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Review: Vivo X21 is the future, but it came too soon

First broadly to be had telephone with an under-the-display fingerprint sensor • Excellent digicam efficiency

Fingerprint sensor takes being used to • Pricier than direct competition

The Vivo X21 is the primary of its type, and as a rule its bleeding edge tech works smartly. Then again, it is pricy for what it provides, particularly as soon as the wow issue wears off.

China’s Vivo is instantly changing into probably the most thrilling smartphone makers on this planet. The corporate assists in keeping experimenting with new options and approaches to not unusual problems, with a number of global’s-firsts beneath its belt. 

The Vivo X21 is a kind of: It is the first broadly to be had smartphone with an under-the-display fingerprint sensor. I have had a few week to check it out, and whilst it is not flawless, it without a doubt felt like a smartphone from the long run. 

Sure, Vivo had a number of idea telephones with this selection up to now, together with the superb Apex. However the Vivo X21 is the primary telephone to convey this era to the mass marketplace, debuting in China, which can be adopted through Singapore, India, and different markets. 

Setup blues

Fingerprint scanners on smartphones have reached some degree the place the whole lot is amazingly easy: You put up in lower than a minute, and your fingerprint is identified in a fragment of a 2nd. 

Sadly, with the X21 I bumped into issues instantly. The setup procedure is very similar to what you can see on any fingerprint scanner — you stay touching the sensor till the entire fingerprint is recorded. Then again, it took a complete of 7 tries to sign up my proper thumb. For every take a look at, I pressed my thumb in roughly 10-15 instances, and then I used to be instructed to take a look at once more. The tool tells you to press tougher than you normally would, and it is not kidding: I needed to press a lot tougher than, say, the power required for the iPhone’s 3-d Contact. I additionally needed to stay my thumb nonetheless at the sensor house for a few seconds after every press for the fingerprint to in the end sign up. 

Finding the fingerprint sensor is easy.

Discovering the fingerprint sensor is simple.


Apparently, registering my left index finger’s print used to be a lot more uncomplicated — it labored on the second one take a look at. To start with I believed this used to be because of me already having enjoy from registering my thumb, however it is not. Extra in this later. 

All in all, the setup procedure used to be significantly extra painful than on every other smartphone, and whilst it is not a deal-breaker, you do get the sensation this era is not rather in a position for high time. 

Dwelling with it

When it really works, the Vivo X21’s fingerprint sensor is slower than the standard fingerprint scanners you can see on different telephones. Do not get me incorrect: It nonetheless unlocks the telephone in beneath a 2nd (see instance underneath), however the distinction in velocity between the X21 and, say, a contemporary Huawei telephone, is  palpable.

Additionally, the truth that you need to in reality push your digit into the reveal makes the enjoy worse. In an effort to do this, you want to carry the telephone firmly, so omit about simply casually pulling it from your pocket and flippantly touching the sensor to unencumber it. In any case, the sensor has no bodily obstacles — it is only a spot at the display that will get marked while you faucet the display or press the ability button. It is not find it irresistible’s laborious to seek out, however, once more, you’ll be able to’t simply navigate your finger blindly; you will have to take a look at the telephone to make use of it. 

All the above problems are bearable. The larger downside used to be that during on a regular basis utilization, the sensor simply would not paintings about 20% of the time. After I targeted, orientated my thumb upwards and press laborious, it will paintings, however in genuine lifestyles you will be unable to do this each and every time. And to be truthful, every so often the sensor labored as easily as a “same old” fingerprint sensor, with ten a success unlocks in a row. However every so often it simply would not unencumber it doesn’t matter what I did. 

Once more, unlocking the telephone with the index finger labored higher. However with the sensor situated within the backside part of the display, in maximum situations it made extra sense to unencumber the telephone with my thumb, which might regularly become a irritating sequence of mistakes. 

This doesn’t make the Vivo X21 a nasty telephone. If truth be told, it has beautiful dependable face-unlocking era, which might most often paintings ahead of I had time to press the fingerprint sensor. However the under-the-display fingerprint scanning, no less than the way in which it is carried out right here, wishes extra paintings, and I will be able to see why Apple and Samsung selected to not use it of their units (but). 

The remainder of the telephone

Outdoor its fingerprint scanner, the Vivo X21 is solely your moderate edge-to-edge Android. It is powered through a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor, has 6GB of RAM, 64/128GB of garage (I had the model with extra garage), and a three,200mAh battery. 


