Introduction

Another Chinese flagship but with a twist. If vivo rings a bell at all, it's most probably the X5Max, the world's slimmest phone. Not a bad thing to be known for but vivo isn't just about looks. This Chinese maker isn't a discounter either - vivo is more like Oppo, less like Xiaomi.

It is a limited lineup where most of the recent models do stand out in one way or another, helping vivo build a reputation as a premium _phone_ manufacturer. vivo is known for experimenting with imaging and audio technology and using components that you don't get every day in phones made in China. The vivo Xplay3S was cheered by audiophiles and the Xshot we're about to review is a flagship cameraphone.

The vivo Xshot is an exquisitely built _phone_ with premium finish, formidable specs and a camera setup which almost puts it in a league of its own.

vivo Xshot

The vivo Xshot is available in two versions. One is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC, with four CPU cores clocked at 2.3 GHz, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. The other, lighter version packs a Snapdragon 800, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of inbuilt memory. Other than that, the two handsets are identical. Both variants are typical 2014 flagships - which isn't necessarily a criticism. After all, the vivo Xshot was released last summer. Similar to a Samsung Galaxy Note 3, with a duly adjusted price.

Key features

  • 5.2" 16M-color 1080p IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen
  • Quad-core Qualcomm MSM8974AA Snapdragon 801 or Snapdragon 800 at 2.3 GHz, 2/3 GB RAM and Adreno 330 GPU.
  • 13MP camera with 4K video, OIS, f/1.8 and dual-tone flash; 8MP, wide (84 degree) front-facing camera with LED flash and 720p video.
  • Dedicated two-stage camera shutter button.
  • 16GB of built-in storage and a microSD card slot
  • LTE Cat. 4 (150Mbps), Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, GPS/GLONASS receiver, Bluetooth v4.0
  • Standard 3.5mm audio jack
  • Accelerometer, proximity sensor, gyroscope and compass
  • Active noise cancellation with a dedicated mic
  • 2,600mAh non-removable battery

Main disadvantages

  • Stuck on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean
  • Non-removable battery of rather small capacity
  • No WiFi ac support
  • UI can be confusing at times, suffers from bad translation
  • No Full HD video on front-facing camera, despite the 8MP resolution

Graphics are courtesy of Adreno 330, so quite a lot of computing power there as well. The Xshot is equipped with a 5.2-inch IPS LCD panel, of Full HD resolution and 424ppi. It is sharp and clear, but quite reflective at times.

The camera setup though is undoubtedly the main entry on the specs sheet. The Xshot packs an ambitious 13MP sensor, complete with a f/1.8 aperture, optical image stabilization and 4K video recording capabilities. This one should be able impress at low-light shots and we can't wait to take it out for a spin.

The front-facing shooter is very nice as well at 8MP and it even has its own dedicated LED flash, so selfies should also come out quite nice as well.

The vivo Xshot is a single-SIM LTE-enabled smartphone. It runs what is technically Android, but about as custom as it gets. vivo's own custom version of Android is called Funtouch OS. The version is 1.2 and is based on Android 4.3, so there is definitely room for improvement there. Other than that, the GUI is really gorgeous and clean with a distinct Apple vibe, but not too much, like we've seen in so many other Chinese phones. vivo has thrown in a few nice air gestures and a timeline of user interactions, but there are still some rough edges to polish.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

vivo Xshot official images

With that in mind, we're about to start exploring this Chinese offering. Coming up next is the usual unboxing and hardware checkup.

Unboxing

The vivo Xshot comes in a square box, pretty spacious by today's standards. The package is made of very durable cardboard, so shipping damage should not be an issue.

Inside the all-white box, there is a tray that houses the actual phone and underneath it, four dedicated compartments, coated in plastic that hold quite a few goodies. The vivo Xshot comes with a powerful 2A A/C adapter, a white microUSB cable and cool looking ear-buds, which are separately packaged.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The vivo Xshot has a luxurious, stylish package

vivo has a reputation of delivering exquisite audio and the bundled vivo XE600i headphones look quite up to it.

Another thing vivo has thrown in the bundle is a transparent bumper case. A SIM and microSD eject pin is also included. All in all, vivo has cut no corners with the packaging and the accessories add to the premium feel of the Xshot.

360-degree spin

The vivo Xshot is a thicker than its record-breaking sibling, the vivo X5Max, but at 146.5 x 73.3 x 8mm it's still nicely compact. Its shape and trim really help this feel as they make it appear slimmer than it actually is. The vivo Xshot tipped the scales at 148g.

Design and build quality

The vivo Xshot is stylishly simple. The materials used and the build quality are both superb. The body is mostly plastic, with the notable exception of the metal frame that wraps the device all around. It has a very nice matte chrome look with two small sloping edges towards the back and the front, which both share a lighter, shinier finish.

This little accent really makes the phone stand out and is also quite useful for getting a firm grip. In fact, there are quite a few subtle touches on the vivo Xshot, quite elegantly executed.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The vivo Xshot looks incredibly stylish

The metal frame gets thicker around the top and bottom, really accenting the slightly curved back. It is also complete with four small plastic inserts - two to trace the USB port and another pair near the top of the phone, on either side.

According to vivo's website, the Xshot is only available in white, just like the review unit we have. A quick online search, however, reveals what appears to be a black version with quite an interesting pattern, which almost looks blue under the certain lighting.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The Xshot is officially available in white, but a black version can also be spotted online

The vivo Xshot feels very good in the hand and also pretty sturdy. There are no apparent build quality blunders, everything is nicely put together with no cracks or rough edges.

As far as materials go, the plastic in question feels good to the touch, and the matte finish on the back is quite durable and does not catch fingerprints easily.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The vivo Xshot in the hand

Controls

The vivo Xshot boasts a 5.2-inch Full HD IPS LCD screen with 424ppi. It is quite sharp and crisp and does a splendid job but at the Xshot's price point, an AMOLED screen would have been a lot better. The bezels around it are quite thin and the vivo Xshot offers a pretty good screen-to-body ratio of 69.4%.

Above the screen, vivo has created a sort of a mess. The earpiece is crowded by the proximity and ambient light sensors, and the front-facing camera. The phone also has a front-facing LED flash to make the space even busier. The sensors and flash are right beside the speaker, on the right, while the camera is way off to the left. The LED indicator light is even further to the side.

Right underneath the display, we find three capacitive buttons with a very subtle silver trim and nothing else. These are pretty much standard: Menu, Home and Back left to right.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The top bezel is kind of disorganized

Going round the device, we find the left side mostly empty, except for a single ejectable slot, which houses both the SIM compartment and the microSD tray. It looks pretty flush, but we definitely have a grudge with it. The locking mechanism seems to be a little loose and the cover rattles. This would be barely noticeable, but it does make a very distinct metal rustling sound when shaken. Hopefully, this is a unit-specific problem.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The left side of the vivo Xshot houses the SIM and SD card tray.

The right side is where the volume rocker and Power/Lock button are, as well as the dedicated camera shutter button. It is nicely positioned near the bottom of the device and is within comfortable reach when shooting in landscape orientation. It has a proper half-press, a thing that modern flagships have sadly long given up on.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The right side features the volume rocker, Power/Lock button and dedicated shutter key

The 3.5mm headphone jack is placed on the top of the device, dead center and is accompanied by the noise-cancelation mic.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The top hosts the 3.5mm headphone jack and noise canceling mic

The bottom of the phone only features a microUSB port and a microphone. No speakers or screws are to be seen.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The bottom is equipped with a MicroUSB port and a microphone

Going round the back, we find the 13MP camera lens dead center at the top with a dual-tone LED flash right next to it. All of the electronics to power the OIS-enabled, f/1.8 camera really take up space and the camera module is protruding quite a bit.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The back is very stylish with a premium finish

Other than that, the back of the vivo is very slick and nice to the touch. The white finish is superb and the subtle curve makes for a great feel in hand. The only other thing found on the back, besides the logo, of course, is a speaker grille.

