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Vivo Nex review: A high-end smartphone from the future

With elevating selfie camera, screen-sound casting and in-screen fingerprint sensor, Vivo’s Nex smartphone is packed with unique and first-of-its-kind features. Check out our detailed review.

tech Updated: Jul 22, 2018 16:42 IST
Kul Bhushan
Kul Bhushan
Hindustan Times
Vivo Nex,Vivo Nex Review,Vivo Nex India
Vivo Nex takes on OnePlus 6, Honor 10 and other top-end flagship phones.(HT Photo)

Product: Vivo Nex
Launch price: Rs 44,990
Key specs: Snapdragon 845 SoC, 4,000mAh battery, 6.59-inch Full HD+ display
Rating: 4/5


Fans have been divided over the implementation of notch on modern phones. Some like it and some don’t. Well, the notch, a cutout on top of the display, is more of a compromise if you want a phone with larger screens and don’t want the overall form factor to be like a tablet. But is the notch the only way to have an all-screen phone? The answer is no. And the great example for this Vivo’s Nex.

Vivo Nex comes with an impressive 91.24% screen-to-body ratio with absolutely minimum bezels (at least on the top bar). So, where do the camera modules, speakers and other necessary sensors go? Vivo is implementing first-of-its-kind camera module that is tucked into the top edge of the phone and can be summoned whenever you’re taking a selfie or need it for video calling. It works and looks really cool. A bit of gimmicky, but that’s fine.

And as far as the sound goes, Vivo has included a screen sound casting technology to transmit sound from the screen. This essentially means the display acts as a speaker and earpiece. To further amplify the sound, Vivo Nex comes with Hi-Fi with System in Package technology (SIP). It has a singular chip to house a Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) and a matrix with as many as three operational amplifiers.

Vivo Nex doesn’t come with a dedicated rear-facing or front-facing fingerprint button, instead it has also been embedded into the screen.

Just from innovation point of view, it’s pretty unique and forward looking, considering that both Apple and Samsung were rumoured to include this feature in their flagship phones.

Priced at Rs 44,990, Vivo Nex isn’t really crossing the threshold of being a super-expensive smartphone upon launch. In fact, the premium version of OnePlus 6 (Avengers Edition) comes at Rs 44,999.

Does the combination of these futuristic technologies and a price advantage make Vivo Nex a perfect phone?

First, let’s talk about the good things. Vivo Nex, backed by Snapdragon 845 processor and 8GB RAM, handles most of the basic tasks with ease. We did push the limits by running graphic-intensive games like Marvel: Clash of Champions, Real Racing 3 and of course PUBG Mobile. The phone didn’t disappoint at all with its performance.

Adding to the gaming experience or any multimedia streaming is the edge-to-edge 6.59-inch 2316x1080 FHD+ Super AMOLED display. Colours are vibrant and watching any high resolution video is pretty cool on the device. Other elements like call quality and battery life are pretty satisfactory.

The highlight of the phone, however, remains the motorised selfie-camera. The camera makes a mechanical noise (digital sound on the phone and can be customised) whenever it’s summoned. It’s kind of attention-grabbing and worth showing off to your friends and family.

Vivo Nex’s elevating camera in action (HT Photo)

We have talked in length about the camera performance in our dedicated review for the photography experience with Vivo Nex. Just a quick recap. The phone featuring 12-megapixel and 5-megapixel dual-camera setup takes pretty decent quality photos in good light conditions. Though not very consistent, the camera is pretty okay. Low-light photos are also alright for its price point. Just don’t expect it to be on par with expensive flagship ones like Google Pixel 2 XL and Samsung Galaxy S9+. ALSO READ: Vivo Nex Camera Review

Vivo Nex delivers good results in day light (image resized for web) (HT Photo/Kul Bhushan)

Vivo has rolled out a firmware update for Vivo Nex users to improve camera performance. We didn’t notice any significant improvement after the update.

Now, let’s talk about areas where Vivo Nex lags behind. The first on the list is Funtouch OS 4.0 (based on Android Oreo 8.1). The UI experience is disappointing after having used OnePlus 6 for a long period of time.

For instance, in default use, there’s no search bar to find applications. With the unit loaded with a number of apps, it becomes a bit annoying to find the app you want to use. On OnePlus 6, the OxygenOS will furnish your recent apps or let you search for app you’re looking for. Although it’s a small issue, but is very important in daily use cases. The workaround is that you can download a third-party launcher. We recommend Nova which is quite fluid.

We also struggled to register our fingerprint scanner on the screen. After multiple attempts, we just abandoned it, resorting to passcode-based unlocking. But it appears the fault is with our unit as other reviewers haven’t have reported similar issues.

Verdict
Vivo should be commended to bring a phone, which could have remained in concept phase for a long time, to users and try to democratise future-looking features like screen-sound casting or a motorised selfie camera.

The performance, except for the buggy UI, is pretty satisfactory. As compared to basic models of OnePlus 6, Vivo Nex does seem little expensive, but considering the unique looks and special features, it’s worth giving a shot. The phone is certainly going to appeal to people who’re looking for a device that is different, has good looks, and doesn’t compromise on performance.

First Published: Jul 22, 2018 14:13 IST