Vivo Nex Three overview: chasing waterfalls

5 years in the past, I reviewed Samsung’s Galaxy Word Edge, the primary cellphone to function an OLED display that curved on the aspect. It didn’t have a lot sensible perform, nevertheless it regarded nice and served as a helpful technical proof of idea for Samsung. I described it as a small step down the trail to foldable telephones.

Properly, right here we're in 2019, and we nearly have foldable telephones, whereas each Samsung flagship now has an OLED display with curved edges as a regular design function. Curved screens aren’t shocking or thrilling anymore — till you see the Vivo Nex Three in individual, that's.

With what the corporate calls a “Waterfall FullView show,” Vivo has taken the idea of curved screens to the subsequent degree. The diploma of curvature on the Nex Three is so excessive that a lot of the edges of the cellphone are lined in display, leaving no room for {hardware} buttons.

Earlier Vivo Nex telephones have centered on artistic methods to keep away from bezels and notches, from pop-up selfie cameras to secondary shows. They felt experimental but additionally pragmatic. After all you’d reasonably have a seamless show, all issues being equal, however with lots of these options now commonplace, the Nex Three can’t declare to be taking pictures to unravel any explicit downside. Its one and solely purpose is to look dope as hell with out compromising the general expertise.

I’m slightly shocked to report that Vivo has just about succeeded.

I might describe the Nex 3’s design as an try and out-Samsung Samsung. There’s that curved display, in fact, however the cellphone’s tall construct and arduous strains are strongly paying homage to latest Galaxy Notes. The show has a small chin on the backside, a smaller bezel on the prime, and sure, just about no bezel on the edges while you take a look at the cellphone head-on.

The way in which content material spills over the sting of the display on the Nex Three is actually slightly surreal. You possibly can even tilt the cellphone at an angle and nonetheless see nothing however display. With the Nex Three in your hand, it appears to be like such as you’re holding a glowing, natural blob of pixels. Is there any profit to this? Properly, not in case you don’t contemplate wanting cool to be a function. When you do, then relaxation assured that the Nex Three is a cool-looking cellphone.

Curved screens aren’t for everybody, although, even on gadgets with much less dramatic angles. The curves do unavoidably distort the picture, which is most noticeable with mild backgrounds, and content material might or might not look bizarre relying on the apps and web sites you’re taking a look at.


Check out the image above of the Verge homepage, for instance. I like how the pictures wrap across the sides and the border of our “hero” part for featured tales occurs to land proper the place the curves start, which is lucky. However the white background appears to be like dangerous the place the glass curves on the far fringe of the display, with the picture taking up a clumsy vignette. While you take a look at a white webpage head-on, you’ll see this impact on each edges directly. At extra excessive angles, in the meantime, the flat portion of the display shall be noticeably dimmer than the curves.

This doesn’t actually hassle me, nevertheless it does hamper the wow issue slightly. Whereas I’m not usually a fan of darkish modes, I’ve discovered myself utilizing them each time attainable on the Nex Three for apps like Twitter and Instagram. The cellphone simply appears to be like much better in use with black backgrounds and vibrant colours wrapping across the edge.


In any other case, I've no points with the Nex 3’s display in any respect. I haven’t had any issues with unintentional enter. In truth, Vivo seems to have solved this just by eradicating contact sensitivity from the curved sections altogether. You possibly can’t scroll down an internet site by working your finger down the aspect of the cellphone, for example.

The true shock is that the digital buttons are wonderful. The appropriate fringe of the cellphone has a pressure-sensitive strip with a textured part within the center for the sleep-wake button and quantity up-down icons on both aspect. It’s simple to really feel for the buttons with out wanting, they usually give satisfying suggestions, not in contrast to the house “button” on an iPhone 7 or 8.

I used to be anticipating the Nex Three to fall down on this regard, having been unimpressed with Vivo’s digital buttons on the Apex 2019 idea I used earlier within the 12 months, nevertheless it’s actually not an issue right here. The cellphone does have a small bodily sleep-wake button on the highest edge in case you actually need it. I haven’t ever needed to press it, although, as a result of the digital buttons work superb and are in a extra pure place.


There isn’t a complete lot extra to say concerning the Nex 3. It has most of the identical drawbacks as Vivo’s different telephones: overbearing iOS-style software program, no wi-fi charging, and a horrible mono speaker on the backside. But it surely additionally embodies most of the firm’s typical strengths: a quick in-display fingerprint sensor, a long-lasting battery, and a headphone jack. It has a Snapdragon 855 Plus processor and 8GB of RAM, and it feels very quick to make use of outdoors of some sometimes laborious animations. My overview unit is the 5G variant, although I haven’t been in a position to check its connectivity speeds as a result of the next-gen networks haven’t but launched in Japan.

The triple-camera setup is without doubt one of the Nex 3’s few visible thrives. It’s housed in a round module supposedly impressed by watches, with notches working across the circumference and an amusing “F1.8-2.5/16-52mm ASPH” inscription as if this had been an actual zoom lens with variable aperture. What it really is, in fact, is a set of three that features an ultra-wide, broad, and 2x “telephoto” lenses, as is now customary on high-end telephones. It performs fairly effectively in most conditions, although it gained’t outshoot a Pixel four or an iPhone 11.

One other Vivo trademark returns with the pop-up selfie digicam, which, on the Nex 3, is a a lot wider module just like the one on the midrange V17. In contrast to that cellphone, although, there’s solely a single 32-megapixel selfie digicam together with an LED for fill lighting or flash. Your tolerance for notches might differ, however pop-up selfie cameras are a fairly confirmed function at this level, and it’s the suitable name for a cellphone just like the Nex Three that's buying and selling on its screen-to-body ratio.


The Vivo Nex Three is an efficient cellphone with a single head-turning — and doubtlessly polarizing — design function. The waterfall show is only a factor that we're in a position to do with OLED panels now, and I wouldn’t count on the Nex Three to be the final time we see it. With Huawei’s flagship Mate 30 Professional adopting the same design and Oppo additionally engaged on the tech, it’s more likely to make its option to extra reasonably priced telephones from different Chinese language firms in 2020. On the even larger finish, in the meantime, Xiaomi is taking issues additional with a show that wraps across the total system.

There’s no sensible profit to the Nex 3’s waterfall show, however there isn’t actually a lot of a downside, both. Vivo has executed job making the Nex Three simple to make use of with out compromising the way you’d count on a cellphone to work, so the one factor that basically issues concerning the show is whether or not you want the way in which it appears to be like.

And, effectively, I like the way in which it appears to be like.

Pictures by Sam Byford / The Verge

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