Vivo X21 Review

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Androids have started moving to bezel-less design and notch displays, we are already seeing the fullscreen bezel-less design and the emerging notch, Vivo V9 and Vivo X21 are those early adopters. And this time what the Chinese smartphone manufacturer has done is an innovation that you haven’t seen on any smartphone as of now. The newly launched Vivo X21 comes with an in-display fingerprint scanner i.e. a sensor right below the display.

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What’s in the Box

  • Vivo X21 with built-in battery
  • Micro USB Cable
  • Charger (9V, 2A)
  • Earphones
  • Silicon Clear Case
  • SIM Tray Ejector
  • User Guides and Warranty Card

Here’s our unboxing video of Vivo X21 in Hindi showing all the contents in the box.

Vivo X21 Specifications

  • Display: 6.28-inch Super AMOLED display, Full HD+ resolution (2280 x 1080 pixels), 19:9 aspect ratio, Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Software: Funtouch OS 4.0 based on Android 8.1.0 Oreo
  • Fingerprint Scanner: Yes, in-display
  • Face Unlock: Yes
  • CPU: Up to 2.2 GHz octa-core Kryo 260 processor, Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 SoC, 14nm, 64-bit
  • GPU: Adreno 512 (~850 MHz)
  • Memory: 6 GB RAM, LPDDR4
  • Main Camera: Dual cameras12 MP (f/1.8) + 5 MP (f/2.4) Dual Pixel, AI Beauty Mode, Portrait Mode and LED flash
  • Selfie Camera: 12 MP (f/2.0), AI Beauty Mode, Screen Flash
  • Storage: 128 GB internal, expands up to 256 GB via microSD card (SIM2 slot)
  • Cellular: 4G LTE, 2x nano SIM, microSD on SIM2 slot, VoLTE-enabled
  • Connectivity: micro USB, 3.5 mm headphones jack, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS
  • Colors: White, Black, Red
  • Battery: 3,200 mAh with Fast Charging
  • Price: Rs 35,990
  • Availability: Flipkart exclusive and available on Vivo E-Store

Design, Build, & Ergonomics

On the first glance, it looked almost identical to the V9 with a new in-display fingerprint scanner. You can see the similar glass design, the similar notch, but a whole new screen based on the Super AMOLED panel.

The difference here is also the build quality and the feel, it’s based on the Corning Gorilla Glass 3 body and sleek metallic frames. Vivo X21 is glossy, may slip from hands, a case is recommended. The design is very ergonomic, the edges are polished, and gives a premium feel.

The back side has a little change, the dual cameras are placed horizontally instead of vertically. The notch is already there since the Vivo V9 and it carries the 12 MP selfie camera, earpiece, and a couple of sensors.

An unusual thing you will find on the phone is the SIM tray located at the bottom. No type-C is offered, it sticks to the old micro USB when several phones including the Nokia 7 Plus, OnePlus 6, Moto Z2 Force have already moved to the new USB standard.

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Display

The Vivo X21 sports a 6.28-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of Full HD+ (2280 x 1080 pixels) and a 19:9 aspect ratio. The bezels on the phone are completely invisible which makes the phone look amazing from the front. Although there’s a notch, it’s not too big like the iPhone X.

Being an AMOLED screen, the colors and contrasts are very good, the display is bright and you can clearly see the contents of the screen in the bright daylight.

About the display enhancements, you won’t get many options in it, an eye protection and aspect ratio settings is what you’ve got other than the basic options.

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In-display Fingerprint Scanner & Face Unlock

The in-display fingerprint scanner on the Vivo X21 is embedded inside the display and not externally (either on the back or on the front) that we usually see on most smartphones. What’s keeping the phone different from others is the scanner that works when you put the finger on the display where the area glows.

Talking about the performance of the in-display fingerprint scanner, it’s slow, takes about a second or more to scan, flash a gimmick animation and unlock. It may not be as fast as what you see on other phones, but it’s more of an ergonomic for the user and fun to watch as well. We frequently used the phone to unlock it with the sensor and it worked most of the times. Wet fingers won’t work with it.

Face Access is also there that quickly unlocks the phone, the moment you press the power key. It also works even in low-light areas, you do have the option to fill the screen which increases the screen brightness for Face Unlock to work.

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Software & User Interface

Vivo X21 has the latest software running under the hood, it comes with Android 8.1 Oreo out-of-the-box with Vivo’s FunTouch OS 4.0 on top. The software is updated with the Android security patch dated 1st May 2018. It is clear that the Vivo X21 is certainly ahead in terms of latest software offering, even though several smartphones have started moving to Android Oreo update, but only up to an extent i.e. version 8.0.

