Vivo Nex 3 review: A solid alternative to the Mate 30 Pro, actually

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I got to check out the Vivo Nex 3 right after I reviewed the Mate 30 Pro, and it struck me how similar these phones are.

They are about the same size, they both feature waterfall displays, pack serious specs, and sport similarly styled cameras on the back. They lack Google apps out of the box (though it’s much easier to get your Google fix on the Vivo Nex 3). They also come in 4G and 5G variants, and primarily target the Chinese market.

I don’t want this Vivo Nex 3 review to devolve into a comparison with a better-known competitor. However, I think the Mate 30 Pro angle shows just how good Vivo’s high-end phones have become. They can go toe-to-toe with some of the very best smartphones out there and perhaps even make you forget about the forbidden fruit that is the Mate 30 Pro.

Here’s Android Authority’s Vivo Nex 3 review.

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What is the Vivo Nex 3 (5G)?

vivo nex 3 5g 17

The Vivo Nex 3 is the company’s highest-tier phone to date. The phone is available in two versions – 4G and 5G – that are almost identical in every regard. I reviewed the 5G version, though I wasn’t able to test the 5G connectivity due to lack of access to a compatible service.

In its third generation, the Vivo Nex series changes in one significant way – the Vivo Nex 3 feels less experimental and more polished than its predecessors. The original Vivo Nex introduced the pop-up camera and notch-less display. The second-gen Vivo Nex Dual Display added a second screen on the back. Meanwhile, the Vivo Nex 3 doesn’t do anything too uncommon really. It’s just a really well-rounded smartphone that can stand on its own without any gimmicks.

The Nex 3 is a really well-rounded smartphone that can stand on its own without any gimmicks.

Vivo Nex 3 5G specs

  Vivo Nex 3 5G
Display 6.89-inch Super AMOLED, waterfall
2,256 x 1,080 resolution
SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus
GPU Adreno 640
RAM 8/12GB
Storage 256GB fixed storage
UFS 3.0
Cameras Front camera:
16MP, f/2.0, with LED flash

Rear camera:
64MP, f/1.8 aperture
13MP, f/2.2 ultrawide
13MP, f/2.4 telephoto
Battery 4,500mAh
44W fast charging
USB-C
Headphone port Yes
Software Android 9.0 Pie with Funtouch OS 9.1
Dimensions and weight 167.4 x 76.14 x 9.4mm
218.5g

What is it like using the Vivo Nex 3?

It is obvious from the second you pick it up that the Vivo Nex 3 is a high-end phone. It feels sturdy, well-built, and refined, with none of the flimsiness you tend to see on devices that cut corners.

Vivo nex 3 5g rear camera module 5

The Vivo Nex 3 is made of glass and aluminum, fused together almost seamlessly. The phone feels nice in the hand, but there are a couple of issues hindering usability.

For one, the curved edges of the display flow over the sides, making it feel like the whole phone is glass. Glass edges are slippery and fragile, and as I explained in-depth here, they’re impractical in more ways than one. They do look cool, though.

The Vivo Nex 3 is also a large phone. Its display is 6.89 inches from corner to corner. Even without much bezel space to speak of, the phone is still a handful. It’s quite heavy at 218g – roughly 10% more than the Mate 30 Pro.

Vivo NEX 3 5G screen in hand

The phone feels fast and smooth, thanks to the Snapdragon 855 Plus processor (the latest and greatest from Qualcomm) and solid specs. You won’t notice stuttering or lag, and this phone is likely to remain fast for years to come.

Should you pick the Snapdragon 855 Plus over the regular 855?

Where is the volume rocker on the Vivo Nex 3?

Instead of pressing a volume rocker, you simply press the right side of the phone, either above or below the power “button.” I use quote marks because it’s not actually a physical button – rather, it’s a pressure-sensitive portion of the frame, marked by a ridged texture.

vivo nex 3 5g power button 13

The frame gives off a satisfying little haptic buzz when you press the volume and power keys. Unlike earlier versions of the concept, like the HTC U12, I ran into no usability issues with the pressure-sensitive frame of the Vivo Nex 3. I still think physical buttons are better for the job, but Vivo deserves credit for delivering an acceptable replacement.

How is the Vivo Nex 3’s camera?

The front-facing camera on the Vivo Nex 3 pops up from the top of the phone. This pop-up camera module is larger than on previous Vivo phones, as it integrates a tiny speaker, as well as a small LED flash. The LED will serve to add a little light to your self-portraits, but it’s not very strong, so it doesn’t blind you.

vivo nex 3 5g popu up camera out 10

The camera pops up smoothly, with a cute robotic noise (you can turn it off). I noticed gunk accumulating on it, even though I treated the phone with care.

The 16MP selfies are usually good, but backlight can throw the camera off. Check out this comparison between selfies taken in identical conditions on the Vivo Nex 3 5G and the Mate 30 Pro. The Vivo got better detail and clarity, but completely flunked exposure.