A rear-mounted speaker can get easily muffled, but the Xshot's rear curve seems to have addressed that issue. The camera bump also helps lift the handset off the surface it's resting on - we just hope it is scratch-resistant.

Display

The vivo Xshot is equipped with a 5.2-inch IPS LCD display, with a resolution of 1920 x 1080-pixels. Colors are nice and warm, but could by a little more saturated. Viewing angles are also nice - among the better we have seen lately.

vivo Xshot

Sharpness is of no issue at 424ppi and even the smallest font sizes are no challenge at all. One small complaint we have is that a black strip around the screen hasn't been covered by the bezel. Visible at all times, it is slightly off-putting.

The display matrix is standard RGB.

Vivo Xshot

As far as contrast goes, the vivo put in decent if unspectacular numbers on both 50% and 100% brightness. Brightness is high, but blacks are not particularly deep, which hurts contast.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
vivo Xshot 0.37 315 862 0.58 534 917
Oppo Find 7 0.22 248 1135 0.4 448 1123
Oppo Find 7a 0.33 280 842 0.68 580 852
Samsung Galaxy S5 274 529
Samsung Galaxy A7 175 349
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 149 379
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 291 399
Xiaomi Mi 4 0.17 164 940 0.73 679 929
Sony Xperia Z3 - - - 0.65 866 1333
LG G3 0.14 109 763 0.72 570 789
OnePlus One 0.39 317 805 0.75 598 799
HTC One (M8) 0.2 245 1219 0.46 577 1256
Motorola Moto X (2014) 167 358
Oppo N3 0.31 290 931 0.59 551 937


Sunlight legibility is quite good - the reflectivity of the screen is about average, but the high brightness still helped the Xshot to a good score in our test.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • Samsung Galaxy S6
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    4.033
  • Apple iPhone 5
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Apple iPhone 6
    3.838
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
    3.799
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Oppo R5
    3.678
  • Samsung Galaxy K zoom
    3.675
  • Nokia Lumia 930
    3.567
  • Apple iPhone 5s
    3.565
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
    3.549
  • Nokia Lumia 735
    3.547
  • Motorola Nexus 6
    3.543
  • Alcatel Idol X+
    3.527
  • Apple iPhone 5c
    3.512
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    3.509
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    3.487
  • LG G Flex2
    3.465
  • YotaPhone 2
    3.453
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    3.42
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 Active
    3.406
  • Nokia Lumia 925
    3.402
  • Gionee Elife S5.5
    3.386
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    3.352
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    3.174
  • Samsung I9000 Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Ativ S
    3.129
  • Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini
    3.127
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    3.118
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier
    2.958
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.95
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Lenovo S90 Sisley
    2.892
  • Samsung I8730 Galaxy Express
    2.861
  • BlackBerry Q10
    2.856
  • Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • HTC Desire Eye
    2.815
  • Gionee Elife S5.1
    2.812
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
    2.801
  • BlackBerry Z30
    2.79
  • Meizu MX4 Pro
    2.765
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    2.672
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    2.618
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    2.616
  • Sony Xperia T3
    2.609
  • BlackBerry Passport
    2.595
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    2.546
  • HTC One Max
    2.537
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    2.512
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • vivo Xshot
    2.465
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    2.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2.422
  • Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro
    2.416
  • LG G Flex
    2.407
  • HTC Desire 820
    2.372
  • HTC One (M8)
    2.371
  • Meizu MX4
    2.366
  • Motorola RAZR i
    2.366
  • Meizu m1 note
    2.362
  • Sony Xperia ZL
    2.352
  • HTC One M9
    2.334
  • HTC One (M8) for Windows
    2.291
  • Oppo Find 7a
    2.279
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    2.262
  • Nokia Asha 311
    2.25
  • Xiaomi Mi Note
    2.234
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Nokia Lumia 820
    2.193
  • HTC One (E8)
    2.185
  • Oppo N3
    2.181
  • Nokia Lumia 920
    2.17
  • Huawei Honor 6
    2.169
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Nokia Lumia 620
    2.142
  • Nokia 515
    2.134
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • HTC Desire 500
    2.129
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    2.12
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Sony Xperia acro S
    2.119
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    2.103
  • Oppo Find 5
    2.088
  • Sony Xperia SL
    2.078
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    2.056
  • BlackBerry Z10
    2.051
  • Huawei Ascend Mate7
    2.024
  • Samsung I9295 Galaxy S4 Active
    2.022
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • HTC One mini
    2.003
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Huawei Ascend P7
    1.992
  • LG G2
    1.976
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Oppo R819
    1.957
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    1.952
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    1.944
  • Sony Xperia E3
    1.943
  • Nokia Lumia 1320
    1.941
  • HTC One mini 2
    1.94
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
    1.938
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
    1.935
  • Sony Xperia J
    1.932
  • Acer CloudMobile S500
    1.931
  • ZTE Blade S6
    1.927
  • LG Nexus 4
    1.926
  • LG G Pro 2
    1.922
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
    1.913
  • Nokia Asha 308
    1.911
  • HTC Butterfly 2
    1.905
  • Sony Xperia T
    1.894
  • Nokia Lumia 830
    1.887
  • HTC Desire X
    1.878
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • HTC Windows phone 8X
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly S
    1.867
  • Huawei Ascend P6
    1.865
  • Huawei Ascend Mate
    1.845
  • LG G2 mini
    1.838
  • LG G3
    1.82
  • Nokia Lumia 1520
    1.813
  • HTC Desire 616 dual sim
    1.797
  • Sony Xperia V
    1.792
  • HTC Desire 816
    1.783
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    1.772
  • HTC Desire 700 dual sim
    1.769
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Meizu MX3
    1.754
  • LG Optimus G
    1.753
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    1.74
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
    1.735
  • Acer Liquid Jade S
    1.734
  • Sony Xperia SP
    1.733
  • Oppo Find 7
    1.691
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • BlackBerry Q5
    1.682
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.68
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    1.672
  • LG Optimus GJ
    1.666
  • LG Optimus 3D Max
    1.658
  • HTC Desire V
    1.646
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2
    1.632
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
    1.622
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
    1.578
  • Sony Xperia go
    1.577
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 I8160
    1.566
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
    1.563
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    1.552
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
    1.507
  • BlackBerry Curve 9320
    1.488
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Oppo N1
    1.47
  • Sony Xperia E4
    1.467
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    1.462
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Samsung Galaxy S Duos
    1.4
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo
    1.393
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
    1.393
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand 2
    1.38
  • Sony Xperia E1
    1.372
  • Nokia Lumia 625
    1.371
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8
    1.35
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    1.35
  • HTC Desire 510
    1.34
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1.331
  • Sony Xperia miro
    1.324
  • Samsung I9082 Galaxy Grand
    1.321
  • Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam
    1.315
  • Xiaomi Redmi 2
    1.311
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Nokia X
    1.291
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Nokia Asha 503
    1.281
  • Nokia Asha 501
    1.27
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • Nokia Lumia 510
    1.268
  • Samsung Galaxy Fame
    1.245
  • LG Optimus L9
    1.227
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Samsung Galaxy Young
    1.22
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215
  • Nokia XL
    1.204
  • Sony Xperia E dual
    1.203
  • Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176C
    1.198
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.18
  • Nokia Asha 305
    1.178
  • Nokia Asha 306
    1.175
  • Sony Xperia neo L
    1.169
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    1.166
  • Nokia Lumia 520
    1.161
  • Samsung S6802 Galaxy Ace Duos
    1.148
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114

Battery Life

The vivo Xshot packs a 2600mAh battery that is non-removable.

