At the latest with the big advertising campaign during the 2018 World Cup, the name Vivo also achieved a certain degree of recognition outside China. After all, BBK Electronics is the fourth-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world after Apple, Huawei and Samsung and they also own Oppo and OnePlus alongside Vivo.

The Vivo Nex is the latest model of the Chinese mobile phone giant. And once again a brand completely unknown in Europe proves that innovation does not only come from Samsung and Apple. In addition to the world’s fastest smartphone processor, the Vivo Nex Ultimate has an almost completely bezel-less front combined with several technical refinements. Instead of doing without the fingerprint sensor and “embellishing” the display with a recess for the front camera in iPhone X style, the fingerprint sensor was simply integrated into the display and the selfie-cam was included in the housing as an extendable module. Exciting, isn’t it? But does the Vivo Nex really represent a revolution for the mobile phone market, or does the futuristic smartphone fail in everyday use? In the following test report we’ll try to answer this question.

Vivo Nex 4

Versions

The Vivo Nex is the final version of the Vivo Apex concept smartphone presented at the Mobile World Congress 2018. The smartphone is available in two different versions. The high-end version is called Vivo Nex Ultimate or Vivo Nex S and has an in-display fingerprint sensor in addition to the extendable camera. A slightly cheaper standard version is simply called Vivo Nex or Vivo Nex A and has a Snapdragon 710 processor and a normal fingerprint sensor on the rear. In the following chart you will find the most important differences. This test report is based on the standard version of the Vivo Nex. Our test device was provided by the CECT shop

Vivo Nex Ultimate (S) Vivo Nex (A)
Display 6.59-inch AMOLED display 6.59-inch AMOLED display
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Qualcomm Snapdragon 710
128/256GB UFS2.1, 8GB RAM  128GB UFS2.1, 6GB RAM
Camera Rear: 12 MP (f/1.8, dual pixel PDAF, OIS) + 5 MP (f/2.4) Front: 8 MP (f/2.0) Rear: 12 MP (f/1.8, dual pixel PDAF) + 5 MP (f/2.4) Front: 8 MP (f/2.0)
LTE bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 34, 38, 39,40, 41 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 34, 38, 39, 40, 41
Fingerprint sensor under the display on the rear

Design & build quality

Vivo Nex 1

As a die-hard cell phone tester who changes his smartphone almost as often as the bed linen, unpacking cell phones gets somewhat ordinary. A notch here, a vertically arranged dual camera there, a bit of wireless charging and of course thinner and thinner bezels – that was it at least so far in the smartphone year 2018. I am all the more pleased that Vivo is now taking a new path with the Nex, which at first glance differs from the rest of the standard range. With the Vivo Nex you finally have the feeling of holding a piece of the future in your hand – a phone against which an iPhone X already seems damn boring. The Vivo NEX features a 6.59-inch AMOLED Ultra FullView display with 1080 x 2316 Full HD+ resolution and an aspect ratio of 19.3:9. Thanks to the almost non-existing bezels, Vivo has reached the highest screen-to-body ratios (91.24%, manufacturer’s information), ever on the mobile phone market (iPhone X: 81.49%). The dimensions of 162 x 77 x 7.98mm are therefore still relatively compact, even if the gigantic 6.6-inch display can no longer be operated with one hand. With a weight of 207g the Vivo Nex is one of the heavier mobile phones, although the weight fits the size of the mobile phone and is not noticeable in the trouser pocket.

Vivo Nex 3

The rear of the smartphone is made of glass, under which there is a foil that reflects different colours depending on the angle of the light. Here, too, the emphasis was on an independent design. A notification LED is unfortunately not available in the phone. On the right side of the metal frame are the volume control and the power button. On the left, there is another button to start the Vivo Jovi Assistant. However, this “smart” assistant only understands Chinese and is therefore even more unnecessary than the Bixby button on Samsung smartphones. Unfortunately, it cannot be assigned alternative functions either. Fortunately however, the wizard does not wake up immediately if you press the button briefly, but only after pressing it longer. So it never happened to me that Jovi was started accidentally during the test phase.

Vivo Nex 2Vivo Nex 8 Vivo Nex 11Vivo Nex 14

On the bottom you find a USB Type-C connector, a speaker and the SIM slot. On the upper side there is the extendable module, in which the front camera is accommodated, as well as a 3.5mm headphone connection.