All of it provides as much as a candy package deal, regularly utilized by Chinese language telephone makers. The midrange Snapdragon is robust sufficient for many duties — you could understand the adaptation between the X21 and a Samsung S9 in a recreation of PUBG, however no longer whilst surfing the online. Mix that with 6GB of RAM and also you get a telephone that is simply as rapid, in maximum situations, as a extra robust flagship, benchmarks be damned. 

The telephone’s display is a 6.28-inch Tremendous AMOLED with an iPhone X-style notch at the best and a 2,280 x 1,080 pixel answer. I appreciated the shape issue; the telephone felt simply best in my hand in spite of the phablet-sized display. In the case of brightness and distinction, it is not as great because the iPhone X’s display, however it is on par with, say, an LG V30. It fumbles on main points, even though: Its rounded corners don’t completely fit the curvature of the display. And standing icons, situated to the left and the fitting of the notch, seem too on the subject of the corners, leading to an untidy glance. 

The enjoy of the usage of the display is asymmetric. For instance, when the usage of the digicam, you might have the solution to prolong the picture throughout all of the floor off the display, wrapping across the notch. But if viewing a YouTube video in horizontal mode, you’ll be able to’t do this — you might be caught with thick black bars on each side of the display. No Android telephone will get this utterly proper but, however the enjoy must give a boost to with the approaching Android P, which must have higher strengthen for “notched” telephones. 

Notch ahoy!

Notch ahoy!


The Vivo X21 makes use of the most recent model of Android, eight.1 Oreo, with Vivo’s Funtouch OS slapped on best. I have been announcing this for some time: All primary Android producers now make cast Android skins, and until you are a diehard enthusiast for a selected emblem, you will not have hassle being used to any of them.

The similar is going for the Vivo, whose tool takes many cues from iOS. When you do away with the crapware (fortunately, there is no longer an excessive amount of of it), you can quickly omit that you are the usage of a Vivo and no longer any other Android emblem. 

The telephone’s case is a mix of darkish gray and black, and its monolithic glance enhances the under-the-display fingerprint sensor effectively. Tapping on its display and seeing the sensor’s marking seem is beautiful cool. Rather then that element, even though, it is a somewhat not unusual design, and you can have a difficult time telling this telephone except different contemporary Vivo fashions. 


The telephone has a twin 12/Five-megapixel digicam at the again and a twin 12-megapixel selfie digicam. This may sound spectacular till you keep in mind that the not too long ago introduced Vivo V9 has a 24-megapixel selfie digicam and a 16/Five-megapixel rear digicam. You continue to get an excessively cast digicam with the X21, however know that there are different Vivo telephones in the similar worth vary that supply extra. 

As with every Vivo telephones, the selfies are nice… if you do not thoughts competitive post-processing and should you keep away from the fake-looking bokeh. 

Symbol: Stan Schroeder/Mashable

And sunlight footage with the rear digicam are beautiful cast as smartly, even though I would tone the sprucing down one or two notches if I may. 

Symbol: Stan Schroeder/Mashable

Then again, I will have to commend Vivo on considerably making improvements to the digicam efficiency in low-light situations. I have taken the X21 for a spin on a transparent night time, and the footage have been beautiful just right. They were not as vivid because the footage inquisitive about the iPhone X however they have been regularly sharper and had extra true-to-life colours. This by myself makes this telephone’s digicam a long way higher than the nominally extra robust digicam of the Vivo V9. Take a look at the comparability, underneath. 

Symbol: Stan Schroeder/MashabLe

Symbol: Stan Schroeder/Mashable

A couple of extra observations. The telephone, fortunately, has a headphone jack. The charging port, on the other hand, is micro-USB and no longer USB-C, which could be very bizarre for a telephone that is meant to be a show off for brand new era. In any case, the X21 isn’t waterproof, which in these days’s marketplace is rather a large omission. 

Is it price it?

Should you will have to have bleeding-edge era on your telephone, the Vivo X21 suits the invoice: It is the best broadly to be had telephone with this kind of fingerprint sensor. However in real-life utilization, you can most probably depend extra at the way more not unusual face-scanning function, and the under-the-display fingerprint sensor would possibly not lift above a groovy gimmick to turn in your buddies. 

Symbol: Stan Schroeder/Mashable

Rather then that, the Vivo X21 is a cast telephone that is higher than Vivo’s best choices with some regards, however worse with others. The cost is a hefty 480-500 euros ($567-$590), relying available on the market, which is significantly dearer than the cost of Vivo V9, which prices about 300 euros ($354). That, I assume, is the associated fee you pay for having a telephone that will provide you with a style of the long run. 

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