This smartphone maker thinks two screens are better than one
The Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition is the follow-up to the company’s pop-up camera phone earlier this year. But this time, it has just one set of cameras… and two screens, ditching the front-facing camera entirely in favor of a second screen on the back for selfies.
That means unlike regular smartphones, you have to flip the new NEX around to take selfies. As a feature to show off to your friends, the dual-screen design seems like an instant winner. It’s different from most devices you see out there: There’s no notch, no pop-up camera, and no hole in the screen — but it does have a chin at the bottom.
What else can you do with the back screen? First, there’s a camera feature called Mirror Mode. It turns on both screens at the same time when you’re taking a photo, so people on both sides of the phone can see the frame. Vivo says this feature is best for couples: Say, if you’re filming your girlfriend, she can see herself posing and tell you how to frame the shot.
Next, gamers can assign touch screen controls to the back screen. They act as triggers in shooting games, which Vivo says will make for a better gaming experience. But it’s worth noting that using a rear touchscreen for controls was tried before in the PlayStation Vita, and it didn’t work that well there.
On top of that, Vivo says the back screen works for mobile payment. In China, phone users often pay in shops by letting a merchant scan their personal QR code in payment apps. With the new Vivo NEX, users can bring up the QR code on the back screen while continuing to use other apps in the front screen. (So you don’t have to flip your phone to pay… but you do have to flip for selfies!)
One more thing: The new Vivo NEX comes with 3D face recognition. It has a TOF (time of flight) 3D camera module on the back to scan your face. It seems to be more secure than the facial unlocking found in most Android phones right now. But there’s a bummer: You can only use the back screen for face unlock. The front screen has an in-screen fingerprint sensor instead.
Is that enough to win over users in China? It looks like opinions are split. While some are amazed with Vivo’s design, others think the dual screen is impractical.
One Weibo user said, “I don’t see how amazing [the dual screen] is other than the probability of cracking two screens at the same time when you drop this phone. Also, it seems cumbersome to have to keep turning around the phone. It could slip out of your hand if you’re not looking.”
“Dual screen? Can’t even afford to fix one screen here, let alone two,” one person wrote.
Meanwhile, some people seem to prefer the Nubia X, the first phone to launch with the dual-screen design.
“Nubia is holding steady,” one Weibo user wrote.
The Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition is powered by a Snapdragon 845 processor, and comes with 10GB of RAM, 128GB of storage. The back has a 12-megapixel main shooter with a special-designed flash called “Lunar Ring”. Vivo says it adds a twinkle to a person’s eyes in selfies.