself should be enough to attract you. The device ships with a standard screen protector as well, which should be good enough for most users.
It’s not just the hardware, but also the software that has been heavily inspired by the likes of iOS. FuntouchOS is Vivo’s custom Android Skin, which seems to be the carbon copy of iOS. The Vivo X21 sports the FuntouchOS version 4.0 based on Android Oreo 8.1. Truth be told, yes it is reminiscent of the iOS experience, but once you move past that thought, there’s a lot to like about this custom skin.
The FuntouchOS, similar to MIUI, packs in plenty of features that are otherwise missing from the likes of Stock Android. It also packs in some great tools that can help make your everyday device experience way better. There are tons of menus with overloaded features in them. However, the one thing that I slightly dislike is that there is no search option for it, and you’ll have to manually dig through these menus.
One of my favorite things on the Vivo X21 is the gesture navigation that they’ve bundled. Similar to the iPhone X, the device features gesture navigation, and boy is it good. Technically, it is the same style of navigation as found on the OnePlus 5T and 6. Ironically though, it feels much smoother and snappier on the Vivo X21. In my opinion, Google should just leave the gesture navigation pill on the Android P Developer Beta and adopt Vivo’s implementation as it is for the final Android P build. Trust me, it is that good.
All in all, if you are moving from iOS to Android, the Vivo X21 offers a user experience that is pretty much the same. Even for long-time Android users, the device has a lot in store and actually feels pretty good to use.
Considering the price point of the Vivo X21, while the 6GB RAM onboard sounds really good, the Snapdragon 660 might sound like a deal breaker to some. That being said, for the most part, the X21 manages to deliver and works really well. As far as daily tasks are concerned, things feel snappy and there is literally no lag anywhere. The performance is similar to that of the Nokia 7 plus, which features the same processor. However, the extra 2GB of RAM on the X21 does give it the edge over the Nokia device.
As for graphics intensive tasks, the Vivo X21 is definitely not the best out there, but it’s no slouch either. The device was able to handle PUBG on medium settings and a higher framerate, which is quite good. Also, while I’ve previously had troubles on the Vivo V9 force quitting apps in the background, I faced no such issues on the X21, which is again great.
Personally, I’m not really a benchmark guy, but for those of you who prefer to see those scores, here are the results. As you can see, the device fares pretty well and promises stable performance, even under higher loads.
Bottomline, the Vivo X21 performs pretty damn good. It does not have the flagship hardware but still manages to keep things snappy, which would appeal to most of the prospective consumers.
The Vivo X21 comes equipped with a dual rear camera setup with a 12MP f/1.8 primary sensor along with a f/2.4 secondary sensor for depth effect. On the front, there is another 12MP shooter. As for videos, the Vivo X21 has the ability to record videos in 4K@30fps as well, so that’s another great point. Now that we’re past the numbers part, let’s dig into the actual performance of the cameras on this device.
In a nutshell, the Vivo X21’s cameras are just amazing. Sure, they aren’t as good as the Pixel 2 or the iPhone X, but I’d dare say it is up there with the top dogs. The camera manages to produce images with rich colors and pixel-perfect sharpness. There is no loss in quality even while zooming at high levels, and the overall color reproduction is great.
Thanks to the dual camera setup on the rear end, the Vivo X21 also features a portrait mode. The results produced are mostly great. The blurring feels natural, and while the edge detection is slightly off in some cases, it works pretty well most of the time. I’ll say it again, that I personally find portrait modes to be a software gimmick, and while the X21 does not manage to change that opinion completely, it certainly does come close.
As for the low-light photography, the X21 once again manages to produce decent results. Thanks to the primary f/1.8 sensor, there is a decent amount of light in the images. That being said, I did find the images to exhibit slight amounts of noise in the images, which might be negligible in some cases, is quite evident in others.
If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’d now I happen to post a lot of selfies. So for me, I need the front facing camera to be top-notch. And apart from being positioned in the top notch, the secondary shooter actually performs like one as well. Images captured are of great quality, and there is a significant amount of structure in them. Unlike other Chinese devices, including some from Vivo, that just makes the images soft for no reason, the Vivo X21 manages to produce great results.
All in all, the camera performance of the Vivo X21 is pretty darn good, and gives it the edge over its competition in the same price bracket.
Telephony and Audio Quality
Considering the call quality, there were no complaints with the Vivo X21. Calls sounded clear on both sides as the phone brings very good noise cancellation. The speakers on this thing are pretty loud as well and are good for loudspeaker calls as well as decent media consumption. It is not the loudest out there, but at least the levels are balanced, which, in my opinion, is what matters more. What’s more is that Vivo also provides a pair of earphones with the device, which is something I really admire.
The Vivo X21 packs in almost all the ports that you’d want from your smartphones, such as a microUSB port and the 3.5mm audio jack. I do dislike the fact that they still have the microUSB port instead of the current trend that is USB Type-C, but then again, it is not totally a deal breaker. As for the SIM tray, the Vivo X21 sports a hybrid SIM tray, so you can choose between using two nano SIM cards, or pair one up with a microSD card.
The Vivo X21 packs in a non-removable 3,200mAh battery, which seems just about right. Thanks to the power efficient Snapdragon 660 onboard, I was able to get a decent amount of battery life with the Vivo X21. In my testing, the device easily managed to last an entire day of medium usage, which involved playing a bit of PUBG, checking my emails, adding loads of stories on Instagram, and listening to some music on SoundCloud.
Also, when it comes to charging, despite sporting a microUSB port, it does support fast charging. I was able to completely charge the phone in under 110 minutes, which is pretty impressive. While it’s not the fastest charger out there, it certainly holds a light to the big dogs in the market.
Vivo X21 Review: Should You Buy It?
Available for a price tag of Rs. 35,990, the Vivo X21 sits right alongside the budget-flagship offerings such as the OnePlus 6 and the Honor 10. While both the alternatives feature flagship hardware and a superfast performance, the X21 can boast of being truly innovative with the under display fingerprint scanner technology. The camera performance of the Vivo X21 is by far the best, and the overall design is also much better than the other 2 options. For what it’s worth, the Vivo X21 does offer pretty good features for its price. I know it seems a mismatch on paper, but if one can just look past the comparatively underpowered processor, the Vivo X21 does offer features that both the OnePlus 6 and the Honor 10 don’t.
- Great Build Quality
- Under Display Fingerprint Scanner is decent
- Decent Performance
- Stunning Camera Quality
- Underpowered processor for its price
- Low value for money
Vivo X21 Review: Expensive Innovation
All in all, while the Vivo X21 comes at a price which is hard to justify, it still offers something that no other device on the market currently does. The performance is decent and the cameras are just amazing. The highlight of the device, the under display fingerprint scanner, is still in its early stages but works pretty well.
The Vivo X21 is a device for tech enthusiasts. While it doesn’t offer the flagship features or the high value for money as the OnePlus 6 or the Honor 10, it offers a futuristic view of the bezel-less displays to come in the next couple of months.
Buy From Flipkart: ₹35,990
Design and Build Quality
Under Display Fingerprint Scanner
Telephony and Audio Quality
Value for Money
The Vivo X21 is a really great device, which is priced higher than its value. The marquee feature is undoubtedly the under display fingerprint scanner, which works darn well. The overall performance of the device is quite good. Sadly though, going head to head with the OnePlus 6 and the Honor 10, it is hard to actually suggest this over those two budget flagship offerings.