Vivo X51 5G review: the premium mid-range market gets even more crowded

The Vivo X51 5G has an excellent camera system and few flaws

Vivo X51 5G
(Image credit: Vivo)
T3 Verdict

The Vivo X51 5G is worth investigating if you're after a phone that gives you premium-level specs, performance and camera quality without costing you a huge amount of money. It's still relatively expensive, but this is a phone that has plenty listed in the positives column.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Gimbal-equipped camera

  • +

    Lovely looking screen

  • +

    Some decent internal specs

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Software could be better

  • -

    A little on the pricey side

  • -

    No waterproofing

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The Vivo X51 5G marks the Chinese company's first foray into the UK market, joining the likes of Xiaomi, Huawei and Oppo in trying to expand into the west – and as you'll see from our detailed Vivo X51 5G review, this is a smartphone that's likely to attract a lot of fans.

Specs-wise, the handset carries a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor, which is a notch below the Snapdragon 865 that was Qualcomm's flagship CPU for 2020. However, the chipset still carries plenty of punch (it's the same as the one in the Pixel 5).

One of the stand-out features of the Vivo X51 5G is its rear camera: it combines four separate cameras and boasts 5x optical zoom as well as a built-in gimbal for stabilising your shots. If you're after a phone with an impressive camera, this could be the one.

The Vivo X51 5G will cost you a significant sum of money, but depending on what you're after, you might be able to justify the investment. It's certainly a confident UK debut for Vivo, and it gives users yet another well-specced mid-range phone to choose from.

Vivo X51 5G review: price and availability

The Vivo X51 5G is out now and available to buy in the UK. Check the widgets on this page for the latest prices for a SIM-free, unlocked handset, but at the time of writing you're looking at a cost of around £650-£750. You can find the phone on sale from retailers including Box, Clove, eBuyer and Laptops Direct.

Vivo X51 5G review: design and screen

We really like what Vivo has done with the design of the X51 5G – it looks like a premium-level phone and it feels like a quality device when you're holding it. We're fans of the curved glass that is used on the front of the phone, and the matte finish of the glass that's used on the back, which looks great. Aluminium is used around the sides of the phone, and the grey finish that you can see in the pictures accompanying this review is your only choice in terms of colour.

The 6.56-inch OLED screen is a stunner too, running at a refresh rate of 90Hz and a resolution of 1080 x 2376 pixels. It's sharp and bright and smooth, and looks fantastic whether you're watching videos, browsing through photos or flicking through your social media channels. We also appreciate the really nice-looking live wallpapers that Vivo has included, such as cars travelling slowly down a highway.

Thanks to that curved glass screen, you barely notice the bezels around the display, and a small punch hole notch in the top left-hand corner is the only interruption. On the back the camera array is in the top left corner too, and although it's a bit blocky, it looks fine. The normal volume and power buttons are on the right-hand side of the Vivo X51 5G as you look at it from the front.

You don't get a headphone jack here, just a USB-C port for charging and data transfer. There's a single speaker built into the frame, as well as a fingerprint sensor built into the screen which is speedy and accurate as far as we can tell. The Vivo X51 5G doesn't come with any kind of waterproofing or dustproofing, so you'll have to be careful while you're handling it (and you might want to invest in a case.

Vivo X51 5G review: camera and battery

Vivo X51 5G

(Image credit: Future)

The Vivo X51 5G comes rocking a quad-lens 48MP wide + 8MP ultrawide + 8MP telephoto + 13MP portrait rear camera, giving you both an ultrawide mode and 5x optical zoom thanks to that periscope telephoto lens – it's an impressive overall package, and we were able to get some very decent results from it. There's even a built-in gimbal for optical image stabilisation, to keep your photos and videos super-sharp. Video tops out at 60 frames per second at a 4K resolution.

In use, it's a really good camera – one of the best we've come across at this particular price point. Images are sharp, bright, well balanced and detailed, and captured in an instant too. The ultrawide and zoom modes give you plenty of control as well of course, and if you dive deeper into the settings for the camera app you can take more control over different options such as shutter speed and white balance.

That gimbal-enabled stabilisation really helps when it comes to capturing crisp shots and letting as much light as possible through the lenses, and that extends to low light photography as well: we were able to get some really nice shots at night, with minimal blur or noise, and even when the dedicated night mode wasn't enabled. This is a serious player in the high-end smartphone camera market.

Battery life isn't quite as impressive, as we usually had around 25 percent or so left at the end of each day, on average – that's good but not spectacular. In our two-hour streaming video test, with the screen at maximum brightness, the battery dropped from 100 percent to 89 percent: that works out at a very respectable 18 hours of video overall before you're going to get right down to zero. 33W fast charging is supported, but no wireless charging.

Vivo X51 5G review: other specs and features

Vivo X51 5G

(Image credit: Vivo)

Inside the Vivo X51 5G we've got a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chipset, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, which isn't expandable – those are very decent specs for a mid-range-to-flagship phone at the start of 2021, and you'll find the same processor in handsets including the Nokia 8.3, the Pixel 5, the OnePlus Nord and the Oppo Reno 4 5G.

Those internal specs means the Vivo X51 5G speeds along no matter how many apps you're running or how many browser tabs you've got open at once. Geekbench 5 scores of 599 (single-core), 1753 (multi-core) and 1292 (OpenCL) show you that if you're going to go just below the flagship level for your next smartphone, the Vivo X51 5G is one of the most powerful options out there.

5G is of course on board, as you've probably gathered from the name, so if the next-gen connectivity has rolled out to your area then you can take advantage of it. We're not sure that 5G is an absolute necessity just at the moment, but at this point it's getting harder to find new phones that don't have the technology built in.

Chinese phone makers love to play around with Android and Vivo is no different, adding what it's called Funtouch OS on top of Android 10. To be fair it's not too bad, though there are a few mostly redundant apps and shortcuts installed by default. We do like the dedicated game mode, which can minimise distractions and maximise performance while you're playing games on the Vivo X51 5G.

Vivo X51 5G review: price and verdict

Vivo X51 5G

(Image credit: Vivo)

Vivo may have only just arrived in the UK but it has of course been churning out top-quality phones for years, and it shows with the X51 5G. Over the last 12 months a lot of phones have been aiming for that sweet spot between performance and price, between flagship and mid-range, but few have hit the mark quite as well as Vivo has – and this is a handset that left us impressed.

It's really well designed, with a great, vivid screen and a superior quad-lens rear camera that comes up with very decent results no matter what the lighting conditions. The internal specs aren't quite the best you can get, but they provide more than enough power for most people – and that's why you're now seeing so many phones clustered around this particular price point.

While you can buy phones with more power, better cameras and bigger screens, we're not sure many of them are worth the price mark-up when you look at what the Vivo X51 5G has to offer. Very few corners have been cut, although you are going to have to do without the wonders of wireless charging, and the phone doesn't come with an IP rating for full protection against water and dust.

All you can ask of any phone is that it justifies its price, and the Vivo X51 5G does that and then some – even up against competition from the likes of Xioami, OnePlus, Google, Apple, Samsung and the rest in this particular segment of the market, this handset has enough to hold its own against its rivals, and win over plenty of fans.

David Nield

Dave has over 20 years' experience in the tech journalism industry, covering hardware and software across mobile, computing, smart home, home entertainment, wearables, gaming and the web – you can find his writing online, in print, and even in the occasional scientific paper, across major tech titles like T3, TechRadar, Gizmodo and Wired. Outside of work, he enjoys long walks in the countryside, skiing down mountains, watching football matches (as long as his team is winning) and keeping up with the latest movies.