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.

The Vivo NEX 3 has a screen that wraps around both sides of the phone. (Picture: Chris Chang/Abacus)

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.)

The display curves so far around the edges that there is no room for volume buttons on the side. (Picture: Chris Chang/Abacus)

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.

The right side of the phone has pressure-sensitive capacitive buttons as a replacement for physical volume buttons. (Picture: Chris Chang/Abacus)

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.

The in-screen fingerprint scanner is really responsive on the NEX 3. (Picture: Chris Chang/Abacus)

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.

A familiar sight nowadays: Three cameras in a round module at the back of the phone. (Picture: Chris Chang/Abacus)

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.

The pop-up selfie cam on the NEX 3 is a lot larger than other pop-up cams, but it does include a flash. (Picture: Chris Chang/Abacus)

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.

The NEX 3 comes with 5G support. (Picture: Chris Chang/Abacus)

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.