One is the first in a new series of devices. The other is perhaps the undisputed champ of the middle segment of the smartphone business. One comes from one of the best performing brands of the year. The other from the undisputed leader in the market. And they are both clashing in roughly the same price segment. We are talking of the recently released Z1 Pro from Vivo, the first of its Z series, and the established top dog of the mid-segment, Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 7 Pro. Both are fighting for the mantle of the best sub-Rs 15,000 phone. Which of them comes out on top? Well, read on to find out how they compare.
Outglassed does not mean outclassed
There are some who have pointed out that the Z1 Pro’s plastic back makes it inferior to the Glass one of the Note 7 Pro, which appears more premium. Well, not in our books. For us, the Z1 Pro is definitely a more striking device visually than the Redmi Note 7. Both phones have gradient finish backs (although our black model of the Note 7 Pro is the only one in the series which does not – strange are the ways of review units), but we just felt that the Z1 Pro was far more striking while the Note 7 Pro was too understated. Yes, the Z1 Pro is distinctly larger and heavier, but it is also more likely to turn heads.
A Game of Displays
Both the phones come with full HD+ displays with notches, but there the similarity between them ends. The Vivo Z1 Pro has a 6.53-inch display with a punch hole notch in the corner while the Redmi Note 7 Pro has a 6.3 inch display with a drop notch. The Redmi’s display seems slightly brighter, but it cannot haul back the benefit of more real estate display offered by the Z1 Pro (and it is a good display too) – the punch hole notch is also a whole lot less intrusive.
Both phones come with Qualcomm Snapdragon mid-segment chipsets. But very different ones. The Snapdragon 675 on the Redmi Note 7 Pro threw a spanner in the chip nomenclature works when it was seen by many to be the superior of the Snapdragon 710 (which on paper seems to be the superior one), being newer and also faster in some regards. The Snapdragon 712 chip is a step ahead of the Snapdragon 710 and is considered to be a wiz at handling the likes of PUBG (it is the official phone of the PUBG Mobile Club Open). However, the difference between the two chips is still not a perceptible one.
Together in RAM and storage, separated by card slots
And both come with similar base configuration of 4 GB/ 64 GB, with 6 GB / 64 GB and 6 GB/ 128 GB variants. Both phones also support a maximum of 256 GB of expandable storage using a memory card. However, the Vivo Z1 Pro has a slight edge here as it comes with a dedicated micro SD card, while the Redmi Note 7 Pro relies on a hybrid dual SIM slot.
Two cameras can be better than three
On paper, you would have thought that the Z1 Pro would win the camera wars against the Note 7 Pro, as it sports three cameras on the back against the Redmi’s dual camera set up. However, of those two cameras on the Note 7 Pro, one is the 48-megapixel Sony IMX 586 sensor. And paired with a 5-megapixel depth sensor, it very comfortably outguns the 16-megapixel main sensor and 8 and 2-megapixel secondary sensors. It is not that the Vivo Z1 Pro’s cameras are bad – in fact, they often delivered more realistic colors, but they are pretty much outgunned in terms of detail by the Redmi Note 7 Pro. The Z1 Pro did win back some ground with its 32-megapixel selfie camera outdoing the 13-megapixel on the Note 7 Pro, delivering better detail although getting a little unrealistic in the color department. However, all said and done, the Note 7 Pro is the winner in the camera department here.
That big display (and better sound) score in gaming and multimedia
When it comes to gaming, the difference in performance on screen does not seem to be a mighty one between the two devices. We played PUBG and Asphalt on the two titles and the difference in performance was not immediately discernible. What, however, was discernible was that the Z1 Pro’s bigger display (with that less intrusive punch hole notch in a corner) and its sharper sound gave it a clear edge over the Redmi device. It was not as if the Redmi Note 7 did not handle games well. It did, but the Z1 Pro just seemed better designed for gaming. The fact that Vivo has also (rather unusually at this price point) added a pair of earphones in the box only increases its edge. And it is this combination of more viewing surface area and slightly superior sound that gives the Vivo Z1 pro the edge when it comes to games, videos, and multimedia.
Mi(UI) is more than Fun(touch), you know
The Redmi Note 7 Pro and the Vivo Z1 Pro both come with Android Pie out of the box. But you would not be able to say so by looking at them. That’s because both come with very elaborate Android interfaces or skins – the Note 7 Pro comes with Xiaomi’s MIUI overlay while the Z1 Pro has Vivo’s Funtouch OS on it. Both are very comprehensive and add a fair amount of functionality to the devices, but we do think MIUI is a little more refined. Funtouch can be overpowering initially, although it can be empowering once you get the hang of it. Yes, we know some people have an issue with the ads on MIUI, but all said and done, the user interface is a whole lot more polished on the Note 7 Pro as compared to the one on the Z1 Pro. Xiaomi also has a better track record of updating MIUI (if not Android itself) on its device – an area that is an Achilles Heel for Vivo.
There is a new Pro in big battery town
The Redmi Note series deserves credit for making large batteries almost hygiene factors in the mid-segment, and sure enough the Redmi Note 7 Pro features a large one itself – a 4000 mAh one. However, it is totally upstaged in numerical terms by the battery on the Vivo Z1 Pro, which comes with a 5000 mAh battery. However, as we pointed out in our review, this advantage does not translate into a big edge in real life usage, with the Z1 Pro not being too far ahead of the Note 7 Pro- both phones comfortably get through a day of usage, and careful usage can take them further. However, although both devices support fast charging, the Note 7 Pro gives ground by including only a 10W charger in the box, while the Z1 Pro has an 18W one (which means it charges faster). That gives the Z1 Pro an edge.
The original price warrior meets a new one
The Redmi Note series had turned the mid-segment on its head with its pricing, but of late it has been facing some tough competition from the likes of Realme. Asus and Samsung. And now, Vivo has come to the mid-segment smartphone party with a vengeance with the Z1 Pro. On paper, the Note 7 Pro still starts at a lower price point – Rs 13,999 as compared to Rs 14,990 of the Z1 Pro (a rough difference of Rs 1000 that is maintained across all variants) – but the Z1 Pro can claim to bring a little more to the table in hardware terms, with a bigger display (with a punch hole notch), more cameras, a larger battery (with a fast charger) and earphones.
Which Pro, then – from a Note to Z?
So which device of the two should you go for? Well, if you are into gaming very seriously, then it is a no-brainer – the Note 7 Pro is a good device, but the bigger display and better sound give the Z1 Pro an edge here, although there is not much separating the two processors in actual performance. However, if the camera matters (and to many it does), the Redmi Note 7 Pro lives up to its camera beast billing, and is the better option. The Redmi Note 7 pro also has the easier and smoother interface, although there can be no denying that the Z1 Pro looks more modern with its jazzy finish and that punch hole notch. So, pros and cons on either side.
Which is the one we recommend? Well, no matter which device you opt for, you are unlikely to be disappointed. We can see many liking the design of the Z1 Pro and the larger, punch hole display does make for a viewing difference for the game and video loving crowd. But, if pushed to make a choice, we would incline slightly towards the Note 7 Pro as we feel that its camera and software give it an edge, and well, it does come with a very healthy heritage. But it is an incredibly close call.
(Akriti Rana contributed to this article)