24 April 2019
Vivo has won over many young Chinese consumers by offering phones with trendy designs and new features. The brand has taken experimentation to a new level with its latest dual-display gadget. Photo: Bloomberg
Vivo has won over many young Chinese consumers by offering phones with trendy designs and new features. The brand has taken experimentation to a new level with its latest dual-display gadget. Photo: Bloomberg

Vivo’s dual-screen smartphone sets new benchmark

With growth cooling in the global smartphone market and competition intensifying, mobile phone makers are scrambling for innovative ideas to stay on in the game. A key element in this is pushing new features on the mobile devices, taking aim at consumers who appear reluctant to upgrade from their existing handsets.

Among the firms that are actively pursuing such innovation strategy and trying to grab market attention is China’s Vivo, which was ranked No. 6 in global smartphone shipments in the second quarter this year.

On Tuesday, the company unveiled its latest NEX phone, taking its flagship device to a new level. At an event in Shanghai, Vivo showed off a new dual-screen smartphone with three cameras, touting it as the industry’s first device that bears full-HD displays on both the front and the rear.

The new phone, Vivo NEX Dual Display, has a 6.39″ 1080p Super AMOLED at the front and is truly bezel-less, with no notch or cutouts for camera or earpiece. On the back is the second screen, a 5.49″ 16:9 Super AMOLED. It can be a viewfinder for selfies, or it can act as a second screen for users.

The 12MP main camera with dual-pixel AF promises stunning shots. The time-of-flight camera should make the NEX Dual Display an ideal tool for selfies and portraits. It can make a 3D model of your face and change some of your features with precision in real time, tech websites reported.

The phone is powered by Snapdragon 845 chipset coupled with 10GB RAM. Vivo is promising dual-turbo management for the RAM, which means better memory utilization for all scenarios.

Vivo NEX Dual Display, as a matter of fact, is not the first dual-screen smartphone in the market. A Russian company, Yota, had in the past launched a phone with dual-screen. But in that device, the front screen was a color display while the real panel was only a monochrome e-ink screen. Vivo is the first smartphone maker to think out of the box to bring dual-color screen smartphone to the market.

More importantly, the company makes both screens work at the same time. For example, a user can take a photo using the main screen and messaging on the back screen. That demonstrates the phone’s capability of running various apps at the same time. That can also explain why Vivo NEX Dual Screen needs 10GB ram to support smooth operations.

The initial feedback to Vivo’s new phone has been quite positive from industry observers and tech news platforms. Vivo has been praised for bringing something new to the smartphone market.

“It’s a breath of fresh air among the rather boring flagships, and you can easily tell its second screen is not just a gimmick – it’s as powerful as the main one, if not more. Sometimes we found ourselves wondering which one to use this time,” wrote in its initial review of the Vivo gadget.

The Verge noted that though the phone isn’t a major upgrade from its previous model, the “Dual Display Edition looks to be a more refined version of the Nex that still keeps the series’ spirit of experimentation.”

Experimentation has been the key factor behind Vivo’s success in the smartphone market, especially in recent years as the firm sought to catch up with bigger Chinese rivals Huawei and Xiaomi. Vivo NEX, which launched earlier this year, used a motorized front camera to avoid the notch at the front. The phone sold more than 200,000 units so far which was quite a good result, given that the phone was priced at 4000 yuan level.

Vivo is also taking the lead to adopt fingerprint sensor under the screen in a mid-to-high tier model. That puts the Chinese brand ahead of others when it comes to adoption of some new technology. 

Such innovation has helped Vivo protect itself from the industry slowdown. 

In the three months to September this year, global smartphone sales fell 6 percent from a year earlier, falling for the fourth consecutive quarter, according to an IDC estimate. During the same period, Vivo, however, saw its sales rise 2 percent from a year ago, and for the first time the brand surpassed OPPO to become a sales leader in China controlling nearly 20 percent share of the market.

The good performance came on the back of Vivo’s strength in product innovation and supply chain management, observers have noted.

Vivo and its sister brand OPPO have been aggressively promoting their products in China’s inner cities, targeting youth who cannot afford expensive flagship smartphones of other brands. As Vivo smartphones mostly have trendy designs, the brand managed to win over many young consumers, helping it gain traction.

The launch of the NEX series this year shows that Vivo is not letting up on efforts to upgrade itself and emerge, in some ways, as a killer of other brand flagships in the market.

Now, with the latest dual display phone, the firm can hope to cement its position further and close the gap with larger rivals Huawei and Xiaomi.

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EJ Insight writer

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