The phone did okay in our traditional battery test, scoring an overall endurance rating of 57 hours.

Vivo Xshot

Talk time and video playback are perfectly normal, but browser performance was a disappointment. The custom application is really taking its toll on the battery.

Our proprietary score also includes the standby battery draw, which is not featured in the scorecard.

Our battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you want to learn more about it.

The Xshot has a power-saving option called "Super saver". It is only accessible through the power options menu, which appears when you hold down the power button. This is one of many items, which seem to be oddly placed in the OS, but more on that later.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

Super saver mode really cuts down on battery usage

What it does is, essentially turn the vivo Xshot into a feature phone. The screen gets dimmed and all that remains accessible is the 2G voice calling functionality, messaging and the clock.

Connectivity

The vivo Xshot comes equipped with quad-band 2G/GPRS/EDGE and tri-band 3G with HSPA (up to 42.2Mbps of downlink and 5.76Mbps of uplink). As far as LTE goes, it is important to once again note that only the 32GB version supports both FDD-LTE and TD-LTE. Otherwise, the Snapdragon 800 and 801 both offer Cat4 150/50 Mbps speeds.

Local connectivity is covered by a single-stream Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, as well as Bluetooth 4.0. It is kind of disappointing that vivo hasn't opted for a WiFi ac modem, especially, considering the price the Xshot is going for. GPS and GLONASS support is enabled. There is no FM radio, NFC or an IR port.

User interface - Funtouch OS is sleek but a little disorganized

The Xshot runs on vivo's own custom OS - Funtouch. It is essentially a heavily-modified version of Android and thus supports all of its apps. Sadly, it is still based on Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, which is now quite dated.

Other than that, the UI is very slick with a distinct iOS vibe, especially in various menus. There is, however, no blatant copying. And, while a lot of Apple style and GUI elements are easily detectable, vivo has created a feel it can call its own.

There are a lot of interesting features thrown on top of Android by the manufacturer, but there are also some rough edges. Menu arrangement is quite chaotic in the Xshot and a lot of options are hidden away in obscure places, you wouldn't think of looking. Like the accessibility settings, for example, which are tugged away under "more settings", while the one-handed operation, smart motion options and even "Glove mode" are placed in plain sight on the main settings screen.

On the upside, Funtouch is definitely clutter free and comes preloaded with only a few essential applications and a set of Google apps with no bloatware in sight. All the additional functions work nicely and the phone really offers a smooth and pleasant user experience.

Check out a quick walkthrough of vivo's custom android work in the video below.

Funtouch is definitely big on customization and when we say big, we mean that there is an almost unbelievable amount of things that can be tweaked about the way the OS looks. Starting from the lock screen, the factory default option offers a slide-up unlock and is complete with a clock widget as well as a little animated avatar, nickname and slogan. The last three are completely customizable down to the text font and color.

Swiping left on this screen brings you to a music interface, while swiping right, fires up the camera.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

Default lock screen

This, however, is only one of the countless lock screen options. Each choice comes with a different unlock option, widgets, shortcuts, fonts, as well as little settings under the hood. If the built-in options are not enough for you, there is a vast online library. The sky is the limit, when it comes to lock screens and variants range from very traditional and straight-forward, all the way to childishly cute ones, like a happy bunny, throwing its carrot in the air when you unlock the screen.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

More locks screen options

Beyond the lock screen, we find swipeable homescreens, complete with widgets. vivo has opted out of a dedicated app drawer, so adding new screens is the only real option for storing more apps. With no app drawer, anything you install pops up on the homescreen.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The homescreen doubles as an app drawer

You can group the apps in folders, which come with a very nice transition and background blur effect.

Anyway, a long press on the homescreen gets you to the management screen - from there, you can rearrange, delete and add panes. There are no dedicated add or delete buttons in the menu. Instead, there is always an extra empty screen that appears in the management area and if something is placed on it, it becomes active as a new screen. Removing it is the reverse procedure.

Vivo Xshot

Managing the homescreen panes is rather difficult

Managing applications can also be done from this mode, which is made apparent by the slight jitter that is applied to all the shortcuts, much like the one in iOS. Icons can only be rearranged, there is no shortcut for actually uninstalling an app. That is done only through the app manager.

Tapping the Menu button on the homescreen gives you quick access to color schemes, wallpapers, effects and widgets. It turns out. The lockscreen customization was just the tip of the iceberg. Themes, wallpapers and slide effects are all customizable and there is even something called scene. It is essentially a separate interactive desktop interface, which artistically rearranges your widgets and app icons and creates a beautiful live scene from them.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

Quick interface settings can be applied straight from the home screen

The settings menu has a separate section entirely devoted to this kind of customization. It is called "mix-match" and it is a central hub, from which you can tweak all of the aforementioned aspects, download new content and simply make your user interface as personal as possible. We really see all this freedom easily appealing to a younger audience.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

If you want to dive further into customization there is the dedicated "mix-match" hub

The notification area on the vivo Xshot is slightly different from the stock Android one. Here, it is all white and pretty clean from clutter. Pulling it down once reveals the notifications. Right above them there is the standard time and date widget along with a shortcut to the settings menu.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

Custom notification shade

There are also two small buttons in the top-right corner. One of them clears all of the notifications, while the other can be used to block certain apps from throwing notifications in the first place. In reality, the button is nothing more than a shortcut to the app manager, along with an explanation of how to take away notification privileges.

It becomes immediately apparent, that something is missing from the notification shade. It is simply too clean. Mainly because the quick toggles have been moved to another shade which can be pulled up from the bottom of the homescreen.

It holds the brightness slider, and various toggles, which can be customized. Quick settings can be rearranged and added or removed through a dedicated menu, so you are free to move things about as you see fit. Among these is a "speed up" function, which frees up resources on the phone almost instantly.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

Separate shade for toggles and brightness, which doubles as recent apps

Quite cleverly, this interface also doubles as the recent apps switcher. So, when you hold the home button, the same shade pops up to switch between applications. To close a recent app, you just swipe it up. Sadly, there is no close all button.

Besides the standard navigation scheme, vivo has thrown in an elaborate array of special motions and gestures to control the phone. Options are so plentiful, that you can easily get confused by the menus themselves, let alone remember every shortcut you set. But if gestures are your thing, the Xshot definitely has you covered.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

"Smart motion" and "One-handed" options in the settings menu

You can wake the vivo in by tapping the screen, swiping it or even simply looking at it. There are also gestures to fire up a specific application upon waking the device, like drawing a "C" on the screen to open the dialer or an "M" for the music player. The list goes on and on.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

"Smart motion" gestures

Most of the above functionality can also be achieved by drawing different letters with the phone in the air or simply shaking it. Launching custom apps is also possible with these shortcuts. There are also quite a lot of multimedia control shortcuts, both in-app and while the screen in off. Zooming images, for example, can be achieved by tilting the phone and songs can be skipped by swiping on the display, even when in is turned off.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

Even more customizable "Smart motion" gestures

All of these extra control schemes take customization to a whole new level. The vivo Xshot can not only look precisely the way you want, but also behave accordingly. The only grudge we have with the gestures is that, once again, their settings menus are a mess and getting around is quite hard.

Funtouch does not include a dedicated button shortcut for accessing Google Now, like most current Android phones have, but it is still thrown in the mix. It can be set as a widget for quick launching, or perhaps, even assigned to one of the aforementioned gestures, if that is your thing.

Google Now is executed in beautiful material design style. You can manage your daily routine and all your interests by using the service.

Vivo Xshot

Google Now

Overall, the vivo Xtouch runs very smooth and behaves will with vivo's own Funtouch OS. One thing is for sure, though - it is definitely not the Android most of us are used to. It is clear that the company has put a lot of thought and effort into the OS and in a lot of aspects, it does make for a better-than-stock experience. However, getting around the veritable mess in menu placement is quite hard, so the GUI is definitely not for seasoned Android users, who are accustomed to Google's own layout and structure.