Similar to the Vivo X21 (for the Vivo X20 test), the NEX Ultimate has an in-display fingerprint sensor. However, the Ultimate uses the 3rd generation of the in-display fingerprint scanning technology, which is said to offer 50% higher accuracy and 10% higher speed. First video test reports seem to show that unlocking works quite well, although the error rate is higher and the unlocking speed lower than with a classic fingerprint sensor. Our Vivo NEX in the standard version, on the other hand, has a fingerprint sensor on the rear. It works at lightning speed and almost never fails the finger recognition, as you would expect from a flag ship of this price. Unfortunately, the Vivo Nex does not have Face-Unlock.

The Vivo Nex scores well in terms of design and build quality. You get an excellently built smartphone with that certain something. The bezel-less display without any annoying notch as well as the extendable camera provide a WOW effect, which makes the Vivo Nex – until now – unique. 

Display

Vivo Nex 13

A 6.59-inch AMOLED Ultra FullView display with a 1080 x 2316 Full HD+ resolution – with this display size the Vivo Nex is a true Phablet. Today, smartphones of this size are becoming more and more socially acceptable. If you wonder if Full-HD resolution is still appropriate for this inch size, you can relax. Having a pixel density of 388ppi, it is no longer possible to perceive individual pixels on the smartphone, even with good eyes. The advantage of a 2K display is only the use of VR content. And as far as the other features of the panel are concerned, we can almost only praise the Vivo Nex. The contrast is, typical for AMOLED displays, infinitely high and the brightness is also sufficient. When used outdoors, contents are therefore very easy to read, even in relatively bright sunlight. In terms of colour represenatation, the display is not as lifelike as IPS screens, although this is only noticeable in comparison with other mobile phones. Red and yellow in particular are somewhat overemphasized, so that the colour representation is not really “realistic”. However, this is a matter of taste and not to be understood as a negative point per se. All in all, the Vivo Nex’s display is quite convincing.

What we find less intoxicating, however, is the software settings provided by the manufacturer. Apart from a reading mode with reduced blue radiation, there are no possibilities to change the display. So you have to live with the out-of-the-box experience, which, mind you, is fine. At least the automatic brightness control works and there are also some smart wake features to operate the smartphone from standby. The smartphone can also be operated using either wipe gestures or classic on-screen buttons. Both worked very well in the test.

Vivo Nex Smart wake Vivo Nex Smart Wake 2 Vivo Nex One Hand Mode

Performance

The Vivo Nex standard version runs with a Snadragon 710 processor. This CPU is a chip of the latest Qualcomm generation and we already know it from the Xiaomi MI 8 SE. The performance of the processor is located in the upper mid-range and is thus below the Snapdragon 835/845 top models. However, the chip’s technical features are largely identical in terms of AI support, camera features and connectivity standards. Since the SD710 is manufactured using the 10-nanometer process, the processor is extremely energy-saving. The Octa-Core contains eight Kryo 360 cores. Two of them are comparable to the A75 cores and clock up to 2.2 GHz – they are the power cluster. The other six cores are based on the Cortex-A55 and operate with 1.7 GHz –  they are the energy saving cluster. Graphical applications run with the Adreno 616 GPU. In practice, the Vivo Nex also delivers a flagship performance with the “slower” processor. In general, I would argue that 90% of users would not even notice a difference to the Ultimate model. Apps open almost completely without load times and thanks to 6GB RAM, there are virtually no restrictions with regard to multitasking. Also, all currently available smartphone games can be played smoothly and even demanding games such as PUB G or Asphalt 8 run smoothly at high settings. The good performance is also achieved by the use of fast UFS memory. The reading speed is very good with 500MB/s and the writing speed is on average with 200MB/s.

Antutu Result Geekbench Multi Result Geekbench Single Result 3D Mark Result

The NEX Ultimate is powered by the fastest mobile phone processor on the market today, the Snapdragon 845. The Octa Core clocks with four Kyro 385 Gold Cores at 2.8 GHz and four Kyro 385 Silver Cores at 1.7 GHz each. The Adreno 630 GPU takes care of the graphics calculations. In combination with 6GB or even 8GB RAM you get a lightning fast system that doesn’t have to hide behind any other smartphone. Simple apps have virtually no loading time and multitasking should also be possible without problems with a very high number of apps in the cache. Even the latest games run perfectly smoothly with high graphic settings.

The Vivo Nex Ultimate is therefore a real performance machine and in this respect, at least in the benchmarks, it outperforms the standard version with the new Snapdragon 710. However, this difference is mostly noticeable in theory in terms of numbers. As the successor to Qualcomm’s 6XX processors, the SD710 still has enough power to run current games and apps without restrictions. But, of course, the Ultimate offers more future security!

