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Vivo patents a smartphone with a camera mini drone inside

Many use their smartphones to capture anything anywhere, sometimes even in difficult or dangerous locations and positions. One thing our powerful smartphones will never be able to do is to take aerial photos, at least not without some help from a drone or any other flying contraption. Never say never, as they say, and Vivo seems to be thinking of something to solve that problem. Its latest patent shows a smartphone that houses an honest-to-goodness quadcopter drone to take pictures from above, almost like in the movies.

As many patents usually are, the idea is simple, but its implementation will surely become the stuff of engineering and manufacturing legend if successful. The image of a drone sliding out of your phone to take pictures from places you can’t safely go will probably trigger images of sci-fi or spy flicks where everyday things hide other, not so ordinary things.

According to the patent reported by LetsGoDigital, the hidden camera system includes four propellers, three infrared sensors, two cameras, and its own battery. One of the cameras faces forward while the other faces upward, though admittedly, it would be more useful if it were facing the ground. The infrared sensors face the remaining three cardinal directions and are most likely used for obstacle avoidance and navigation.

The imagery it evokes may sound fantastic, but it will probably be a nightmare to pull off. Even the smallest camera drone today is thicker than the thickest smartphone, especially when you include the propellers. Having something like that inside a smartphone also means less room for other essential components, especially the battery. The patent doesn’t really say whether the drone camera system has any use while docked inside, which implies it’s wasted space when not in use.

Of course, it’s just a patent with no assurance of being made into an actual product, but the idea is interesting and intriguing nonetheless. There’s no telling where we will be 10 or 20 years from now regarding smartphone and drone technologies. It might become a more plausible and feasible product in the not-so-distant future, and, when it does, Vivo already holds the patent to own it.

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Vivo X phones will get three years of Android upgrades

Android has long been criticized for its fragmentation, especially when it comes to OS updates. New iOS versions are almost always installed within just weeks after its release while some Android phones are still left with versions two or three years old. Of course, part of the problem lies with manufacturers that updated slowly or even rarely. Recently, however, these companies have been stepping up their commitments and Vivo is the latest to promise three years of major Android OS upgrades, at least for its flagship phones.

There was a time when manufacturers only guaranteed two major Android releases but most couldn’t even keep up with that. Others offer an extra year after that but only for monthly security updates. For the past months, however, some Android manufacturers have been promising three or even four years of updates, both OS and patches, almost outdoing Google’s commitment to its own Pixel phones.

Chinese brands are also notorious for dropping the ball on such updates but Vivo is trying to change that perception. It has just proudly announcing that it is committing to providing three years of Android OS upgrades but, as always, there’s an important catch to this seemingly generous promise.

That commitment only applies to its X series of flagship phones and even then only those that will be launched starting July 2021 onwards. This definitely makes its phones more attractive for long-term use but it sadly doesn’t say anything about its other phones already in the market. It doesn’t even include the Vivo X60 Pro+ pictured above that it just launched last March.

To be fair, it’s still a big leap for a company that may not have the best track record when it comes to Android updates. OPPO has also been reported to make a similar new promise but that applies to an even narrower range of phones, only the Find X3 series this year.

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Huawei Harmony OS might be adopted by Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo

In response to the US’ sanctions and export bans, Huawei has been waging a campaign to rid itself of its dependence on Google’s mobile operating system, or at least its proprietary parts. Although it sounds like an epic endeavor to replace Android, Huawei’s Harmony OS definitely has big ambitions to be present in almost all smart markets. Going just beyond its own smartphones, however, there are now rumors that Huawei wants to spread its new platform to other phones as well, including those from its competitors and compatriots in China.

This sounds almost like a no-go if the initial impressions of Harmony OS 2.0 Beta are anything to go by. While Huawei defends that it isn’t really the final vision, the version that developers were given access to looked a lot like Android underneath a thin custom skin. That does make the transition a bit easier for both developers and smartphone makers but it pales in comparison to the grand and brand new experience that Huawei is promising.

Another limitation, at least as far as phones go, is that Harmony OS is supposedly developed to work primarily on Huawei’s own HiSilicon Kirin processors. Android itself has parts that are developed specifically for certain chipsets, like Qualcomm and MediaTek, among others, which is part of what makes it possible to run it on the majority of the world’s phones.

There is now a report that Harmony OS will undergo development to make it run on Qualcomm’s and MediaTek’s platforms, which means it will be able to run on phones beyond Huawei’s flagships. Even more interesting, however, is the rumor that Chinese smartphone makers are actually interested in using it for their phones. That’s not exactly outside the realm of possibility because Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo already run versions of Android without Google in China.

