Hands-On, Smartphone

Vivo Nex Dual Display Edition Hands-On: No Selfie Camera, No Notch

More and more phone makers are coming up with creative ways to solve the notched display conundrum, and Vivo is taking a rather…unique approach. Enter the Vivo Nex Dual Display Edition, which has no notch, and not even a selfie camera.

Instead, as its name suggests, this new variant of the Nex has a second display on the back, so you don’t really need a front-facing camera; the triple camera system on the back now doubles as the selfie shooter. But beyond this one feature, is the Nex Dual Display Edition any good? Let’s find out.

Since there’s no need for a selfie camera, the Nex’s primary 6.4-inch 2340 x 1080 Super AMOLED display doesn’t have a notch or a hole-punch design. The result? An almost all-screen smartphone with a small chin at the bottom of the display. It would’ve been great if the bottom bezel can be eliminated altogether, but to Vivo’s credit, it is a very minimal bezel.

The real fun, of course, is the Nex’s secondary display on the back. It’s a “traditional” 5.5-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display with a 16:9 aspect ratio, so you do get huge chunks of bezels at the top and bottom of the screen. This isn’t really a problem, considering the fact that you’ll only use the secondary display on a few occasions.

For one, you’ll be using the Nex’s secondary display for capturing selfie shots, and Vivo mentioned that you can even use it as an additional input device in mobile games that support the feature. Basically, it works a lot like the PlayStation Vita‘s rear touchpad.

If you want to use the Nex’s face unlock feature – which is very fast – you’ll have to use this side of the device too. To be honest, this can get quite confusing: there were a couple of times where I tried to use the face unlock feature…while I was looking at the primary display.

I didn’t feel particularly clever at that point in time.

If you don’t plan to use the Nex’s face unlock feature, there’s the in-screen fingerprint sensor, which works as intended. It’s not blazing fast like a conventional fingerprint sensor, but it gets the job done. It can also accurately identify my fingerprint most of the time.

In terms of display quality, both of the Nex’s screens are pleasing to look at. After all, they are both Super AMOLED panels with deep blacks, punchy colours, and great viewing angles. The 1080p resolution of these displays will also help with battery life. Considering the fact that the Nex’s 3,500mAh battery isn’t particularly big, it needs all the help it can get.

If you’re curious, it’s rather seamless to switch between the Nex’s two displays too. I can either swipe across the display with three fingers to switch, or press the two power buttons simultaneously. Yes, the Nex has two power buttons on either sides of the phone – one for each display.

When it comes to design, the Nex looks and feels like a premium, flagship smartphone. The glass and metal construction gives the phone a nice heft – it weighs 199g – the glossy metal frame is nice to the touch, and the buttons have nice tactile feedback.

There is, however, one design element I’m not crazy about: the “Lunar Ring” on the back of the phone. While it’s functional – it will light up when you receive notifications, for example – it looks out of place. On top of that, the ring extends to the display too, which can be quite distracting.

Nonetheless, let’s move on to the Nex’s processing power. Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset, performance shouldn’t be an issue with this phone. Aside from that, the Nex also comes with a whopping 10GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage, and even a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Featuring a 12MP f/1.8 + 2MP f/1.8 + ToF (time-of-flight) triple camera system, the Nex’s camera performance appears to be quite good. Needless to say, it performs well under good lighting. The autofocus speed is also fast, and the camera’s optical image stabilisation makes it easier to capture sharp-looking shots.

As for the camera app itself, the user interface is intuitive to navigate around, and it doesn’t feel sluggish. At least, that’s the case when shooting in ideal lighting. I haven’t had the chance to extensively try out the Nex’s low light camera performance yet, but chances are, it should be reasonably good.

What about the ToF sensor of the Nex’s triple camera system? Well, much like Oppo’s implementation with the R17 Pro, the ToF sensor allows this phone to capture 3D information. But alas, this unit of the Nex doesn’t seem to have the feature enabled yet, so I can’t test out the ToF sensor.

The Vivo Nex Dual Display Edition is a pretty unique flagship smartphone. At a glance, the phone’s two displays may seem gimmicky, but it does have its utility. To top it off, the Nex isn’t priced outrageously either – it retails at RM3,199 in Malaysia.

That’s still a lot of money, even for a flagship smartphone, but the Nex isn’t the most costly device in the segment either. If the prospect of a dual screen smartphone is enticing to you, the Vivo Nex is certainly worth considering – especially if you want a unique-looking smartphone.