Performance

The vivo Xshot is available in two versions - a high-end "flagship" version and a bit less powerful "elite" one. The Flagship has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC, with a quad-core Krait CPU clocked at 2.3 GHz, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard memory, while the elit" version packs a Snapdragon 800, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of memory. Both are extendible through a microSD card. Other than that, the two handsets are identical.

For this review, we are using the beefier "flagship" version, so the cited results are pretty much the best you can expect from the Xshot. The GPU in the unit is the quite capable Adreno 330.

Vivo Xshot

Judging by the specs sheet alone, the vivo Xshot should mostly breeze through our benchmarks. There is, however the small issue of the custom Android build it is running. It is sure to affect performance, but results could go either way.

On one hand, there are quite a few optimizations in Funtouch OS, but is debatable if any of them actually have to do with hardware optimization for the particular platform. On the other hand, there is the fact that in its core Funtouch is Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, which is quite outdated at this point and could prove a major handicap against opponents running 4.4 KitKat, at minimum.

But the only way to really find out how the vivo Xshot faired in testing is to dive into the results.

The specs sheet of the "flagship" model vivo that we have are also quite common, so finding rivals in the performance department was also quite an easy task. Now a few things need to be noted for the tests. The Galaxy A7 is on the list, because of its similar price tag to the higher-end Xshot, while the Galaxy S5 and Note 3 are close in terms of specs and price. The Galaxy Note 4 is priced slightly higher, but is included a current-gen device.

First up, we have the raw CPU performance test with GeekBench 3, so things should be pretty straightforward in this department.

The Xshot scored pretty high in terms of CPU performance, but there are still a few contenders, with pretty much the same hardware, that did slightly better, like the Oppo Find 7 and Galaxy S5, for example. There are, however slight variations in the chipset models of these phones, so the rather small lead can be attributed to that. Either way, it is not something that would be easily noticeable under normal everyday use.

GeekBench 3

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Lollipop
    3394
  • Oppo Find 7
    3178
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    3175
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 Lollipop
    3120
  • Oppo Find 7a
    3093
  • vivo Xshot
    3048
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    3011
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    2984
  • Motorola Moto X (2014) Lollipop
    2970
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 S800
    2937
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    2925
  • HTC One (M8) Lollipop
    2923
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (S615)
    2880
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    2860
  • Oppo N3
    2704
  • OnePlus One
    2663
  • LG G3
    2370
  • HTC One (M8)
    2367

In Antutu 5, the vivo maintained a steady middle ground position, which is pretty consistent with GeekBench scores. There is a lot of rearrangement in the score board around it, which is mostly due to Android Lollipop, which Antutu definitely favors. Once again the Galaxy Note 4 is on the top and the Galaxy A7 at the bottom, which is to be expected from a mid-range specked device.

AnTuTu 5

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Lollipop
    49273
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    46824
  • Motorola Moto X (2014) Lollipop
    45660
  • HTC One (M8) Lollipop
    45530
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 Lollipop
    45348
  • HTC One (M8)
    44020
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    43676
  • vivo Xshot
    43318
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    43164
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 S800
    42211
  • LG G3
    42038
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    40393
  • Oppo N3
    39245
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (S615)
    31436

Advancing further to the slightly broader Basemark OS II test, we see a totally different story. The vivo Xshot has plummeted to the very bottom of the list and the single and dual-core performance breakdowns give us a pretty good idea why.

This is where the custom Android build comes into play. As we mentioned, it could swing results either way, but in the case of Funtouch OS, benchmark performance is really suffering. Now, this does not necessarily translate into bad real-world performance, but is a clear indication that the Android 4.3 core is showing its age and not much software optimization has been done by vivo to remedy the situation.

This could potentially lead to performance drops in certain applications, not to mention that there are quite a few recent Google APIs that the OS is missing on, which translates to the Xshot missing some more recent apps.

Basemark OS II

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Lollipop
    1332
  • LG G3
    1327
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    1324
  • Oppo N3
    1280
  • Oppo Find 7
    1212
  • HTC One (M8) Lollipop
    1202
  • OnePlus One
    1196
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    1181
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    1176
  • Motorola Moto X (2014) Lollipop
    1173
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 Lollipop
    1147
  • HTC One (M8)
    1126
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    1109
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    1082
  • Oppo Find 7a
    1057
  • vivo Xshot
    1022
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 S800
    1003
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (S615)
    786

Basemark OS II (single-core)

Higher is better

  • Oppo Find 7
    2606
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    2588
  • Oppo Find 7a
    2580
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Lollipop
    2574
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    2573
  • vivo Xshot
    2531
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 Lollipop
    2510
  • Motorola Moto X (2014) Lollipop
    2499
  • HTC One (M8)
    2428
  • HTC One (M8) Lollipop
    2426
  • Oppo N3
    2417
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    2415
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    2409
  • LG G3
    2267
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 S800
    2236
  • OnePlus One
    2213
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    2114
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (S615)
    1572

Basemark OS II (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • Oppo Find 7
    10391
  • Motorola Moto X (2014) Lollipop
    10320
  • Oppo Find 7a
    10256
  • OnePlus One
    10234
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    10063
  • LG G3
    9975
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    9948
  • HTC One (M8)
    9860
  • HTC One (M8) Lollipop
    9827
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 Lollipop
    9646
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    9508
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    9446
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 S800
    9364
  • Oppo N3
    9320
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (S615)
    9284
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Lollipop
    9198
  • vivo Xshot
    8871
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    8792

We already mentioned, that the vivo Xshot is powered by the quite capable Adreno 330 GPU. Most of the other contenders on the list use the very same chip, but, as it turns out, a lot more efficiently. Screen resolution is also not the culprit, as again, most phones on the list have Full HD displays.

The fact is that offscreen rendering is particularly poor on the Xshot, which either means the GFX benchmark application is not playing well with Funtouch or something is messed up in the way the hardware is utilized. Either way, vivo still has a lot of software work to do and we would really suggest an Android version upgrade more than anything else.

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    41.7
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Lollipop
    40
  • Oppo Find 7a
    28.4
  • HTC One (M8)
    28.4
  • OnePlus One
    28.3
  • HTC One (M8) Lollipop
    28
  • Oppo Find 7
    28
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    27.8
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    27.7
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    27.6
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 Lollipop
    27
  • Motorola Moto X (2014) Lollipop
    27
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    26.6
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 S800
    26.3
  • LG G3
    26
  • vivo Xshot
    23
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (S615)
    15

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • HTC One (M8)
    30.1
  • HTC One (M8) Lollipop
    30
  • OnePlus One
    30
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    29.3
  • Motorola Moto X (2014) Lollipop
    29
  • Oppo Find 7a
    28.8
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    28.3
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    28.2
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    28.1
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 Lollipop
    28
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 S800
    26.7
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    26.4
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Lollipop
    26
  • vivo Xshot
    23
  • LG G3
    20
  • Oppo Find 7
    19.9
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (S615)
    15

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    18.5
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Lollipop
    18
  • OnePlus One
    12.1
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 Lollipop
    12
  • Motorola Moto X (2014) Lollipop
    12
  • HTC One (M8) Lollipop
    12
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    12
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    11.8
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    11.6
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    11.4
  • Oppo Find 7a
    11.4
  • HTC One (M8)
    11.1
  • Oppo Find 7
    11.1
  • LG G3
    11
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 S800
    9.9
  • vivo Xshot
    9.5
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (S615)
    5.8

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Motorola Moto X (2014) Lollipop
    13
  • HTC One (M8) Lollipop
    13
  • OnePlus One
    12.9
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    12.7
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 Lollipop
    12
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    11.9
  • HTC One (M8)
    11.9
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    11.7
  • Oppo Find 7a
    11.4
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    11.3
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    11.2
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Lollipop
    11
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 S800
    10
  • vivo Xshot
    9.4
  • LG G3
    7.7
  • Oppo Find 7
    6.7
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (S615)
    5.8

The vivo Xshot uses a custom browser solution as well. It didn't fair particularly well in our browser performance tests, scoring surprisingly low.

