7.6 Awesome

Vivo Nex S looks pretty cool with no notch and a bezel-less display. The smartphone has an awesome popped out selfie camera but lacks in some features. Vivo Nex S is a bit overpriced and made for the Asia market. The TechSeer will give it a 7.6 out of a solid 10.

  • Design 9
  • Display 7.5
  • Performance & Hardware 8.2
  • Camera 7.5
  • Battery Life 6.8
  • Value for Money 6.5

Hate Notch and Bezels in 2018? Vivo has tried to restructure most of the mechanisms in their new Vivo Nex S and the result is a no Notch Bezel-free full front screen, in-display fingerprint scanners and new audio sensors.

Vivo Nex S review

The company has tried to master the new design and that is a pretty bold approach. Vivo Nex S is pretty cool looking with a very nice design and a moveable front/selfie camera which will make you look at the camera popping out again and again. Have a read on our Vivo Nex S review to make this bold step of choosing whether to go for this new flagship or ditch it and see our Top 10 Mobile Phones in 2018.

Pros

  • Bezel-free design
  • AI cameras
  • 22.5W fast charging support
  • Good Audio system

Cons

  • Average Cameras
  • Not-so reliable in-display fingerprint scanner
  • No NFC, wireless charging or IP rating
  • Bloated software
  • Heavy at 200g

Pricing and Availability

Vivo Nex S has a starting price of 3,898 Yuan which is almost equal to $700USD (600 Euro/$949 AUD). You can purchase it at a discounted price from Ali Baba.

Vivo Nex S may not be available in Western countries anytime soon as the company’s major market is China. It will expand itself to South East Asia and that is our best guess. Still, if you want to have this smartphone, you can try Amazon or eBay.

Design

Some of us hate notches and bezels and its good that Vivo actually listened. Vivo has successfully reduced the bezels to a next level making the screen-to-body ratio at 91.24%, nothing that we found on Apple or Samsung’s flagships.  There is no mic on the front and Vivo Nex S uses under-glass vibration technology for the earpiece speaker. The selfie camera on the top has been moved inside the chassis of the phone. The camera pops out automatically whenever you open it or change it from back camera to front.

The camera popping out of the chassis is pretty cool but history tells us it is never a good idea to put a moving component in a smartphone. Companies have tried it and failed but this time we saw a solid grip on the camera component. But still, it can break the motors over time or all it needs is one drop from a certain height and your camera is gone and phones like these are not that easy to repair due to a shortage of parts.

It’s up to you, you want your smartphone to look cool or you want a long-lasting device? Oppo Find X has the same moving cameras but they still differ. Oppo Find X elevates its top surface and you will see both the cameras on its motors and it will also use your face to unlock the phone with the same method so that means you will have to use the camera dozens of times in a day. The Vivo Nex S on the other hand only uses small amounts of energy to pop out the front selfie camera and has an on-screen fingerprint reader for the security.

The company claims it can be raised repeatedly up to 50000 times. “Up to” means it can wear off before 50000 as well whereas Oppo gives a clear warranty of up to 2 years for their moving camera.

The camera component can pick dust pretty easily so you will have to clean it every now and then in order to keep the dust away from internal components.

On the hand, the Vivo Nex S looks pretty big, heavy (at 200g) but durable. You need to be concerned more about your screen than the camera if you drop it.

Display

  • 6.59″ Full HD+ resolution AMOLED panel
  • Full HD+ (1,080 x 2,316 pixels)
  • 338ppi

Vivo Nex S features a 6.59″ Full HD+ resolution AMOLED panel which is considerably large compared to other flagships. There are very little bezels on all sides except the bottom one (around 5mm).

Vivo Nex S screen offers rich colors on the OLED panel and the company claims it is Super AMOLED panel but it’s not proved yet. We used the Vivo Nex S in direct sunlight and found it not so bright compared to other phones. The white balances and color accuracy are good and there is a night mode just like iPhone X to filter out the blue colors for a better sleep environment.

Full HD+ (1,080 x 2,316 pixels and 338ppi) is a disappointment for some users and you can do better in such a price tag such as Samsung Galaxy S9 from $599 from Amazon. Oppo Find X features the same Full HD+ resolution at $999.

Camera

    • 12 MP, f/1.8, 1/2.5″, 1.4µm, 4-axis OIS, dual pixel PDAF
  • 5 MP, f/2.4, depth sensor

The camera on Vivo Nex S is another story. The rear cameras on the Vivo Nex S have 12MP f/1.8 sensor and the second one with the 5MP f/2.4 lens. Both are equipped with optical image stabilization (OIS) and electronic image stabilization (EIS) which means it has a dual OIS just like Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus.

We have seen better cameras with more accurate exposure, color accuracy, and sublime saturation. Vivo Nex S has a pretty average camera and this is one of the reason it could not be able to make its way in our Best Camera Phones of 2018.

We did not like the results on Vivo Nex S. It was overexposing in every department which made the pictures more artificial than natural. Now we are not saying the camera is bad, what we are trying to say is it cannot compete with flagship phones in the camera department.

Vivo has introduced AI cameras just like other flagships including LG G7 ThinQ. There is an AI beauty mode, scene detection, HDR and different AI filters. The basic function of these AI features is to detect the environment and use the filter accordingly, giving it more or less saturation and sharpening the results.

Unlike other phones, you could not be able to turn off the AI features on Vivo Nex S thus limiting yourself if you are a photographer until now. They have changed it in the new update but the photos still look more artificial even when the AI feature is turned off.

The Vivo Nex S camera works really good in low or no lights thus making it a good choice for an evening or night photography. Sometimes the results are even better than Google Pixel 2 which is one of the best phones in the camera department but Vivo Nex S’s camera still over-expose in low light.