Mate 30 Pro Vivo Nex 3 Mate 30 Pro
Vivo Nex 3

The rear camera module includes the now-conventional standard, telephoto, and ultrawide lens combination. I like its versatility. The wide angle is great for capturing landscapes or buildings, while the 2X telephoto kicks in when you need to get closer.

Dynamic range is great in most situations. Pictures can turn out a bit too dramatic on occasion due to high contrast, but colors are accurate. The main issue I noticed was some over-sharpening, even when light wasn’t very low.

Vivo nex 3 camera samples 30

Low-light pics are decent, if not as impressive as the Mate 30 Pro’s. Because there’s no OIS, the viewfinder tends to “shake” a lot when you’re zoomed in, which makes it hard to capture some shots.

Overall, the Vivo Nex 3 gets thumbs up for its feature set, but image quality can be inconsistent occasionally. Full camera samples are available in this Google Drive folder.

Huawei Mate 30 Pro camera review: Low-light king!

How is the Vivo Nex 3’s battery life?

vivo nex 3 5g 23

The battery on the Vivo Nex 3 5G is a massive 4,500mAh unit. That’s on par with the Mate 30 Pro, and better than the Galaxy Note 10 Plus or the OnePlus 7T Pro. You should easily get through the day in most cases, while light use may even let you reach the two-day mark.

The phone supports fast charging at up to 44W, meaning you’ll be able to top up the battery from zero in around an hour. That’s very good, and one of the best performances on the market.

Vivo’s Funtouch OS feels like a half-baked iOS skin thrown on top of an Android base.

Is the software good?

If there’s one thing that would prevent me from recommending the Vivo Nex 3 it is the software. It’s not that it’s lacking Google apps out of the box (international versions won’t have this issue, and installing the Play Store is easy). The user interface is the real issue — it’s a weird mish-mash of Android and iOS elements that I just couldn’t learn to love.

For reasons I can’t fathom, Vivo hides the quick settings in a “Shortcut center” you access by swiping from the bottom left side of the screen. It clearly apes the similar feature from iOS, but it’s objectively worse than the Android implementation on most other phones. The UI icons are also iOS imitations, and there’s no app drawer either. That said, I don’t hate all design elements borrowed from iOS — for instance, I really like the gestures for switching between tasks.

Even though I had my unit set to English, a bunch of software elements were in Chinese on my Vivo Nex 3 5G review unit. It was pretty confusing.

A Siri-style personal assistant app called Jovi aims to replace Google Assistant. It offers a mix of information and recommendations about the device and info it pulls from your calendar and other apps. Also, a “Skin Inspector” app because apparently, people want skincare tips from their phones.

There are good things too. The dark mode is nice, the gestures work really well, and there are lots of customization options. Overall, though, Vivo’s Funtouch OS feels like a half-baked iOS skin thrown on top of an Android base. Which I guess it is.

What’s good about the Vivo Nex 3 5G?

  • Design – This is a big phone that you’ll need to use with two hands. Other than that, I really like the Vivo Nex 3 5g’s design and build quality.
  • Performance – Smooth, hiccup-free functionality.
  • Front-facing camera – It’s just fun.
  • Battery – The large capacity and fast charging battery mean you won’t need to stay tied to an outlet much.
  • Fingerprint sensor – The in-display fingerprint reader seemed faster than the Mate 30 Pro.
  • Headphone jack – Yay!

What’s not so good?

  • Waterfall display – The glass edges make this phone harder to handle and more fragile than it should be. But the screen is large and beautiful.
  • Image quality – No OIS, some over-sharpening, loss of detail, and a few weird selfie issues.
  • Software – It’s really not good.

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Vivo Nex 3 is a strong alternative to some better-known flagships out there.

Should I buy the Vivo Nex 3?

The Vivo Nex 3 is currently available in China, with availability in Asia Pacific, Southeast Asia, and other markets to follow in the next months.

Starting at 4,998 yuan (~$700, 4G model), the Nex 3 is priced to sell against the Mate 30 Pro, which starts from 5,799 yuan ($817, 4G) in China. For comparison, in China the OnePlus 7 Pro costs 4,498 yuan (~$635) in the same configuration, while the Galaxy Note 10 cost 6,599 yuan ($930).

If that price difference is maintained in other markets, the Vivo Nex 3 should definitely be on your list of options. It’s fast, has a beautiful display, a versatile camera, and overall it feels pretty well rounded. The software is objectively worse than on most competitors, however, and camera performance isn’t as good as it could be. It’s up to you to decide how much weight you put on these features, but the Vivo Nex 3 is a strong alternative to some better-known flagships out there.

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Are you interested in the Vivo Nex 3?



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How fast is Huawei’s 27W wireless charging tech?

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Huawei Mate 30 Pro Wireless Charging

Wireless charging technology has been around for years but has yet to achieve mainstream appeal. That could be about to change as smartphones are gradually shipping with more powerful wireless charging capabilities that rival traditional cables. The Huawei Mate 30 Pro boasts 27W wireless charging capabilities, making it one of the fastest in the industry.

