Hands-On

Vivo NEX hands-on review: The future looks great

Vivo’s best smartphone to date

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In case you haven’t heard, the future is here. In 2018, smartphone manufacturers are finding themselves in a race to designing a truly bezel-less phone.

Engineers will tell you a compromise has to be made in order to achieve that because of all the tech they have to fit into the front of the phone. Some brands opt for a notch to house all of that; some offer minimal bezels and curved edges; others have awkwardly placed front cameras.

Design: More than meets the eye

Vivo, it seems, is at the forefront of this all-display race. On the NEX, the Chinese company offers an exact 91.24 percent screen-to-body ratio, one of the highest we’ve seen on a smartphone. To do that, Vivo had to move things around and put more features under the display itself.

Sure, there’s a tiny chin at the bottom of the phone, but it’s not really something you’ll notice during everyday use, unless, maybe, you’re obsessive compulsive.

On the midrange NEX A, you’ll find a fingerprint sensor at the back of the phone. On the higher end NEX S, the fingerprint sensor is under the display — a feature Vivo first put on the X20 UD and X21. It’s something that might take a lot of getting used to, and in the past week of using the under-display method, I found myself entering my passcode more than using the scanner because it fails too often.

It would have been nice to have face unlock as a backup, but up top, there are no cameras to do that. It’s hidden inside the phone, and shows up only when activated on the camera app, but I’ll talk about that more later.

The NEX also does away with the traditional earpiece and replaces it with what Vivo calls Screen SoundCasting technology, which transforms the display into a speaker. Like most new tech, it works, but nothing beats the tried and tested front-firing stereo speakers found on other smartphones if you’re looking for great audio.

The display is Super AMOLED, which means more saturated colors and darker blacks. The viewing experience is great, although I can’t say for certain I will miss the bezel-less experience when I switch to a different phone in the future. Also, it’s bright enough for my day-to-day use outdoors, unless I’m wearing sunglasses.

On the back of the phone is a glass panel. The phone doesn’t have wireless charging or any water-resistance rating. Instead, if you look closely, you’ll find thousands of dynamic color diffraction units.

Compared to bright colors and gradients, the black NEX looks rather boring for a phone from the future. The design feature on the back is so subtle, it only shows when it’s hit by harsh lights.

Yes, the phone emits rainbows like a unicorn.

You can also see it indoors.

Apart from that, the phone looks and feels premium overall. The rounded corners offer a comfortable grip, and it feels like one solid piece of glass with no sharp edges.

And in case you’re wondering: There is a headphone jack.

Cameras: Cool and capable

Having a mechanical pop-up camera has its repercussions, but first let’s take a moment to appreciate how awesome this piece of tech really is.

A handful of curious people actually came up to me while shooting this around Moscow and when I showed them how it pops up, their jaws dropped.

If you’re wary about durability, Vivo says the camera has undergone drop- and dust-resistance tests, and can repeatedly elevate and retract up to 50,000 times. I did the math myself, and that’s around 137 years if you only take one selfie per day and 6.8 years if you shoot 20 each day. At this point, I can’t say if that claim is accurate, but the selfie camera feels well built and hasn’t shown any signs of wear and tear yet.

The whole process doesn’t feel as fast as a normal selfie camera would, only because a physical part of the phone moves; it’s honestly not something that would bother anyone over time. If you check the smartphone you’re using now, you’ll notice that switching to the front camera also doesn’t happen as fast as you’d think. After getting over the wow factor, I got so used to how natural the process is — so much so that I eventually forgot that the front camera needs to pop up before I take a selfie.

Inside is an 8-megapixel lens, with Face Beauty options for both photo and video modes. I appreciate that it makes my skin less oily and eyebags smaller, but I don’t really like how it flattens my cheeks, and makes my irises artificially bigger, rounder, and blacker.

One thing that makes the selfie camera stand out for me, aside from the fact that it literally stands out, is how well it handles dynamic range. For scenarios like this, you either get a blown-out window to keep my face well-exposed, or an underexposed subject with a properly lit background.

Here’s another one I took by my hotel window thanks to the palm gesture. The AI HDR feature on the Vivo NEX is able to balance it out, resulting in a photo that looks as if I have another light source (I didn’t).

The same AI HDR feature also functions on the dual rear cameras. It works really well, although some photos turn out oversharpened.

Both the front and rear cameras have portrait mode, which separates the foreground from the background and blurs the latter out. Like most phones we’ve reviewed, the bokeh still looks artificial, but the one taken with the rear shooters looks a lot more polished than that of the selfie cam.

In indoor and low-light scenarios, the phone does a pretty good job at capturing details and minimizing noise. Some photos have mushier details up close, as it tries to compensate for the lack of light sources.

