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Vivo, a brand which has always been associated with budget and mid-range selfie smartphones has unveiled one of the most interesting smartphones of modern times, and that too in the Indian market. Vivo Nex, the flagship smartphone with a big and notch-less gorgeous edge-to-edge screen and best-in-class specs is now available for purchase at Rs.44,990 in the Indian market and will be available by July 21, 2018. Vivo Nex will sell online via Amazon India and Vivo's official website. Vivo will also sell the handset in the offline market at select partner stores and Vivo stores.
Vivo Nex is a one-of-its-kind mobile device that makes boring smartphones interesting again. It goes head-to-head with OPPO Find X that also works on motorized camera modules and bring a screen-to-body ratio of 93.55 %. Vivo Nex scores 91.5% in the same department. To achieve such as feat, Vivo has incorporated a pop-up camera module that slides in and out from the top of the smartphone whenever required. Besides, the Vivo's futuristic in-display fingerprint scanning technology is another important factor to achieve such bezel-less form-factor.
I spent some time with Vivo Nex as my primary phone to understand how practical is the pop-up camera and the in-display fingerprint scanner in everyday life. Here's my review of the smartphone, which goes head-to-head with OPPO Find X, OnePlus 6 and even every other flagship handset in the market.
Pop-up Camera is Dope tech
Let's get straight to the most interesting feature of Vivo Nex- the ‘Pop-up' selfie camera, or as Vivo calls it- Elevating front camera. To achieve a truly bezel-less design, Vivo used a sliding assembly that houses the 8MP front-facing camera. The slider is rigidly positioned and houses a spring inside it which prevents the assembly from snapping off during a mishap. The up and down motion is quite smooth and fast and does not make you wait to take a selfie. I must recommend you enable the accompanying sound effects from settings as they make the whole sliding process quite slick and futuristic.
I cannot vouch for the pop-up slider's durability for now, but it seems the Vivo team has done a good job here and unless the phone does not hit the floor or you don't bump the slider in a wall, it will live on.
As far as selfie camera's output is concerned, it is good but not the best from the house of Vivo. The camera captures crisp shots in daylight and Vivo has also incorporated iPhone X like Studio and Stage lighting modes. There's no dedicated LED flashlight at the front but you get screen flash which due to a bigger display is very powerful and enables well-lit selfies even in low light. Besides, you can enable HDR, Portrait mode, Live photo and Face beauty to experiment with self-portraits. You can also use AR stickers and apply some filters while taking a selfie.
Where’s the earpiece?
The pop-up camera is not the only futuristic design element that Vivo has incorporated to achieve the bezel-less form factor. Vivo has also hidden the earpiece under the gigantic display as the NEX uses 'Screen SoundCasting' technology that converts your entire display into a speaker. The on-call audio quality sounds different at first as compared to a traditional earpiece. The phone also indicates you to position your ear at a specific spot for better audio output during a call. It takes a little time to get used to it, but even after that, the audio quality is a bit let-down.
6.59-inch OLED Display is big and colorful
The notch-less edge-to-edge Super AMOLED display looks gorgeous even though the pixel density is not best-in-class. The display measures 6.59-inches and comes in Full HD+ resolution, which translates to a pixel density of 388ppi. As we are discussing a Super AMOLED panel, the blacks are deeper and colors look punchy. The display is also comfortably bright and fairly touch responsive. As far as viewing experience is concerned, the videos and gameplay look stunning and the screen's non-interrupted nature makes Vivo Nex a great device for multimedia consumption.
Premium Glass body but Big size can be a problem
Vivo Nex is company's biggest smartphone till date in terms of sheer size. It's big, bulky and is not actually built for one-hand use. As far as design is concerned, Vivo Nex is a looker. The big phablet has Gorilla glass at both front and back, and a metal frame in between. The rear glass sheet also has an underlying pattern that makes for a nice visual effect. The metal frame holds the volume rockers and power button on the right side.
The USB Type C charging port sits at the bottom along with SIM card tray, microphone and a down-firing speaker, which delivers loud and clear audio. The left side of the metal frame has a dedicated button to activate Google Assistant (long press) and Google Lens (one press). The top side has the 3.5mm headphone jack, microphone, and the pop-up camera module.
As I mentioned, Vivo Nex is a big device. It measures 162 x 77 x 8 mm and weighs 200 grams. Using it with one hand can be a task even though if you have big hands. Thankfully, the rear glass panel of the Vivo Nex has gentle curves and even the corners are rounded so that the handset sits somewhat better in your palm.
Dual-lens camera with dual-pixel technology
For the rear camera, Vivo has incorporated a dual-lens camera setup, which comprises of a 12MP primary sensor (f/1.8) and a 5MP secondary sensor (f/2.4) to create depth of field effect. The camera setup gets 4-axis OIS stabilization and Dual Pixel PDAF.The camera performance on Vivo Nex is impressive and probably the best-in-class in sub Rs. 45k price segment. The images show accurate colors and have good detailing. The sharpness is a bit on a higher side as the camera's algorithm gets pretty intense most of the times.
The portrait mode and HDR can use some improvements as results are not very consistent.
The camera also uses machine learning and as per Vivo, it enhances each shot by detecting the photo conditions. The AI can also suggest the appropriate filters after identifying photo scenes. For modes and filters, you get Live Photo, Face Beauty, Backlight HDR, Portrait Bokeh, Panorama, AR Stickers, Filters, Slow motion, backlight, time lapse etc.
High-end Hardware and latest Software
Vivo has also taken into account other important factors like battery, processor, RAM, and storage. The smartphone is backed by a big 4,000 mAh battery unit and is powered by the best-in-class Snapdragon 845 CPU. The processor is paired with 8GB RAM and 128GB internal memory that easily takes care of your multitasking and storage requirements. In my three days of usage, I have played the most graphically intensive games, pushed the handset to its limits with extended on-screen time and still did not face any performance issues.
Vivo Nex is indeed a full-fledged flagship smartphone that will not disappoint you in multimedia, computing, gaming and battery department. However; there are some areas where Vivo Nex falls back. There's no microSD card slot so you have to make peace with 128GB internal memory. Besides, the smartphone is not water-dust resistant. Moreover, despite a glass rear panel, there's no wireless charging, but this is one feature which I personally believe is not practical and is just over hyped. Vivo Nex ships with a big power adapter that offers fast charging.
For connectivity, the smartphone has Dual-band Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth, OTG and Type C. Vivo Nex runs on Funtouch OS based on Android Oreo. The UI brings some useful features such as App Clone, Smart Split, Gestures, Battery Saving modes, etc. The software runs smoothly on Vivo Nex; however, if you prefer the stock Android interface, you will find it tough to get used to Vivo's Funtouch user interface.
It is quite surprising to see how Vivo has managed to turn a concept design into a working end-user model in such a short span of time. Nex is future-driven and powerful and also does not overlook the basics of a smartphone. It is the first full-fledged flagship smartphone from Vivo and we expect the brand to bring more innovative and performance driven mass products in the coming future. If you want to experience something futuristic and entirely different, Vivo Nex is the smartphone you should buy in value flagship category.