Smartphones with curved edge displays aren’t new. Samsung was one of the first companies to launch a smartphone with a curved edge display a few years ago. The competition quickly followed suit – and now more and more smartphone makers offer premium phones with curved display. Vivo, too, has jumped into the fray with its flagship Nex 3, which has a unique curved display that extends over the edges of the phone. Think of the Vivo Nex 3 as an extreme version of the Galaxy Note 10+.
But the Vivo Nex 3 isn’t just about a curved display. There’s a lot more to the premium smartphone. A triple camera is fitted to the back that has a 64MP sensor, plus a 4500mAh battery that supports 44W fast charging. The handset is powered by a Snapdragon 855 Plus processor and it even comes with a headphone jack, in case you care. This is a good looking phone that packs top-specs.
I had a little bit of time with the Vivo Nex 3, and here are my experiences after my first 48 hours with the phone.
The “Waterfall display”
The first thing you will notice about the Nex 3 is its curved display. The phone packs a 6.89-inch FHD+ POLED screen, which is dubbed as “waterfall” display by the company. It’s a beautiful display that stretches over its curved edges and the company claims that the phone has a 99.6 per cent screen-to-body ratio and no notch.
And since the curved display extends over the edges of the phone, it gives the illusion that the device has no bezels at all. I just love this feel. It makes everything look richer and sharper. In comparison, the iPhone 11’s 6.1-inch flat display looks outdated.
The other thing I liked was the palm rejection software needed to make sure if your palm accidentally touches the side of the curved screen it doesn’t result in a bad experience.
That said, I actually didn’t find much use for the curved screen. Yes, the screen is pretty, but beyond that the curves aren’t useful as Vivo is trying to project. The curved screen doesn’t add any new functions, which kills the point of having a curved display and paying extra for it. Another thing that makes me uncomfortable about curved screens is that they are more prone to damage. One fall and you will have to pay a lot to get it repaired.
Sure, you can buy a case; however, it won’t protect the edges of the display. Also, buying a case means you are hiding the curved display — the very identity of this phone.
Impressive build quality… but no volume buttons/power key
One area where the Nex 3 shines is the impressive build quality. I believe Vivo wanted the Nex 3 to be perceived as a desirable smartphone and it looks like one. The rear is glossy and made of glass. The phone’s new camera arrangement on the back aims to mimic a DSLR camera. Yes, it’s circular in nature and houses three cameras.
Given that the curved screen goes edge to edge over the phone, Vivo had to sacrifice volume buttons and a power key. Instead, it uses touch-sensitive buttons that replace the physical volume keys and a power button on the side. Initially, I was a bit hesitant but to my surprise they were easy to use and works every time. And if you are too worried about the touch buttons, Vivo has added a small power button along the edge of the phone that can be used to turn off the device. I have to say the touch buttons will take some time to adapt and require your patience.
The device is huge
The Nex 3 is huge. The 6.89-inch screen is too large for a smartphone. For me, someone with small hands, this was a major downside of using the Nex 3. Sure, the screen is great to read ebooks, play games and watch movies, but one-handed use seems to be impossible. I couldn’t use the phone with one hand, which defeats the purpose of an extra large display on a phone. Even though the size of the phone is subjective in nature, the Nex 3 does feel big for most people. I would urge you to try out the Nex 3 and hold it before buying the phone.
Massive 4500mAh battery with 44W fast charging support
I haven’t had a chance to fully test the Nex 3’s battery, but early signs are promising. The 4500mAh battery is huge and this should be seen as the highlight of the phone. Based on my experience, the phone would easily last two days on a single charge, which is impressive. And add a 44-watt fast charger in the box, and it allows you to fill more than 50 per cent charge in less than half an hour.
The 64MP camera
The camera on the Nex 3 aren’t as bad I had initially thought. I believe it has not the best smartphone cameras, but you will not be disappointed. The Nex 3 offers three cameras in a circular-shaped module, which includes a 64MP primary lens, a 13MP wide-angle lens and a 13MP telephoto lens. The photos I took using the Nex 3 were decent enough to be shared on Facebook or Instagram.
The ultra-wide lens, in particular, was more fun to use. Colours are accurate, and the camera delivers a stunning level of detail in good lighting conditions. The portrait mode on the Nex 3 wasn’t impressive. I didn’t get a chance to see quite how well the phone’s camera performs in extreme low light. I am far more impressed with a 16MP pop-up selfie camera.
Beefy specifications but boring user interface
The Nex 3 is powered by a Snapdragon 855 Plus processor coupled with 8GB RAM and 256GB of internal storage. This is a fast phone; it zips through apps and menus instantaneously. Games like Call of Duty and Mario Kart ran without any hiccups. The in-display fingerprint scanner is fast, but it’s never been as precise and fast as a regular physical fingerprint scanner. Last, but not the least, Vivo Nex 3 runs Funtouch OS 9.1 which is based on Android 9.0. Even though the interface is a lot cleaner and more modern looking, I wish the company had spent more time in perfecting the interface for the curved screen.
Vivo thinks the Nex 3’s “waterfall” display looks cool and people might be interested in getting a phone with a screen that curves around the edges. But is there a real advantage to the curved screen? Will the content look any better on the curved screen?
If Vivo does launch the Nex 3 outside of China (the company has not fixed any release date for the phone launch in India), it will clearly have to point out the advantages of a “waterfall” display over a standard one to generate consumer interest.