Other manufacturers are in on the act too. The Xiaomi Mi 9 delivers 20W wireless charging, while the Mi 9 Pro 5G extends this to 30W of wireless juice. Oppo also has its own 30W technology and companies are testing technologies that could push 40W over the air. By comparison, some wired charging solutions are barely breaking the 25W barrier. This includes out of the box solutions from Samsung, LG, Google, and others.

We have Huawei’s 27W wireless charger in house and decided to put it up against the Huawei Mate 30 Pro’s supported wired charging standards to see how the technology compares. We’re not expecting it to beat Huawei’s proprietary 40W SuperCharge technology. But can 27W wireless charging outpace the common USB Power Delivery and Quick Charge 3.0 standards?

Read: Best phones with wireless charging capabilities

Huawei SuperCharge wireless specs

Before diving into the results, let’s take a close look at what you get with Huawei’s 27W SuperCharge wireless charger.

The charger is based on the Qi wireless charging standard and is TUV safety certified. As well as the powerful 27W mode, the charger also supports devices that require 15, 10, 7.5, and 5W of power. The device is powered by a USB-C port which requires a 5-10V, 4A input. To achieve the maximum 27W speed, you’ll need to use a Huawei 40W SuperCharge wall plug and a 5A USB-C cable. Fortunately, Huawei includes these in the box. You’ll also need a compatible device, such as the Huawei Mate 30 Pro.

The charging puck itself is small and lightweight, taking up hardly any room on your desk. It weighs 105 grams and its dimensions are 90mm in diameter and 21.85mm in height. The wireless charger comes in just one color – Space Grey – which is pictured below.

Huawei 27W Wireless Charging Pad

27W wireless charging – time to full

Now onto the total charge times. Here we drain the battery down to zero and charge up completely to 100%. To gauge the total amount of power provided by the various standards, we plugged a multimeter in-line to record the charging voltage and current. This way we can compare the power levels and charge times against one another.

  • 27W wireless charging – 90 minutes
  • 40W SuperCharge – 66 minutes
  • (~12W) USB Power Delivery / Quick Charge 3.0  – 124 minutes

The headline here is that 27W wireless charging is actually faster at charging the Huawei Mate 30 Pro than both USB Power Delivery and Quick Charge 3.0 accessories. A whole 34 minutes faster. Although we should note that Huawei’s implementations of these standards are a little slower than other manufacturers. Huawei’s USB Power Delivery implementation clocks in at 12W versus 15W supported by the Samsung Galaxy S10 range and Google Pixel 3 series. Even so, Huawei’s wireless option outpaces all of them with 27W of power.

Huawei's 27W wireless charging tech is faster than many phone's wired adapters.

For a full charge, Huawei’s 27W wireless charging technology is 24 minutes slower than its super-fast 40W wired charging solution. That’s really not bad and certainly makes going wireless a viable option for full charging in a decent time frame. By comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus takes 103 minutes to charge with its boxed charger. The Galaxy Fold takes 108 minutes, the Google Pixel 3 XL takes 119 minutes, but the OnePlus 7T Pro takes just 71 minutes. Overall, that’s a very good showing for Huawei’s wireless charging technology. Especially given the size of the Mate 30 Pro’s battery.

What about shorter top-ups?

To get a better look at how useful wireless charging is for shorter top-ups, we also tracked the full charging cycle of each of these technologies. The steeper the curve the faster the phone charges, making this a valuable way to see how charging speed varies at different charge percentages.

Huawei 27W wireless charging speed test

Huawei’s 27W wireless charging holds up well here too. There’s a steeper curve at battery levels under 25%, helping to boost charging time from empty. Just 15 minutes on the pad yields a 27% charge, while half an hour provides almost half a full charge. Huawei’s 40W wired option powers the phone up by 36 and 68% respectively during the same time frames. 40W SuperCharge is the fastest option when your battery is low on juice, but the wireless charging solution isn’t miles behind.

Compared to USB Power Delivery and Quick Charge accessories, Huawei’s wireless charging performs even better. 15 minutes charging yields roughly just 17% with these charger types, and 31% after 30 minutes. Huawei’s wireless charging also delivers a very consistent charging speed up to about 90% charge, which matches what we see from wired charging technologies. This makes it a good charging option regardless of your current battery level.

30 minutes on the pad provides close to a 50% charge.

Wireless finally takes on quick charging

Huawei’s 27W wireless charging technology is clearly impressive. While obviously not as fast as the company’s blazingly quick 40W wired charging solution, 27W worth of power over the air is faster than some popular wired charging standards out there.

Editor's Pick

If you were wondering whether to buy third party USB Power Delivery or Quick Charge accessories for your desk, Huawei’s 27W wireless charger is actually a faster way to charge the Mate 30 Pro. Best of all, it supports the Qi standard and charges other devices too, albeit at slightly slower speeds.

An hour on the wireless charging pad won’t quite get you to full capacity, but ~85% battery is more than enough to get you through a full day’s use with the Mate 30 Pro. Even a half an hour’s wireless charge provides a big enough top-up to keep you on the go. At 27W, wireless charging is finally powerful enough to be a viable charging solution.

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