There was a time when 3.5-inch display on a phone was considered to be huge, but we humans have ever growing hunger for things we like. And we can go to any limits to fulfil it, no matter whatever it takes! And when this hunger turns into obsession, boundaries are pushed, limits are crossed, and once impossible looking ideas are turned into the real products. I know after reading this, you must be thinking that I am talking about some Apple product but, my friend, you are wrong this time!

Crazy products innovation isn’t the Apple thing anymore! Companies from all around the world are now introducing amazingly innovative products. And this is the review of one such highly-innovative smartphone. Yes, the Vivo Nex!

Few months ago, at MWC 2018, Vivo mobile showed a concept phone called Vivo Apex to the world. The Vivo Apex featured a elevating front camera that sits right inside the body of the phone and pops-out from the top of the phone whenever required. And because of this innovative approach, it caught the attention of the whole world. It was just a mere concept at that time and nobody believed that it could be a real deal, at least for next 2 years or so, but Vivo has already brought the Apex tech in its latest smartphone – The Vivo Nex.

The people of this fragile mortal world imagined to use a smartphone where there will be only screen to see, no thick bezels, no notches, or any clutter – All they dreamt of is just full plain display. And almost after the decade of touch-display phones, this dream has come to a reality, finally!

Over the years, smartphone manufacturers have tried to find and implement clever ways to hide/remove the front facing camera and many other required visible hardware parts from the front of the phone. We found some implementations weird while others innovative and in the midst of this combination of being weird and innovative, it seems, some smartphone manufacturers have found the right formula of implementing the full display in the front without compromising on features, functionality, and the quality of the device.

The Vivo Nex comes just with that right formula and the magnificent Super AMOLED full display on the front. Launched just last month in China, the Vivo NEX comes in a bunch of configurations but the one landing in India is the top end ‘S’ variant with the Snapdragon 845 processor, coupled with 8GB RAM and dual cameras.

I’ve been using the Vivo Nex for a while now and let’s dive straight into the review but before talking about the detailed experience let’s talk a look at the specifications of the smartphone.

Vivo NEX Specifications

  • Display: 59-inch Super AMOLED display, (1080 x 2316 pixels)
  • Software: Android 8.1 Oreo, FunTouchOS 4.0
  • Fingerprint Scanner: Yes (In-Display)
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Octa-core processor
  • GPU: Adreno 630
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Storage: 128 GB internal, no microSD support
  • Main Camera: 12 MP (f/1.8) + 5MP (f/2.4), dual-tone LED Flash
  • Selfie Camera: 8MP with f/2.0 aperture
  • Connectivity: USB Type C, 3.5 mm, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS + GLONASS, NFC
  • Cellular: 4G LTE, Dual SIM
  • Battery: 4,000 mAh, Li-ion Polymer, non-removable
  • Price: 44,990

Box Contents

Box design is similar to what we have seen with the Vivo X21. There is the NEX branding on top, along with the FIFA World Cup 2018 branding. As soon as you lift the top part, you are greeted with the smartphone. Underneath lies the documentation and the supplied silicon case followed by accessories.

A complete list of items you get inside the box:

  • Vivo NEX smartphone unit
  • Earphones with mic
  • Sim Ejector Tool
  • Charging Brick
  • USB Type-C Cable
  • High Quality Velvet Finish Silicon Case
  • Warranty and User Guide

Design

The Vivo NEX has a very striking design which will surely turn heads. The front of the phone is covered with the display, thanks to the minimal bezels up top and the bottom, it’s a sight that we thoroughly enjoyed. At the core Vivo has gone with a tried and tested glass sandwich design that might or might not be a cup of tea for many users but the narrow and non-existing bezels just give it a whole new look.

Kudos to Vivo for not adding the usual notch up top and going with a more innovative approach by using the pop-up camera. The pop-up camera works pretty well and to make the experience even more better, Vivo has added a bunch of tunes that are played as soon the camera pops up or goes back down. There isn’t a mechanical hiss or buzz in whole operation which is cool. At first, we were concerned about the moving parts in the smartphone and how durable they will be but Vivo claims that the pop-up mechanism is tested about a couple of hundred thousand times. The pop-up cameras seem very durable, well build and passed our stress tests with flying colors.

Talking about the rear, you would find the NEX branding in the center, accompanied by Vivo branding on the bottom. The dual rear camera module is found on the left side top corner, with the flash below it. The camera module protrudes a bit, so it is advisable to use a case all the time. Instead of going with a plain shade underneath the glass back, Vivo has gone with a rainbow color refraction effect.

The bottom of the smartphones houses the USB Type-C port, speaker grill, microphone, and the SIM card tray. The 3.5 mm audio jack is placed on the top along with the secondary mic. The side rails are painted in glossy black and house the buttons which provide a good tactile feel. You’ll find the volume rockers and the power key on the left side whereas the right side houses the dedicated Jovi AI button which is expected to do certain cool stuff for you.

