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TECH BREAK: Why two displays when one will do?

Friday January 25 2019

It is quite baffling to have two displays when one will do just fine.

It is quite baffling to have two displays when one will do just fine. PHOTO | COURTESY 

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The different types of displays making rounds on devices are becoming more and more interesting. Flexible displays, Electronic Ink displays, small, big and dual are back as manufacturers fight to earn and retain market share by trying to prove they are more innovative than their competitors.

Vivo is putting dual displays back on the map and we are left wondering, is this just a fad or the real deal? Vivo NEX rides a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 backed by an octa-core processor, 10GB of RAM and an Adreno 630 GPU.

It has 128GB storage, and since physical space is limited, is not expandable due to the lack of a microSD card reader. It has three camera sensors, a 12 MP main sensor matched up to a 2MP depth sensor and a “new” Time Of Flight (TOF) camera that calculates the distance between the main camera and the subject based of the current speed of light, all backed by an LED flash.

Questionable, but OK, so let’s buy that for now. Its dual screens mean that the cameras are on one side, and this brings us to its key feature, the dual displays. Its main screen is 5.49 inches with 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution, while its other display stands at 6.39 inches tall with 2340 x 1080 pixels resolution.

It is an LTE phone, has dual-SIM card support, connects to “AC” WiFi and has Bluetooth 5.0 in the mix. At first glance, the dual display arrangement seems unnecessary. The main screen is shorter for many reasons, notably being that it has to accommodate the three cameras it has as well as other things, such as the microphone.



The most obvious question is why you need two displays when one will do just fine. To be honest, it is quite baffling. Sure, the secondary screen is bigger, purer in the sense of being unobstructed by fingerprint sensors, notches and cameras and indeed gives the phone a ridiculous amount of display real-estate, however, it hardly seems justifiable.

The most obvious pain point is that two displays on one phone will draw more power than one, though it is rare to have both displays on at the same time. This is still disturbing though, especially because both displays share common settings, which leads to problems like app scaling, brightness adjustments and more.

While Vivo has indeed dropped a curious device, it has obviously missed out big time on its software when it comes to how both displays work. While it ships with Android 9.0 (Pie) by default, this is the first phone that is desperately in need of numerous software fixes for it to actually make sense, otherwise, the experience visually is very weak.

That said, the phone itself is a fluid solid performer, and puts its 10GB of RAM to very good use. There isn’t that sluggish feel one might expect with such a complicated device, which is honestly very impressive. And this brings us to the phone’s other major short-comings.

Already dealing with a bulky phone, Vivo had to make major concessions to prevent users from carrying bricks in their pocket, in this case, the 3,500mAh battery simply does not meet this phone’s needs. Sure, it will get you a single day, but this should have had a higher capacity battery. At Sh81,000, it is also very pricey.