Vivo’s Z1 Pro is powerful and clunky like a Tata Safari

Back in the day, when you needed to buy an SUV in India, the Tata Safari was the obvious choice for most Indians. It was oh so hulking and yet, it had this inane clunkiness to it . And while modern Tata vehicles have become even more feature packed and powerful with modern designs typified with Italian swagger, their clunkiness remains oh so omnipresent. That’s how I felt when I used the Vivo Z1 Pro. It will surprise you with its power and might, but it will frustrate you in the most mundane ways.

What’s warped

  1. Vivo embraces the trend of the punch-hole front camera head-on. Its 6.53-inch screen is bright and vivid giving it an OLED like vibe, but in reality this is an LCD in the guise of a Samsung like vibrant screen. It also has a pin sharp resolution which goes beyond the traditional full HD and neatly hides the camera on the front on the top right corner. This makes it a delightful phone especially if you’re a video junkie — be it for YouTube videos, high resolution Netflix or gaming.
  2. The forte of the legendary Tata Safari was that it could handle all kinds of tasks with utter ease, thanks to its engine and 4 wheel drive system. And the engine powering the Z1 Pro is the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 712. It is the first phone in India to be using this engine — and it is a damn powerful one when coupled with 6GB RAM. Be it having more than 15 apps on at the same time or playing PUBG for hours at your heart’s content is a seamless experience. In its category, it is easily the most modern and powerful phone.
  3. This phone is also armed with triple cameras on the back which don’t only take good photos in daylight and night time — including a Google Pixel like night mode, but they are good at taking portraits and have the dynamism of a wide-angle camera that currently is only offered by the Samsung Galaxy M40. Compared to the M40, on balance, this is the more effective camera system which is surprising yet hearting.
  4. Vivo has made a name of its brand by being an expert for selfies. The 32-megapixel camera holed up in the punch-hole of the screen is truly superlative. It’s just not the ultimate front facing shooter for fashionistas, but it could capture that fancy of YouTubers and Vloggers because audio capture is also pretty good.
  5. The Tata Safari made a name for itself by being the ultimate roadrunner — be it a dune or a mountain, the Safari would be there for the win. Well, the 5,000mAh battery on the Z1 Pro allows it the same kind of dynamism that made the Safari iconic. It’s a true 2 day battery life phone even if you throw the kitchen sink at it. What’s hearting is that there is also 18W charging tossed in, though through microUSB.
  6. Other things that remind me of the Safari is the fact that you’re really getting flagship class features like a in-display fingerprint scanner in a phone that costs south of Rs 20,000. You also get a hybrid SIM slot which can also be used to expand the memory further. You’re also getting a swanky design that’s flashy like an Italian sports car; something, again, what one associates with modern Tata vehicles.

What’s not

  1. Perhaps the most Tata like trait, is in the user experience of the Z1 Pro. It is clunky to put it mildly. The software which is based on Android 9 Pie, dubbed “FunTouch OS”, it not as user friendly as native Android that’s found on Android One phones, nor even as good as MiUI or Oppo’s Colour OS, leave alone Oxygen OS on the OnePlus 7. It harkens back to an aesthetic Apple adopted back with iOS 7 6 years ago, which makes it arcane and irritating to use.
  2. Another unfortunate Tata like trait seeps through in the fit and finish of the phone — even though from afar, this looks like a gorgeous phone with its shiny gradient blue theme, it feels cheap — even compared to a phone like the Redmi Note 7 Pro or Nokia 6.1 Plus. This can be noticed in either the exterior of the phone where the finish may look like glass but it isn’t or one can even see that the screen is raised from the main assembly of the device which isn’t the most pleasing thing or the average vibration haptics of the phone which define the user interactions.
  3. The software also comes preloaded with a lot of unneeded software which I strived to remove immediately post starting up the phone. One would really appreciate that if these unnecessary elements were never shoved on the user’s face from the get go.

For most people, the Vivo Z1 Pro represents incredible value. It is easily the most power-packed phone in India south of Rs 20,000. And this is not an on-paper horsepower, it actually shows in real world scenarios, but it’s not a polished phone. The fit and finish of both its hardware and software isn’t in the same league as some of its competitors — which adds to its Tata Safari like narrative. It makes sense for people who are looking for incredible bang for a buck, but not refinement or mobile gamers on a budget.




Serving communities on the intersection of technology, indie music and culture, the warp core is a think tank founded by technology journalist Sahil Mohan Gupta

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Serving communities on the intersection of technology, indie music and culture, the warp core is a think tank founded by technology journalist Sahil Mohan Gupta

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