The FunTouch OS 4.0 also offers a chunk of bloatware apps which is nothing new. The interface remains the same we saw on the Vivo V9 and most features can be found on the Vivo V9 itself. The interface is smooth with fine animations and sheer icons and text.

There’s a new Motorbike Mode addition which allows you to ride safely on roads, but unfortunately, it’s missing on the Vivo X21. Here’s what the Motorbike Mode can do.

There’s nothing much to talk in the software, you get the gesture-based navigation, Face Unlock, App Clone, Smart click, Smart Split, and a few more.

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Hardware, Performance & Gaming

In the performance department, Vivo compromises on the chip that’s being offered. In this segment, smartphones are either powered with the flagship chips like the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (found on the newly launched OnePlus 6) or similar powered HUAWEI Kirin 970 that is as good as the Snapdragon 835.

Vivo X21 is powered by the Snapdragon 660 which is also found on the Rs 25,999 priced Nokia 7 Plus. The Snapdragon 660 is, however, slightly better than the Snapdragon 636 in terms of performance. it doesn’t mean it’s weak just because there are better chips available in the segment.

Other specs include a 6 GB LPDDR4 RAM module and a large 128 GB internal storage that expands up to 256 via microSD card on the SIM2 slot. Although the storage is quite large for an average user, the microSD expansion can be handy for some, if not all.

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On the performance side the Vivo X21 is fast, and ahead than the phones having Snapdragon 626, Snapdragon 636, and HUAWEI Kirin 659, however, inferior to the flagship Qualcomm chips. Check out the benchmarks results below.

AnTuTu Benchmark

  • 137,864 points

Geekbench 4

  • 1,524 points (single-core CPU)
  • 5,035 points (multi-core CPU)
  • 5,495 (GPU)

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In terms of gaming, the Adreno 512 GPU is fast and reliable for gaming, better than the Adreno 506. However, in this price range, there are phones with Adreno 530 or the Adreno 630 is better. There’s no issue with playing games at all, we played PUBG on medium graphics and it was smooth, higher graphics may drop some framerates but it’s playable. Expect other games to be played well on the Vivo X21.

Games tested on Vivo X21

  • PUBG
  • Implosion – Never Lose Hope

Even on load, we did not face heating issues, Vivo X21 runs cool even on gaming and heavy tasks. the temperature record goes up to 37 degrees while gaming.

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PUBG

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Storage & Memory

Vivo X21 sports a 128 GB  internal storage with an option to expand it via microSD card. The microSD slot is on SIM2, the hybrid SIM tray located strangely at the bottom.

Speaking of the performance of the storage, the read and write speeds, according to the benchmarking apps, you can see below are similar to the Rs 22,990 priced Vivo V9. It’s far from the Honor 10, Moto Z2 Play and the OnePlus 6 since they offer UFS type storage.

Out of the 6 GB RAM, the user gets ~3 GB free and it’s enough for most tasks you do on the phone. The same was with the Vivo V9, the user gets ~1 GB RAM free which suggests that the FunTouch OS takes about 2.5 GB to 3 GB RAM.

A1 SD Bench

  • 220.19 MB/s (Read)
  • 210.26 MB/s (Write)
  • 6,082.50 MB/s (RAM Copy)

AndroBench

  • 299.66 MB/s (Sequential Read)
  • 192.22 MB/s (Sequential Write)
  • 80.72 MB/s (Random Read)
  • 14.61 MB/s (Random Write)

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Cameras

Like the Vivo V9, the Vivo X21 also packs a dual-camera setup at the back. It houses a 12 MP + 5 MP dual cameras on the rear side and a 12 MP selfie camera on the front. One is of 12 MP f/1.8, 1/2.5″, 1.4µm, Dual Pixel PDAF and another of 5 MP f/2.4 but with no OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) onboard. Nevertheless, it’s AI-backed and offers features like bokeh mode, AI Beauty, and AR Stickers for an amazing camera experience.

