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Vivo NEX Dual Display Mini Review: A Fascinating Notch-Free Design

The notch may have turned into a trend over the past year but it is still considered an eyesore by many. And no, I’m not talking solely about users but smartphone makers as well. If you didn’t already know, Vivo is one such smartphone company and it’s adamant about staying away from the notch with its flagship hardware.

The Vivo NEX with its pop-up selfie camera and near bezel-less design was an exquisite experience, but the company is hankering for more. So, let me introduce you to the second-generation Vivo NEX, the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition and it’s unlike anything you’ve seen before.

vivo nex dual display featured image idea 2 copy

The Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition, as the name should tell you, packs two screens and no selfie camera. Yeah, it’s true and it’s functional — if a bit gimmicky. This is backed by powerful internals that you would expect from any flagship phone these days.

Well, Vivo hasn’t announced any plans for an India launch yet but they sent over a unit for us to check out. I have been using the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition for the past couple of days and well, here are my first impressions of the device:

Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition: Specifications

Before we dive into my experience with the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition, let me give you a quick look at the specs sheet of the device:

Dimensions 157.18×75.36×8.09mm
Weight 199 grams
Primary Display 6.39-inch Full-HD+ AMOLED, 2340×1080p
Secondary Display 5.49-inch Full-HD AMOLED, 1920×1080
Processor octa-core Snapdragon 845
GPU Adreno 630
RAM 10GB
Storage 128GB
Rear Cameras 12MP (f/1.8, 1.4µm, 4-axis OIS) + 2MP (f/1.8) depth sensor + TOF camera
Front Cameras N.A
Operating System Android 9 Pie-based Funtouch OS 4.5
Battery 3,500mAh
Connectivity dual VoLTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 5.0, A-GPS, GLONASS, BeiDoU, USB Type-C
Sensors in-display fingerprint sensor, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass

Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition: What’s in the Box

The Vivo NEX Dual display Edition is housed inside a premium-looking packaging with the NEX branding on top. You will find the device sitting on top when you lift the cover but all of your accessories are placed inside a slide-out space (there’s a pull-tab) under it. Here’s everything you get inside the box:

  • Vivo Nex Dual Display Edition
  • Charging adapter
  • USB-C charging cable
  • Bumper case
  • A pair of earphones
  • SIM ejector tool
  • User manuals

vivo nex dual display unboxing

Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition: Design and Build

Starting off with the design of the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition, it’s yet another all-glass phone that doesn’t look much different from its predecessor from the front. And I am not saying it’s a bad thing; that near bezel-less aesthetic is what draws users to the device in the first place. The front of the display is all-screen without any cameras, but there’s a slight bezel at the bottom.

1 vivo NEX dual display edition

However, the main attraction of the Vivo NEX Dual Display is not the bezel-less front, but the second display. I turned over the device right after taking it out of the box to see how the rear display looked. It sits between the cameras at the top and NEX branding at the bottom. And to be honest, it doesn’t really look bad and it’s there to serve a purpose.

1 vivo nex dual display edition branding copy

I know, many of you may not have missed it but the dimensions and weight of Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition aren’t much different from the original NEX and that’s awesome. You now have two displays, no moving parts, and a superior selfie experience, however, it comes at the cost of a smaller 3,500 mAh battery. The original NEX had a bigger 4,000 mAh battery but we’ll have to see how that affects daily use.

The device retains the same premium factor as its predecessor, is comfortable to handle and use every day. It may look chunky but feels good in the hand, except for the fact that you smudge the rear display while using it. The Polar Blue color (which isn’t as shiny and rainbowy as the original NEX) test unit that we received looks pretty stunning, especially when light falls on it.

The Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition has a standard button placement, with the power and volume rocker on the right and a Jovi smart assistant button (with the Vivo branding) on the left, which is also the power button for the rear display. The buttons are clicky and feel good, and having two power buttons feels weird at first.

As for the ports, the device includes a 3.5mm headphone jack up-top and a USB Type-C port at the bottom – along with the speaker grill and hybrid SIM tray.

Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition: Displays

vivo nex dual display edition screen copy

The 6.4-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED display spans across the entirety of the front of the device – except for a teeny-tiny chin that makes it look almost exactly the same as its predecessor. The 5.5-inch FHD Super AMOLED display on the rear, however, has a fair share of top and bottom bezels. Both the displays are color accurate, fairly bright, have deep blacks, and look stunning.

Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition Selfie - rear display copy

You can switch between the 2 displays on the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition on the fly and it’s really simple. Either swipe three fingers across the screen and flip over to use the other screen or press the power button and the Jovi button at the same time to trigger the display swapping. The Jovi button acts as a power button for the rear display, when you want to only use that display.

The main purpose of the dual display, I think we all know, is being able to see ourselves when we click selfies using the rear cameras, because there’s no front camera on board. The rear display acts as a viewfinder here and to be honest, it is a great experience! You can click better selfies, even in low light with the dual-LED fill light included on each side of the circular camera module.

Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition fill light copy

One of the standout features of the dual displays is that it enables the person whose picture is being clicked to see themselves in the rear display. They can see if the framing is right, how they look and even pose for a picture-perfect moment that you can direct by displaying it on the rear display.

Further, the dual displays here can do a lot more than help you click selfies easily. Vivo certainly has given its implementation some thought and there are a couple of cool dual display features here. There’s the Paint Heart and V-mood feature, where you can draw stuff on the main screen and make it appear on the rear display. Vivo also allows you to turn the rear display into a gamepad in PUBG Mobile fights and I was really excited to try it out. But sadly, this feature was missing in our unit.

Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition: Biometric Security

Taking a look at the biometric security options available on this device, well, it sports a fifth-generation in-display optical fingerprint sensor on the front and it’s actually quite fast. The registration process is still sluggish and irritating, but the unlock speeds here are far superior than the competitors. Vivo claims it takes only 0.29 seconds to unlock the smartphone and it’s been quite good in my usage, even if under-display sensors are still finicky. It is, however, faster than the one on the OnePlus 6T and this video right here proves the same:

Further, on the rear end of the device, Vivo offers 3D Face Unlock to make it easy for you to unlock the NEX Dual Display Edition. Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition utilizes its 3D time-of-flight (TOF) camera to record your face data. It’s similar to Face ID seen on Apple iPhone and the unlocking process is equally fast (if not faster), secure, as well as reliable with this device. It works in low-light and night-time conditions as well. You can see how speedy the face unlocking process is, right here:

Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition: Cameras

Moving on, the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition joins the triple camera club and includes a 12MP (f/1.8) primary sensor with 4-axis OIS, along with a 2MP (f/1.8) depth sensor and time-of-flight camera which I talked about above. This is now both your rear, as well as selfie camera and the second rear display acting as the viewfinder is perfect. It is also a head-turner.

vivo nex dual display cameras copy

The software here is flush with all of the features, be it the selfie portrait mode, lighting effects, AR stickers or more, that one expects from a flagship phone. As for the picture quality, the images have a good color reproduction with a nice amount of detail and highlights. It usually produces soft images with over-exposed backgrounds or sharp images that look doctored in most lighting situations.

However, I have to mention the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition’s low-light performance as it’s particularly great. It might not be Pixel Night Mode good, but it was fun to use the device in low-light and it meets the company’s boastful claims. The portrait shots and AR stickers are lovely to use. You can check out some of its camera samples right here:

Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition: Lunar Ring

Another standout feature of Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition, which you may have noticed already, is the circular ring around the cameras. I know it looks like a design choice similar to Moto’s but it comes with an added functionality.

Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition Lunar Ring copy

Vivo calls it the ‘lunar ring’ and it houses RGB LEDs that light up to give the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition a more modern appeal. It surely is a bit gimmicky, but kind of useful as it lights up in different colors or patterns when you receive a message or when someone calls you. This was especially helpful for me as I usually place my smartphone, with the screen facing down.

The lunar ring here also dances in rainbow colors when you play music or receive a call, so it definitely is a cool addition to the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition. It even powers up while clicking portrait selfies and though it doesn’t really affect the picture much, it’s a great touch overall!

Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition: Performance & Software

Now that we’ve gotten the key highlights of this device out of the way, I finally want to shine a light on the performance of the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition. It’s powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 chipset, paired with 10 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage.

vivo nex dual display gaming copy

Yeah, the device is bestowed with the top-of-the-line specs – like most flagship phones available in the market and it works perfectly fine. The touch response was good and I faced no issues in my daily usage, which was smooth as butter on the front display.

As for the gaming experience on the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition, well, I only had time enough to try out PUBG Mobile over the past couple of days. The device takes the highest settings by default but you can bump it up to HDR and still manage to get a smooth and consistent frame rate for the duration of the game. The near bezel-less screen only further adds to the experience and it’s awesome.

vivo nex dual display software experience

However, there were times when I noticed frame drops and jitters across the UI on the rear display – especially while using the camera. Well, anyone would assume that 10GB RAM is, of course, more than enough to handle any task we throw at an Android device.

I think the software (Android 9 Pie-based FunTouch OS) is a major backlog here and Vivo is trying too hard to clone iOS and I loathe it. The OS isn’t optimized to accommodate the needs of the smaller rear display and third-party apps appear in a weird letterbox. This is distracting for sure but can easily be fixed via a future software update.

SEE ALSO: Vivo NEX Review: Packs One Surprise After Another

Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition: A Fascinating Notch-Free Phone

While the original Vivo NEX was innovative, the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition is the best example to showcase that the Chinese giant is sprinting to get all latest technologies into the hand of today’s tech-aware users. It may not provide the best or the most optimized software experience, but it’s ahead of the curve than many popular phone makers and I am more impressed with this fact than the device itself. I hope to see Vivo continue this trend and keep us excited to try out new smartphones in the future.

Vivo is yet to make an official announcement for the debut of the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition in India but let’s hope it arrives soon. So, are you excited to check it out? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.




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