What are Vivo phones? A brief overview of the company and its smartphones

Vivo X51 5G
(Image credit: TechRadar)

While Vivo is one of the smaller Chinese phone brands that releases its phones in the West, it's put out a few impressive Android phones, so we're expecting big things from the company in the future.

Other phone brand guides

We’ve now seen a number of Chinese phone brands make it big outside Asia by offering high-spec phones at low prices, and Vivo could be set to follow the same path. In a few years, you could see Vivo phones sitting on store shelves next to Samsung Galaxy and Apple iPhones.

In this guide to Vivo, we look at the company’s history, the phones it makes, and where it stands with regards to non-smartphone devices too.

A brief history of Vivo

Vivo was founded in 2009, selling its phones in only China for a time. This changed in 2014, when the company extended its reach to a few more countries, predominantly in South Asia. The brand released its first smartphone in Europe in 2020, and now sells its devices in a few countries on the continent including the UK, France, Italy and Spain.

The company also has a presence in a few non-Eurasian countries – namely Colombia, Chile and Australia.

Alongside Realme, Oppo and OnePlus, Vivo is affiliated with tech conglomerate BBK Electronics, although the exact relationship between BBK’s brands has always been unclear. 

In a statement, Vivo told TechRadar 'vivo is an independent company and does not belong to any parent company. We invest in our own R&D and product development resources, and do not share with any brand in both the software and hardware development.'

'In 2001, the three BBK business divisions parted to fully separate business entities/companies. BBK Communications became vivo'.

What phones does Vivo make?

Vivo Y70

Vivo Y70 (Image credit: TechRadar)

Vivo’s flagship line of smartphones is the X range, with mobiles like the Vivo X60. These phones feature top-end specs, but typically at mid-range prices. They often come with camera innovations such as a physical gimbal sensor on the main camera, for improved optical image stabilization.

In addition, Vivo has its Y-series of devices, such as the Y70 and Y20s. In general, these are dependable, low-cost devices. Higher numbers correlate to better specs and higher prices.

There's also the S- and V- line, which Vivo has been selling in China for just as long, but introduced in regions like Europe a little later. These, again, are mid-range or budget devices - there's actually little that differentiates the Y, S and V in terms of market placement.

The Vivo Apex smartphones are worth a look, too – although you can’t buy these handsets. They’re concept devices that Vivo launches annually, to show off tech that later trickles down into smartphones the company launches to market.

Vivo produces plenty of other phones that aren’t sold in all countries. Notable among these is iQOO, a line that’s dedicated to high performance (mainly for gaming), though it's been slowly introducing more and more lines to a global market since it started selling them.

Vivo phone availability information

Vivo Y20s

Vivo Y20s (Image credit: Future)

At the time of writing, Vivo is still pretty new in Europe. As such, it’s difficult to specify release patterns for its phones in the region.

The first batch of Vivo’s phones were launched in Europe in October 2020, comprising the X51, Y70, Y20s and Y11s; the X51 had been launched earlier in the year elsewhere.

Since then, we've seen a slow drip of new phones over time, mostly budget versions. One factor that differentiates Vivo from other fresh-faced Chinese phone companies, is that it almost immediately started selling its mobiles via carriers, as some other brands sold their devices SIM-free for years before getting telecom companies to range them.

Vivo's focus is still China though, and it sometimes results in delayed launches elsewhere. The Vivo X60, one flagship from the company, saw a Chinese launch in December 2020 before rolling out to Europe throughout 2021. That gives a glimpse into its 

Other tech Vivo sells

Alongside its range of smartphones, Vivo also sells audio devices such as the Vivo TWS Neo earbuds, which appear designed for use alongside the company’s phones.

In late-2020, the brand also unveiled the Vivo Watch – although it isn’t available in Europe, and there’s no word if it will appear, or whether we’ll be seeing more wearables from the company in the future.

It’s possible that, as Vivo expands, it could move into areas such as fitness trackers, tablets and even over-ear headphones – although that’s just speculation for now.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.