Vivo Announces Nex, a New Flagship Device with an OLED Display and SoundCasting
June 18, 2018
Vivo announced the Nex, a phone that the Chinese company claims, “fulfills the bezel-less dream.” The Nex is based on Apex, the impressive concept phoneshown at the Mobile World Congress in February. Like Apex, the Nex avoids the now-ubiquitous display notch by employing an elevating selfie camera that pops out from the top edge of the phone when required. This allows the Nex to achieve a screen-to-body ratio of 91.24 percent, Vivo says, though there is still a slight “chin” at the bottom of the screen. Further contributing to the bezel-less effect is Vivo’s glass-vibrating “screen sound casting technology,” which replaces the earpiece speaker. The Nex also uses an in-display fingerprint sensor, but unlike Apex, it doesn’t cover a large area of the screen. It sounds like the implementation is similar to the X21, which was impressive despite working over a thumbprint-sized area. Vivo does say that its “third-generation” sensor improves on speed, which was a slight caveat with the X21.
The basic specs of the phone couldn’t be much more high-end: there’s a Snapdragon 845 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 4,000mAh battery, 256GB of storage, and a 6.59-inch 1080p+ OLED display. (There’s also a cheaper model with a Snapdragon 710, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage.) The primary camera is 12 megapixels with an f/1.8 lens backed by a 5-megapixel f/2.4 module, while the pop-up selfie camera is 8 megapixels and f/2.0 and there's a headphone jack. The Nex will be slightly hefty by modern standards, however, at 199g and 7.98mm thick, the design looks sleeker than the boxy Apex prototype. Basically, the Vivo Nex is a bleeding-edge device designed for the highest-level bezel-free phone possible at this moment in time. However, it’ll only be available in China, priced at 4,998 yuan (about $780) for the high-end model, which is a lot cheaper than the 8,316-yuan iPhone X but more expensive than a local flagship like the 2,699-yuan Xiaomi Mi 8. After years of rumors and prototypes, an in-display fingerprint scanner is finally shipping in a major phone from a major company. The international Vivo X21 marks the first time this technology has been sold in India and other countries, as well as the first time it’s been a standard feature anywhere in the world. In-display fingerprint scanners allow for smartphones with thin bezels and high screen-to-body ratios by integrating biometric authentication into the display itself.
Figure 1: Vivo Nex
Vivo isn’t the only company selling phones with this technology; Xiaomiand Huaweiboth have recently announced high-end versions of their latest flagships that use similar scanners. Vivo is, however, pushing it a lot more than anyone else. The Synaptics prototype shown at CES eventually got released in China as the X20 UD, a special edition version of the company’s last flagship, and at MWC, the impressive Apex conceptwas demonstrated with a larger finger-scanning area. The X21 represents the first mainstream test run of the technology, using a sensor component from Goodix. It’s not a prototype or a limited edition; it’s just a phone.
The in-display scanning technology only works with OLED screens — it has to be able to light up your finger, and an LCD’s backlight would get in the way — which allows Vivo to pull off some neat tricks to highlight the sensor. When the phone is picked up, it automatically lights up a stylized fingerprint icon over the sensor area. And if it is woken up by pressing the sleep button, that same icon will be brighter than the rest of the screen.
Figure 2: Vivo NEX Pop-Up Camera System