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Vivo NEX S: What’s taking selfies with a pop-up camera like?

And other relevant questions about Vivo’s newest flagship

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“It has a pop-up selfie camera.” That was the only thing I heard when the Vivo NEX was announced, and all other features faded into the background. Seriously, my main excitement over this phone stems from the fact that it has a mechanical camera that comes out when you take photos with the front-facing camera.

How would it work? Why the technical maneuvering to make this camera happen? Would it break after the gajillion selfies I take in a day? These were all questions I needed answers to. So, it’s time for a quick review — and by quick, I mean I’m only tackling the key features. (You can read the full hands-on review here.)

What’s the deal with this phone anyway?

The Vivo NEX, to us mere mortals (your average non-techie consumer), looks like a typical smartphone. Until you have to scan your fingerprint and take a selfie, that is. Of course, a number of people have given praise to this handset for being the future of smartphones — and I can’t blame them. In a sea of identical notched devices, a camera with moving parts sounds oh so exciting.

You’ll realize that the hype is real when you finally get this baby in your hands. Anything that feels less than premium in my hands is a big no-no for me, and the NEX doesn’t disappoint in this regard. Unlike the previous midrange Vivo releases that didn’t quite do it for me, this handset has a good weight to it and you can definitely feel the glass build.

Sure, it comes in drab black, but if the light hits right, you can see colors of the rainbow. No, really:

It’s a nice lighting touch, though to be honest, it just looks more black in most lighting scenarios. I’m pretty disappointed I’m not the dazzling unicorn I thought I’d be by using this phone, but that’s just me.

Do we really need all that screen?

A 91+ percent screen ratio is a big deal in terms of measurement and smartphone hype, but it’s just a bunch of numbers to me. Admittedly, however, the wider screen experience is good — the obsession with a wider screen in a smaller phone body is understandable for people with smaller hands like mine.

Speaking as someone who hides the notch when I have the option to, the lack of screen obtrusion is refreshing. More screen means a literal bigger picture, which is great when being viewed on a massive 6.59-inch Super AMOLED screen. As much as I’d love to say that’s a problem for the small-screened population, it’s the lack of standard in screen ratios that’s the real culprit, so I’ll leave it at that.

How does the fingerprint sensor feel?

Hidden in plain sight is the fingerprint sensor. Yes, it’s in the display! You know where to scan your fingerprint because when the phone’s locked, the area of the screen where you’re supposed to put your finger lights up.

How does this new technology fare? Well, it’s decent. Compared to other fingerprint scanners which take less than a second to unlock with a slight touch from your finger, the in-display sensor on this thing is less sensitive and it takes longer. You’d have to hold your finger precisely on the correct area of the screen for a second or two.

Call me spoiled, but in a time of talking refrigerators, that two-second delay feels so long. Impressive as an under-display fingerprint sensor may be, anything longer than a second just feels so laggy to impatient old me, especially since the only two options to unlock this phone is via the sensor or entering a code (which is so 2010). The phone isn’t equipped with face unlock technology since, to get to the front-facing camera, you’d need the phone unlocked.

Vivo offers an alternative to all this in the form of the lower-priced Vivo NEX A, though, so problem solved. That version of the NEX has an actual fingerprint scanner  — the usual fast one — on the back of the phone.

What’s taking selfies with a pop-up camera like?

First of all, I’d like to admit: Taking selfies with a pop-up camera is pretty cool. The reaction I get when other people see this moving part on my phone is priceless.

How it works is the camera pops up every time you flip the camera to selfie mode. The whole thing barely makes a sound, though there are options to add a sound effect every time the cam came out, but I refused to turn that on because who wants an alert every time a selfie is attempted? It’s a pretty smooth movement so once the novelty faded out, there were times I even forgot it was happening.

Forgetting that tiny protruding camera was actually what scared me. One too many times, I’d accidentally tap the selfie camera option and, without me noticing, the camera would come out. This happened in my bag, in my hands, or even on my cluttered desk, and every time I was scared I’d break this tiny moving part.

Sure, Vivo said they did drop tests and that the camera can pop up to 50,000 times (Chay did the math: That’s 137 years if you only take one selfie per day), but does that mean it’s Isa-proof? It did survive more than a week in my hands, but I don’t think that thing would’ve survived a solid drop if it so happened with the camera out. (Because let’s be honest, everyone drops their phones.)

The selfie camera on the NEX is pretty good and I love how its AI beauty mode is so subtle but effective. Of course, the beauty mode can still be too much at optimum settings, but who told you to amp up the filter that high, Brenda?