Kraken 1.1

Lower is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Lollipop
    5181
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    5351
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 Lollipop
    5968
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    6043
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    6137
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    6209
  • Motorola Moto X (2014) Lollipop
    6260
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    6355
  • Oppo Find 7
    6363
  • Oppo N3
    6460
  • Oppo Find 7a
    6660
  • OnePlus One
    7008
  • HTC One (M8) Lollipop
    7023
  • LG G3
    7632
  • vivo Xshot
    9114
  • HTC One (M8)
    10296
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (S615)
    12266

BrowserMark 2.1

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Lollipop
    2232
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    2208
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 Lollipop
    2066
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (S615)
    1655
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    1600
  • Motorola Moto X (2014) Lollipop
    1562
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    1533
  • HTC One (M8) Lollipop
    1460
  • LG G3
    1453
  • Oppo Find 7
    1452
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 (S801)
    1398
  • OnePlus One
    1339
  • Oppo Find 7a
    1327
  • vivo Xshot
    1075
  • HTC One (M8)
    1069
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    744
  • Oppo N3
    730

All things considered, the vivo Xshot offers performance lower than its chipset suggests. We feel most of that can be attributed to the custom OS, based on aging Android and the only way vivo is going to stay relevant in the high-end market is via an update sooner rather than later.

Phonebook

The phonebook application on the vivo Xshot is entirely custom and in unison with the general look and feel of the Funtouch OS. There are tabs, but unless you are big on groups, or want to jump to the dialer or to your personal info page all the time, chances are you won't be using them too often.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The contacts app

The main interface is a well-organized list, with favorite contacts at the top, followed by an alphabetical run-down of the rest. Naturally, there is a search field, which accepts both names and numbers, as well as a vertical slider, along the letters to the right, for quick navigation.

Adding a new contact is a pretty straightforward process. It begins by selecting where you would like to store the entry, or you can just set a default the first time you use it. The rest is fairly self-explanatory.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

Adding and editing contacts is straight-forward

Viewing a contact is done through a clean and well-arranged interface. All in all vivo has tried to keep things as simple and intuitive as possible. Clicking on a contact photo from the list brings up a gorgeous floating menu with a lot of actions available, so you can skip the dedicated contact screen altogether.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

Viewing a single contact

Telephony

The default telephone app in the vivo Xshot is in keeping with the overall style, just like the contacts. In fact, they almost look like they are both part of the same application, especially thanks to the pretty sliding transition effect between them. But they are very much separate, despite being linked to ano another through a quick shortcut.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The phone app

The intuitive contact searching system is implemented here as well. You can start typing a number or a name and the phone will find the contact you are looking for. In-call options are mostly standard, with the exception of the notes option, which is quite handy when you want to write something down during a call.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The in-call display

Call quality on the Xshot is excellent. We had no trouble during testing and everything came out nice and clear. The noise cancellation system is also pulling its own weight ensuring pretty good background noise suppression.

The speaker on the vivo Xshot isn't very loud. In out tests, it scored below average, which is a little off-putting, especially, considering the manufacturer's reputation of opting for quality audio components. The sound isn't particularly loud, but in terms of quality, it is excellent.

So, if you are a devoted audiophile, you can rest assured, that you won't be disappointed by the clarity of your ringtone, but you can't really count on hearing the Xshot at parties.

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Xiaomi Mi 4 62 62.1 66.6 Below Average
vivo Xshot 61.7 64.7 72.3 Below Average
Sony Xperia Z3 69.7 66.6 67.2 Average
Motorola Moto X (2n Gen) 66.1 66.2 72 Average
Samsung Galaxy A7 64.8 66.3 73.5 Average
Oppo N3 68.2 65.8 75.7 Good
Oppo Find 7a 71.7 66.6 75.7 Good
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 N9005 70.5 66.6 78.0 Good
Samsung Galaxy S5 70.7 66.6 78.0 Good
Oppo Find 7 69.8 70.3 75.8 Good
LG G3 70.2 66.6 80.2 Good
Oppo N3 with Maxx Audio 77.9 69.8 80.4 Excellent
OnePlus One 74.8 73.5 80.2 Excellent
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 74.7 73.5 81.6 Excellent


Messaging and text input

You have two options to handle you texts out of the box - Google Hangouts and the stock messenger app. This is a relatively new feature for Hangouts which allows you to handle all messaging through a single app that is if you are an avid Hangouts user. Vivo has also included a more traditional messaging solution set by default.

Other than that, the app is pretty standard. It unifies SMS and MMS functionality in one place, which has pretty much become the norm with modern devices. The app does offer the option to import old messages, which is a rare thing to see and can definitely be useful. Messages can be restored from either a cloud service or simply from local storage.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The default messaging app

To handle emails the Xshot offers Gmail preloaded, as well as a dedicated email app. This is kind of redundant, seeing how the latest version of Google's mail client can now work with any mail account, Google or not and is now the only email client you will need.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

Gmail for Android now more powerful than ever

A button to start a new message sits at the top right bottom of the app. The composition screen holds no surprises.

The alternative email application looks quite rudimentary and fails to impress.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

Vivo built-in email app

As far a keyboards go, the vivo Xshot comes with a custom keyboard solution, dubbed - Swipe for vivo. Like the name suggests, it does support swipe typing and looks and behaves quite nicely. It also offers quite a few options, like a personalized dictionary, theme support and quite a few gestures for accessing various features.

Gallery

The gallery app on the vivo Xshot is pretty simple, but also quite pleasant to use. Underneath its intuitive white exterior, there are a multitude of quite interesting features that definitely deserve to be mentioned.

Launching the app brings you to a timeline interface of your photos and if you don't fancy this, you can easily switch to a folder-browsing mode. There are also albums, which the user can organize. More albums can easily be created, but the cover selection is quite limited and there is no apparent way to create or download new ones.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The main gallery interface is simple

Opening an album takes you to a timeline interface, just like the one on the main screen, while clicking on a folder, brings up a vertically-scrollable, tiled view of the pictures. Pinch zooming works on images and clip thumbs as well and zooming out reviews a horizontally-scrollable film-like preview of the shots and videos.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

Viewing images on the vivo

The vivo Xshot allows you to edit photos straight from the gallery. The editor itself is packed with features, ranging from trivial cropping and effects all the way up to fine-tuning colors, shadows, exposure and applying different blurs. It is definitely more than enough for quickly fixing up a photo before uploading it online.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The image editor is surprisingly rich in options

Video player

The vivo Xshot comes with a dedicated video application. It offers a quite basic interface and few advanced features, but definitely gets the job done. The player itself does offer Hi-Fi support as well as DLNA and subtitles.

As far as format support goes, the Xshot didn't have any issues with playing every video we threw at it, regardless of the video encoder used. It refused to play a videos with AC3 audio, though.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

Simplistic video player

Another interesting feature is the pop-out mode. It spawns a small draggable video window on top of the UI. And it actually works pretty well.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

Convenient pop-out mode

Nice audio player

As we have already mentioned, vivo really knows its way around audio. And the dedication to a proper music experience extends beyond capable audio tech and into the realm of software. The music player, bundled with Funtouch OS doesn't look overly impressive but is quite pleasant to use and has a few tricks hidden away.

