The Vivo X21 came with the X-factor of having a fingerprint sensor below the smartphone’s display. This is the first smartphone that is launched to the public and is available to buy where the company has managed to hide the fingerprint sensor under the display.
While there are a few trade-offs with this smartphone, it will be fun to see how well it works and if it is worth the Rs. 35,990 that Vivo is asking for it.
Build Quality & Design
The only thing Vivo does differently from all the other bezel-less smartphone manufacturers is the fingerprint sensor under the display. Apart from that, you have all the same things that you will see on other smartphones with a 19:9 bezel-less display.
The front of the phone has a 6.28-inch display with a notch on top. The notch houses the earpiece, the front-facing camera, an IR sensor for face recognition and other sensors as well. The screen has very thin borders in the front of the display which gets a bit thicker at the bottom. The front is totally neat and clean without any sort of branding.
The back of the Vivo X21 has a dual camera setup with an LED flash. The only thing on the back apart from the camera and the LED is the Vivo branding. The fingerprint sensor, as mentioned above is placed below the display. More on that later.
On the right side of this smartphone, you will find the power, lock and unlock button along with the volume rocker. The left side of the phone is completely empty.
The top houses the 3.5mm audio jack along with a secondary microphone. Looking at the bottom will reveal the micro-USB port, a SIM tray, and the speaker grill. It is still a bit weird that Vivo chose to go with a micro-USB port for a phone this advanced in 2018. A USB Type-C would have been a good thing to see here.
The frame of the phone is built out of metal and the back is made up of glass. The phone feels a bit slippery due to the glass back but you can use the case that Vivo provides in the box to keep the phone safe from your slippery hands.
The build itself is quite good and the phone feels premium and it should since Vivo is charging a hefty price for it.
The camera on the Vivo X21 is good enough and comes with standard things like beauty mode, AR stickers and more. Vivo and added a few AI-powered things that can detect your gender, age, skin tone etc.
The auto mode is good enough to just start clicking pictures and you can choose from portrait mode, live photo, and HDR. You can also choose the manual mode to set options like ISO, shutter speed, focus and more.
The dual camera setup on the phone is made up of 12 MP (f/1.8, 1/2.5″, 1.4µm, Dual Pixel PDAF) + 5 MP (f/2.4). It is supported by a single LED flash for low light imaging. The front camera has a 12 MP sensor with an aperture of f/2.0. Overall, both the front and back camera work well.
Performance & Battery Life
The phone comes loaded with an octa-core (4×2.2 GHz Kryo 260 & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 260) Snapdragon 660 chipset along with 6GB RAM. The chipset is mostly found in mid-range smartphones. The phone performs well and the 6GB RAM compliments it well. The phone can run games without stuttering but you will see a few frame drops here and there. The graphics are processed on the phone using the Adreno 512 GPU which is good enough to run games at high or medium graphics settings.
The battery on this things is a 3200mAh battery and the phone has support for fast charging. Vivo provides a fast charger with the phone so you don’t need to get one from the market. The phone doesn’t drain a lot of battery while its idle and provides a good day of charge when charged 100% and taken out in the morning. This is helped by the fact that the phone has a full HD+ display.
Display & Fingerprint Sensor
The Vivo X21 has a 6.28-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1080 x 2280 pixels. This is a 19:9 ratio display which converts to a pixel density of about 402 ppi. There’s a notch on the top part of the display which people might or might not like depending on their preferences.
The screen is capable of producing 16M colors and it can produce good-looking images. Since it is Super AMOLED, the colors really do pop-out and look good. The screen can produce dark blacks since the black pixels are essentially turned off when black color is displayed on the screen.
Coming to the fingerprint sensor which is hidden beneath the display, the phone is using a CMOS fingerprint sensor that is something new to see. The placement of the fingerprint sensor is good and you will be able to access it easily. The thing that bothers us about the sensor is that it is slow and sometimes misses to recognize the fingerprint and you have to press harder on the screen.
There will be instances where the Face Unlock feature will recognize your face and unlock the phone even before the fingerprint sensor recognizes your fingerprints. This is a good concept to see but with Face Unlock becoming a premier feature for securing your phones, I don’t know how long it will take to develop a fingerprint sensor under the display that is on par with the sensors on the smartphones currently.
The Vivo X21 runs Vivo’s very own Funtouch OS 4.0 on top of Android 8.1 Oreo. It is also in the list for Android P Beta releases.
Funtouch OS tries to imitate iOS with features like the Control Center and the look of the icons and home launcher. While Funtouch OS does support the Android Oreo features such as notification dots, you will miss out of the quick actions feature for the same.
Funtouch OS also provides gesture-based navigation options like the ones you see on devices such as OnePlus 6 and others. The Funtouch OS on this thing comes with some bloat that you can uninstall so that’s a neat thing that Vivo has allowed. You can use or uninstall apps like WPS Office, UC Browser and more dependent on the fact that you use them or not.
The Vivo X21 is a good phone and tries to do something before anyone else does it in the market – reach consumers with a fingerprint sensor under the display. The company also realizes the fact that the fingerprint sensor isn’t the fastest one on the smartphones and tries to compensate that with the Face Unlock feature on the phone.
But the phone still has the chipset of a mid-range smartphone and user who has to choose between a flagship product that comes with the flagship chipset and a fingerprint sensor under display will mostly go for the former choice.
Vivo has done a good job with the phone and being the first company with such technology in their smartphone, they do deserve recognition and appreciation. We recommend this phone to users who want a stylish looking smartphone with a good camera and innovative tech.