Android

Vivo Nex System Android 8Vivo Nex System Android 7 Vivo Nex System Android 9 Vivo Nex System Android 6 Vivo Nex System Android 5 Vivo Nex System Android 1

In terms of software, Vivo NEX smartphones with Android 8.1 Oreo run with the manufacturer’s Funtouch OS user interface. As far as the appearance of the system is concerned, they did copy a lot from Apple. The icons and the system structure are quite reminiscent of iOS. Although “quite” is still understated: The system is actually a cheeky iOS copy on Android basis and would probably quickly bring a complaint to the manufacturer in Europe because of copyright infringement. How much they copied from Apple can be seen not only in small details such as the names of the in-house apps “iTheme”, “iMusic” or “iManager”, but also in the system structure such as the Control Center with almost 1:1 Apple look.

Apart from the copy-cat mentality, the user interface is very clear and also offers numerous additional functions. One of the new features is an AI Assistant. However, it does not speak English and is therefore not relevant for Western users. After all, several system languages are available and the Google Playstore can be easily installed with these very simple instructions. Otherwise, the Vivo Nex system offers a sheer plethora of extra features and settings. Unfortunately, the structure of the system is not exactly clear, so that it takes much longer to find your way around than with Xiaomis MIUI or OxygenOS by OnePlus. Once you’re used to it, however, you can adapt the Vivo Nex to your own preferences. The “iManager” provides extensive notification and authorization management. You probably won’t be able to avoid this, because during the test phase Funtouch OS has shown again and again that it is quite strict with third-party apps, so that you occasionally have to give manual permission for an app to start automatically or to display notifications. In addition to the system settings, the look of the system can also be easily adjusted. For this purpose you find various pre-installed wallpapers and themes, which can be extended almost infinitely by a theme store.

Unfortunately you notice at one or the other point that the Funtouch system of Vivo Nex is designed for the Chinese market. There is a smart screen, for example, on which Chinese characters appear again and again. In addition, the in-house apps are not completely translated, so that the music player or browser is better replaced by alternative apps such as VLC media players or chrome browsers. Therefore, you should uninstall some Chinese third party apps (e.g. Weibo & Alipay). It is also recommended to counteract the Chinese user system by changing the system launcher. With this tutorial you will learn how to switch to alternative launchers like Nova or Apex. Personally, I felt much more comfortable with the Nova-Launcher on my Vivo Nex.

Camera

Both Vivo Nex smartphones have a 12 MP + 5 MP dual camera setup with AI support and an aperture of f/1.8 on the rear. They feature a Sony IMX363 sensor. There is a distinct difference between the Vivo Nex and Nex Ultimate in terms of image stabilization. The standard version has only electronic image stabilization, while the Nex Ultimate also has a 4-axis optical image stabilization of the rear camera. Of course the cameras have features like Auto HDR and portrait photos with bokeh effect. Similar to the Huawei P20 Pro and the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, the artificial intelligence is supposed to recognize scenes and optimize the image settings accordingly – but this function is not noticeable in practice. In line with the rest of the Funtouch operating system, the camera app is a bit crowded. On the left side, a dial hides the most important settings. There are also various icons to select HDR, portrait or a live photo function. There is also a professional mode with numerous setting options (ISO, shutter speed, white balance and manual focus). You can also activate a beauty mode or decorate selfies with stickers in Snapchat-style.

The image quality of the main camera is good, though not outstanding. Images in daylight have strong colours, but the number of details is not particularly high and occasionally the images appear somewhat over-saturated. The somewhat too strong colours sometimes also look very beautiful, depending on the object. In addition, the camera tends to produce a slight image noise. I don’t want to say that it is not possible to take beautiful pictures with the Vivo Nex, but for a flagship the quality is only on average. As far as low-light performance is concerned, this impression continues. The images are still quite nice even in low light, but photographed objects often appear too soft and the number of details could be higher overall.

As far as the dual camera functions are concerned, bokeh shots can be taken with both the front camera and the rear camera. However, there is no 2X zoom function. The bokeh shots are altogether good; however, often 2 or 3 attempts are needed to correctly implement the separation of foreground and background.

Videos can be recorded at a maximum of 4K at 30FPS. The quality of the images is good both in terms of colour representation and sharpness. However, the Vivo Nex in the standard version only has electronic image stabilization, which unfortunately is not noticeable in practice. Shots in motion are therefore very shaky.

Front camera

On the front of both versions of the Vivo Nex is a selfie camera with 8 megapixels and an f/2.0 aperture. The extendable front camera is the Vivo Nex’s greatest unique selling point. As soon as this is activated, a small module is moved out of the upper frame of the display, in which the 8 megapixel selfie camera is located. Admittedly, I was skeptical before the test whether the extendable construction was sufficiently stable. After some bending around and pressing on the camera, however, my concerns have diminished considerably, since the module is very solidly manufactured. An accidental damage should therefore only be possible if you let the mobile phone fall to the ground when taking a selfie. The mechanism takes a little less than a second to move the camera. If desired, this process can be accompanied by an R2D2 noise. Very cool!

