vivo NEX 3 5G review


In a little over a year and a half, the vivo APEX concept has matured into a third generation commercial product that still manages to wow us – it’s the vivo NEX 3, of course.

vivo NEX 3 5G review

We have the 5G version of the smartphone for review, but good thing it’s not the connectivity that’s the most exciting bit about the NEX 3, because we couldn’t enjoy it anyway. In 4G or 5G trim, the handset comes with a unique notchless dual-curved Super AMOLED display that wraps around the sides and has minimal bezels top and bottom – staying true to the APEX’ promise for an all-screen future.

Underneath the screen, the latest Snapdragon 855+ ticks, so the NEX 3 5G isn’t just a show-off – it means business. With 256 gigs of storage and 8GB or 12GB of RAM the phone won’t leave you wanting, and even if you opt for the 4G version you’d get a reasonable 8GB/128GB configuration.

The list of cool bits goes on with an elevating selfie camera and it has a flash on that pop-up mechanism, too. Around back, a 2.5cm close-focusing ultra wide camera keeps company to the 64MP Samsung Quad Bayer primary unit, the two joined by a 2x zoom telephoto to complete the flagship-standard camera trio.

vivo NEX 3 5G review

vivo NEX 3 5G specs

  • Body: Glass front/back, aluminum frame; 167.4×76.1×9.4mm, 219g; Liquid Tianhe and Deep air streamer color schemes (Google translated ;)).
  • Screen: 6.89″ E3 Super AMOLED, FHD+ (1080 x 2256px) resolution, 363ppi.
  • Camera: Primary: 64MP, Samsung GW1 sensor 1/1.7″ sensor size, f/1.8 aperture, PDAF; Telephoto: 13MP, f/2.5, 2x optical zoom, PDAF; Ultra wide angle: 13MP, f/2.2, 120-degree FoV, PDAF with macro mode from 2.5 cm.
  • Selfie cam: Motorized pop-up 16MP, f/2.1 aperture; LED flash.
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 855+ (7 nm), octa-core (1×2.96 GHz Kryo 485 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 485 & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 485), Adreno 640 GPU (700 MHz).
  • Memory: 8/12GB RAM, 256GB UFS 3.0 built-in storage.
  • OS: Android 9.0 Pie, FuntouchOS 9.1.
  • Battery: 4,500mAh, 44W Super FlashCharge.
  • Connectivity: Dual SIM; Wi-Fi, Buetooth 5.0, GPS, NFC. 5G support (4G model also available). USB-C, 3.5mm headphone jack.
  • Misc:Optical under-display fingerprint reader, pressure-sensitive side buttons with haptic feedback, single loudspeaker.

We’re not as excited about the lack of stereo speakers, in part because of the large earpiece grille which gave us hope. Then again, we get how it could be a tall order making the earpiece loud enough (read big enough) to double as an extra channel with the pop-up camera right behind it. On top of that, the NEX 3 5G is missing dust and water protection, which is understandable given the moving parts, but still not ideal.

As was the case with the original APEX, the NEX 3 5G relies on an under-display fingerprint sensor for authentication, only now it works. We’re also loving the healthy 4,500mAh battery capacity, and the 44-watt charging capability with the bundled adapter is among the quickest around, hence welcome too. So what else is in that box?

vivo NEX 3 unboxing

The NEX 3 5G comes in a stylish black box with the NEX name printed in circle that resembles the phone’s triple camera assembly. You remove the top, expecting to finally get your hands on the phone, but there’s a cover you need to move out of the way. It opens up to the left, much like a book. Bonus points to vivo for presentation.

vivo NEX 3 5G review

So the NEX is there on the left, in a plastic tray that hides more stuff underneath. You get a snap-on back cover with a leather finished rear and modest corner protection. The proprietary USB-A-to-C cable is in this compartment too.

To the right of the phone you’ll find a set of in-ear buds ending in a 3.5mm plug – the NEX 3 has the good old headphone jack. Below them is the 44W adapter we started with – a reassuringly chunky and hefty unit. Hold on to it and the included cable though as the fast charging wouldn’t work with generic peripherals.

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