It will really all boil down to what Harmony OS on phones will turn out to be. If it’s simply a skin on top of Android, the change for smartphone makers won’t be that big and might not even make sense at all. If, on the other hand, it will be a truly new mobile OS from the ground up, Google stands to lose whatever small mind share it has in China through Android, even if it doesn’t officially have a presence there through Google Play Store.

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Vivo iQOO 7 Legend brings BMW M brand, gaming specs to global markets

Over the past years, Vivo has been steadily rising in the smartphone market where it now belongs among the world’s Top 5 phone brands. Just like any other big phone maker these days, Vivo also has its own sub-brand, the independent iQOO that’s aiming for a younger market with different tastes and different needs. One of those needs is speed and performance, particularly for gaming. That’s exactly what the new iQOO 7 series is promising to deliver, especially the iQOO 7 Legend that slaps on BMW’s Motorsport name to emphasize its monster gaming specs.

The iQOO 7 Legend boasts of the latest Snapdragon 888 as the source of all its power, though the 4000 mAh with 66W Flash Charge support is the literal power source of the phone. 8 or 12 GB of LPDDR5 memory and 128 or 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage also speak to its fast character. Lending a bit of credence to that is BMW M’s tri-color scheme running down the phone’s back, not just as a theme but as an integral part of its design.

The iQOO 7 Legend is built for gaming and not just because of its raw processing power. Under the 6.62-inch 120Hz FHD+ display lies special pressure-sensitive sensors that deliver a more tactile feedback when using on-screen controls. Dual linear motors on the left and right sides of the phone (when held horizontally) also try to recreate the feel of game controllers while Monster Beat dual speakers promise better audio fidelity that more discerning mobile gamers often look for.

Although not exactly underpowered, Vivo also has the iQOO 7 that looks and feels more like a traditional high-end premium flagship, one that runs on a Snapdragon 870 processor. It shares many similarities with its BMW-branded sibling, like the 48MP main camera with OIS and 13MP wide-angle and macro shooter. It does only get a 2MP monochrome depth sensor, though, instead of the iQOO 7 Legend’s 13MP Pro Portrait camera.

Both phones run Vivo’s Funtouch OS 11.1, based on Android 11, which brings with it its Extended RAM function that allocates 3GB of internal storage to be used as memory for caching running apps. After a successful launch in China, Vivo is bringing the iQOO 7 series to international markets starting with India. Availability and prices in other countries haven’t been announced yet.

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Vivo X60 Pro+ Review – ZEISS in Focus

Throughout all the changes that smartphones have undergone through the years, one thing that has remained constant, a least in the past few generations, has been the focus on better cameras. Almost just as important as the software user experience, the ability of these personal computers in our pockets to create a visual record of our lives has proven to be of importance to people from all walks of life.

No smartphone maker has been able to turn a blind eye on that trend and this year, Vivo has gone all out on the X60 Pro+ and we take it for a test run to see if its combination of high-end sensors and the ZEISS name is all that it’s cut out to be.

Design and Display

The most distinctive part of the Vivo X60 Pro+ is definitely its back. Even from a distance, you can already tell it is different from most smartphones in the market and a closer look and touch immediately confirms that. Available in a single Emperor Blue trim, the phone combines frosted glass with soft vegan leather to create a unique feel that might actually split people into camps. Given that material, it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that the phone doesn’t have a formal IP rating for dust and water resistance.

Aside from that, the Vivo X60 Pro+ actually looks pretty familiar, especially with the unique Dual-Tone Step camera design that Vivo is seemingly turning into an iconic look. It visually and physically breaks the usual bump into two levels, exuding what the company claims to be a certain degree of humanistic warmth. The “chocker” is still there as well, though with a slimmer look that visually matches the phone’s actually slimmer body.

The front of the phone is just as eye-catching, which is not really a surprise for the 6.56-inch Samsung AMOLED panel and its HDR10+ capabilities. Even the small 3.96mm punch-hole cutout, strategically positioned in the middle for the best selfie angles, isn’t enough to mar the vibrant and bright display of colors it emits. It is starting to become a common thing so it is also unsurprising that the phone boasts of a 120Hz refresh rate as well as a 240Hz response rate to match.

Specs and Performance

Vivo spared no expense when it comes to the Vivo X60 Pro+’s specs, from the latest Snapdragon 888 to the fastest UFS 3.1 storage available to smartphones. In terms of benchmark tests, the phone naturally boasts high scores though one might notice there isn’t that big of a gap between the X60 Pro+ and the X60 Pro with a Snapdragon 870. That said, the two are separated not just by differences in silicon but also differences in optics.