One thing I always ask myself when testing smartphone cameras is this: Can I rely on it to take Instagram-worthy photos when traveling? In this case, the Vivo NEX ticks that box and that’s saying a lot considering it’s my first time in Russia. My only complaint is the lack of a useful secondary camera. A telephoto or wide-angle lens would be great while watching the World Cup or avoiding crowds in framing touristy landmarks.

Check out more photos I took with the Vivo NEX below and on my Instagram.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

The Vivo NEX is no longer the concept phone we saw at Mobile World Congress in February. Our first glimpse into the future is here; it’s exciting and looks great.

If you want to be one of the first to step into that, then by all means get the phone if you can and if it’s within your budget. For a smartphone from Vivo, the price is a little steep — CNY 3,898 (US$ 608) for the NEX A, and CNY 4,498 (US$ 702) for the NEX S. That’s more than its other value-for-money flagship counterparts like the OnePlus 6 and Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S. It’s also only available in China for now.

But what the NEX offers are features other smartphones don’t have. It’s a phone that you’d want to show off to your friends, and they’ll surely want to see it, too.

Its defining feature is a beautiful, unique design that changes the way we’ve been using the smartphone: under-display fingerprint sensor, the display as a speaker, and a pop-up camera. Even then, the learning curve is not that high if you do decide to switch. Once you get over all the new tech, using the phone will feel as natural and normal as any other phone you’ve gotten used to.

I can’t say for certain that it’s the best in the market today, but this is undoubtedly Vivo’s best smartphone to date. And in so many ways, what Vivo made here is already comparable to a lot of premium smartphones, one that’s more than deserving of your time and consideration.

Hands-On

vivo X60 Hands-On: vivo X Zeiss team up for mobile photography

Redefining power and photography

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vivo X60

Now that we’re at an age of portability with a purpose, we definitely want to own a smartphone that can provide everything that we want and need, so we don’t have to rely on any other gadgets. That’s what the vivo X60 aims to be.

One of the features we usually look for in a smartphone is if its cameras are top notch. With that in mind, vivo made sure that they can contend against the best of the best as they comeback with the vivo X60 series — among these is the vivo X60.

With the X60, vivo co-engineers their cameras with high-end lens manufacturer Zeiss, making us experience Zeiss’ cutting edge imaging technology through our phones and making X60’s photography function more powerful than ever.

Specs and performance

Providing us so much in the camera department, vivo also ticks all the boxes when it comes to amazing specs:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 processor
  • 6.56” AMOLED display
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • 12GB+3GB RAM
  • 256GB internal storage

Expect lag free browsing of your social media content and your favorite mobile games, even the very demanding Genshin Impact.

With so many things that you want to do with your smartphone, the vivo X60 is packed with a 4300mAh battery. This gives you more than enough power for a day of media streaming, social media browsing and some games on the side.

It even comes with a 33W flash charger that lets you juice up your phone back to a hundred percent in just a little over an hour.

As for the software, the vivo X60 runs Funtouch OS 11.1 based on Android 11 which has to be one of the most efficient skins from vivo yet.  It’s a very simplistic skin which feels close to vanilla Android but with visual improvements to enhance that vivo experience.

Stunning display

Despite its 6.56” display, the X60 is still ebay to grip thanks to it being slim at only 7.44mm and light at 176g.

Its AG glass back definitely grabs your attention with its gradient finish. Shifting its colors depending on how the light hits it, the shimmer blue design we have in our hands is absolutely gorgeous.

As we’ve touched on the 6.56” display of the vivo X60 earlier, do not be deceived as this is not your ordinary display. This is a 120Hz LTM AMOLED display and it boasts an HDR 10+ certification. This means you can expect details on the shadow side and lighter side of images that you won’t normally see on an average smartphone.

So surely, it would be your perfect companion for streaming films, documentaries, and TV series. LTM technology lets you enjoy clear visuals even with bright sunlight.

Now let’s talk about the star of the show, the camera with Zeiss optics.

Smartphone companies partner with camera or lens manufacturers to enhance their camera systems. And vivo pulled off a great move in partnering with Zeiss, making its superb technology present on all of vivo X60’s cameras.

Fantastic camera features

There’s the 48MP main camera, 13MP telephoto camera, and a 13MP ultra wide angle camera. And up front, you have the 32MP selfie camera.

With all these, you can take remarkable photos in whichever mode you choose. Your photos will look like it came straight out of a DSLR or a mirrorless camera with your main shooter.

Landscape views look amazing on the X60’s ultra wide mode, and your photos still look sharp and detailed with the telephoto lens.

The vivo X60 also has the Zeiss biotar portrait style, giving your portrait photos that iconic bokeh look. The portrait lens also has an equivalent 50mm focal length which is a staple for photographers to take great portraits.

As for its super panorama mode, shots are so seamless that you wouldn’t see any stitches.

