The maximum of compromises for the sake of this framelessness: a smartphone Vivo Nex

Not a very reliable fingerprint scanner in the screen, a weak speaker and a sliding self-camera – all for the sake of a huge screen.

The trend towards “frameless” smartphones began in 2017, but all manufacturers somehow made compromises and declared they did not reach. Samsung left the framework at the top and bottom of the Galaxy S8 / S9, in Essential Phone, Sharp Aquos S2 and iPhone X made a cutout under the camera camera and sensors. Even Lenovo, which promised a truly frameless smartphone, made a cutout.

The Xiaomi Mi MIX / 2 / 2S tried to get away from the extra details around the screen, but they did not turn out very elegant: the usual speaker for the conversations was made too compact and quiet, and the front camera had to be left on the bottom “chin”, and even put it in the corner – when you take pictures of self, the phone has to be turned over. There were other compromises: Apple refused the fingerprint scanner in favor of face recognition, and other manufacturers left the sensors, but on the back cover.

The Chinese manufacturer Vivo went much further. In September 2017, he showed the first smartphone (Vivo X20 Plus) with a fingerprint sensor under the screen, and at the beginning of 2018 introduced the concept Vivo Apex – there was a similar subscreen sensor and a sliding self-camera. All these innovations so much saved the space on the front panel, that in Vivo Apex the screen occupies 98% of its area (Samsung S9 – 83.6%, iPhone X – 82.9%). But Apex was only shown on CES 2018 – it did not go on commercial sale.

But Vivo Nex, made in the likeness of Vivo Apex, went on commercial sale. In Russia, its pre-order will begin on July 26 (on the sites of M.Video and MTS), and sales will start on August 6 – it will cost 46,990 rubles, representatives told the company.

editor-in-chief spent a week with Vivo Nex. It’s really a frameless smartphone (at least it’s closer to the ideal than anyone on the market), but there are too many compromises that the manufacturer had to make to achieve such a result, and they make the smartphone not very viable – although to study them very much interesting.

What we are dealing with

Do not really want to go into the details in detail, but for the understanding still have to do it. Briefly: Nex is a very powerful, huge Android-smartphone.

  • Screen 6.59 inches Super AMOLED;
  • 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal memory;
  • Dual rear camera (12 Mp + 5 Mp) with optical stabilization and retractable front camera (8 Mp);
  • Eight-core processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845: 4 Kryo 385 Gold + 4 Kryo 385 Silver;
  • The battery is 4000 mAh.

Peripheral Nex is arranged quite normally: USB-C port (and adapter with fast charging), a slot for two SIM-cards, an audio jack, a speaker on the bottom end, a power button and a volume swing. In the kit – a headset with headphones-plugs and a silicone case.

Nex has a separate button to launch voice assistant Jovi AI, but since it works only in Chinese, it is useless for the Russian market. In the local version of the smartphone, this button is reassigned to run Google Lens (a camera that recognizes brands, labels and some objects), although the device promo page claims that the button launches “Google Helper”.

The quality of shooting Nex cameras is boring: there is nothing remarkable in them, everything is like everyone else – improving selfi with AI, processing scenes with AI, bokeh effect and so on. The only difference is in the negative: although the camera is double, the “optical” zoom, like the iPhone X or Xiaomi Mi MIX 2S, it does not.

Screen and gestures, without which framelessness would not have been

The display at Nex is really huge: it’s hard to find a tablet with the same diagonal on the market, as it would turn into other manufacturers into an absolutely immense monster. Otherwise, the Nex screen is just a good AMOLED screen, albeit with very strange proportions (19.3: 9): the manufacturer claims that due to the elongation of the screen, the Nex is felt in the hand like a 5.69-inch smartphone, but it’s not.

The frame at the Nex display is still there, and the lower one is thicker than the three others, and by their proportions it is clear that the creators of the smartphone were guided by the design of the screen of the iPhone X. The fact that Nex is almost frameless makes the smartphone compact, but it would not be so noticeably, if not gestures, also copied from the iPhone X.

Nex running on Funtouch OS is Vivo’s own add-on over Android 8.1. By default, it includes standard navigation buttons for Android-smartphones, but they can be replaced with gestures with the same functions. When switching mode in the settings, the buttons disappear, making room for the screen, and are replaced by three thin bars at the bottom of the screen (more like the iPhone X interface).

If you make a swipe from the bottom up the left bar, the curtain will zoom out with the settings: Wi-Fi, network, brightness, volume, last used applications. Svayp on the central works like a button “Home”, and if you still hold your finger on the screen, the multi-tasking screen will open. Swap on the right bar works like a “Back” button. If that, the arrangement of the strips can be changed.’