Launching the app brings you to a selection of quite a few browsing options. Songs can be browsed in various categories and playlists are easily accessible, for even more flexibility. The main playback interface consists of a backdrop of album art and a transparent control strip.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

Browsing songs in the music app

Swiping it up reveals the volume slider, as well as HI-FI and BEE sound effect toggles. Sadly, both are available only with headphones. There is also a lyrics option included, but it does not fetch the verses automatically online, but rather relies on them being locally available, but we were hard-pressed to find the right format.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

Playing music is a breeze, but the lyrics option is hard to figure out

Vivo has thrown another little treat in the music application. It is a simple timer, but one that is tied to your music player. With it, you can easily fall asleep to your favorite jams, without worrying about draining your battery overnight. It can even power-down the device completely, once the deadline is reached.

Vivo Xshot

A nice little bonus, hidden away in the music app

Very good audio output

The vivo Xshot had perfectly clean output when connected to an active external amplifier. The smartphone scored excellently top to bottom, but that’s hardly the most impressive bit about its performance. It’s actually the volume levels which are among the highest we’ve ever seen.

Plugging in a pair of headphones tells a very different story – the clarity degraded with stereo crosstalk rising and some intermodulation distortion appearing. Volume levels also dropped significantly – they were still above average, but no longer quite so impressive.

And here go the results.

Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
vivo Xshot +0.10, -0.07 -92.3 92.4 0.0053 0.0090 -92.0
vivo Xshot (headphones attached) +0.58, -0.47 -92.5 92.5 0.020 0.615 -49.4
LG G Flex2 +0.01, -0.06 -92.5 92.5 0.0031 0.012 -91.5
LG G Flex2 (headphones attached) +0.03, -0.10 -92.6 92.1 0.0027 0.387 -60.1
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge +0.01, -0.04 -95.9 93.2 0.0021 0.0099 -93.3
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge (headphones attached) +0.04, -0.01 -96.8 93.5 0.011 0.035 -55.2
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 +0.01, -0.04 -96.6 93.4 0.0015 0.0086 -94.2
Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (headphones attached) +0.03, -0.02 -96.8 93.5 0.011 0.035 -55.2
Apple iPhone 6 Plus +0.04, -0.04 -94.0 94.0 0.0013 0.0064 -72.0
Apple iPhone 6 Plus (headphones attached) +0.10, -0.04 -94.0 93.9 0.0016 0.087 -64.1
LG G3 +0.02, -0.08 -99.4 98.9 0.0016 0.035 -100.0
LG G3 (headphones attached) +0.02, -0.09 -93.7 93.3 0.0060 0.032 -78.5
Oppo Find 7 +0.04, -0.10 -93.8 93.1 0.0053 0.177 -94.4
Oppo Find 7 (headphones attached) +0.70, -0.20 -93.7 91.5 0.013 0.446 -52.6

vivo Xshot frequency response

vivo Xshot frequency response

You can learn more about the tested parameters and the whole testing process here.

Camera has its ups and downs

The camera setup is definitely among vivo's key selling points for the Xshot. It is not often that we see a 13MP module with OIS, f/1.8 aperture and a dual-tone, dual-LED flash. The front-facing shooter does not disappoint either. It is a capable 8MP model with an 84-degree wide angle lens, so you can get all of your friends it the frame.

vivo Xshot

But the main camera is definitely the star of the show. The impressive specs sheet should allow it to take superb low-light shots, combine that with the flash and OIS and the vivo Xshot should be more than capable of handling available light shots better than all of its rivals. The maximum still resolution in can produce is 4160 x 3120 pixels in 4:3 mode and the phone is capable of recording 4K video at 3840 x 2160 pixels in 16:9 mode, well, technically UHD.

The camera UI is incredibly simplistic with only a few options laying around. This, of course, is definitely not bad in itself, but phone, which is praised because of an impressive camera needs to have something to impress with on the software side, as well as the hardware.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

Simplistic interface with few options

It turns out, that manual control is very much present, but in a separate pro mode. It, however, is so masterfully hidden, that we felt like discovering an Easter egg when we finally found it. If you carefully swipe the shutter button to the left and drop it at the edge of the viewfinder the mode appears with a whole array of fine-tuning options. Shutter speed, ISO, white balance and even focus distance can all be adjusted manually.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

Simplistic interface with few options

The app also offers some visual goodies, like effects and water-marks. All of them can be previewed live and applied to both shots and clips, which is nice.

Vivo Xshot

A few nice visual effects

There are, of course, standard modes, like HDR, Face beauty and Panorama, which we have come to expect from any modern phone. But there are also dedicated sports and Night modes, which is a nice little touch. There is also a bokeh option, which produces a nice blur effect, but requires some fiddling with the manual focus to get the desired result.

PPT mode is somewhat of an oddity but it works out quite well. What it does is analyze a shot of a whiteboard or paper, then trim out the unnecessary background and straighten everything out, so it can be read easier. It works quite well, but lacks any manual adjustment, so if the algorithm doesn't cope, there is not much you can do. The original shot is saved as well, though, which is nice.

POSE mode is quite odd as well. What it does is basically overlay outlines of people in various poses on your screen. The premise is, supposedly, that this would help your subject look better in the shot, but frankly, we think most users can cope without it.

Vivo Xshot

The pose mode is quite unnecessary in our opinion

Micro video is another nice little addition. It lets you record short videos, 6 seconds to be exact with multiple scenes easily. The phone records as long as you are pressing the touchscreen and pauses when you let go, so no more stitching is required for a quick vine clip.

Vivo Xshot

Interesting vine-centric video mode

The Children mode is downright weird. It basically allows you to use face detection to capture any split-second glance your kid gives you and also tries to attract the youngster by producing odd sounds.

Vivo Xshot

Weird dedicated Children mode

The vivo Xshot produces very nice photos. Colors are pleasant, vivid and quite accurate and edge-to-edge sharpness is quite good as well. The shots come out clear with a nice dynamic range. The two-stage dedicated shutter really helps with the focus. We did notice some slight underexposure, but it is definitely nothing to be concerned with.

As far as the image quality is concerned, the Xshot produces photos with decent colors and a good amount of detail in their center. There's very pronounced corner softness, though, so things near the edges don't look nearly as good. Contrast is good, while noise is slightly high but at least it's of the less irritating luminance type. All in all the images are good, although not quite flagship-worthy.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

vivo Xshot camera samples

The 8MP front-facing camera produces rather soft images with very little detail. The high-res sensor feels wasted here, but at least the ultra-wide lens and the front-facing LED flash are rather more useful.

Vivo Xshot

Front-facing camera sample

The vivo Xshot didn't mange to get very close to subjects so its macro capabilities are rather limited. Even that way however, the fast F/1.8 lens allows for some blurring of the background - a desired feature among cameraphone users.

Vivo Xshot

Macro works pretty well

We gave the Xshot's HDR mode a try and found that it finds a pretty good balance between adding extra dynamic range and contrast - highlights are preserved without getting flat unrealistic images. Unfortunately the algorithm also produces some artifacts - notice the sky in the second picture.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

HDR off • HDR on

The vivo Xshot can shoot panoramas in both portrait and landscape mode. Shooting one is easy and straightfoward. Results are also very pleasant with almost no noticeable stitching or any other artifacts.

Vivo Xshot

Vivo Xshot

Vivo Xshot panorama samples

Naturally, we shot our test posters with the Xshot and here's how it fared, compared against the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the Sony Xperia Z3. Of course, our tool allows you to compare it against any other smartphone that we've shot with.

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

Vivo Xshot in our photo compare tool

Decent UHD video, shooting modes are limited

The vivo Xshot can record UHD videos at about 25fps, as well as 1080p at 30fps. Apart from the aforementioned visual effects, you can't really adjust much as far as video recording goes. There is no high frame rate or time lapse mode, but you can shoot videos in HDR, or at least the app allows you to leave it on, as there seemed to be hardly any difference in the end-result.

