The Vivo NEX 3’s curved screen is eye-catching but useless
It's got 5G, a pop-up selfie camera and an in-screen fingerprint sensor, but the "waterfall" display is totally impractical
The Vivo NEX 3 is definitely a handset that catches the eye. But the thing that makes the NEX 3 stand out is also its least impressive feature.
Vivo always tries something new with the NEX line. The first one had a pop-up camera. The next one had a second screen on the back. This time around, Vivo says it has a “Waterfall FullView Display” -- which basically means the 6.9” OLED screen curves around the side of the phone.
The problem is I just don’t see the benefit of it. The screen curves so sharply around the sides that you can’t see it clearly from the front, and it doesn’t go all the way around the sides so it’s not like you can read it from the side like the spine of a book. (I don’t know why you’d want to, but I’m struggling to find a reason for it.)
Worse, the curved screen means there’s no room for physical side buttons. So instead of having physical volume buttons like every other phone, the NEX 3 puts virtual buttons on the screen in the same place.
On the bright side, the virtual buttons feel pretty good. I tried pressing them, and the haptic feedback felt like Apple’s Taptic Engine on the iPhone.
Here’s something I like about the NEX 3: The in-screen fingerprint scanner. It’s super fast and seems accurate, much more than the one on my Samsung Galaxy S10. It’s the best in-screen fingerprint sensor I’ve ever used in a retail handset.
And just like other Android flagships, the NEX 3 has three cameras on the back in a circular module. It’s got an ultrawide, standard and telephoto lens. The regular camera is even capable of shooting 64 megapixel shots -- but it doesn’t support image stabilization.
The other thing I like? The pop-up selfie camera has a flash. Most other smartphones -- even ones without a pop-up camera -- don’t have a flash in their selfie camera, so this is really useful.
Other features to note? The NEX 3 has dark mode, a 44W fast charge option and even 5G. Oh, and if you love headphone jacks, rejoice! This phone has one.
Overall though, it’s quite hard to look past the NEX 3’s biggest feature -- which is also its biggest flaw. I just can’t find a practical use case for a screen with extremely curved edges. There’s no functional improvement over a standard screen, and the lack of physical buttons actually mean it’s more of a downside. I do like the in-screen fingerprint sensor and selfie camera’s flash, but hopefully Vivo will bring those features to a phone with a more normal screen.