The front facing camera equips 8MP f2.0 lens with bokeh portrait mode. It has the same artificial results but luckily supports HDR and different modes including live photos. It lacks details and exposure.
You can record videos of up to 30fps at 4K and 1080p resolution and slow-motion at 240fps.

Performance & Hardware

Vivo Nex S features a Snapdragon 845 with Andreno 630 GPU. We have reviewed the same chipset on multiple flagships now and believe us when we say this chipset performs better with an 8GB of RAM compared to an Apple iPhone X.
The smartphone performed really good in our benchmarking results, around 209K in AnTuTu tests which is above than Samsung Galaxy S9 and OnePlus 6, the former one lost due to 6GB of RAM in the first place. Apart from AnTuTu tests, the Vivo Nex S also performed well in Geekbench 4 and 3D Mark benchmarks.
An hour of Fortnite Mobile gameplay on Vivo Nex S and we did not see any kind of lag whatsoever. Some Asian apps will make it slower so make sure to delete these third-party apps right after unboxing to get a better experience.
Vivo Nex S comes with 256GB of internal storage. Like Apple, Vivo Nex S does not have an option to expand the storage through microSD. Apart from that, it also lacks NFC and wireless charging. The company didn’t say anything about it being waterproof and there is no IP rating so we’ll take it as it is not a waterproof smartphone.

Audio

Vivo had to re-engineer the technology behind the earpiece speakers in order to get thinner bezels. Vivo Nex S does not feature a traditional speaker instead it uses a motor to transmit the sound across the screen. This means you can listen to the caller from anywhere on the screen instead of just the top speaker which it lacks in the first place. The sound quality is pretty similar though.

We can expect companies to use this technology in the coming phones in order to get rid of the notch but I personally doubt it. We don’t think the phone can take enough drops if you are a rough user.

The bottom-firing speakers get pretty loud and offer good bass compared to LG G7 ThinQ and Google Pixel 2. Razer Phone 2018 beats all 3 of them in the speakers’ section though. There is less shrill comparatively if you put the volume on full loud thus claiming Vivo’s statement of a better bass and softer treble.

You will find a 3.5mm headphone inside the box with built-in DAC and V1 chip so you can enjoy great audio on the go as well. Alternatively, you can purchase smart AI featured earbuds for your travel.

In-display fingerprint scanner

There is an under-glass scanner to unlock the phone with the fingerprint scanner. This is a pretty new technology at the moment and we have seen it in some of the Huawei and Xiaomi phones as well. You can forget about Face Unlock which is sometimes annoying when there is low light. Vivo Nex S use infrared in low light situations.
The speed is not very fast and the fingerprint scanner is not as accurate but give it some time and it will improve in the next update as the in-display technology is pretty new and need some time but for now, it is less reliable compared to capacitive sensors.

You cannot unlock Vivo Nex S directly through the screen if your phone is sitting idle on the table. Either tap the power button or give it a nudge. The scanner camera will activate only when the fingerprint logo is active on the screen. Guess this is to save the battery. You can use the scanner for third-party apps such as banking and retail or Alibaba but only in China.

Software

No doubt the Vivo Nex S is cool but its software is not. How? Let us get into details.

Vivo Nex S is made for the Asian market just like Xiaomi Red Mi Note 5 Pro. We didn’t like MiUi software underneath Android 8.0 and same is the case here instead of MiUi what we have is Vivo’s Funtouch OS. The software is inspired by Apple iOS which means hardcore Android users may won’t like it. Installing a new launcher won’t do you any good as it will always come back to default FunTouch launcher whenever you press the home button.

You cannot hibernate the Vivo launcher if you are not in China as it will require you to have a Vivo account which is only possible if you have an active Chinese number.

Most of the Asian gadgets come with a Chinese format/version. We reviewed Xiaomi Mi Notebook Pro the other day and had to install a fresh copy of Windows English version from the Chinese version. The Jodi virtual assistant works just like Alexa and Siri but is no good if you do not speak Mandarin as it only works with Mandarin.

Vivo Nex S comes with a lot of bloatware because of the pre-installed Chinese apps. There is no Google Play Store. In short, it won’t make you feel like you are using an android and the experience is almost completely different like we said Vivo Nex S has its own software underneath Android 8.0 plus the company tried to mimic iOS.

Vivo Nex S is made to target the Asian market. It will come to South East Asia with less bloatware comparatively but we don’t see it happening to the rest of the world.

Battery

Vivo Nex S is equipped with a 4000mAh battery and comes with a fast charging option. Despite having a capacity of 4000mAh battery, the battery is below average. Even with a light to normal usage, one needs to charge it daily.
Why? Because of the poor OS. It consumes a lot of energy and the battery drains pretty fast. Huawei P20 Pro is equipped with the same capacity and it performs better than Vivo Nex S.
Vivo has tried to improve the battery with several updates and gave a 22W fast charging option as well but we don’t think any of the updates worked really well for them. Maybe its time for them to start thinking on installing a stock Android version.

Verdict: Vivo Nex S

Vivo Nex S is made for the Chinese market. Though the smartphone looks pretty cool but it comes with too many cons. Starting from an under-glass fingerprint scanner which is not as reliable and fast as capacitive scanners to moving components on the camera which we think was not a good idea in the first place.

The camera works pretty averagely for a smartphone that would cost you around 700 USD. The battery is another issue on the Vivo Nex S which we think will be improved once it will get major software bumps. You may not like its Funtouch OS if you are not from Asia. The TechSeer will give it a 7.6 out of a solid 10.

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