UHD videos turn out quite nice. Everything looks smooth with an okay level of detail and nice colors. The Xshot can only do about 25fps in this high resolution mode with a bit rate of about 50 Mbps. The audio is 2 channel AAC at 96 Kbps.

1080p, on the other hand, really doesn't impress. Our test videos came out quite blurry and the level of detail is really poor. It seems like a combination of bad compression and misbehaving processing. Our best guess is that at Full HD, the device throws in some extra digital stabilization, which does more harm than good.

At 1080p videos have a bitrate of about 16 Mbps and are shot at a stable 30 frames per second. Audio is the same - stereo at 96 Kbps AAC.

There is also a quite noticeable amount of jitter in both videos. At first we blamed the wind and cars passing by, but this was only part of the story. When we eliminated the cars and shot in windy conditions alone, the jitter was still there. There was even a slight hint of it while shooting indoors. It could be the optical stabilization, or perhaps some digital counterpart being poorly setup or the autofocus behaving strangely.

We can't really say for sure, but this results in very jittery videos, especially around fine edges and details and really ruins the otherwise nice UHD video, to mention the badly compressed 1080p one.

Below you can find samples from the vivo Xshot filmed in UHD and 1080p.

You can also download an untouched 1080p video sample - 0:10s, 21.0MB, as well as a UHD one - 0:10s, 62.0MB.

And finally, you can check out our video comparison tool to see how the 1080p videos compare in resolution, color rendition and more to any of the numerous phones and tablets we've tested. The bright lens gets its chance to shine in the low-light scenario here, although we can't really say we are blow away by the result - the vivo Xshot is about average for a 2014 flagship, but despite sporting a faster F/1.8 lens nowhere close to the Galaxy S6.

Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool

Vivo Xshot in our video compare tool at 1080p

We have also included a UHD comparison, seeing how the camera is capable of handling it.

Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool

Vivo Xshot in our video compare tool at 2160p

Web browser

The vivo Xshot comes with a custom browser, courtesy of the manufacturer. We can't really say for sure if it is based on the stock Android browser, but it is underwhelming, to say the least.

Its interface definitely looks nice, and like everything else in Funtouch, fits well into the general design outline, but it is quite poor on features. There is no dedicated tab selection interface and the toggle for opting out of a mobile version of the page is hidden away in the settings menu, yet "night mode" is left as a quick toggle.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

Questionable built-in browser

This is just another example of Funtouch OS's chaotic and disorganized function placement. Pressing enter on the keyboard does not open a typed address. Instead you have to hit a dedicated button next to the address bar. The little annoyances with the browser seem to go on and on and judging from the poor browsing performance, you really should use another browser.

Thankfully vivo has included Google Chrome in the mix. It is becoming the most popular mobile browser and should be fairly familiar. It has some advantages over its vanilla-flavored buddy, including switching between tabs from the Lollipop's Task Switcher interface.

Thanks to your Google account, Chrome can sync the tabs you have open on other devices (desktops, tablets) with the phone. This feature also syncs your bookmarks and favorite sites and can remember passwords and login data across different platforms.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

Google Chrome

Other pre-installed apps

Vivo has kept things pretty clean in terms of preloaded applications and, besides the nowadays obligatory Google suite, there is quite little preloaded software. Also, the things that are included in the mix are generally well executed, nicely styled and even, quite convenient.

Firs up, Funtouch OS has an amazing central management hub, called iManager. It is designed to keep your phone in top shape and generally does a pretty good job of it. It can clean your RAM and storage on request and naturally manage applications.

But the software goes beyond this and is quite clever. For one, it has access to some advanced hardware features on the Xshot and can influence general performance and power-management through different modes. It also offers black-lists for both calls and messages and can even protect you from pesky applications. Once it detects that a certain app is requesting a permission it dubs kind of intrusive, it warns you with a popup.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

all-encompassing iManager app

Most of the other bundled apps have nothing really spectacular to offer, except, perhaps, slick looks. The calendar is straightforward. It can seamlessly sync with your google account and naturally has events, reminders and all of the standard week, month and daily views.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

Pretty calandar app

Moving on, we find that vivo has created a quite feature-rich notes app. Entries can contain multimedia, as well as reminders, which get automatically entered into your calendar. The app even lets you doodle on screen for a quick note.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

Feature-rich notes application

Other things that deserve an honorable mention are the flashlight and sound recorder, but they are as standard as it gets. Also vivo has thrown in a dedicated sync client for its own clod service. It can seamlessly back up your contacts, messages and bookmarks to the said cloud platform.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

Flashlight • sound recorder • vivoCloud client

The phone comes with a very intuitive file manager. It automatically groups things according to type, but also allows traditional folder browsing, as well as searching.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

Straight-forward file manager

Google Maps is the default navigation app, but it's most useful when used while you are online. It allows you to download offline maps of an area and even plan routes without a data connection but you can't search for addresses or POIs without an internet connection.

Once online, it can plan driving, public transport, cycling and walking routes. It can also display pretty accurate traffic alerts as well (though it doesn't always take them into account when routing you).

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

Google maps with navigation

Another great support tool available on all Android smartphones is the Android Device Manager. It's available for all Android devices linked to your Google account. It can help you find your misplaced ZTE by making it ring or showing you its location on a map. If it's stolen, you also have the option to lock the device and even wipe all data. You need to enable this option on the device however.

And finally, Google's Play Store hardly needs any description. It the biggest catalog of apps and also features movies, TV, music and even devices but device availability is region-dependent.

Opening the store brings you highlighted apps based on recommendations and your usage. Different categories and app rankings will make app discovery easier.

Final words

The vivo Xshot is an orthodox device that certainly has its ups and downs. Quite a few nice ideas went into it although the execution is not always top notch. The novelty is definitely there with an f/1.8 aperture OIS camera and a sleek custom OS, but as we saw those aren't quite as impressive in real life as on paper.

vivo Xshot

Vivo had all the right ingredients - materials, hardware and good UX ideal, but also comes with a few glaring omissions that flagships shouldn't normally have. For one, the phone is powered by a very outdated OS and we also have the camera failing to deliver on the promises made by its specs.

The Snapdragon 801 SoC, coupled with 3GB or even 2GB of RAM should be quite enough for a blazing fast experience, but the harsh reality is that the vivo Xshot under-delivers here as well and is easily outmatched by equally specked devices.

Vivo Xshot key test findings

  • Great design and top-notch premium materials. Nicely shaped body, feels really good in the hand.
  • The IPS LCD display is quite nice, bright with 534 cd/m2 white on full blast and very sharp at 424 ppi. Viewing angles are also surprisingly good for an LCD.
  • Battery life is perfectly adequate at 57 hours, but steer clear of the default browser.
  • Funtouch OS is very stylish and forks fluently, but is quite outdated, being based on Android 4.3; Menu order is often chaotic and void of logic; There are a lot of customization options and the UI seems really polished with a uniform look and feel throughout the whole OS and the bundled apps.
  • The phone performs quite poorly in benchmarks, even though it has quite capable hardware.
  • The speaker isn't particularly loud and scored below average in out tests.
  • Video player handles all video and audio codecs, save for AC3 sound and subtitles.
  • Audio output quality is quite good.
  • The 13MP camera takes quality stills, the default app offers little options. HDR works very well.
  • Video recording is somewhat troublesome with constant, inexplicable shakiness. UHD video quality is superb, but 1080p compression badly damages detail.

The fact is that, you can easily pick up a better performing phone for around what vivo is asking for the Xshot, especially the 3GB "flagship" one and you don't really need to look very hard.

