Beyond that, they’re often — and obviously — tied to service that are of little use outside the NEX’s home country. I don’t know about you, but I’m hardly ever struck by the urge to buy something off of Taobao. (That said, watching videos through China’s iQiyi streaming service has been educational, to say the least.) The lack of Google Play services on this version of the phone is tricky too. While you can link your Gmail account to the preloaded Mail app, you’ll have to sideload most of the apps you’d actually want to use since the included Vivo Store remains incomprehensible to foreigners.
There’s more. Despite the fact that this VIVO has top tier components like a Snapdragon 845 chipset, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, it doesn’t feel nearly as fast as other phones I’ve tested this year. At this point, I can only blame Vivo’s overwrought Funtouch OS. It’s derived from Android 8.1 Oreo, but Vivo layered a ton of of extra stuff on top. It’s worth noting that Funtouch’s interface also takes a lot of design cues from iOS, to the point where it’s almost laughable. If you’re going to build a phone this unique, wouldn’t you want a interface that didn’t feel like a laggy copycat of something else?
I don’t mean to take anything away from Vivo by saying these things — on a technical level, the NEX S is a remarkable machine, and it gives me hope that the brand will continue to break new ground. Vivo is slowly expanding its global presence too, so one day we Americans might actually be able to pick up one of the company’s curious phones without the hassle of dealing with overseas sellers. For now, though, you shouldn’t feel too bad it’s honestly one of those devices that’s much more fun to admire from afar than use everyday.