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Vivo X21 Camera Specifications

  • Camera: Dual Cameras (12 MP + 5 MP), 12 MP f/1.8, 1/2.5″, 1.4µm, Dual Pixel PDAF + 5 MP f/2.4
  • Optical Image Stabilization (OIS): N/A
  • Rear Flash: Single LED
  • Features: Face Beauty, AR Stickers, Lighting Effects, Group selfie, Portrait Bokeh, Doc, Live Photo, Watermark (model and time), Touch Capture, Voice Capture, Palm Capture, Timer, Mirrored Selfie, Geo-tagging, Tap to Focus, HDR, Color Filters, Burst Shot
  • Video Recording: Up to 4K video @30fps
  • Front Camera: 12 MP, f/2.0
  • Video Recording: Up to 1080p videos @30fps
  • Front Flash: Screen Flash

The dual snappers really impressed us and it does a great work in the daylight as well as with the AI Bokeh mode enabled. When we say about the dual cameras, the result is absolutely stunning, the bokeh effect (including selfies) is way better than that on OnePlus 6. That’s not it, the portraits shot with the dual cameras have the ability to adjust the bokeh amount using the slider. The low-light camera performance is good, you can see the details, however, gets blurred at times. It’s also far from the Honor 10 low-light AI shots.

Selfies turn out to be good, sometimes overexposed. A flash indeed would help the selfies to get better in the low-light, the front side 12 MP snapper cling to the notch does not come with a dedicated LED flash, rather uses a screen flash similar to iPhones. But then it doesn’t mean selfies aren’t decent, it fairly does the job. AR stickers add up to the selfies and can be fun at times.

OnePlus 6 and the Honor 10 are a big challenge to the Vivo X21, the cameras on these two phones are equally strong and Vivo X21 may not be at par when it comes to raw camera performance. The dual cameras can shoot up to 4K videos at 30fps which take about 300 MB storage for a 1-minute video.

In the end, the Vivo X21 has a pretty good camera package overall in the segment. Although it’s far from the high-end cameras and misses out on a few spots like the 4K video at 60fps, OIS, and better slow motion capturing, it does have a good stand against the dual-camera phones at least for AI photos and portraits as well as beauty-level selfies.

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Vivo X21 Camera Samples

Battery Runtime & Charging

Keeping the Vivo X21 running is a 3,200 mAh battery that comes with a fast charging support, it ships with a 9V, 2A charger. Vivo has managed to keep the phone slim, and it’s thinner than its rivals.

About the battery life, the Vivo X21 runs easily a day without any issues, you may get a day and a half battery life on average use. While it’s not the best battery life you can get, but it’s surely better than the flagships like OnePlus 6. The reason behind it is the Snapdragon 660 SoC that is more power-efficient than the Snapdragon 845.

The phone charges in around 1.5 hours from 0% to 100% which is not that bad. The charger is rated 9V and 2A that charges the phone quickly. You can head on to the battery tests below that will show you the performance of the battery while using apps.

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Vivo X21 Battery Test Results

Apps/GamesBattery usedRuntimeBrightnessWireless
1080p Video2%20 minutesAutoOff (Wi-Fi, GPS, Data)
4K Video3%20 minutesAutoOff (Wi-Fi, GPS, Data)
YouTube (1080p)3%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
PUBG7%20 minutesAutoOff (Wi-Fi, GPS, Data)
Implosion - Never Lose Hope6%20 minutesAutoOff (Wi-Fi, GPS, Data)
Music (Offline)1%1 HourScreen OffOff (Wi-Fi, GPS, Data)
Music (Online) -
SoundCloud
2%30 minutesScreen OffOn (Wi-Fi)
Facebook3%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)
Instagram3%20 minutesAutoOn (Wi-Fi)

Verdict

Vivo X21 offers a great notch display, an innovative fingerprint sensor under the display, latest Android and a beautiful glass design. The cameras are worthy in my opinion, they take one of the best selfies as well as portraits with bokeh effects. While the Vivo X21 has a lot to offer, it would be great if the price was kept under Rs 30,000. But then, there’s the in-display fingerprint scanner that no other phone manufacturer has implemented.

That being said, it’s not easy to recommend the Vivo X21 since there are better smartphones available in the price range. There’s one thing to complain and that’s the hefty price. If you fancy the glass design, it’s cool in-display sensor and notch display, you may consider buying. But also look at the options below for a better overall package.

Rivals

  • OnePlus 6 (64 GB) – Rs 34,999
  • Honor 10 (128 GB) – Rs 32,999
  • Nokia 7 Plus (64 GB) – Rs 25,999

Strength

  • Bezel-less Design, Glass Body, Solid Build
  • Huge 6.28-inch Screen, Bright Display
  • In-Display Fingerprint Scanner is fairly good
  • Fast Face Unlock
  • Remarkable Selfies
  • Takes Great Portraits With Dual Cameras
  • Android Oreo out-of-the-box
  • Fast Performance
  • Loud & Clear Audio
  • Standalone MicroSD Support

Weakness

  • Price
  • No Water-Resistant Design
  • No Wireless Charging