Vivo has announced its followup to one of the most head-turning phones of 2018, the Nex. The new Nex Dual Display Edition has a similar curvy design and devotion to eliminating the display notch, but it takes a different approach: whereas the original Nex had a pop-up selfie camera, the new model doesn’t need one in the first place.
That’s because, as the name suggests, there’s an entire second screen on the back of the phone — you can use it to frame selfies with the unusually ringed rear camera setup. Vivo has gone for a 12-megapixel primary camera backed with a 2-megapixel secondary module, and there’s also a third f/1.3 lens paired with a time of flight (TOF) 3D module. Vivo says the TOF 3D camera adds point-to-point distance measuring and secure facial recognition to unlock the rear display. It can also be used for “personalized beautification,” whatever that means. The company showed off the 3D object-scanning capabilities of its prototype time-of-flight tech at MWC Shanghai this year.
The “Lunar Ring” on the back of the device is functional as well as decorative. The colors can change to signify notifications or glow softly to create diffused lighting for low-lit selfie shots. It can also be set to pulse along with your music.
The front screen is a little smaller and sharper than before, at 6.4-inches and 2340 x 1080, while the one on the back is a 5.5-inch 16:9 1080p display that can be used to operate the phone as normal, in case you want to revisit the bezel-heavy days of 2016. Both are OLED panels, which enables the in-display fingerprint sensor that Vivo has done more than anyone to popularize this year. However, it still doesn’t work across a wider area like we saw with the Apex concept device that eventually became the Nex.
Vivo thinks the two displays could be useful in a few (dubious) scenarios. For example, during the Nex’s unveiling, the company showed the second display being used as a rear touch pad for gaming. It also demonstrated a mirror mode that allowed the photographer and human subject to see how the image was being framed simultaneously. Likewise, a lovestruck Nex owner could draw a heart on one side of the device to communicate their feelings to a person on the other side.
As for the internal specs, there’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, 10GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage, while the battery has been cut from the original Nex’s 4,000mAh to 3,500mAh. The phone supports 10V fast-charging over its USB-C port. And yes, it has a headphone jack.
Overall, the Dual Display Edition looks to be a more refined version of the Nex that still keeps the series’ spirit of experimentation. It isn’t a major upgrade in every way, but we’re looking forward to finding out how the second screen and time-of-flight tech works in practice.
Vivo hasn’t yet announced pricing or availability for the Nex Dual Display Edition outside of China, where it’ll go on sale on December 29th for 4,998 yuan, or about $725.