Taking The Centre Stage
Hate the smartphone notch? The Vivo Nex may be the flagship for you to consider
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It may well be 2018’s most visible design trend, yet the fairly contentious addition of the screen notch in phones has consumers split between “top-notch” and “notch-again”! The notch is essentially a compromise — you want narrow borders and screens that stretch all the way from the top to the bottom, but the earpiece, the front camera and a bunch of sensors have to go somewhere, don’t they? Well, Vivo’s not toeing that line, taking some ambitious design decisions in its Nex smartphone.
It starts with the headlining feature — the pop-up front camera, which rises from within the top edge and retracts when it’s not in use. It’s the phone’s biggest wow factor, eliciting a “show it again” response with anyone who sees it once. Initial concerns about moving parts were easily allayed with Vivo’s approach — the module is sturdy with no shake and the servo motors are spring-protected to handle any external pressure. Coupled with a few more innovative design decisions — there is no physical earpiece, so Vivo vibrates the entire screen to create sound, plus the light, proximity and in-screen fingerprint sensors work through the screen — you get a smartphone that’s all screen, and the Nex’s impressive 91.24 per cent screen-to-body ratio lets the gorgeous screen take centre stage, no distractions. Full marks to Vivo for taking a design leap of faith where others fear to tread. The 6.59-inch Super AMOLED display is superb, with vivid colors and inky blacks, and impressive brightness. Sure, a quad-HD display would have been preferred, but it’s only on screens packed with text that you notice the pixels.
Under the hood, the Nex packs top-shelf components — a Snapdragon 845 with 8GB / 128GB of fast memory and storage — and while everyday tasks are a breeze, it’s gaming and movies that really benefit from the widescreen 19.3:9 aspect ratio screen, with none of the content getting cut off by a notch. Vivo’s Funtouch OS continues to be “inspired” by iOS and it works fluidly for the most part, save for the gestures which need a bit of refining. It’s also missing face recognition, which would have been a good option to unlock the phone since the in-screen fingerprint sensor, while better than the one on the Vivo X21, is still a bit slow off the blocks.
On the imaging front, the flagship impresses with the quality of photos from the rear camera — details levels are high, autofocus is quick and colors are rich — and the only letdown is an iffy portrait mode. The selfie camera is a different matter altogether — selfie lovers may find the one-second delay for the camera to pop up a deal breaker, or the camera’s tendency to overexpose shots or struggle in low-light situations, for that matter. The 4,000mAh battery with support for Vivo’s fast charging protocol is good for a day and a half, despite the bigger screen, and it juices up plenty fast with the included wall charger.
At its price, the Vivo Nex is futuristic and unparalleled in its use of innovative design and even though it scrimps on flagship features such as waterproofing and wireless charging, the phone has a lot going for it. Pick it up if you are dead set against the notch and want a capable smartphone to boot!
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