Features

Vivo NEX: Everything we know so far

The retail version of the Vivo APEX concept phone

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If smartphone trends of the last two years are any indication, the future, as we know it, is borderless. From tall aspect ratios to curved edges to notches, we’ve seen every brand come up with the closest iteration possible to no bezels.

But all eyes are now on Vivo, a Chinese company popular in Southeast Asia for their budget and midrange offerings. Despite being just a concept phone, the Vivo APEX overshadowed every other smartphone launched at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year. After seeing what the Lenovo Z5 really looks like, it seems Vivo is still the first to make the future a reality.

Now that we’re nearing its launch, we’ve rounded up everything we know so far about Vivo’s all-display phone.

What will it be called?

All teasers and ads rolled out by Vivo the last few weeks point to NEX being the final name. The name APEX has not been mentioned anywhere, and will likely remain the name of the concept phone showcased in February.

How many phones will there be?

There will be at least two variants:  A midrange option called Vivo NEX, and flagship Vivo NEX S. They will sport the latest Snapdragon processors, 710 and 845 respectively, up to 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and 4000mAh batteries.

Will it have a retractable camera and in-display fingerprint sensor?

Official materials from Vivo feature images of an almost bezel-less phone with a tiny chin, a camera that seems to pop up from the top of the phone, and a fingerprint icon on the lower middle portion of the phone. A leaked video also shows the all-display phone sporting a dual-camera setup at the back, just like the Vivo APEX concept phone.

How much will it cost?

Earlier reports suggest the phones will be pricier than expected. The more affordable variant was pegged at CNY 4,998 (US$ 780) while the flagship is at CNY 6,998 (US$ 1,090). More recent leaks, however, tell a different story. The midrange Vivo NEX will cost CNY 3,798 (US$ 595), and the Vivo NEX S is expected to be priced at CNY 4,498 (US$ 760).

Will there be different colors?

So far, we’ve seen renders and images of black and red variants. But, seeing as the phone is launching right before the World Cup wherein Vivo is an official sponsor, the Chinese company might also announce a limited edition version or higher-end, more premium variant.

When is it launching?

The NEX lineup of phones is launching on June 12, Tuesday at an event in Shanghai, China. We can expect official pricing and rollout to be announced there as well.

Features

What selfies look like taken on an under display camera

Using the Rakuten BIG

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ZTE Axon 20 5G. Photo by Yasuhiro Yamane

The ZTE Axon 20 5G — the world’s first smartphone with an under display camera — launched in September but not very many people have had a chance to try it. The relatively obscure Vinsmart Vsmart Aris Pro (Vietnam) and Rakuten BIG (Japan) followed suit.

Now, thanks to our tech journalist friends Ayano Tominaga and Yasuhiro Yamane, we can show you what it’s like taking a few selfies and video using the Rakuten BIG’s front-facing under display camera.

Rakuten BIG

Photo by Ayano Tominaga

The Rakuten BIG is a 6.9-inch phone with an OLED display. It’s powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chip with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. It also has a battery capacity of 4,000mAh.

On its rear is a quad-camera module: 64MP main sensor, and 8MP ultra-wide angle lense, a 2MP depth sensor, and a 2MP macro camera.

If those specs seem familiar that’s because they’re exactly the same as the ZTE Axon 20 5G. Well, almost exactly. There’s a bit of a difference in the battery capacity 4,000mAh vs 4220mAh but that’s still pretty close.

Photo by Yasuhiro Yamane

The selfie camera

For all intents and purposes, the Rakuten BIG may just be a rebranded ZTE Axon 20 5G. They also share the same megapixel count for the selfie camera which is 32MP.

If this is the case, the phone might be using the same transparency material that includes new organic and inorganic films, to balance the performance of the display and the front camera.

NO Notch. Photo by Ayano Tominaga

The selfies

Here are what some quick selfies look like. These were taken indoors, inside a hotel with sufficient amount of lighting. No editing was applied to the photos but they were resized in the interest of faster load time.

It certainly doesn’t seem like a photo taken by a camera lens with a cover over it. But you can tell the software is doing a lot of heavy lifting. At first glance it looks like a regular selfie, but a closer inspection shows some detail smoothing.

Color reproduction is a little inconsistent too. Here’s a pair of selfies taken just seconds apart.

The selfie on the left is considerably warmer than the one on the write. Note that Ayano was in the exact same place with nearly the exact same pose and angle.

Here’s another sample with a better look at the lights in the background — which probably most represents all the post-processing the phone is doing. Take note that you can’t take selfies in rapid succession. The phone really does take longer than most to process the images.

What we were impressed with though is the video. The picture quality was clear and didn’t have any excessive traces of post-processing during a video call via Facebook Messenger.

Here’s a sample video taken separately after the call with beauty mode turned on. The post-processing is more pronounced here but it certainly doesn’t harm the picture quality.

What do you think of the selfies? Pretty good already for an under display camera?

Price and availability

The Rakuten BIG retails for JPY 69,800 Yen (US$ 665) and is currently only available in Japan. It comes in three colors: Black, White, and Crimson Red.

h/t: Ayano Tominaga, Yasuhiro Yamane

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Reviews

Huawei Mate 40 Pro Unboxing and Review: Last of its Kind

Hopefully not

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Every year, Huawei’s Mate series dominate the smartphone world with hosts of new features.

