The number of Chinese smartphone makers that are entering the SA market is on the rise. Vivo recently launched its flagship X50 and X50 Pro in the country, which comes after it first brought low-cost handsets to SA last December. The timing, soon after Huawei lost access to Google Mobile Services and the Play Store, may have helped its sales.

The high-end X50 Pro that we put to the test has 5G capabilities. But its focus is on professional photography with the unique inclusion of a gimbal for enhanced stabilisation.

The X50 Pro has a 6.56-inch full HD+ Amoled display with an on-screen fingerprint reader, and supports a 90Hz screen refresh rate. It has a matte-like finish that won’t attract fingerprints. Build quality is great.

It is powered by a Snapdragon 765G chipset, and has 8GB of RAM, 256GB storage and a 4315mAh battery. It supports a 33W fast charge, which is useful if you forget to charge it overnight and need power quickly.

Like most premium smartphones, it has a large camera bump on the back, which houses a quad camera setup: a 48MP main shooter with gimbal, 13MP telephoto portrait lens, 8MP ultra-wide and an 8MP telescope lens that supports 60x hyper zoom.

The main camera with built-in gimbal shifts the lens along two axes using electromagnetic induction. It worked really well in motion and has supported motion tracking. A feature like this would suit an adventure junkie or serious smartphone videographers. Some still images were hit and miss with HDR on, appearing overexposed.

The 32MP front-facing camera offers extreme, and somewhat bizarre, beauty enhancing. There are four options alone to alter the shape of your nose, then there’s buffing, whitening, options to slim your face, et cetera. The result of cranking up a bunch of these options looked nothing like me.

The handset runs on Android 10 with Vivo’s own Funtouch OS overlay with some bloatware. It ran whatever I needed it to without struggling too much and has Google’s full suite of apps and mobile services.

The X50 Pro should appeal to those who are into mobile videography with its built-in gimbal and excellent battery life, but it lacks features such as a headphone jack, expandable SD card slot, an IP rating (not waterproof) and wireless charging. It costs R17,999. It may be labelled a premium device but it runs on a midrange chipset.