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The Nex is Vivo’s most ambitious phone so far, one that takes a serious shot at the dream of an all-screen smartphone. From the elevating pop-up front camera that rises from the top edge, to the screen that vibrates to act as an earpiece and even the fingerprint and ambient light sensors embedded below the display, the Nex pulls out all the stops to deliver a flagship smartphone with an impressive 91.24 per cent screen-to-body ratio.
- Published 5.08.18
Price: Rs 44,990
The Nex is Vivo’s most ambitious phone so far, one that takes a serious shot at the dream of an all-screen smartphone. From the elevating pop-up front camera that rises from the top edge, to the screen that vibrates to act as an earpiece and even the fingerprint and ambient light sensors embedded below the display, the Nex pulls out all the stops to deliver a flagship smartphone with an impressive 91.24 per cent screen-to-body ratio. Well done Vivo, for taking that design leap of faith and going where bigger brands fear to tread.
The wows around the pop-up front camera aside, the Nex packs in a stunning 6.59-inch Super AMOLED display — it’s bright and vivid and the lack of the notch only makes the multimedia and gaming experience all the more rich. Under the hood, the Nex is no slouch, packing in top-shelf components such as the Snapdragon 845 with 8GB/ 128GB of fast memory and storage. Images from the rear camera are impressive — great details, good colours and quick autofocus.
Vivo’s Funtouch OS continues to take inspiration from the iOS, but it has its niggles, particularly around the navigation gestures. Face unlock is missing from the device, which would have been a good option to unlock the phone since the in-screen fingerprint sensor is still a tad slower and unreliable. The front camera tends to overexpose shots and struggles in low light. At this price, a quad-HD display would have been preferred, but the upside is that you easily get a day and a half of life from the 4,000mAh battery. Plus, there’s fast charging as well. No wireless charging or waterproofing though.
Fujifilm instax Square SQ6
Price: Rs 9,999
For all that’s digital on these pages, it’s nice to step back into the world of analogue every now and then, and the Instagram-logo-styled Instax Square SQ6 Polaroid camera from Fujifilm is just the quirky retro fix you’ll need.
The SQ6 embraces old-fashioned aesthetics with its chunky design that’s not altogether uncomfortable to hold and use, but this is not something you can pocket easily. Its button layout is simple and easy to use — one button to cycle through the camera modes, one to turn on the timer, and one to control the flash. Then there are a few modes worth noting — a macro function to focus on objects up close, a selfie mode, a double exposure mode (that now-forgotten trick that’s done in post-processing with digital tech), and even basic exposure compensation to let you lighten or darken the image. Yet, this is as analogue as it gets — no microSD storage, no fancy filters (aside from three physical coloured flash filters) — just point and shoot and the square-shaped photo emerges and exposes itself into a crisp, bright and clear photo in about a minute or two.
Despite its retro appeal, I’d have expected USB recharging and a small LCD readout for shots remaining and what mode you’re shooting with, but you have to make do with CR2 lithium batteries, a basic mechanical shot counter and lights to indicate settings. The pack of 10 square film sheets will set you back by Rs 699, so there’s that to keep in mind when you go shutter-happy.
Price: Rs 11,999 onwards
Mounting a challenge to the Redmi Note 5 Pro and the Asus Zenfone Max Pro is the 9N from Honor, a 2018 ‘notched’ update to last year’s Honor 9 Lite. A sleek, design-first phone, the 9N is one to consider if looks are your top priority.
With a bunch of colour options — Robin Egg Blue, Lavender Purple, Midnight Black and Sapphire Blue — the 9N with its glossy-finish glass back offers an attention-grabbing design rare for this segment. Courtesy its 5.84-inch, 19:9 display, the 9N is compact and easy to use with one hand. Aside from the notch and a thick chin, the display is a stunner, with punchy colours and great viewing angles. EMUI, running on top of Android 8.0, is feature-packed, though you’d probably want to uninstall some of the pre-installed apps to reduce the bloat.
The Kirin 659 chip that powers the 9N is showing its age. Granted, the phone handles day-to-day tasks with ease, but struggles under load and is easily outclassed by the Qualcomm-sporting competition. The cameras shoot good images in favourable light, but performance dips in low light — details take a hit and images exhibit a fair bit of noise. Likewise for videos. Battery life is middling as well.
Price: Rs 15,999
The Amazfit Stratos, launched by Xiaomi sub-brand Huami, is a chip off the old block — it scores on specs and finish, while undercutting the competition on price. The sporty smartwatch tracks a diverse set of fitness activities, does basic phone notifications and lasts a good three-four days on a single charge — and looks good enough to appeal even to non-smartwatch enthusiasts!
It feels more premium than its price would suggest, and the ceramic bezel, Gorilla Glass protection, 5ATM water resistance and stainless steel buttons mean it will take a licking but keep on ticking! The thick, rugged look doesn’t mean that it is heavy on the wrist — the Stratos is surprisingly light at 70g. For a fitness-oriented smartwatch at this price, the Stratos tracks a lot of activities — running, swimming, walking, hiking and more (with V02max oxygen consumption tracking).
The proprietary Amazfit interface takes a bit of getting used to, and the three-button layout is far easier to use while working out than using the touchscreen. The 1.3-inch always-on display is large and easy to read outdoors and in direct sunlight yet it fades and becomes difficult to read when the lighting is poor.