Switching to managing gestures, I first looked for some time in a series of functions in the notification blind (which, as usual, opens from the top), but very quickly got used to the interface. The experience of the iPhone X makes itself felt, and it seems that Vivo managed to repeat it well. The only problem is when the gestures are turned on in full screen mode (for example, when watching a video from YouTube), you can not get rid of the bar at the bottom of the screen: it seems that the OS has not been fully tested, because with normal navigation the buttons do not have this strip.

Subscreen scanner is magic

A fingerprint scanner built into the screen is a magical thing. I’m kind of just leaning my finger against the screen, where can there be a scanner that reads the imprint? It turns out that the technology uses gaps between the pixels in the AMOLED display, so that when light passes through them, read the structure of the finger pressed to the screen.

On conventional LCD displays, this technology does not work, because such displays have a backlight (otherwise they are not enough contrast), and it will interfere with the reading of the print. For the same reason, the Nex scanner is recommended not to be used in strong light – indeed, the scanner works very poorly in bright sunlight.

The imprint is not read on the entire screen: the finger needs to be applied to a small area marked with a special symbol. In addition, it is recommended to press the scanner slightly more strongly than it seems necessary in the instruction (which, however, is hidden deep enough in the settings), and completely cover with the finger the indicated circle: if the epithelium does not fit tightly, the scanner does not count it.

The production of a subscreen scanner in Vivo is handled by Synaptics, and judging by the news around it, you can expect the same technology to appear from other major manufacturers – at least Samsung, who wanted to implement it in the Galaxy S8.

In general, Nex proves that the subscreen scanner is a working technology: it is functional, it saves a lot of space on the front panel, and it’s just impressive. But with constant use, I too often came across situations when the scanner did not work – either because of the sun, then because of a weakly pressed finger, then because of an inaccurate hit on the symbol, it is also because of what. In addition, even under ideal conditions, the subscreen scanner is noticeably slower than normal.

Since there are no other methods of “smart” unlocking, in addition to the subscreen fingerprint scanner, Nex does not, after several unsuccessful attempts it is necessary to enter a password, which is annoying. At such times, you begin to understand other manufacturers who are not yet in a hurry to implement this technology, apparently expecting that Synaptics will bring it to mind, and use more proven methods.

Despite the slow speed and frequent errors of the subscreen scanner in Nex, there is no doubt that as soon as the technology is ready, everyone will begin to implement it.

Pull-out camera and screen without earpiece

Since nothing is left on the front panel of Nex except for the screen and thin frames, Vivo obviously made some compromises. Selfi-camera could not be thrown out altogether – that’s why it was hidden in the case and made retractable.

The need to wait until the camera moves out is annoying – but only at first glance: in reality, when shooting a selfie, no one is in a hurry (speed is important when reporting to the back camera), and nothing is required from the user (in contrast to the situation with Xiaomi Mi MIX , in which the smartphone has to twirl in his hand). There are also problems: when trying to record a round video in Telegram, the smartphone for some reason always asks permission to use the front camera with a pop-up notification that can not be pressed without canceling the video recording.

Self-camera leaves without a mechanical sound, but she was specifically added voice acting (by default, the one that is called “Science Fiction” is included) – it gives the element of futurism an event.

The fact that the camera leaves, even adds Nex coolness: this detail can surprise others that the rarity in the world of equally boring smartphones.

But the need to abandon ear dynamics is a compromise with a minus sign. Instead of the usual dynamics, Vivo uses Nex technology to transmit sound through the screen, using it as a resonator, and this makes the sound noticeably worse and quieter.

Nex is a portfolio of future technologies, but it’s hard to convince yourself that they need today

Although both the subscreen scanner of the print, and the spectacularly moving self-camera, and the huge quality display with virtually no frames really impress, Nex still leaves a sense of combating advantages with compromises. The scanner has freed up space on the screen – but it works slowly; the camera leaves quickly and with a nice “vzhzh” – but in other smartphones it just is and works, not making me think that I can accidentally break it off; the screen is big and beautiful – but I can not hear the caller when I call.

Nex is a good flagship on Android, but its price tag of almost 47,000 rubles makes Vivo compete for attention not with Xiaomi, but with powerful brands like Samsung, Huawei and Google.

While there is a feeling that one in the field with such technologies is not a warrior. Still, the Chinese Vivo does not have the marketing influence of the Apple level – but when all manufacturers implement the same functions, we will remember that Vivo made it the first.

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