This October, the Huawei Mate 40 Pro finally made its way out of the limousine. As usual, it’s packed with the latest and greatest internals minus the full Android experience. Albeit, you still get support for AppGallery and other existing Huawei services.

With all that mind, is it still worthy to invest your money just to buy this smartphone?

You can watch our Huawei Mate 40 Pro review by clicking this link.

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Features

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: GadgetMatch for the Casual User

So well-rounded, it simply works

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The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra represents the current pinnacle of the Galaxy Note line. That’s why it’s not far fetched to think that it can seamlessly add value to people from different walks of life.

In this second of a three-part feature, we’ll explore how the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra can be a reliable partner for the average, casual user.

In this first of a three-part feature, we’ll explore how the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra can be reliable partner for three specific people:

  1. The Manager
  2. The Casual User
  3. The Multimedia Creative

Note: Link to part 3 will be added when it’s published.

All-around for the well-rounded

Life is all about finding balance. Wherever you are in this walk of life, we always cut a portion of our time to do things that matter: self, hobbies, love, career, health, and more.

But how do you manage to find balance when it feels like we don’t have enough time? The answer is simple: Get an all-around phone that’s as well-rounded as you. In particular, the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra.

Let me set the record straight: I’m not a techie, a gamer, a selfie master, or an aspiring content creator. I simply don’t fall into any stereotype. While I can try to look like a D-lister, I’m just like the average consumer, using a phone to navigate life in the 21st century.

Though I work in the technology industry, I was never caught up in the hottest specs, highly innovative pieces, great hardware, or monster features. All I ever needed — as I’ve been saying for three years now — is a phone that’s smart enough to carry with for my everyday life.

Having the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra helped me find the balance I need, accompanying me in juggling my hectic yet blissful life.

Work and play

Being in a remote work setup for god-knows-how-long, I’m used to being glued on my phone almost 24/7. While it’s a habit that I’m still trying to change, I’m thrilled with how I can do my tasks on-the-go. With a 6.9-inch screen, it’s easy to do your work even when you’re away from your desk.

You can browse through social media, switch between apps seamlessly, and multi-task. When you apply the 120Hz refresh rate? Oh, it’s so buttery-smooth, you won’t even consider going back to a lower refresh rate!

In essence, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is swift and powerful enough to do whatever tasks you need to do on your phone.

And when things get a little bit boring, you can hop to Spotify, YouTube, or watch your favorite shows on Netflix. With its massive screen, impressive display, and astounding speakers — you’ll feel like you have your portable home entertainment albeit a little bit smaller than the usual setup.

If you want a little bit of privacy, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra works seamlessly with my Galaxy Buds or with my wired USB-C earphones. Connectivity wasn’t an issue; be it via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, cellular strength, and even connection between devices.

Not gonna lie, my gizmos are mostly Samsung’s. I’ve fallen in love with it and its ecosystem ever since I switched. I’ve enjoyed its exclusive features and I’ve grown accustomed to One UI.

Besides, Samsung never fails to provide an experience you won’t forget whether it’s through midrange or flagship smartphones.

The art of pleasure

Speaking of experience, the whole shebang with the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra teaches the art of pleasure. I played League of Legends: Wild Rift, watched Lucifer on Netflix, edited my photos on Lightroom, produced a video using Rush, and created art using the S Pen.

Being able to do what makes me sane, feeds my soul, and gives my heart joy is possibly the greatest pleasure I can find in my day-to-day life.

I was able to keep on doing it because of the impressive battery, which lasted me enough to finish one task before charging its juice again. After all, to achieve pleasure you must have enough juice to keep going and be long-lasting.

But if there’s one thing you must not forget: It’s finding beauty in every day, no matter how the weather (or your day) sucks.

Finding beauty in everyday

Beautiful is an understatement when I first saw the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. It’s polished, sleek, gorgeous, and sexy. Touching it was like caressing someone you’re really passionate about; gentle, smooth, and oozing with desire.

It’s no wonder anyone can fall in love at first sight upon seeing this dandy. Of course, the Note 20 Ultra isn’t the epitome of beauty — but it’s a great accessory to wear to look astonishing.

While it seems like I’m asking people to keep on looking at the phone, beauty can really be found everywhere. The search won’t be difficult, seeing how the Note 20 Ultra is equipped with capable cameras.

You can capture whatever type of beauty you’re looking for. In my case, it’s capturing myself through my mirror selfies and portraits, as well as coffee and furniture.

Like any other consumer, having great cameras is one of my major concerns before buying a smartphone. Thankfully, I was able to capture Instagram- and Pinterest-worthy photos using the Note 20 Ultra — which I may or may not upload to my social media accounts.

Is the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra fit for the Casual User?

Definitely. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra — to most people — can be too much. Yet it’s perfect for those who just want a smartphone smart enough to get things done.

You don’t have to worry about running out of space, lagging, tinkering to install apps you don’t have, or encountering issues you normally would on a midrange phone.

It’s so well-rounded, it simply works. And for a person who tries to find the balance in doing a little bit of everything, the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is the perfect GadgetMatch — only the best for someone who deserves the best.

SEE ALSO: Galaxy Note 20 Ultra: GadgetMatch for The Manager | Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Review: Last of Its Kind?

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