Vivo X100 Pro Review: An Impressive Choice for Smartphone Photography

Vivo X100 smartphone review -- product image

It’s a shame the Vivo X100 Pro won’t find itself in the hands of many mobile photographers in North America because it raises eyebrows for all the right reasons.

If you’re familiar with the brand, you know Vivo packs its flagship phones with excellent hardware and many features in the camera app. It really does venture into the kind of territory that makes you think its phones are more cameras that happen to be phones, an impression the X100 Pro falls under by the results it delivers. The collaborative merits with Zeiss prove themselves yet again, producing a camera hardware and software combination that vies for the top of the industry.

Vivo X100 Pro: Design and Build

“Professional Photography” still runs across the top of the device, as is always the case with Vivo’s devices, just as the Zeiss logo sits squarely in the middle of the rear camera module. The rear camera array is a sizable difference over the previous X90 Pro, and there are reasons for that, not least of which is including a Type 1.0-inch image sensor for the main lens. Changes to other lenses also contribute to the extra space needed to squeeze everything in, but as is, the X100 Pro looks more like the Xiaomi flagships we’ve seen lately.

Vivo X100 Pro smartphone -- product photo

It also sports the same display as the previous X90 Pro, so the 6.78-inch AMOLED delivers the same resolution (2800 x 1260), peak brightness (1300 nits), and an adaptive 1-120Hz refresh rate. Unfortunately, that also means curved edges are back, which you can offset by slipping on the included silicone case that provides some grip to the sides for better handling when snapping photos.

Overall, Vivo didn’t change much about the design, save for doing away with the vegan leather back in exchange for a matte finish with a glitter effect in direct sunlight. While negligibly heavier than its predecessor, the X100 Pro retains the exact dimensions and placements, making it a very familiar feel from one generation to another. It also supports wireless charging and has IP68 protection for additional durability.

Vivo X100 Pro smartphone taking a photo in Barcelona

Vivo chose to stick with a MediaTek processor, equipping this phone with the Dimensity 9300, a 4nm chipset that also has the capability of running certain Generative AI features I saw at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. They weren’t available during my testing, but Vivo could integrate them if it chose to anytime in 2024. Storage and memory start at 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, though variants can go as high as 16GB of RAM or 512GB or 1TB of storage.

Vivo X100 Pro: Camera Features

Vivo brings back the Type 1 (13.1 x 9.8mm) Sony IMX989 sensor for its main 50-megapixel wide camera (23mm equivalent) with f/1.8 aperture, optical image stabilization, dual pixel and laser autofocus, and 1.6µm pixels. On paper, the main lens is exactly the same as the X90 Pro, even down to the pixel binning that shoots at 12.5-megapixels by default. For full resolution, you would need to use High Resolution mode.

Where things start to differ is in the telephoto lens, a 50-megapixel OmniVision OV64B image sensor with 4.3x optical zoom (100mm equivalent) and f/2.5 aperture. There is a bit of a catch here, though. Vivo claims it’s a 1/2.0-inch sensor, yet the actual imaging area it uses is more like a 1/2.51-inch, but there may be a reasonable explanation. The OV64B is usually a 64-megapixel sensor — at least in other phones using it — so the crop factor coincides with the center of the sensor. It’s also part of a periscope system and Zeiss floating elements design that enables steadier focusing from both greater and shorter distances. Get close enough to a subject with it, and macro mode kicks in.

Vivo X100 Pro smartphone taking a photo in a blue room

Interestingly, the 50-megapixel ultra-wide camera (15mm equivalent) uses the Samsung JN1 image sensor, moving away from the Sony IMX663 in the previous device. It’s got an f/2.0 aperture along with better autofocus across its 110-degree field of view.

Zeiss’ T* Coating covers the entire rear array to keep things consistent in reducing glare and lens flare, among other things. Key to the entire camera performance is the new V3 Imaging Chip, Vivo’s own silicon for managing how the image signal processor works on this phone. It’s designed to improve results for portrait and low-light images, though the company claims all images should look better because of it, including video. The previous V2 chip placed emphasis on reducing the shake and blur in photos with movement, which Vivo now applies to all three rear lenses.