Additionally, the rear cameras are pretty good, too. Honestly, it’s a pretty capable IG camera. See for yourself:

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For more photo samples, check out our 24 Hours at the World Cup with the Vivo NEX.

Do I likey?

Me likey what I’ve seen so far.

If you’re in the business of reviewing phones and gadgets, it’s easy to get bored with all the identical phones being churned out nowadays. That being said, it’s also easy to get carried away by something just by virtue of it being different.

Truth be told, this is one solid phone from Vivo. Honestly, it’s a flagship that I would totally use, even for just the selfie camera. But, on top of it being novel, I’m happy to report that it performs well, all things considered. Despite caveats, it’s a phone that pushes boundaries and dares to stray from what conventional smartphones are making.

And, don’t we all love that exciting wildcard? C’mon, live a little and take poppin’ (pun intended) selfies along the way.

Apps

Tinder’s new feature tells you when a lot of people are swiping in the area

You’re welcome, Tinderella!

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Dating app Tinder is finding more and more ways to get people swiping more.

Enter: The new Swipe Surge feature.

Let’s face it, not all areas or events are equal — in terms of swipe activity, that is. But, fret not. Tinder will now tell you if you’re in an area with a high swiping ratio to make sure you don’t miss out on all the fun.

Wait, what fun exactly? Well, according to Tinder, during a Swipe Surge, activity on the app is 15 times higher than normal. This means that the chance of finding the love of your life (or the love of tonight 😉) is higher by 250 percent and even chatting up some cuties becomes 33 percent faster. Yep, those are some serious computations.

To get in on the fun, enable push notifications so that the app can notify you when a Swipe Surge is happening in real time. Once you’ve joined the Swipe Surge party, you’ll be put on top swiping priority. Tinder will even show you who’s actively swiping at that moment!

Oh, what fun! Swipe Surge is being tested on iOS in select cities. Unfortunately, we don’t know which ones, or when it’s coming to all users; if it even ever will.

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Her GadgetMatch

Fitbit Charge 3 comes with so many yummy strap options

It also has a 7-day battery life!

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The best trackers are the ones that are always on your wrist and running. Though there are a number of impressive ones in the market, so few of them perform in terms of battery time.

Fitbit’s newest health wearable, announced just last August, promises to remedy that. The Fitbit Charge 3 boasts a battery that will last you seven days.

This sleek little thing features an improved touchscreen display that’s made of aluminum and Gorilla Glass, plus an inductive side button (yep, no physical buttons on this baby!). The Charge 3 comes in two colors: Black with a graphite tracker or Blue-gray with a rose-gold tracker. But, if you don’t like those colors, there are a number of strap options available:

For those who want a less sporty look, there are leather strap options, too.

These woven straps, similar to the Fitbit Versa straps, are also looking pretty good.

Aside from looking nice with the benefit of having a slew of straps available for this wearable, the Charge 3 can do a whole lot of things. This fitness band connects to the Fitbit app and tracks your pace and distance in real time, allows for continuous heart rate tracking, and even records sleep.

There’s even automatic exercise recognition which means you don’t have to manually input activities like running, swimming, or certain sports. It has Fitbit Pay, and it’s the first fitness tracker that has smartphone notifications and quick reply for Android.

The Fitbit Charge 3 retails starting at US$ 150 for the basic version and US$ 170 for the special edition NFC- and Fitbit Pay-enabled one. It’s also available in the Philippines for PhP 9,990 and PhP 10,990, respectively. The different bands retail for US$ 30 to US$ 50 or PhP 1,690 to PhP 2,990.

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OnePlus 6T now comes in a beautiful gradient color

The color we’ve always wanted

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Finally, OnePlus releases a phone color I can get behind!

OnePlus phones have always been known for their performance and great value, but I’ve always found their color choices to be lacking. Black, graphite, red, or white works for a lot of different folks but for those, like me, who want a flashier and prettier option, we are left wanting.

Not anymore.

OnePlus has just announced that we’re getting the OnePlus 6T in a dreamy new shade called Thunder Purple. This particular device has a beautiful black to purple gradient and a shiny curve on its back that moves with the light. So pretty!

Just look at that subtle, stunning color pop

The same color, announced in China last week, will be available in the US and Europe starting today on the OnePlus website. It rocks 8GB of memory with 128GB of storage and retails for US$ 579.

Image credit: Joshua Vergara

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