Video taking

Now when it comes to taking videos, its main camera has optical image stabilization (OIS) making your video shots really smooth and steady. The vivo X60 has ultra stabilization which combines OIS and EIS.

But what happens when the lights are out and you only have your surround light to keep you lit? That’s what really puts the vivo X60 on the pedestal — its outstanding low light capability.

With vivo’s updated AI noise reduction algorithm, you can take stunning photos even at night. With its HDR super Night Portrait Mode, you can still stay in the spotlight and shine even in darkness.

Even if it’s pitch black outside, the vivo 60 can still make it seem like it’s daytime, giving us photos with good light and clear details, thanks to its Extreme Night Vision 2.0.

The X60 also lets you shoot in long exposure mode, giving you the chance to capture light streaks without worrying about too many settings.

The vivo X60 surely puts the wonder in wonderful with its outstanding cameras. It even takes things a few notches higher among smartphone contenders with its amazing display and performance, with a competitive base flagship pricing.

Pricing and availability

vivo X60, 12GB+3GB RAM/ 256GB Storage — PhP 34,999. Available in vivo Official Stores, Lazada, and Shopee.


This feature is a partnership between GadgetMatch and vivo Philippines.

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Gaming

SCARLET NEXUS First Impressions: Technological dystopia

BANDAI NAMCO’s take on an anime-style, cyberpunk RPG

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SCARLET NEXUS

I knew BANDAI NAMCO mostly from their incredible work on classic games like PAC-MAN and TEKKEN. In fact, I grew up playing their games quite a lot, whether with family members or with some friends. To this day, they’re still producing a decent amount of games across both current and next-generation consoles and the PC.

This time around, they’ve ventured into an action RPG mixed with a little bit of “brain punk” as they described it. They called this game, “SCARLET NEXUS, and it’s set for release for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and the PC. Now, I gave the demo a shot to see just how everything will turn out.

Short, sweet, and action-filled

In total, the entire demo took about 30 minutes to finish, which for a demo isn’t that long. At the start, you even get to choose which main protagonist you want to roll with, for a good reason too. Apart from the same tutorial section, you actually get to play a different main stage design. I honestly thought it would be the same all throughout.

Character selection screen for SCARLET NEXUS

Regardless, gameplay immediately picks up after a short tutorial session, and I found myself just having a blast. Honestly, the controls are pretty easy to understand and master after a few combat sequences so the learning curve isn’t steep. Plus, part of the combat mechanics includes the SAS, which grants access to additional attacks and abilities.

SCARLET NEXUS

It’s a gameplay style I’ve come accustomed to with other RPGs in the last few years. Even for a short demo, action looks quite fast-paced and reaction-heavy on some occasions. Also, you can add onto that a bit of exploration with the vast level design, so combat feels more loose and exciting to mess around with.

Visuals suited for the time

If you’re planning to get the version for the PC or  next-gen consoles, the design for the demo is amazing. I have to give credit to BANDAI NAMCO for integrating some apt lighting fixtures in Kasane’s demo level, further emphasizing the technological wasteland in the background. Although, I think that this will also be present in the PS4 and Xbox One versions but not as prominent.

Also, like I mentioned before, the demo levels are quite vast, which also aids in the exploration aspect. I noticed that they scatter some items across the whole level, ranging from healing items to items that aid in combat. In some instances, these items were well-hidden in some of the nooks and crannies of the level.

Of course, it isn’t just in the overworld visuals that I’m amazed at, but even in some of the cutscenes in between combat and exploration. The cartoony, comic book-style animations mixed in with some techno-punk were nice touches. I could feel that there was a lot of love given just to this department alone.

Worth all the waiting?

If I could sum up my initial impressions on SCARLET NEXUS, it’s an RPG that I truly enjoyed even for 30 minutes. Honestly, the biggest culprit for this goes to the gameplay mechanics that feels so great to execute, and you take a short time learning everything. Packed with some incredible visual design, I think this game has potential to be a favorite for this year.

SCARLET NEXUS

One of the things I am looking forward to later on is the storylines we’ll be working with. The demo doesn’t really touch on plot points that you could do mental gymnastics with. Although, it does reveal that you play with different NPCs instead of taking on the enemies all by yourself. Nonetheless, I feel that it’s something worth diving into when the full game comes out.

SCARLET NEXUS will be available on June 25.

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Hands-On

moto G stylus 5G Hands-on

The last of its kind?

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The moto G stylus was launched just last year. This time, Motorola has unveiled the moto G stylus 5G.

From the name itself, it now has 5G support — that’s thanks to the new Snapdragon 480G processor.

It may be look like a lower model number on paper, but this one promises better specs.

But is it enough for you to buy one? Watch our moto G stylus 5G hands-on video now.

 

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