Vivo X100 Pro smartphone example image HDR no edit

Vivo X100 Pro: Software Features

The Zeiss Natural Color profile remains an option for many of the modes available in the camera app, along with Vivid when you want some pop in the image, and Textured, which uses a warmer white balance and increases the sharpness to draw out textures in subjects. Textured works well enough for architecture, landscapes, or plants, but the Zeiss profile is still the best of the three all around.

Vivo X100 Pro portrait mode example, portrait of a dog
Vivo X100 Pro Portrait Mode

Vivo offers the same shooting modes it usually does, only with a new 4K Cinematic Portrait video mode that lets you adjust bokeh, add LUTs, and (in somewhat troubling fashion) add beauty adjustments. While the Zeiss bokeh effects from other modes aren’t in this one, the entire mode itself is effectively a Zeiss creation where the LUTs and styles clearly come from the German brand. Once captured, you can tinker with the portrait effect later on in Albums.

Then there’s Snapshot for still photos, a personal favorite of mine because it focuses on freezing movement. The downside is it often ramps up ISO to compensate for the faster shutter speeds it shoots with, especially when zooming at 2x or 4.3x. Snapshot essentially replaces the older Sports mode, which is also more aptly named now because it applies to all movements, not just anything related to sporting events.

 Vivo X100 Pro
William Nylander of the Toronto Maple Leafs prepares to take a snapshot at the 2024 NHL All-Star Game in Toronto, ON.

The litany of modes available leave any mobile photographer plenty to work with. Even afterward, some of the editing options in the Albums app aren’t bad at all, opening up some versatility in case you want to make quick adjustments, re-do the bokeh on a portrait photo, or add effects to make it livelier.

Vivo X100 Pro: Image Quality

Main camera

The X100 Pro captures excellent photos in a variety of conditions, which, at least to me, indicates a steady approach that’s working for Vivo. Dynamic range shows some improvement this time, driven by software upgrades that produce good balance in day and night photos. Better sharpening algorithms that don’t overdo it are a welcome sight — yet another indicator Vivo is figuring out how to best apply Zeiss’ processing to all images.

Vivo X100 Pro

Still, some nuances are worth noting, as in how Photo mode sometimes outshines Night mode for low-light images, simply because the latter overtly processes an image more. When capturing a decently-lit scene or subject, I found shooting it with the regular Photo mode often avoided the sharpening and dynamic range excesses that sometimes happen with Night mode.

Equally impressive is the way the software handles exposed light sources and reflections. Rather than clipping or blown-out highlights, the X100 Pro decreases luminance to such a degree that the photo looks more natural. It’s not only the best I’ve seen from Vivo, but arguably better than any other phone brand to this point. It’s also easy to spot in scenes with windows or brighter skies, where the phone routinely brings out details without ramping up exposure in other parts of the photo.

Vivo X100 Pro smartphone image example, RAW processed in Lightroom
A RAW photo from the X100 Pro processed in Adobe Lightroom

To make matters even more appealing, this happens regardless of which profile you use. So, whether you shoot with Zeiss, Vivid, or Textured, the X100 Pro treats light and dynamic range the same, meaning you don’t sacrifice a key pillar of the camera array when switching between them.

Vivo X100 Pro Ultra Wide
Vivo X100 Pro Ultra-Wide photo example


The X90 Pro treated the telephoto lens a lot more like a prime for portraits, but that’s not the case here. This is a really versatile telephoto shooter that offers one of the best optical distances I’ve seen on a phone thus far — at least if we’re talking a 100mm equivalent. Colors are still rich and you get a lot of detail without noise or chromatic aberration setting in. I even used it in Snapshot mode to capture action scenes, plus portrait and macro, leaving me impressed with how good it was in a variety of settings. You can even use it in High Resolution and Pro modes for higher-res snaps when you want them.


The portrait mode is among the best you will find on any smartphone right now. Vivo has always been good at it, but the results feel much closer to Zeiss optics than ever before. Moreover, results are more forgiving to where light is coming from, helping deliver really pleasing bokeh and retaining good detail, like a dog’s fur or the textures of facial hair and eyebrows, for instance.

