We all know too well that for quite some time now the producers are trying to make a phone the most of which, at least on the front side, would be the display. Sensors, speakers and cameras naturally placed on top have to be placed somewhere else. Various manufacturers had different approaches to the issue, so for example Xiaomi made a phone where the whole front panel is on a slider, but most others opted for a notch so that they could at least push the corners of the screen towards to edges. Vivo, on the other hand, chose to do something completely different, something we didn’t have a chance to see so far. The front facing camera is, in this phone, motorized, and it pops up from the top side of the phone once turned on. There’s also a piezoelectric speaker beneath the display. In our case, the Nex S came in black color option which makes amazing chameleon effect on the back, while the phone is also available in red. Let’s see what’s inside its box, and talk a little more about its capabilities.
Next to the phone itself inside the factory box there are branded in-ear headphones with replacement buds, a fast charging adapter, Type-C cable, user manuals, a SIM tray tool as well as a frosted plastic case with great build quality.
We can honestly say that this phone’s display is one of its best features. Of course, Vivo keeps up with the trends, which is why they did their best to increase the screen to body ratio on the front as much as possible. Officially, the display covers 86% of the front panel. This wouldn’t be possible if Vivo didn’t choose to implement the front facing camera the way they did, but more on that a bit later. Let’s get back to display. This is a massive 6.59” Super AMOLED display with the resolution of 1080 x 2316 pixels. This resolution on such a huge display results in pixel density of 388.
Also, the screen is interesting not only because of colors which are excellent, or sharpness which is satisfactory, but also because of everything it hides beneath. For example, the fingerprint scanner is located beneath the display which is an excellent feature. With this technology, the phone gets an even sleeker, flusher design, since the cutouts for the scanner are non-existent. Brightness is also very good, and even at direct sunlight all contents are perfectly visible. Another big plus of this phone is that you get a preinstalled protection foil over the display.
Hardware and OS
This is a flagship, and a flagship demands top notch hardware! Naturally, this phone is powered by the best available Qualcomm platform, the Snapdragon 845, which is a chipset built on a 10nm process. It is paired with 8GB of RAM and 128 or 256GB of internal storage which can’t be further expanded.
It’s a very pleasant experience using this phone, and AnTuTu benchmark testing only proves how capable this hardware is – it scored 290555 points which is one of the leading scores overall. Geekbench test also delivered impressive results, 2406 points in single core and 8779 in multi core performance. In general, using the phone normally and even playing high demanding games is a great experience. If you happen to choose to buy this phone, feel free to set all graphic settings to the maximum because the hardware is more than just capable to deliver.
The front speaker is, as we’ve already mentioned, located beneath the display, and we could even earlier see it is some Xiaomi phones. Let us explain – because, due to the size of the display, there’s simply no room at front for a speaker, Vivo opted to use different technology altogether. Piezoelectric speaker uses vibrations of the screen itself instead of a membrane in order to transfer sounds to your ear. We must say that the sound transferred like this is quite weird. It’s not low, on the contrary, it’s plenty loud and clear, but it’s something completely different to what we’re used to, and it’s almost impossible to put it in words. We, however, only got mono sound since the main speaker is the only one at work when the sound is reproduced.
Out of the box this phone comes with Android 8.1 Oreo OS with Funtouch OS 4 UI on top of it. This is quite a weird UI, and it almost feels as if they have taken iOS and Android and merged it into one system. You uninstall applications by long pressing on the icon and clicking on the X mark, and you enter the control center by swiping up from the bottom, just as it was on the older iPhones. It brings a lot of customization options though, so you can change icons, themes etc.
On its back, this phone has a double camera setup. Primary sensor, Sony IMX363 Exmor RS has the resolution of 12 megapixels and is equipped with PDAF technology and OIS, while the secondary sensor has 5 megapixel resolution and serves to gather information about the depth of field. It is clear at first sight that camera is not the brightest point in this phone, but don’t get this wrong. The Nex S produces really great photos when there’s a lot of light, with very little noticeable noise, but we admit that we have expected better results. Inside the camera interface, there is also the portrait shooting mode which does quite a good job. However, night time photos are not that good. Bright spots in night time shots are overexposed, and details are too blurred.
The front facing camera is the most important detail in this phone. Honestly, we were a little bit skeptical about the motorized mechanism, and just as everybody else we thought it would easily break, but once you get used to the phone a bit you start to notice how sturdy and well made the camera actually is. If you try to pull it out, or push it in forcefully, it will simply slide back into the phone. The camera doesn’t produce any mechanical sounds though, but we are offered three software sounds to choose from to hear when the camera pops up and down. Quality of photos made by this camera is not something the Nex S can really boast with. There is quite a lot of noise and blur, photos are overexposed, dynamic range in quite poor etc. The only thing that is really good is the portrait mode. Ok, we may have pushed it too far here, because all this is noticeable only if you’re a photography freak, and for an average user, this phone will produce really good selfies.
The primary camera captures videos in maximum 4K resolution at 30 fps, while 60fps shooting isn’t available even at 1080p resolution. Videos are captured in H.264 format while H.265 is unavailable. We won’t take this as something bad because we believe that Vivo will fix all that’s missing via software updates.
Just as every other 2018 flagship, Vivo Nex S has plenty of connection options. When it comes to wired connections, the phone uses USB Type-C port located on the bottom. Apart from this, many other modern connections options are here, such as WiFi 802.11 (dual band), Bluetooth 5.0, USB On The God etc. Next to the charging port there is s SIM tray, but be careful so as not to push the SIM tray tool into the microphone that is located just to the right.
Sadly, there are some things that this phone doesn’t support. We’d really like it if the Nex S had wireless charging support, but sadly that’s not the case. Also there’s not NFC either which will make, for example, wireless payments impossible. As opposed to other manufacturers, Vivo listened to the wishes of its customers and left a 3.5mm port on the top of the Nex S.
Battery that Vivo chose to put into this phone has the capacity of 4000 mAh. This is not something uncommon lately, however, subjective feeling when using this phone is that the battery simply – doesn’t go down! Honestly, even during prolonged gameplay, video reproduction, surfing and generally using the phone fully, battery still managed to last 2 full days.
Compared to, for example, OnePlus 6T that only has 300 mAh less in capacity, we feel that Vivo can last way longer. This phone is definitely capable of lasting even longer with more conservative use.
The Nex S has fast charging support which means that you’ll need around 1 hour and 20 minutes for 2 days of autonomous use! Quite impressive!
If you’re a tech and innovation enthusiast, this is the right phone for you. It seems that the Vivo Nex S is a phenomenal phone all around, and there’s really no bad sides to it except for the front camera picture quality and the lack of NFC. The price of this phone is around 650-700 euros, and we think that it’s definitely worth the price.
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