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  • Cheryl Tan

Vivo NEX 3 Review: The Phone With No Bezels

Updated: Aug 19, 2021

Written by Cheryl Tan

  1. 99.6% screen-to-body ratio

  2. 64MP rear camera provides plenty of detail

  3. Excellent performance thanks to Snapdragon 855+

Alright, maybe not ENTIRELY bezel-less, but the Vivo NEX 3 has an unprecedented 99.6% screen-to-body ratio, with the 0.4% made up by the tiniest slivers on the top and bottom that doesn’t distract at all.

Vivo’s NEX series has always been the flagship phones for the brand, and for good reason. There’s always a compelling factor of innovation, with the first model having dual screens, and the latest NEX 3 follows in that innovative mindset with the new 6.89″ waterfall display screen.

It’s running the Snapdragon 855 Plus processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage and even AKM’s AK4377A Hi-Fi chipset that doubles as a digital to analogue converter (DAC) and amp. The chipset even offers support for DSD inputs up to DSD256, meaning consumers will be able to listen to high-res music via their phones.

The Snapdragon 855 Plus processor inside means this phone runs like a dream, with gaming, multitasking and more not being an issue at all. I’ve consistently opened my messaging app on the side and replied to texts while watching Netflix and resized the screens without the slightest bit of lag.

What’s more, the NEX 3 will be one of the first few phones to launch in Singapore with a 64MP f/1.8 rear camera, in tandem with a 13MP telephoto lens and a 13MP wide-angle lens. I tested out the cameras and was pleasantly surprised.

Previously, we’ve only ever seen 48MP cameras in phones, so this is the first time we’re testing out a 64MP phone camera. Here are two shots of the same scene, one normal pixel-binned 16MP image next to the full 64MP image. You can see that the highlights are a bit brighter in the 64MP image.

16MP photo

64MP photo

Look at the crop, however, and you’ll see that the level of detail afforded is much higher. You can make out the words on the menu perfectly in the 64MP image, while the 16MP one is basically illegible.

The wide-angle lens also performs admirably, although not as wide as the new iPhone 11’s lens. It’ll be more than enough for most use scenarios, so there’s no issue there.

The only problem I found was that the screen was a little too saturated on the standard screen setting. This can be changed via settings, but I’d recommend against editing photos on your phone unless you change the settings.

The screen is also an absolute joy to consume content on, however. It’s an FHD+ POLED display with HDR10 support, so you’ll get great colours and I’m actually quite a fan of the waterfall design. The screen curves away at 85 degrees, so 3 degrees less steep than Huawei’s Mate 30 Pro. It feels great in the hand, and touches on the side don’t register, so you won’t accidentally register false input.

To obtain the screen-to-body ratio, Vivo has turned to the same pop-up camera design that we saw on the V15 Pro. I’m happy to say that it’s much more responsive now, popping up faster than before. I accidentally dropped the phone and caught it while the front camera was turned on, and the pop-up module immediately retracted while a notification came in stating that a fall was detected, asking if I’d like to raise the camera again.

Since the screen is curved, Vivo has taken the opportunity to pre-install screen and rear protectors for the NEX 3, which I love. Unfortunately, also because of the curved screen, the protectors are plastic. The unit I received has only been with me for about a week, and I’ve already seen a gouge deep enough to be felt when running my thumb across the screen, and another nick that has resulted in a small air bubble.

I’ve only ever carried the phone in my jeans pocket without anything else around to scratch the screen, so the durability of the protector is a bit worrying. Vivo includes a very nice protective case though, which could possibly be the one I like best so far out of all the included cases with other phones.

Another thing I found cool was the fact that they’ve gone even further than Huawei in removing physical buttons. The volume buttons and the lock button are now all touch-based and there’s a ribbed area that indicates where to press on the side of the screen for the unlock button. Haptic feedback and sensitivity for those buttons can be configured, and I actually really prefer this over physical buttons since it’s less likely to wear out and become loose over time.

Battery-wise, this is one of the phones on the market with a bigger capacity of 4,500mAh. The 22.5W Vivo FlashCharge charger comes in the box, so you’ll get from 0% to 70% in 40 minutes. This is insanely handy, and I’ve become accustomed to having my phone charge from around 15% to full in slightly under an hour.

Battery life is also great. I’m a heavy user; I typically video call for a few hours every night which does drain the battery, so I tend to charge the phone after a day of use but moderate users will be able to get 1.5 days or even 2 days on a charge with no issues.

There are a few trade-offs with this phone, however. There’s no wireless charging, it’s on the heavier side (218.5g) and the model for Singapore will only have 8GB of RAM. But on the plus side, the phone supports 5G mobile networks. While it’s not totally applicable in Singapore yet, it’s definitely a good future-proofing feature.

Another issue I encountered was that some true wireless earbuds I connected to the phone were a bit finicky. The Sony WF-1000XM3 connected and audio that came through them was extremely soft despite the volume of the phone being at 80%. I eventually downloaded Sony’s Headphones app and realised the phone had auto set the volume in the app to 50% and that was the only way to increase the volume back to a normal level.

The Klipsch T5 True Wireless, on the other hand, only managed to have one side connect to the phone. I was a little lost and ended up not using that pair of true wireless with the NEX 3 in the end. Wired earphones work excellently though, and there’s even a Hi-Fi function thanks to the AKM chipset inside.

The Vivo NEX 3 will retail for S$1,299 and go on sale on 2 November 2019 at major operating telcos, Vivo’s Lazada flagship store and authorised retailers.

As part of the NEX 3 launch, Vivo is holding a roadshow event at Bedok Mall from 6 to 12 November 2019. Customers who purchase the NEX 3 at the event will receive a DJI Osmo 3 gimbal and leatherette folio case for free.


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