vivo was among the top smartphone players, even if Western markets once again only saw a fraction of its lineup. The company launched some impressive products in 2022, but it didn’t go without missteps too.
Winner: vivo X80 Pro
The X80 series did not have a Pro+ variant, meaning the X80 Pro was the flagship this time around. It launched in April, and at the time, it was everything you would want from a flagship – the best chipset from Qualcomm (or Mediatek at home), four impressive cameras, Zeiss optics with T* lens coating, OIS, fast charging.
Eight months later, it still is a phone worth considering if you are one for non-traditional brands. The design of the camera island is questionable, to put it mildly, but thankfully all the shooters do an amazing job.
The phone took more than two months coming to international markets – and the official price in Europe was just south of €1,200, which is on par with Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.
The phone comes with vivo V1+ ISP, which does wonders for low-light videos – we can see details in the footage that cannot be seen with the human eye, and in 4K, mind you. The vivo X80 Pro performance in the dark is borderline night vision.
Loser: vivo V25 and vivo V25 Pro
There are three phones in the V25 family, and we were unimpressed with the vanilla and the Pro during our reviews. The reason we’re pooling them together is they have similar shortcomings.
Left: vivo V25 • Right: vivo V25 Pro
Yet, for some reason, vivo decided to omit key features that make the midrangers harder to recommend. The vivo V25 pair has no NFC, no 3.5mm audio jack, no ingress protection, no secondary selfie camera.
vivo launched the V25 in some markets as X80 Lite, continuing its practice of rebranding phones many times over – a habit we are not particular fans of.
Winner: vivo X Fold/Fold+
vivo launched two foldable phones this year, although they were pretty similar. The Plus was launched five months after the first X Fold, and it came with the updated Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 and its mightier CPU. The battery also grew, along with the charging speed from 66W to 80W.
The biggest issue in the world of foldables is the crease, which is a dealbreaker for many users. The hinge that vivo used in these two phones is said to be “undetectable”, although we did feel and see it in real-life scenarios. That said, the crease is hardly an issue when viewing content, and it is not really felt during use.
The company also brought a new color with the X Fold+ – an appealing Red leather back, also seen on the vivo X90 Pro+. Vivo is clearly betting on this to be the hero color, and we can’t wait to see the design reach more devices, hopefully even beyond the flagship X series.
Winner: vivo iQOO Neo6
The iQOO subbdarnd does its own thing, like the Neo series that can be placed in the flagship-killer premium category, and we loved the Neo6 that was launched on the international scene.
Yes, the phone runs on a dated Snapdragon 870 instead of a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, but that is still a greatly performing chip.
What we particularly loved about the iQOO Neo 6 is its design and lightweight body. Today’s smartphones get heavier and bulkier all the time. Meanwhile, this vivo phone has all the necessary features without going overboard – an excellent screen, 80W fast charging, and great video and photo quality from the main camera.
The phone is mainly targeted in India, where it can be purchased for as low as INR30,000 or just about $360. This is definitely among the bargains of the year.
Winner and Loser: The partnership with FIFA World Cup
2022 was quite an unusual year for football fans. Instead of getting their fix on world cup matches in June and July, we got a tournament in November and December.
The 2022 World Cup was supposed to be the culmination of a six-year partnership between vivo and FIFA, in which the tech company supported other tournaments as well – the Confederations Cup in 2017, the World Cup in Russia in 2018, and the Arab Cup in 2021.
However, the unusual timing meant the company had to promote its X90 series, which is currently only available in China and China didn’t qualify for the tournament. While all the advertising is good for promoting the brand recognition it always works best when there’s an actual product people can buy involved. And the X90 series weren’t it at the time of the tournament.