Vivo Nex 7Vivo Nex 6

The quality of the front camera is, independent of the module, on average. The images have a nice sharpness and a good colour representation with enough light. Occasionally, however, overexposure occurs and a certain amount of image noise can also be detected as the light decreases. Here, too, Vivo can only secure an “average” rating.

Connectivity

Vivo Nex 10Both Vivo Nex models support Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac with dual band. The reception and transmission strength are very good. Bluetooth 5.0 and GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS are also supported, but you have to go without NFC. In addition to the standard sensors (brightness, approximation, acceleration), both smartphones also have a gyroscope and an E-compass. However, there is an important difference between the two Nex versions with regard to the supported net frequencies. The Vivo Ultimate offers a lot more LTE frequencies, than the standard version.

Vivo Nex Standard Version LTE: B1/B2/B3/B4/B5/B7/B8/B34/B38/B39/B40/B41;

Vivo Nex Ultimate Version LTE: B1/B2/B3/B4/B5/B7/B8/B12/B17/B18/B19/B20/B25/B26/ B28A/B28/B34/B38/B39/B40/B41;

The call quality during telephone calls is convincing and you are understood clearly and unambiguously on both sides. The hands-free function also works well. As far as the speaker is concerned, Vivo has done a great job, even if only one mono speaker has been installed. The sound is extremely loud and does not distort even at maximum volume. Basses can also be heard, although the heights are somewhat overemphasized. If you don’t want to use your mobile phone as a juke-box, the Vivo Nex also allows you to use your good old 3.5mm headphones. Here, too, you get a clean sound with good quality.

Battery

With a 4000mAh battery, the Vivo Nex has a large energy storage. In addition, the new Snapdragon 710 is very energy efficient thanks to the 10nm manufacturing process, and the AMOLED panel also benefits the battery life. These fortunate circumstances give the Vivo Nex an excellent battery life that easily allows 8 hours on-screen time. Depending on the usage profile, this results in a run time of 2 days. The battery consumption is very low both in standby and active use. Streaming a one-hour YouTube video on half brightness consumes 8% of battery. Playing intensive games consumes 12-14% per hour, which is still a very good result.

Battery lifetime Result Unit: hours

Another highlight is Vivo’s VOOC fast charging technology, which works technically similar to the DASH-Charge of OnePlus and charges the smartphone from 0 to 100% in one hour and 15 minutes. Charging 15 to 80 percent takes only 30 minutes.

Conclusion and alternative

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Joscha Becking:

The Vivo Nex is a very interesting mobile phone. In addition to the latest hardware, the in-display fingerprint scanner (Ultimate version) and the extendable selfie camera are two features that really can be called “innovation”. On the other hand, it has to be said that the Vivo Nex is not exactly a bargain. Compared to a Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, which also looks futuristic and offers a top hardware, the price is twice as high. Apart from that, I have to admit that I really liked the gigantic display with the extendable camera. Anyone who owns a Vivo Nex can definitely count on astonished looks, as the concept of this smartphone is – at least so far – unique. The Oppo Find X would be the only alternative.

Regardless of its innovative features, the Vivo Nex also scores in most standard disciplines. The gigantic AMOLED display is a real feast for the eyes. The system runs very fast in both versions and is also fully gaming-capable and the battery life is also great. On the other hand, the cameras are a small weak spot, as you could expect a bit more for a 820$ mobile phone. The overloaded Funtouch-OS system designed for the Chinese mobile phone market is also a small niggle.

Finally, it can be said that the Vivo Nex with its quite expensive price does not fall into the classic category of China mobile phones. If you can do without the innovative features, a Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, Xiaomi Mi8 or OnePlus 6 is a better, but conventional device for half the price. If, on the other hand, you are looking for something unique and are not afraid to pay a significant additional price, you definitely can’t go wrong with the Vivo Nex. This smartphone guarantees a “WOW effect”.

85%
  • Design and build quality 100 %
  • Display 100 %
  • Performance 70 %
  • Camera 70 %
  • Communication and connectivity 80 %
  • Battery 90 %

Price comparison

Ultimate Version
from 640 USD
Standard-Version
from 642 USD
Only 640 USD*
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900 USD*
Go to shop
642 USD*
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671 USD*
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800 USD*
Go to shop

*Prices include shipping and toll. Intermediate changes of prices, ranking, delivery time and costs possible. Prices last updated on 12.12.2018

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