Vivo Nex 3 Review: How good is the Waterfall display?

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Every year Vivo presents a radically distinct phone as part of its Nex-series. These Nex phones push design and display boundaries to their extremes and are definite head-turners. The first Nex (review) gave us a truly bezel-less screen and the pop-up selfie camera – concepts that have now been adopted industry-wide. The atypical Nex Dual Display that followed was another eccentric take on the full-screen concept but didn’t quite catch on. 

This year, the Nex 3 is the first phone with ‘Waterfall display’ to come our way. The screen doesn’t make it as exclusive as its predecessors, especially since other phones with similar displays are already official or upcoming. Even so, we were quite excited by the stunning curved display, right from when we lay our hands on the phone.

Is the new Nex 3 imaginative enough? We’ll share our experience in our Vivo Nex 3 review that follows. 

Vivo Nex 3 specifications

ModelsVivo Nex 3
Display6.89-inch FHD+ (1080×2340), AMOLED, Waterfall display (~90-degree curves)
Camera64MP (f/1.7) + 13MP Telephoto (2x zoom) + 13MP Ultra-Wide(120-degrees),
16MP (f/2.0)
ChipsetQuad 2.3GHz + Quad 1.7GHz
Memory8GB/12GB RAM
StorageUp to 256GB (UFS 3.0)
Battery4,500 mAh; 44W Fast-Charging
Dimension167.4 x 76.14 x 9.4mm
SoftwareAndroid 9 Pie-based Funtouch OS
OthersIn-display fingerprint, USB Type-C port
Price in IndiaTo be announced

Read: OnePlus 7T Review

Vivo Nex 3 Review: Design and Build

The design is what the new Nex is all about. The highlighted waterfall display has curved edges – a technology that was earlier exclusive to Samsung for many years, and which is now available across multiple brands. 

Samsung used to have steeper curves till Galaxy S7/ S7 Edge, but, contrary to the Waterfall display-ideology, has been gradually making them subtler, smoother starting with the Galaxy S8.

But, yes, I don’t think we have ever experienced anything as steep as these slick curved edges on the Vivo Nex 3.

In fact, the glass folds don’t leave room for a dedicated power button or volume rocker, which have both been replaced by pressure-sensitive keys. Ok, the Nex 3 has a second power button up top, but that’s just for use in emergencies and even the premium bundled case doesn’t have a cut out for the extra power button. 

The pressure-sensitive power key is made easily recognizable using a textured pattern and you can press anyplace above it to increase volume or anyplace below it to decrease volume. This worked better than what we had anticipated. The UI also has an option to use a floating marker to swipe out volume controls from the edge. 

As for the applications of the waterfall screen, Vivo adds some slick light animations for notifications, incoming calls, music, charging, etc. to edges that can be customized form the “Side Ambient light” option in Settings.  These animations are cool and similar to edge lighting that we have seen on Samsung flagships, OnePlus 7 Pro and a few other curved display phones

Of course, the primary purpose of these fancy curves is to enhance the form and not function. But we surely are not complaining. Those curves look amazing and make the Nex 3 an instant head-turner.

During our first week with the phone, we didn’t run into any accidental touch annoyance. These curves, coupled with the big and bulky nature of the phone makes one-hand usage a bit of a problem, though. Then there is the issue of your videos folding and distorting at the top and bottom edges. 

We’d say all these drawbacks of the waterfall screen aren’t that big a price to pay for the outlandish look and feel, and we also understand if many of you aren’t as optimistic. 

The display is also notch-free and the front camera resides in an elevating module. The phone has a regular metallic earpiece at the top, but Vivo couldn’t accommodate stereo speakers, probably for the lack of space. The phone retains the Audio jack and has a USB Type-C port at the bottom.  

The glass back is premium with a tasteful gradient. There’s a circular camera module that houses a 64MP sensor led triple-camera system. The fingerprint sensor is present under the screen and it’s snappy and consistent. 

The Nex 3, just as the V17 Pro, replaces Face Unlock with Assistant Face Unlock. The difference is that the elevating module pops up only when the in-display fingerprint sensor fails three times. Or in other words, Vivo doesn’t want you to draw the wide rising camera out as often. 

Also Check: Asus ROG Phone 2 Review

Vivo Nex 3 Review: Display

The waterdrop display is a POLED panel with deep blacks and high contrast. We could make out that the panel quality is better than what we usually see on mid-range Vivo flagships. the color calibration is about the same. 

