The Mixed Bag That is The NEX Dual Display Edition

The Vivo NEX S got quite the buzz as the first one to achieve an all-screen phone. But what is truly great about the company is that they were not done for the year. A few months later, they released another bezel-less smartphone. This time, they had a different approach to the selfie camera.
The philosophy of this new phone is that secondary front-facing cameras are sub-par in comparison to the back cam anyway. There is no reason why we don't just drop them outright. Some smartphones have already tried this with swivelling camera modules a few years ago but it did not solve the problem of the thick bezels. This is the dilemma that Vivo aims to solve with the NEX Dual Display Edition
With their new Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition, they have completely omitted the front-facing camera. This is so they can achieve a completely bezel-less look. This not to say that they completely ignored the selfie camera. They just added that burden on the rear-facing camera. Users, instead, can line up their selfies using a rear-facing screen that is just as vibrant as the one in front. The result of this experiment is a fascinating phone that has some head-turning features.


Most phones these days are glass sandwiches meaning the screen and the back that keeps the internals together are made of some sort of glass. It is the same implementation with the Vivo NEX Dual Display. The only difference is that the back glass serves as a screen too. It is important to note that this also makes it a bit thicker than most phones.
The corners are made from sturdy aluminium that feels premium in the hand. However, like most phones, it still feels quite unsettling to hold an expensive gadget that has the potential to shatter once dropped.

Impressive Flagship-level Screens

The 6.39-inch front screen is excellent. It is a Super AMOLED panel with 1080 x 2340 pixels. It has a 19.5:9 aspect ratio and with 403 ppi. For the screen size, these values are perfect. You are going to be hard pressed to pixel peep on this thing.
It is great news that the rear-facing screen comes close to the quality of the main display. It is also a Super AMOLED display with FHD resolution. The only difference is that it is quite a bit smaller at 5.49-inches. If compared with a flagship, the excellent quality of the screen cannot be denied.
Overall, both the screens on the NEX Dual Display are flagship level displays. Aside from being crisp, they also have great contrast and brightness. Other than this, they both also display deep blacks that are typical of Super AMOLED screens.
What is truly surprising is that both screens are fully functional touchscreens. They both can run full Android applications. This means you can do everything that you can do on the primary display on the secondary screen. You can even play games and other intense activities on it.

Powerful Internals

Since it must power 2 different screens, it is only fitting that the NEX Dual Display should have flagship level specs. The Snapdragon 845 can perform this implementation quite nicely. The transitions from the main screen to the secondary screen are flawless each time users switch. The 3-finger gesture to shift from one screen to the other works great without lag or twitch.
The additional screen can spell trouble when switching between apps. Especially so when switching between the two screens. Luckily, the 10GB of RAM that it ships with should take care of that. The 128GB storage is also something that those looking for a flagship experience would appreciate. It ensures that you can have loads of offline content to enjoy.
One caveat of having two screens is that there is not much room inside the device for thermal management. As a result, running the device under heavy load for a long time can result in some throttling.


They go through all the trouble of installing a new flagship-grade screen at the back just for the cameras. It is only fitting that the shooters on the NEX Dual Display should be flagship-grade as well.
The 12MP f/1.8, sensor combined with a 4-axis OIS does wonders in daylight shots. It is important to note that it has a tendency to overexpose shots but not too much to make it annoying to use. It is paired with a 2MP low light-specific sensor and a 3D TOF for facial mapping.
With the 3D TOF camera in tow, you would be right to expect that depth detection would be perfect if not excellent. You would be disappointed though because it can still miss the mark from time to time.
The 2MP night vision camera would also lead us to believe that there would be some magic when taking pictures at night. However, it is also a bit disappointing that it does not do much better than other flagship phones that do not have it.
If there is a point of redemption for the NEX Dual Display camera, it is in portrait mode. It does selfies like the best of them. You would expect this because we get the quality of the main shooter for it. The only downside is that it also suffers from poor night shooting and depth detection on portrait mode.


In general, the Vivo NEX Dual Display Edition is an innovative piece of hardware. Vivo is brave in this regard as it spearheads the notch-less future that most smartphone users have been clamouring for. With this implementation, it truly is unmatched. No other smartphone maker has even experimented this freely. For that, this phone is a winner as a prototype.
However, as a finished product, it still feels a bit unfinished. The company’s Funtouch UI skin over Android is still buggy. A glaring example of this feeling of rawness is the way apps don’t fully take up the back screen. The aspect ratio difference between the primary and secondary displays make it difficult for apps to adjust to.
The inconsistent camera performance is also a deal breaker especially because the phone seems to be designed around it.
Luckily, there is a chance that these can all be fixed via a software update in the future. Unless that happens, the NEX Dual Display Edition will remain as a great prototype but a not so great finished product.