Having written about mobile phones for over a dozen years now, stacks of the best phones and, by virtue of that, the best Android phones, land on my desk week by week. In the last 12 months the Google Pixel 7 Pro has impressed me mightily – but for the past week I've been using an outlier alternative that's made me stand up and take note.
I'm talking about the Vivo X90 Pro – the maker's flagship handset for the West, if/when it launches over here anyway – which delivers a triple rear camera system that's got a couple of special tricks up its sleeve that, for my money, outsmart even Google's Pixel 7 Pro.
Which camera sensor is in the Vivo X90 Pro?
|Main camera (23mm equiv.):||50.3-megapixel, 1-inch sensor, f/1.8 aperture, optical stabilisation (OIS)|
|2x zoom camera (50mm equiv.):||50MP, 1/2.4in sensor, f/1.6, OIS|
|0.6x wide-angle (16mm equiv.):||12MP, f/2.0, 108-degree field-of-view|
So what's so special about the Vivo X90 Pro's offering? It's the main camera is the short answer, as it utilises a Sony IMX989 sensor. That's important for a number of reasons: principally because it's physically massive, as it's a 1-inch sensor type; secondly because its 50-megapixel resolution is significant (whilst, frankly, being more balanced than some of the 108- or 200-megapixel offerings out there).
It's this combination of large scale and balanced resolution that means a physically larger 'pixel' size on the sensor itself, so it's capable of capturing more light, which in turn means a cleaner signal for better processing potential. Vivo outputs 12.5MP images rather than at full resolution, using a four-in-one method to further improve fidelity.
I've seen sensors such as this before, years ago they were first found in dedicated cameras, and only more recently have they crept (but still rarely) into various mobile phone setups, including the Xiaomi 13 Pro – which is another Android handset that really impressed me in 2023 thanks to its use of the very same sensor.
So to put this 1-inch sensor into perspective: the Vivo X90 Pro's main camera provides a surface area at around 128mm², which is roughly double the surface area of the circa 72mm² that's on offer from the Google Pixel 7 Pro's main camera. That speaks volumes in itself, as do the resulting images.
Vivo X90 Pro plus Zeiss
Load up the Vivo X90 Pro's camera app and it's speedy to operate, while the MediaTek Dimensity 9200 processor in the background doing all the work ensures everything speeds along nicely. It's easy to click between wide, standard and 2x zoom in a moment's notice.
Autofocus is quick to lock on and, as you can see from my selection of snaps above, the resulting punch of colour and great amount of detail is always on point. Exposures in darker situations are a little 'shy', perhaps, but nothing that can't be corrected for. Besides, even dim conditions are no challenge for this Vivo.
Okay, so there might not be the same level of computational photography as you'll find in the Pixel 7 Pro – you can watch images changes before your eyes as the processing kicks in just after taking a shot – but I still think the results are very strong indeed. Among the best you'll find in any Android phone.
But there's a problem
Great though the Vivo X90 Pro's camera is, however, there's a problem that I've already touched on further up page: at the time of writing you can't buy this handset in the UK. Or in many places at all, based on my searching. Eek.
Even if you could, it appears the X90 Pro will be priced around €1200 in mainland Europe, which most likely converts to around £1200 in the UK. That's a fair chunk of change more than the £849/€899 Google Pixel 7 Pro – a handset that, actually, has only gotten cheaper over time, as you can see from the shopping widget embedded below.
So while I love both phones' cameras for their various merits, much as the Vivo X90 Pro has had me contemplating shifting over from the Google Pixel 7 Pro, for the majority of people reading this the former handset just isn't going to be a possible purchase. Which is a bit of a shame. So, c'mon Vivo, let's get the X90 Pro launched at a sensible price tag so others can see how impressive this hardware is (but let's ditch that silly 'Xtreme Imagination' slogan on the back too, please).