Samsung has a lot of competition to pit against the vivo Xshot. First up, there is the Galaxy S5, last year's flagship offer by the Korean giant. It is pretty much identical to vivo Xshot for the better part of its specs sheet. It is powered by, pretty much the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC and has 2GB of RAM and 16GB or 32GB of onboard storage. The screen is only a tenth on the inch smaller, but is of the Super AMOLED variety.

Seeing how the Galaxy S5 is a former flagship device, Samsung has taken the liberty to pack full of features to the brim. It even has a PayPal certified fingerprint sensor and a heart rate monitor, so you definitely won't miss anything on the hardware side. Things are looking even better on the software front, as the device recently got updated to Android 5.0 Lollipop. The S5 is well within the budget frame of the vivo Xshot as well.

Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung Galaxy S5

If, however, you feel like going bigger, there is the Galaxy Note series, and in this price range - the Galaxy Note 3. Just like the S5, it is a deprecated top-of-the-line offer, but it still packs quite a punch. It was treated to most of the same sensors, technologies and trinkets and even has some of its own, like the S-pen and multi window. The chipset is bit older - the Snapdragon 800 and there is in also an Exynos model, but, as is evident from the benchmarks, the device is still quite capable and mostly outperforms the vivo Xshot. Lollipop is also available here.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

The Galaxy A7 is yet another viable Samsung option. It is a brand new 2015 model and is the top offer in the A-series. It's metal exterior gives it an upper hand in terms of design, but it comes with the mid-range Snapdragon 615 chip which is hardly ideal.

Samsung Galaxy A7

Samsung Galaxy A7

The LG G3 is another flagship from a top tier manufacturer that costs as much as the vivo Xshot. Once again, it shares the same Snapdragon 801 chipset with the Xshot and even has the same two RAM version - a 2GB and a 3GB one. It, however boasts a 5.5-inch QHD LCD and already got promoted to Lollipop.

LG G3

LG G3

The list goes on with Sony's Xperia Z3, also a current flagship. Its specs sheet is strikingly similar to the vivo Xshot. Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, 3GB of RAM and a 5.2-inch IPS LCD display with a ppi of 424. This IP68 Sony device is very close in terms of price as well and is thus a viable alternative. Also, its 20.7 MP camera is arguably better than the one in the Xshot, although neither is particularly great.

Sony Xperia Z3

Sony Xperia Z3

And if the above was not enough, there here are a few more nice options to consider, courtesy of Oppo, Xiaomi and OnePlus.

Oppo Find 7
Oppo N3
Xiaomi Mi 4
OnePlus One

Oppo Find 7 • Oppo N3 • Xiaomi Mi 4 • OnePlus One

So the vivo Xshot is not finding itself in a particularly great spot - right now its price puts it against some very elite devices and its imperfect firmware deprives it or some of its key weapons. It's an uneven battle, but if vivo acts quickly perhaps not all is lost.

A quick firmware update to Lollipop with a side of bug-squashing would be a great place to start. Fine-tuning the camera processing algorithm so it extracts more from the capable hardware would be next on the list, while a small price cut will already put the Xshot in the role of a favorite. It's entirely up to vivo to try and get the Xshot out of the tricky situation it put it in.

Unboxing

The vivo Xshot comes in a square box, pretty spacious by today's standards. The package is made of very durable cardboard, so shipping damage should not be an issue.

Inside the all-white box, there is a tray that houses the actual phone and underneath it, four dedicated compartments, coated in plastic that hold quite a few goodies. The vivo Xshot comes with a powerful 2A A/C adapter, a white microUSB cable and cool looking ear-buds, which are separately packaged.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The vivo Xshot has a luxurious, stylish package

vivo has a reputation of delivering exquisite audio and the bundled vivo XE600i headphones look quite up to it.

Another thing vivo has thrown in the bundle is a transparent bumper case. A SIM and microSD eject pin is also included. All in all, vivo has cut no corners with the packaging and the accessories add to the premium feel of the Xshot.

360-degree spin

The vivo Xshot is a thicker than its record-breaking sibling, the vivo X5Max, but at 146.5 x 73.3 x 8mm it's still nicely compact. Its shape and trim really help this feel as they make it appear slimmer than it actually is. The vivo Xshot tipped the scales at 148g.

Design and build quality

The vivo Xshot is stylishly simple. The materials used and the build quality are both superb. The body is mostly plastic, with the notable exception of the metal frame that wraps the device all around. It has a very nice matte chrome look with two small sloping edges towards the back and the front, which both share a lighter, shinier finish.

This little accent really makes the phone stand out and is also quite useful for getting a firm grip. In fact, there are quite a few subtle touches on the vivo Xshot, quite elegantly executed.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The vivo Xshot looks incredibly stylish

The metal frame gets thicker around the top and bottom, really accenting the slightly curved back. It is also complete with four small plastic inserts - two to trace the USB port and another pair near the top of the phone, on either side.

According to vivo's website, the Xshot is only available in white, just like the review unit we have. A quick online search, however, reveals what appears to be a black version with quite an interesting pattern, which almost looks blue under the certain lighting.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The Xshot is officially available in white, but a black version can also be spotted online

The vivo Xshot feels very good in the hand and also pretty sturdy. There are no apparent build quality blunders, everything is nicely put together with no cracks or rough edges.

As far as materials go, the plastic in question feels good to the touch, and the matte finish on the back is quite durable and does not catch fingerprints easily.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The vivo Xshot in the hand

Controls

The vivo Xshot boasts a 5.2-inch Full HD IPS LCD screen with 424ppi. It is quite sharp and crisp and does a splendid job but at the Xshot's price point, an AMOLED screen would have been a lot better. The bezels around it are quite thin and the vivo Xshot offers a pretty good screen-to-body ratio of 69.4%.

Above the screen, vivo has created a sort of a mess. The earpiece is crowded by the proximity and ambient light sensors, and the front-facing camera. The phone also has a front-facing LED flash to make the space even busier. The sensors and flash are right beside the speaker, on the right, while the camera is way off to the left. The LED indicator light is even further to the side.

Right underneath the display, we find three capacitive buttons with a very subtle silver trim and nothing else. These are pretty much standard: Menu, Home and Back left to right.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The top bezel is kind of disorganized

Going round the device, we find the left side mostly empty, except for a single ejectable slot, which houses both the SIM compartment and the microSD tray. It looks pretty flush, but we definitely have a grudge with it. The locking mechanism seems to be a little loose and the cover rattles. This would be barely noticeable, but it does make a very distinct metal rustling sound when shaken. Hopefully, this is a unit-specific problem.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The left side of the vivo Xshot houses the SIM and SD card tray.

The right side is where the volume rocker and Power/Lock button are, as well as the dedicated camera shutter button. It is nicely positioned near the bottom of the device and is within comfortable reach when shooting in landscape orientation. It has a proper half-press, a thing that modern flagships have sadly long given up on.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The right side features the volume rocker, Power/Lock button and dedicated shutter key

The 3.5mm headphone jack is placed on the top of the device, dead center and is accompanied by the noise-cancelation mic.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The top hosts the 3.5mm headphone jack and noise canceling mic

The bottom of the phone only features a microUSB port and a microphone. No speakers or screws are to be seen.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The bottom is equipped with a MicroUSB port and a microphone

Going round the back, we find the 13MP camera lens dead center at the top with a dual-tone LED flash right next to it. All of the electronics to power the OIS-enabled, f/1.8 camera really take up space and the camera module is protruding quite a bit.

Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot
Vivo Xshot

The back is very stylish with a premium finish

Other than that, the back of the vivo is very slick and nice to the touch. The white finish is superb and the subtle curve makes for a great feel in hand. The only other thing found on the back, besides the logo, of course, is a speaker grille.

A rear-mounted speaker can get easily muffled, but the Xshot's rear curve seems to have addressed that issue. The camera bump also helps lift the handset off the surface it's resting on - we just hope it is scratch-resistant.

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