vivo Xshot first impressions: a loaded, trigger-happy smartphone

“While the Xshot is targeted at photography enthusiasts, it’s quite loaded in other aspects too”

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As we’re drawing closer to the end of the year, you’d be thinking that the Indian smartphone market will be taking a small break to gear up for the next year. However, you couldn’t be more wrong as the market is anything but slowing down. In fact, we’re seeing a new mobile brand entering the fray every week since December. The latest brand to make its debut in the country is the three-year old Chinese smartphone manufacturer vivo. While it has chosen the super-slim X5Max as its debut device, it has also planned a launch of its complete portfolio of handsets. We got a chance to play with its top-tier offering, the Xshot during the launch event and here are our hands-on impressions.

As the moniker of the phone indicates, vivo is targeting the Xshot at the photography enthusiasts. At the rear, the device flaunts a 13-megapixel sensor with an aperture of f/1.8. While the resolution might not sound too exciting, its wider aperture allows more light to enter the sensor and hence it should be able to capture good images in low-light conditions. Further, it gets assistance from a dual-LED flash which provides illumination. We took a few test shots with the vivo Xshot, and the images did looked great on its screen with ample details and good colour fidelity. However, we’d like to reserve our comments till we get a chance to test the camera’s prowess extensively over a variety of situations. The primary camera is also capable of recording videos in UHD resolution. For selfies and video calls, the device offers an 8MP snapper at the front.

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It isn’t all about the shooter though, since the vivo Xshot seems to be well-equipped in other aspects as well. The fascia of the smartphone is dominated by a 5-inch IPS display, which bears a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. The display looks really good and colours also look pleasing to the eyes.

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The display looks even better because of colourful customisation by vivo, which it calls FunTouch OS. The custom skin is based on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and offers a number of interface changes and feature enhancements. Chinese brands really want to make it easier for users to reach any app with one touch and perhaps that’s why there’s no home screen and dedicated app launcher, and the FunTouch UI is no different. All the icons are placed nicely on the homescreen itself, and users also get an option to add widgets.

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The OS bears a clean and youthful look with its icons and transitions, and features useful options like gesture support and motion control. When the smartphone is locked, you can swipe from the top to access the camera app directly. Similarly, you can draw the letter ‘W’ to open WhatsApp, though these gestures are predefined and there isn’t any option to define new ones. You can also wave your hand over the sensors when the device is locked to view missed notifications, and if you wave again, then the phone is unlocked. These features can be utilised in several other manners as well.

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Interestingly, the vivo Xshot displays the notification shade when you pull down from the top as normal, but the quick toggles can be accessed by swiping up from the bottom. Along with the quick toggles, you can also see recently-opened apps. This means that there isn’t any dedicated multitasking menu in the smartphone, and when the home button is long-pressed then this panel is opened.

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In terms of design, the Vivo Xshot looks quite thin which is accentuated by the slight curve at the back. The unibody smartphone sports metallic edges, which gives it a premium finish. Thanks to the matte texture at its rear, the device fits well in the hand and also offer good grip.

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When it comes to button and port placement, the front of the device has the usual sensors, an earpiece and a secondary shooter above the display, whereas a standard three-button layout is available below the screen. On the left edge, it sports an ejectable tray that can hold a pair of micro-SIMs together or a micro-SIM and a microSD card. Both the volume rocker and the power key can be found on the right spine.

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Up top lies the standard 3.5mm jack and a microphone, while the bottom houses microUSB port and a secondary microphone. The rear of the vivo Xshot is quite minimal and only features the rear camera with a dual-LED flash, the company’s branding and a speaker mesh further below.

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At its heart, throbs a quad-core processor from Qualcomm, which offers four cores clocked at 2.26GHz (Snapdragon 801). The processor is supplemented by 2GB RAM, and result is a smooth and snappy response. In our brief time, the device performed really well without showing any trace of lags. We have already tested the potential of this SoC quite a few times, though how well it helps the vivo Xshot in performance can only be known when we play heavy games on the device.

For storage purposes, the phone comes equipped with a 16GB of memory. You can also expand it further up to 128GB or make use of USB OTG to plug in flash drives. Running the show is a 2,600mAh sealed battery.

The vivo Xshot is one of the very few devices that support the Indian 4G bands. Other connectivity options on offer are dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS.

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While the exact pricing of the smartphone hasn’t been revealed, it’ll be going on sale starting next week and will cost anywhere between Rs 28,000 and Rs 30,000. At this price point, the vivo Xshot feels like a good offering, though there are devices like the elusive OnePlus One (review | cheatsheet) which undercut its pricing while managing to offer similar (or even better) hardware specs.

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