In the default mode, the colors are punchy, or rather a tad oversaturated, and the whites lean towards cool blue tones. This should work well for people who aren’t as meticulous about their phone displays. In case you are, Vivo adds a ‘Normal’ color mode that appears faded and washed out in comparison.

Since this is a Nex phone, a high refresh rate display would have been ideal, but we’d have to make do with the regular 60Hz screen.

The Funtouch OS has an always-on mode and a dark mode that let you make the most of those deep OLED blacks. The display is quite bright and is HDR10 compliant. HD streaming works on Netflix and Amazon Prime. However, HDR content isn’t supported on Netflix. 

Vivo Nex 3 Review: Performance and Software

The Nex 3 is powered by the current best Snapdragon 855 Plus octa-core processor paired with 8GB RAM and 128GB of UFS 3.0 storage. The handset is extremely snappy and among the most powerful options out there. 

We could play high-end games like Call of Duty and PUBG Mobile at maximum settings without any hiccups. RAM management still remains aggressive, though. There’s also a 5G variant, but that’s not the one we tested.

The Funtouch OS on the Nex 3 is based on Android 9 Pie. The interface takes inspiration from iOS, and it’s quite stable and intuitive. With the latest upgrade, Vivo has also refined the interface design. Besides, you always have the option to download a third-party launcher and customize the parts of UI that you deal with the most. 

The Nex 3 has all the relevant set of connectivity options and we didn’t face any issues with call quality in our area. 

Vivo Nex 3 Review: Camera

Once again it’s apparent that Vivo is putting its best foot forward. The Nex 3 has three rear cameras –  64 MP (f/1.8) primary sensor, 13MP (2x Telephoto), 13MP (ultra-wide). By default, the phone captures 16MP images, but there is also a 64MP mode in the app. 

The images we captured are quite pleasant but will not hold as well to scrutiny against the likes of Samsung Galaxy Note 10 or Pixel 3.

The camera app has been revamped and is now simpler to operate. 

The Nex 3 captures great texture and details in broad daylight. 

Close-ups and macro shots turned out pretty impressive

The wide-angle camera doesn’t feel like an afterthought. Metering is well balanced in proper lighting

The portrait mode works as it does on most mid-range Vivo phones, which is to say that it’s mediocre. 

Quality doesn’t deteriorate much in lowlight. The performance turned out better than what we had anticipated. 

Auto mode
Night Mode

The selfie camera can take decent shots both indoors and outdoors.

Also, the Vivo camera app has some really handy filters that you can use to further enhance images, particularly the low light shots.

Vivo Nex 3 Review: Battery and Audio

The 4500mAh battery on the phone can comfortably last for more than a day. The phone supports 44W super-fast charging that can refill the battery from 0 to 100%  in around 1 hour 18 minutes. The phone charges to 40 percent in just 20 minutes. 

The Nex 3 is among the rare few 2019 flagships that retain 3.5mm audio jack. You can also channel audio via Type-C port, but you will first have to turn USB OTG on. The phone supports Hi-Fi audio and the output quality via headphones is quite impressive 

Vivo Nex 3 Review: Verdict, Pros, and cons

The Vivo Nex 3 is a great phone and those steep curves do look exciting. As of today, this is a great phone to flaunt. At the same time, the new Nex isn’t as radically different as the previous generation Nex phones and strikes as more of a mainstream phone – which isn’t a bad thing perse.

The biggest design innovation this generation is curved display edges – something that Samsung, Huawei, OnePlus and even Vivo phones have had for a while. Yes, the curves are almost 90-degrees and that makes them all the more pleasurable, but we will need to use the Nex 3 for longer to be sure that they don’t get in the way of day-to-day usage.  

Anyways, the button-less design looks amazing and we have an inkling that we’d be seeing a lot more of such steep-curve or Waterfall panels throughout 2020. Huawei Mate 30 and upcoming Find X already have a similar screen, and this might very well be the kind of screen we get on the OnePlus 8. 

So, to sum it up the Nex 3 is a good looking and very powerful mainstream phone that lets us peek into what the near future holds. 


  • Curved AMOLED display looks great
  • Powerful performance 
  • Excellent battery backup 
  • Decent cameras 
  • Big battery with 44W fast charging


  • No stereo speakers 
  • Big and heavy
Deepak SinghDeepak Singh
Deepak has more than 8 years of experience in covering technology for several eminent publications in India. He currently leads an enthusiastic team of young writers at Smartprix and tries to uphold the highest quality standards.

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