One particularly special feature that Vivo is giving the X60 series is what it calls “extended RAM”, a feature that some more advanced computer users are more familiar with as “swap memory” on Linux or “virtual memory” on Windows. It utilizes 3GB of unused storage to extend a phone’s RAM, from 8GB to 11GB or from 12GB to 15GB. The net effect is that it gives more room for more apps to stay in the background, up to 20 or 25 apps as the case may be. In practice, you will rarely feel a slowdown when switching between many open apps.

The Vivo X60 Pro+, despite its thin frame, packs a 4,200 mAh battery. Unlike its rivals and peers, however, it only supports 55W FlashCharge, which, while serviceable, almost sounds too modest in comparison. It charges fast, definitely, but fails to make a boast against 65W or especially 100W charging technologies.

It also runs Funtouch OS 11.1, based on Android 11, not the shiny new Origin OS that it thinks better serves its Chinese customers.


While the Vivo X60 Pro+ is already a solid phone overall, its claim to fame at least in Vivo’s eyes is that ZEISS logo on its back. It is unambiguous proof that the phone has passed ZEISS’ stringent certification processes. The famed optics company also lent a hand in helping Vivo develop what is basically a miniature version of its camera imaging technologies for smartphones. A concrete example is the special stylized bokehs that the ZEISS Biotar cameras are famous for, now available on the X60 Pro+.

Vivo’s top-of-the-line smartphone also has one other special ZEISS trait that even its X60 Pro sibling doesn’t. It has passed ZEISS’s T* coating certification, which boils down to having improved light transmission and reduced reflections, avoiding stray light and ghosting artifacts produced by other lenses.

That ZEISS mark, however, isn’t the only feature that the phone boasts of. The Vivo X60 Pro+ also uses for its main camera the 50MP Samsung ISOCELL GN1 which, in turn, boasts of a large 1/1.3-inch sensor and large 1.2 micrometer pixels that enables it to take better low-light and night-time shots as seen below. The Vivo X60 Pro+ takes great advantage of this in its Super Night Video feature, something the X60 Pro doesn’t have.

Just like with X50 Pro+, Vivo opted not to combine the large sensor with a large gimbal that would have bulked up the camera bump. Unlike last year, however, Vivo actually gave the X60 Pro+ a 48MP ultra-wide camera that does have its new Gimbal Stabilization 2.0. Curiously, this camera isn’t used in the phone’s night mode when it would have benefited from better stabilization. Vivo believes that the Samsung ISOCELL GN1 is better suited for that task and we can agree with that premise.

Another difference with the X60 Pro is that there is a periscope-style telephoto camera on the X60 Pro+. With an 8MP sensor and a maximum 5x optical zoom (60x hybrid zoom), it really isn’t that much but is definitely better than nothing at all.


The Vivo X60 Pro+ definitely delivers Vivo’s promise of professional photography packaged in a high-end smartphone with a unique design. The ZEISS branding helps to lend credibility to those claims but, at the end of the day, people will judge the phone by its own merits. Fortunately, for Vivo, the phone performs admirably on all fronts.

There is only one option for the Vivo X60 Pro+ so if you’re not a fan of the Emperor Blue’s vegan leather, you’re out of luck. The phone will launch first in India but plans to expand its availability throughout APAC, European, and Middle East markets are already underway.

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OPPO beats Vivo, Huawei, Xiaomi to top smartphone market in China

This January, 2021, OPPO held the largest smartphone market share in China for the first time in history. They also became the #2 5G manufacturer in China. OPPO’s smartphone market share in China reached 21% in January of 2021, beating Vivo, Huawei, Apple, Xiaomi, and the rest.

Per Counterpoint Research’s Market Pulse Service, OPPO reached a point at which they beat out every other smartphone brand in the entirety of China. This is the first time in the brand’s history that they’ve taken this spot in China, with blockbuster growth over the past several months.

Per Counterpoint, OPPO’s sales grew 26% year-over-year compared to this same month in the year 2020. OPPO smartphone sales also grew 33% compared to December of 2020. “OPPO has been successfully able to reposition its product lines in 2020,” said Varun Mishra, Senior Analyst at Counterpoint Research. “The rebranding of the Reno series and launching a more capable device at a lower price point than its predecessor helped OPPO capture the affordable premium segment.”

It also helped that Huawei was effectively hobbled by legal actions on the part of the US government that led to breaks in supply lines and the company’s ability to collaborate with brands of several sorts. As noted by Counterpoint, the decline of Huawei also “benefitted Xiaomi and vivo.”

Of course, if we lump together each of the brands that live inside the BBK Electronics umbrella, they have a monstrous hold over China – and a whole lot of the rest of the world, too. BBK Group includes OPPO, Vivo, Realme, OnePlus, and others.

OPPO will be releasing their next major smartphone, the OPPO Find X3 Pro, on March 11, 2021. The release date for this smartphone is not yet known. Take a peek at the timeline below to see more recent OPPO updates.

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