Vivo might be one of the largest smartphone brands you’ve never heard of. That may soon change, however, with the company’s push into new international markets beyond its native China.
In recent years, fellow Chinese phone makers Huawei, Oppo, and Xiaomi have all made a push into Europe and other international markets, and now it’s Vivo’s turn. The company is already in possession of one of the largest smartphone market shares globally, so it’ll be interesting to see how this latest expansion affects its influence.
Indirectly affiliated with the likes of Oppo, Realme and OnePlus (under BBK Electronics), Vivo makes a range of capable Android smartphones; from the affordable to the ultra-premium.
At this early stage in its global expansion, most of the phones we’ve reviewed happen to be Chinese units, running region-specific software, however, that doesn’t detract from the excellent hardware Vivo has dropped inside these devices and paints a picture of what to expect from the international handsets now launching (like the Vivo X51, which we recently reviewed).
There’s also the company’s iQOO sub-brand to consider, which offers remixed takes on its parent brand’s devices that strike an even more competitive price/performance balance.
While some devices in this list have been reviewed running on Chinese firmware, we’ll be updating this chart as the various international versions become available; so check back for an always up-to-date list on the best Vivo phones you can buy.
1. Vivo Iqoo 3 5G
The Iqoo 3 is a 5G gaming powerhouse and one of the few gaming phones in its target market of India.
In addition to its top-notch performance and outstanding battery life, it’s incredibly good value for money (provided you’re willing to purchase through grey market channels if you’re buying from the likes of the UK). Pick it up without 5G and the price goes down even further.
Gaming-specific feature highlights include pressure-sensitive triggers along its side and an Ultra Gaming mode that offers incredible customisation over the phone’s gaming experience; covering “4D” vibration, air trigger customisation and more.
Add to that the fact that it’s powered by Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 865 processor and there’s little to dislike about the Iqoo 3, aside from its limited availability internationally.
Read our full Vivo Iqoo 3 5G review
2. Vivo X51
Vivo’s first true offering in Western markets comes in the form of the Vivo X51 and it’s a great first gambit – even if it’s essentially simply a re-branded take on the existing X50 Pro.
Its main hook is a gimbal-stabilised main camera and a competent 5G-capable Snapdragon 765G chipset.
Competition in this premium mid-range space is particularly hot in 2020, making this device a challenging recommend when you consider what else is out there around the same price, despite its great feature set.
Read our full Vivo X51 review
3. Vivo X50 Pro
The Vivo X50 Pro is essentially the Chinese version of the Vivo X51. That means it’s easy to find cheaper than the X51, but you’ll have to deal with the hassle of importing it and there are software quirks to be aware of.
It sports a different build of the company’s FuntouchOS user experience for the Chinese market, as well as support for a different set of 5G bands, but the underlying hardware is much the same.
That gimbal stabilisation is great for both low-light still photography and ups the ante when it comes to shooting video on a smartphone, not to mention there’s also a 5x periscopic zoom camera, a portrait snapper and an ultrawide to add even more versatility to the photographic setup this phone offers.
As with the X51, if these desired camera features aren’t at the top of your list, however, then your money may go further elsewhere.
Read our full Vivo X50 Pro review
4. Vivo V20
The more modest Vivo V20 still excels in areas like a beautiful, thin design that’s lightweight and feels nice in the hand.
Its rear cameras aren’t as accomplished as those found in the pricier X range but the 44Mp front-facing camera is an impressive inclusion all its own – meaning it’s ideal for the TikTok generation.
You may find alternatives with better specs but you’ll have a hard time finding a phone that looks this sharp and delivers to the V20’s specific audience as well as this phone does, without spending a lot more.
Read our full Vivo V20 review
5. Vivo X50 Pro+
More of a variation on a theme than a defined step up, the Vivo X50 Pro+ offers perhaps one of the best smartphone camera experience outside of Apple’s latest iPhones; with great versatility in a range of shooting conditions and a top-notch telephoto setup too.
Great specs and a killer design only add to the phone’s appeal, but there is one big sticking point. Like the standard X50 Pro, this is – for the time being – a China-specific model and the FuntouchOS user experience is hard to live with.
Despite its prowess in so many areas, we’re hoping Vivo brings a more Western-friendly take on the X50 Pro+ that can more wholeheartedly take its place on this list.
Read our full Vivo X50 Pro+ review
6. Vivo V17 Pro
The ageing V17 Pro may not be our first pick from Vivo’s lineup but it’s certainly got something special to consider.
For the price you get a plethora of cameras to play with (six in total), granting you options like ultra-wide selfies and impressive macro photography capabilities.
Like the Iqoo, you’ll likely have to import the phone from India and there’s still no getting around the unique quirks and frustrations that come with the company’s own FuntouchOS user experience atop Android.
Great battery life and a headphone jack also feature but for the price, the V17 Pro isn’t unique in this regard.
Read our full Vivo V17 Pro review
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