Any time a new technology is in the throes of infancy, it’s always fascinating to see the trajectory of innovation as products confer on an ideal design. Case in point, the Vivo X Fold ushers in yet another amazing large foldable phone that decimates Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 in almost every way. Yet, there’s almost no universe where this sells nearly as well as Samsung’s beast of a foldable.
That’s a real shame, too, because the Vivo X Fold is easily the best foldable phone (opens in new tab) I could imagine using at this juncture of technology. The inner crease isn’t quite as “nonexistent” as the OPPO Find N (opens in new tab), but it’s a far nicer-looking design than Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 (opens in new tab)’s hinge. Plus, it folds completely flat, which is always a nice trick.
Couple that with some truly spectacular cameras around the back — which even includes a periscope camera for great zoom detail — and you’ll understand why Vivo’s first major foldable phone is a real winner. I’ve spent the past two weeks with it and, while this isn’t a full review because it’s largely a region-specific product, it left a lasting impression on me that I absolutely must talk about.
Bringing leather back
I’ve used a number of foldable phones up to this point in time, but none so far have attempted to bring back the “leather” trend from the smartphones of yesteryear. In fact, that was one of the very first things I noticed about the Vivo X Fold when I took it out of the box since, like all other foldable phones, it ships unfolded.
There’s just something special about that grippy, textured leather that I can’t get enough of. Heck, that’s why I slapped a cow on my Z Fold 3 with DBrand leather skins (opens in new tab).
While the camera module on the Vivo X Fold is substantially larger than the three separated modules Samsung choose for the Z Fold 3, the hump doesn’t protrude any further than Samsung’s design. It’s also raised closer to the center, meaning the phone doesn’t wobble much when using the outer display while the phone is resting on a table.
|Category||OPPO Find N|
|Operating System||Android 12, OriginOS|
|Outer Display||6.53 inches, 21:9 aspect ratio, 2520x1080 (419 ppi) resolution, 120Hz LTPO AMOLED|
|Inner Display||8.03 inches, 5:4 aspect ratio, 2160x1916 (360 ppi) resolution, 120Hz LTPO AMOLED|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1|
|Storage||256GB or 512GB UFS 3.1|
|Rear Camera 1||50MP, ƒ/1.8, 1.0µm|
|Rear Camera 2||12MP, ƒ/2.0, 2x optical|
|Rear Camera 3||8MP, ƒ/3.4, 5x optical|
|Rear Camera 4||48MP, ƒ/2.2, 114-degree ultra-wide|
|Front Camera (inner and outer display)||16 MP, ƒ/2.5|
|Security||2x in-glass fingerprint sensor (inner and outer displays)|
|Battery||4,600mAh, 66W wired charging, 50W wireless charging, 10W reverse wireless charging|
|Dimensions (folded)||162 x 74.5 x 14.6 mm|
|Dimensions (unfolded)||162 x 144.9 x 6.3 mm|
It’s obnoxious to use when fully open sitting on a table — just like the Z Fold 3 — because it can’t sit completely flat.
Vivo’s hinge design is similar to Motorola or OPPO’s in that it folds into a teardrop shape when the phone is closed. This serves twofold purposes; the first of which is that the phone folds completely flat when closed. Second, the display crease is substantially reduced when compared to the Z Fold 3. Time will tell if this is the case after a few months’ use but, for now, it definitely looks better.
The downside to a teardrop hinge is that there’s no water or dust resistance, hence Vivo’s decision to use faux leather on the back. At this point, it seems like you either have to decide between water resistance, or a crease on foldable phones.
While we’re still discussing points of contention, Vivo went the OPPO route and chose a more “normal” aspect ratio for the outer display on the Vivo X Fold. I like the Z Fold 3 for a lot of reasons — and one of them is the one-handedness a narrow outer display offers — but typing on that narrow outer display is a pain and a half.
Vivo has that covered with this gorgeous outer display, which is big, beautiful, and comfortable to use. Comfort, in this case, will differ from person to person. I’m someone who loves big displays and wholly welcome the flood of tablet-sized foldables like the Vivo X Fold. Compact, this phone is not.
The inner display is also larger and more square than the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s inner display, which makes tablet-optimized apps feel even better. Apps that don’t quite fit on a 5:4 aspect ratio display can be adjusted to a 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio, whichever fits the app best. Instagram, for instance, only properly works on a 16:9 aspect or taller ratio (unless you enjoy viewing cut-off photos).
There’s no under-display camera anywhere on the Vivo X Fold, and while this would normally mean a pesky little dot is cut out of every full-screen app, Vivo purposefully darkens the status bar by default to help hide the dot. The downside here is that, when viewing apps in landscape mode, you either have to deal with a non-centered app or, for full-screen videos, an annoying dot on one side.
Despite that minor negative, there’s one big positive that might go unnoticed if you don’t hold the Vivo X Fold next to practically any other display: the anti-glare coating on the display. It’s hard to understand just how big a deal this is until you see it in person, but this image of the Vivo X Fold next to a Galaxy Z Fold paints the picture pretty well.
The same bright white light can be seen reflected in each display but, in the Vivo X Fold’s case, that same light’s brightness is substantially reduced. It’s a huge deal in any light, particularly, when viewing the screen outside.
Vivo also outfitted both the inner and outer displays with an under-display fingerprint sensor which, despite my initial misgivings, works incredibly well. I wasn’t sure how well this sort of setup would work when compared to the side-mounted fingerprint sensor on the Z Fold 3 — since that’s accessible via the same location no matter if you have it open or closed — but Vivo was careful to ensure the location of the scanner also doesn’t change so that you develop muscle memory.
That in-display fingerprint sensor is also extremely fast and accurate. It’s just a quick tap on it and you’re in.
Lastly, the alert slider to toggle between ring and vibrate modes is always a welcome addition. The only issue is that it’s located on the outer display portion of the phone, so it’s located on the right side when closed and the left side when open. Not the end of the world but it’s aways nice to have consistency with the location of these sorts of things.
Software that makes sense
Anyone who has ever used a modern iPhone — that means one without a home button — will feel right at home with the UI design from Vivo. The notifications panel has been split so that pulling down from the status bar on the left side will show notifications, while pulling down from the right will bring up the quick toggles panel.
It’s iOS design through and through, but it’s not without its advantages. Giving a full-sized panel to quick toggles means you get one-swipe access to a larger number of buttons and sliders than Android’s usual design. While it’s not paginated, it does scroll vertically if you like to add a bunch of quick toggles to the list of viewable options.
Since this phone is generally designed for the Chinese market, Vivo’s OriginOS is only somewhat localized in different languages. Installing the Google Play Store on the phone is quite simple out of the box — all you need to do is install any Google app found in Vivo’s app store and the Google app will ask you if you also want Play Services installed — but there are some parts of the OS that are hard-coded in Chinese, and are difficult to use if you can’t read the language.
Outside of that, OriginOS is an extremely friendly, easy-to-use flavor of Android that feels very purpose-built for the folding experience. Vivo’s home screen design is chock full of useful widgets from the get-go, and it’s obvious the company spent time thinking about how to make the home screen more useful in many ways.
It’s also highly customizable, including a bevy of options for theming in what Vivo calls the Mood Cube — a single pane of glass where you can change the icon style and shape, system colors, wallpaper, and overall themes. It’s a nice way to make use of all this screen space so users can see everything without scrolling.