Vivo X100 Pro smartphone photo image example

Portrait mode offers five focal lengths: 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, and 100mm. The main camera handles the first four, while the telephoto handles the 100mm focal length. As always, there are Zeiss bokeh effects to choose from, with B-Speed being the newest one to bring the total to seven. Vivo streamlined the options, so you can now choose both the effect and bokeh strength more easily. In addition, tap the lens icon, and you get a portrait lens package with set focal lengths you can quickly select. Wisely, Vivo even adds an explainer for each one via the ‘i’ icon above.

Pro and High Resolution

Vivo missed an opportunity to sweeten the whole deal by letting users shoot in RAW at full resolution. The X100 Pro won’t do it, leaving only pixel-binned 12.5-megapixel images in RAW or 14-bit SuperRAW. It’s unfortunate because the manual controls work well, and it’s more than possible to get good shots in Pro mode. It would be nice if there were a way to utilize manual controls for High Resolution images, just like Xiaomi offers on its phones (and not just the flagship ones). As is, the X100 Pro gives you the not-so-appealing choice between pixel binned RAW with all manual controls, or full resolution JPEGs without any real granular control over composition.

As per usual, bracketing and interval shooting are options, along with Zeiss’ horizon correction to straighten out buildings and monuments in the frame. There’s still no focus peaking, despite a metering EV and histogram available in the settings.

Vivo X100 Pro smartphone Pro Burst example

Special modes

Vivo’s Long Exposure mode has always been a treat, and that carries on here. I mentioned Snapshot earlier, and that’s easily one of the highlights for the X100 Pro because of how simply it works. Within the settings, you have a choice between manual or automatic motion focus, including a shake reminder that places a circle in the leveler to show you how much the phone itself is moving. They’re all useful in helping steady your hand to freeze action, but the focusing box can sometimes struggle to keep up with a faster-moving subject. It’s definitely better than the Sports mode in previous Vivo devices and may continue to improve in subsequent models.

There are plenty of other modes to dive into, like Zeiss Landscape & Architecture, Astro, and Food. That didn’t stop Vivo from axing some special modes from before, with Double Exposure, Dual View, AI Group Portrait, and AR Stickers all gone now.

Vivo X100 Pro image example

Vivo X100 Pro: Video Features

This review focuses on still photos, but Vivo takes a step forward in video recording as well. You can record in 8K at 30fps, 4K and 1080p at 30fps or 60fps in Video mode. The Teleprompter also returns within the settings to read text as a talking head with the rear or front cameras. The new Cinematic Portrait mode works in 4K and 1080p at 24fps or 30fps, and applies to the front camera as well, though leaves out the Teleprompter. Same with Pro mode, where you can switch to video to get the same manual controls you otherwise would with still photos.

The Vivo X100 Pro is a Serious Contender

It’s always a mark of a good phone when you feel confident that it will capture a good photo when you use it. That’s the simplest way to describe the Vivo X100 Pro, a formidable camera system that works remarkably well across the board. It doesn’t feel top-heavy or driven by one or two features carrying everything else because there are various ways to approach and compose a scene, regardless of day or time.

Vivo X100 Pro image example, sunset on the beach

The collaboration with Zeiss is years old now but it took a while to really see the influence permeate Vivo’s flagships, and the X100 Pro clearly has the goods that way with a solid build and regular software updates. Frankly, it should impress anyone who holds it in their hands.

Are There Alternatives?

Vivo is up against a slate of solid competitors. The Xiaomi 13 Pro already stands out, but the newer Xiaomi 14 Pro will surely come out as one of the industry’s best. The Honor Magic6 Pro is another exceptional mobile photography performer that deserves some attention as a serious player in this arena.

If you were looking for a good shooter with plenty of editing features, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra has plenty of both to go around. Not to mention, it lets you capture RAW photos at multiple resolutions. The Google Pixel 8 Pro is a superb shooter in every respect, offering some of the best software computation and dynamic range of any device. The OnePlus 12 is a considerable imaging upgrade over its predecessor, too. If iOS is your preference, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max are your best options.

Should You Buy It?

Yes, for the simple fact that it is more versatile than most phones in capturing a variety of images. Converted for USD, you’re looking at around $1,000 to $1,200 for the X100 Pro, depending on the variant, which is competitive compared to other big-name flagships.