Vivo has quickly become one of the more popular smartphone vendors in China. And now it's Nex smartphone (complete with pop-up selfie camera) is taking the world by storm.
The problem is, it's not so easy to get in the U.S. But we can show you how.
The smartphone maker announced on Monday (July 9) that it's now expanding where its Nex is available. Instead of just offering it in China, where the phone has been available since last month, Vivo announced it's planning to launch the Nex in Russia, India, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan later this month.
However, there's no word on whether it might eventually launch in the U.S.
If you haven't heard of the Vivo Nex, you might be surprised by all it offers. The device comes with a screen that entirely covers its face, without any iPhone X-style notch dipping down into the display. It runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and has 8GB of RAM. There's also 256GB of storage and a 4,000mAh battery. Its OLED screen measures 6.6 inches.
Arguably the most important feature, however, is a virtual fingerprint sensor that's baked into its screen. The Vivo Nex also sports a clever pop-up selfie camera that's helping to make the phone go viral.
The problem for Americans, however, is that it isn't available in the U.S. And the chances of it launching stateside seem slim, at best, since Vivo doesn't sell phones on these shores.
So if you really want to see what the future is all about and get your hands on the Nex, you'll need to import it. And here's how to do it:
Find a Marketplace
We did some evaluating online of sites that carry the Vivo Nex. And we found two places that are relatively well-known sites that carry the device.
The first, GearBest.com, is selling the Vivo Nex for $730. If you order it now, you can choose between a black or red version. The site offers free shipping via air mail and promises to have the device to you by Aug. 2 if you order today.
Another option, AliExpress, sells the Vivo Nex in a variety of versions. Pricing varies on that site, so you'll want to keep an eye out for the best deal and the most reliable vendor. But you can expect to pay from around $600 to more than $900 on the site.
One of the first things to understand about importing a smartphone from China is that you're going to be buying the devices from sites you might never have heard from. And although many are trustworthy, others might not be all they claim to be.
First things first, be wary of any site where you'd buy a smartphone from China and check online reviews to see whether the marketplace is reliable or not.
The Vivo Nex sounds great, but you'll need to be sure that you can actually use it. If you plan on using the Vivo Nex in the U.S., you need to ensure you get a model that can connect to American networks.
U.S. Carrier LTE Bands
|2, 4, 5, 12, 66, 71
|2, 4, 13
|2, 4, 5, 12, 17
|25, 26, 41
Compare the 3G and 4G bands listed in the Vivo Nex's tech specs with those of the wireless carrier you'd plan to use. Glancing at those specs, it seems like AT&T offers the greatest compatibility since the Nex supports all of AT&T's listed bands; the phone also lists compatibility with the 4G bands Sprint uses. The networks of T-Mobile and Verizon are only partially compatibility with Vivo's phone.
We tested Huwaei's P20 Pro — another phone from overseas that doesn't officially offer compatibility with U.S. networks — and could routinely connect to AT&T's LTE network. That's significant since the P20 supports the same AT&T bands that the Vivo Nex does. The only difference we noticed between the P20 Pro's LTE performance and a fully supported Galaxy S9 was slower data speeds on the Huawei phone, but that could be attributed to the modems the different phones use.
Even if an overseas phone works on a carrier's bands, don't expect your wireless provider to offer any help should you run into trouble with an unsupported phone. That's something else to keep in mind should you decide to import the Vivo Nex.
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Don Reisinger is CEO and founder of D2 Tech Agency. A communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter, Don has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes, Computerworld, Digital Trends, TechCrunch and Slashgear. He has also written for Tom's Guide for many years, contributing hundreds of articles on everything from phones to games to streaming and smart home.