Pitting the Vivo X60 Pro Plus’ Gimbal Camera against the iPhone 12 and Galaxy S21 Ultra
Last month, I got my hands on the China version of the Vivo X60 Pro Plus and due to limited time I focused my testing on two areas — the 50MP main camera co-engineered with Zeiss, and the quirky OriginOS software that sits somewhat buried inside the phone’s standard Android skin. Now I have the global version of the phone, which is almost identical to the China version except OriginOS has disappeared (Vivo says it’s a China-only software for now, but promises it will come to global audiences down the line). So for this hands-on I’m going to focus on the other headline feature — the gimbal camera system that Vivo first used in 2020’s Vivo X50 Pro.
Throughout my week of use, I shot dozens of videos around town, in various scenarios. So does Vivo’s gimbal camera system actually make a difference? The short answer is yes — if you’re doing something very active.
Vivo X60 Pro+: Specifications
Vivo X60 Pro+ Specifications. Click or tap to expand.
|Specification||Vivo X60 Pro+|
|Dimensions & Weight|
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon 888|
|RAM & Storage|
|Battery & Charging|
|Security||In-display fingerprint scanner|
|Software||FunTouch 11 based on Android 11|
About this review: We received the Vivo X60 Pro Plus from Vivo in mid-March. Vivo did not have any inputs in this article.
Vivo X60 Pro Plus: The Gimbal Camera system with Zeiss optics
Let’s start by explaining the gimbal camera system. The most mainstream gimbal is a pivoted support system on which videographers place their cameras. Once mounted, the camera sits on a pedestal in a “floating” state, and sudden movements are slowed down via the pivoted pedestal.
Vivo’s gimbal camera system is a super miniaturized version of that. The tiny camera lens is mounted on top of an elevated system that helps stabilize sudden movements. If I look closely at the gimbal camera and slowly tilt the phone around, I can see it move subtly.
Unlike last year’s Vivo X50 Pro, whose gimbal system supported the main 50MP main camera, Vivo has applied that to the 48MP ultra-wide camera instead. This makes sense, since an ultra-wide camera is even more ideal for videography. And much like the OPPO Find X3 Pro (and other BBK phones like the OnePlus 9 Pro), the ultra-wide camera here — a 48MP f/2.2 aperture — is really strong and close in quality to the main camera.
If you’re wondering about the Zeiss logo, that’s part of the new collaboration between Vivo and the iconic German lens-maker. According to both parties, Zeiss experts visited Vivo’s production line to review the Vivo X60 Pro Plus’ optical hardware. Zeiss’ T-coating, which reduces glare and stray light, has also been applied across both the main and ultra-wide camera. I’ll cover this later as we look at some photo samples — the priority of this piece is to put that gimbal camera system to the test.
Vivo X60 Pro Plus Gimbal Camera Test vs Apple iPhone 12
The iPhone has, in my opinion, the best stabilization across the board in smartphones for several years, so it was of importance to pit Vivo’s gimbal system against the best. For this test, I mounted an iPhone 12 and Vivo X60 Pro Plus onto a selfie stick and shot a series of ultra-wide video while walking and jogging.
During the day, the iPhone 12’s video footage — which only uses EIS — held up very well against the Vivo X60 Pro Plus’ gimbal system. Even when I ran and panned quickly, I couldn’t say the Vivo X60 Pro Plus’ video was more stable. It wasn’t until the very end of the test (around the 0:24 mark) when I hopped up two steps, did I see that Vivo’s footage didn’t shake as much as the iPhone 12’s.
This is similar results to my testing with last year’s Vivo X50 Pro — the miniature gimbal seems to mostly improve on the Z-axis movement (which tends to be the shaky movements moving toward and away the user, as opposed to X- and Y-axis which covers vertical and horizontal movements). In fact, when I purposely shook both left and right in a jittery movement (0:29 mark), you can see the iPhone’s footage is far more jerky than Vivo’s.
Next up, I tried the same moving video test at night (0:37 mark of the above video), and the Vivo X60 Pro Plus’ video is clearly superior to the iPhone 12’s — not only does it have fewer stutters with each step I take, but the video is also noticeably sharper with less noise too, thanks to that 48MP sensor that trumps Apple’s 12MP ultra-wide in both pixels and sensor size.
