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Vivo NEX 2 Dual Display: The Good, The Bad, and The X factor
Vivo is poised to keep the smartphone designs fun.
The definition of innovation in the smartphone industry has changed over time. It no longer means bringing completely new and disruptive tech to the table. Instead, it has become more about bringing new functionality based on the existing techs. Well, the latest example would be Vivo's NEX 2 that offers two screens on either panel making it one of the most unique smartphones launched in recent times.
Vivo, who is also the pioneer of motorized popups, took a different approach with the NEX 2. Although Vivo isn't the first to incorporate a dual display on a phone, it might be the one who managed it to make it more useful and practical. Instead of making the secondary display only a camera viewfinder, the company made sure it could double as the main screen too. The main screen takes up 6.39-inches of the real estate, while the secondary screen is a 5.49-inch size. Both panels are Super AMOLED and make for a quality viewing experience.
Other specifications include a Snapdragon 845 chipset, octa-core processor paired with Adreno 630 GPU. The chipset is backed by 10GB of RAMand 128GB of internal storage. It runs Android 9.0 Pie with FunTouch OS 4.5 atop. It has an in-display fingerprint sensor and facial recognition for added security. And, to keep the phone running, Vivo has placed a 3500mAh battery. But is the device worth placing your bets on? Let's break it down for you.
The Vivo NEX 2 is something that will instantly catch your attention, thanks to its unique design and form factor. The company has crammed in two display but that hardly affects the thickness of the phone. It still feels slim and comfortable to hold. You might face some difficulties using it with one hand if you have small palms, but that's why you have a second screen in place.
The bezels around the bigger screen are miniscule which complements the overall aesthetics of the device. It has the volume rockers, and two buttons to switch screens on the sides, while the bottom has a SIM card tray, USB-C port, microphone, and speaker grille. Since this is a glass contraption, there's always a fear of dropping the phone and breaking the screen. But, if you accidentally damage one screen, another screen will come for your rescue.
The NEX 2 is a powerful performer, as one would expect from a flagship. The device works very smoothly in everyday use and handles high-end gaming without breaking a sweat. Under the hood, the smartphone is powered by a Snapdragon 845 octa-core chipset, making it one the most powerful phones around.
We fired up some graphics-hungry games and pushed the device to its limits, and boy can it take a beating? Definitely! All the games ran well including PUBG without any sign of lag and stutter. We ran the device through some benchmarks and found out that it performs better than the OnePlus 6T and the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 in some areas. The NEX 2 secured 4,722 in 3DMark which is more than the Galaxy Note 9 that scored 4290. The device scored 296,840 in AnTuTu, compared to the OnePlus 6T's 262,273.
The smartphone is backed by a 3500mAh battery. At first it might sound like a small number considering there are two displays, but fortunately, that doesn't seem to affect the battery life. Well, that's because you're unlikely to use both screens simultaneously often. We managed to use the device for a whole day and still managed to save some juice for the second day. Our usage included gaming, video streaming, internet browsing, social media, and voice calling. For moderate users, the battery will last for at least one and a half day before requiring a fast charge.
The NEX 2 packs a triple camera setup comprising a 12MP sensor with an f/1.8 aperture lens, 4-axis OIS, and dual pixel PDAF. While the secondary camera is a 2MP depth sensor with an f/1.8 aperture for providing the popular bokeh effect. The third camera is a time-of-flight or TOF sensor with an IR illuminator which comes in handy for both 3D face recognition and selfie beautification.
We wouldn't call this the best camera on a smartphone, but it still captures good pictures. In well-lit surroundings, the camera produced some sharp and bright images. We did notice some noise in pictures taken in low-light but are still usable.
The Vivo NEX 2 runs Android 9.0 wrapped under the Futouch OS 4.5 skin, and honestly, it isn't one of the phone's strongest traits. The UI doesn't offer an app drawer, and there's no way you could add it from the settings. This forces the users to make new folders to store the apps. Although the device has the latest Android on the software front, the tweaks don't work in its favor. The company could have given both options making it more convenient for the users.
The software, however, supports some of the best gestures you'll find on Android. Swiping up from the bottom will show the control center while swiping three fingers to either side will switch the screens. While the UI has a striking resemblance with iOS, the smart implementations make up for the shortcomings.
No wide-angle, zoom lens
As mentioned above, the NEX 2 comes equipped with a triple camera setup comprising a 12MP + 2MP and the third camera with an IR illuminator for 3D face recognition. Although the camera performance is above average, if not great, it does lack some features that one would expect from a smartphone of this stature.
We expected the camera to at least feature a wide-angle lens or a zoom lens. Smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy M20 are also offering a wide-angle lens that allows you to capture ultra-wide shots at 120-degree angles compared to the normal 78-degree angles seen on other smartphones. Vivo could have added one of these features to make the cameras even better.
As of now, the Vivo NEX 2 is only available for the Chinese market at a price of 4,998 yuan ($727). And, that's a problem if you want to get your hands on one. There's a possibility that the device might not make it to the Indian market anytime soon. This could be one of those devices which are restricted to specific markets to see the user response. If the device makes it to the Indian market, be ready to see a hefty price tag as it offers top-end specifications and a unique design. Let's keep our finger crossed and hope to see an India variant soon.
The X factor
The dual screens are without a doubt the biggest selling point of the Vivo NEX 2. As it's something the user will interact with the most. And it gets better if you get two screens to play around with.
The front screen is big, bright, vibrant and most importantly, it's full. This might remind you of the Vivo NEX S and it just as impressive. Unlike the dual screen phones we've seen in the past, Vivo has placed an AMOLED display on both sides. The main screen takes up 6.39-inches of the real estate, while the secondary screen is a 5.49-inch size. Since there aren't any notches, the display looks spotless and makes it a great tool for multimedia consumption.
The second screen, on the other hand, features a big chin and forehead. It houses all the cameras, the branding, and an earpiece. It's a 5.49-inch Super AMOLED screen that comes into the act when you feel like clicking a selfie. But, you can also use it as the primary display if high brightness or sharpness isn't what you seek.
Switching between the screens is easy, you just need to press the buttons placed on the sides of the phone. Another feature that the back screen is what Vivo likes to call it - the Lunar Ring. It is an LED arc that surrounds the camera setup and lights up to provide an effect for your selfies.
Well, all these are just a few used cases of the second screen, but in my opinion, the biggest benefit of having the second display is that users can continue to use the device even after they accidentally break either of the screens.
Hit or a miss?
The Vivo NEX 2 certainly feels like a peek into the future and seems like a thoughtful and creative way to do away with the controversial notch. And with features like mirror mode and dual screen gaming, the second display sounds much more useful than being just a gimmick to look different from other smartphones in the much-crowded market.
While this design doesn't look like it would be adopted by other OEMs, but it's great to see the comapnies like Vivo poised at offering new designs to the users and keep the mobile devices fun.
At $730, which translates to something around Rs 52,000 in Indian currency, this unique smartphone relatively affordable. It will be interesting to see how the Indian market would respond to the new design and approach. Vivo has received tremendous response in the Indian market with its other offerings and this could be a surprise too. If the company refines the software even further, this could be a well-rounded flagship device.