Display

In terms of display, Vivo NEX is keeping up with the other flagships and the latest trend with the use of a 19.3:9 aspect ratio 6.59-inch display. The display technology is Super AMOLED, so you’d get punchy colors and deep blacks, that are trademark of AMOLED panels. Apart from the pop-up camera, Vivo has added the In-Display fingerprint scanner here too. The sensor used here is of 3rd Generation, while there is no noticeable difference between the sensor used here and the one found on the Vivo X21. The In-Display sensors are still in their early stages so at times they are a little finicky but gets the job done.

The display is bright enough and offers good visibility under direct sunlight. Since it’s an AMOLED display, just like the X21, Vivo has added always-on-display using which you can notifications via the lock screen.

Software

Just like other Vivo devices, NEX S runs on, Vivo’s custom skin. Vivo Nex comes with Android 8.1 Oreo with FunTouchOS 4.0 on top out of the box. Now we have mentioned this in the X21 review as well, FunTouchOS resembles a lot to Apple’s iOS, right from the icons to the control center that comes out by swiping up from the bottom of the screen. There are some features missing from the OS, like notification dots.

NEX S comes with a bunch of pre-installed apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, WPS Office, NewsPoint, PhonePe etc, which might or might not be useful for most of the users. Other than this, features like Face Unlock are present on this smartphone as well and works great. Nifty features like the ‘Air Unlock’ are always a welcome. Overall, with the power of Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and software optimization, Vivo has secured full marks in providing a good user experience.

Performance

The Nex, like many other 2018 flagships, is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset cloaked at 2.8 GHz along with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage. The Snapdragon 845 is the class leading mobile chipset which is based on the 10 nm manufacturing process. Now, this allows the Snapdragon 845 to be snappy and power efficient at the same time.

We are not Benchmark fanatics but the scores of the Nex are similar to what you would find on the other flagships running on the same chipset. We didn’t run into any lags or hiccups during our testing period. Switching between apps, scrolling through pages, multi-tasking is silky smooth. As far as gaming is concerned, we ran PUBG and Asphalt at high graphics settings and didn’t encounter any lag or frame drop.

Vivo has supplied the NEX with a 4,000mAh battery which lasted us a full day with about 7 hours of screen on time. Snapdragon 845 supports Quick Charge 4.0 and the supplied 22.5W charger helps to top up the battery in under 2hrs.

Coming to the audio, the NEX has a single downward firing speaker which is on the average side, we wish Vivo would have gone with a hybrid system here. The output via the 3.5mm audio jack is surprisingly very good thanks to the dedicated Hi-Fi audio chip.

Camera

Vivo has always worked and improved the camera performance of their smartphones and the NEX is no exception. The Vivo NEX comes with a dual rear camera setup, where the primary sensor is a 12MP unit with f/1.8 aperture and a 5MP f/2.4 depth sensor. The sensor used here is Sony’s IMX 363 which is a proven sensor for producing some quality shots. Photos taken in proper daylight were really beautiful, crisp and sharp. The camera setup works well in the adverse lighting conditions including low-light situations. You can get good shots in the artificial lighting or in the club/pub areas where, usually, the lights are not that great for photography.

Apart from the normal shooting modes, Vivo has added a Professional mode, Panorama, Face beauty mode, AR Sticker, and Doc mode. Scene detection and AR stickers work flawlessly. The other noticeable features of the camera are AI Scene Recognition, AI Face Beauty, AI HDR, and P3 Color Gamut.

For selfie lovers there’s an 8MP shooter on the front with f/2.0 aperture. Just like the rear camera, the sensor used on the front is also Sony’s IMX 363, an option to click portrait selfie is also present to sweeten the deal.

I felt happy to have the Vivo Nex with me.

So, I was out with few of my friends the other day to celebrate the birthday of a friend in a very popular club of New Delhi. I took my Vivo Nex out to take selfies and as soon as the front camera popped, all of my friends went crazy like they have seen something from the Jetsons. The last thing I remember from that night is my buddies doing pop-in and pop-out of the front camera. I felt happy to have the Vivo Nex with me.

In the next morning, I check the selfies we took at the club and they turned out to be very pretty surprisingly. Though there were some grains in the shot but given the lighting conditions, they were very good.

Overall the shots taken from the cameras are on par with other smartphones in this price range.

Vivo Nex Camera Samples

Vivo NEX Unboxing

Vivo NEX Pricing

  • 8GB/128GB – INR 44,990 [Buy Now]

Pros 

  • Decent Design
  • In-display fingerprint
  • Good Battery life
  • Flagship performance
  • Pop Up camera

Cons 

  • FunTouchOS needs work
  • No wireless charging and NFC

Verdict – Should you go for it?

Vivo NEX is certainly a smartphone that provides us with a glimpse of the future and where the mobile design industry is now headed. We like the overall design and vibe of the smartphone. We didn’t have issues with the way the smartphone performed in our day to day use but we kind of hope features like NFC, microSD card support and wireless charging could have been added considering the price at which it is being offered.

The Vivo Nex is the smartphone of 21st century. If you want to own something new, this should be your next choice. At the price point of INR 44,990, you are getting the top-end innovation along with the high-end specifications you can expect in a 2018 flagship smartphone.

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