Vivo X60 Pro Plus Gimbal Camera Test vs Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
Next up, we pit the gimbal camera system against Android’s best slab phone right now, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. All footage in the clip below was shot with ultra-wide cameras.
Very early in the video, at the 0:04 mark, which is when I stepped off an elevated door entrance onto the ground, we can already see the Galaxy S21 Ultra footage appeared noticeably shakier than the Vivo X60 Pro Plus’. Then around the 0:09 second mark as I jogged, again the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s footage is less stable.
Since the Vivo gimbal system comfortably “won” against the Galaxy S21 Ultra during the day, it should come as no surprise that at night the differences are compounded. However, the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s ultra-wide pulled in more light and had a more pleasing aesthetic than the Vivo X60 Pro Plus’ ultra-wide video, which left my face in the shadows.
So as I said at the beginning, the gimbal camera system Vivo advertises does work in minimizing z-axis shakes, which is common when filming while walking fast or climbing stairs. However, if I walk at a slower pace, the difference is negligible.
Those who thought this gimbal camera system would bring game-changing improvements in video stability may be disappointed. Adjust your expectations accordingly.
Besides, even without the gimbal camera system, there is a lot to like about the Vivo X60 Pro Plus.
Vivo X60 Pro Plus: What I like
I already covered the Vivo X60 Pro Plus’ overall design during my hands-on with the China retail unit, so I won’t go over everything too in-depth here. But I really like the in-hand feel of the device. I’m a fan of leather in general (if I use a smartphone case, I tend to buy a leather one), and even if this is “vegan leather,” it still offers a nice grippy texture that’s warm to the touch. The display, despite being “just” 1080p, is also very nice to look at. It’s bright and vibrant, refreshes at 120Hz, and has subtle curves that aren’t as sharp as previous Vivo devices.
I also like the camera system. It’s well-rounded with good focal versatility. The 50MP main camera, which shoots 12.5MP pixel-binned shots that, paired with the large 1/1.3″ sensor, pulls in a lot of light. This is a camera in which the night mode doesn’t need to be used.
Much like the OPPO Find X3 Pro, the ultra-wide camera here keeps up with the main camera quite well, resulting in a shot that doesn’t look noticeably inferior to photos snapped by the main camera.
Now, about that Zeiss T-coating: I do notice the Vivo X60 Pro Plus reduces lens flare a bit if I am taking photos directly at a harsh light, as can be seen in the below samples. Notice the Galaxy S21 Ultra and the iPhone 12 have that blue dot as a result of lens flair. But outside of these extreme examples, it’s hard to really see much of a difference.
Battery life is good. The 4,200 mAh cell is not the largest around, but the screen is not the power hungry WQHD+ panel found in the Xiaomi Mi 11, Galaxy S21 Ultra, or OPPO Find X3 Pro.
Vivo X60 Pro Plus: What I don’t like
For a phone that has premium flagship specs, the lack of stereo speakers is a notable omission. The bottom-firing speaker is weak compared to most phones I’ve tried lately. And while Vivo’s FunTouch OS software has improved by leaps and bounds over previous generations, it’s still not as good as OPPO’s ColorOS or Xiaomi’s MIUI. For example, the settings page is still over-complicated, and multi-tasking is still relegated to just split-screen, while ColorOS, MIUI, Huawei’s EMUI, and Samsung’s One UI all allow apps to open in a floating window, which feels like a more useful way to multi-task.
Vivo’s software also has an exhaustively long list of “beautifying” features which are essentially filters that alter selfies. It’s not just that the results can appear unnatural, but they also subscribe to a stereotypical western ideal of beauty such as lighter skin, skinnier nose, larger eyes. This type of mentality is not healthy.
Vivo X60 Pro Plus: Final Thoughts
Vivo reps say they do not have official prices yet for the global region (which includes India, Southeast Asia, and Europe), but in China, this phone retailed for 5,998 yuan, which is around $900. I think this is a fair price, considering that the Vivo X60 Pro Plus is an elegant-looking device with a capable main camera and ultra-wide that can hang with the big boys.
The screen doesn’t get as bright or hi-res as the OPPO Find X3 Pro or Galaxy S21 Ultra, and the lack of stereo speakers, wireless charging, or IP water resistance rating may disappoint, but the X60 Pro Plus will very likely be several hundred dollars cheaper. For me, I think the tradeoff is fair.