Next-generation attack. That's what Nike aimed to deliver with the Hypervenom Phantom 3. Dropping in both a Dynamic Fit Collar option and, for the first time ever, a lo-cut Flyknit version, the Hypervenom 3 has opened up a new world of design for football footwear. So, how do they stack up when the stud meets the mud? We've slipped on both pairs to get busy.

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Can the Hypervenom 3 bring back the hype of the original?

For a boot that players were ready to throw under the guillotine for replacing the T90 silo, the original Hypervenom turned out to be a storming success. A boot focused on agility, and an upper that won over players immediately with its thin nature and NikeSkin comfort. The T90 might have offered power, but the Hypervenom provided a lightweight nature and a striking surface built for goals.

The second generation saw the boot became mired in its journey to Nike’s dynamic fit collar lineup. A stiff upper that held very little homage to the boot we had first met, the Hypervenom 2 had taken a bit of a left turn. Now, it’s time to see if the HyperVenom 3 can bring the same flair we felt with the original and remind us why FlyKnit could provide comfort and top-notch performance in any form.

What’s the difference between no collar and collar? We’ve tried it with AND without the Dynamic Fit Collar and here's the verdict...

First off, outside of the collar, the boots are identical. The DF (Dynamic Fit Collared) version will offer you a sense that makes you feel a different type of connection from right around your ankle to your toes. It’s the feeling the Nike collar has been offering since the inception of the feel, and many players have quickly made this the norm. The stretch of FlyKnit isn’t constricting, but don’t expect a magical piece that adds protection and ends rolled ankles forever.

However, we now have the first FlyKnit boot without the collar... and it is spectacular, let us tell you that for free. Not that we'll be charging for the rest of this review. The low-cut HyperVenom 3 is beautifully executed and could well be the biggest checkpoint in innovation since the introduction of FlyKnit, bigger than the collar movement itself.

So your choice ultimately comes down to whether you like that snug feeling around the ankle. The rest of the boot plays the same moves. The biggest talking points upon both options will be the padded pods across the upper that give the boot a very unique appearance. The boot still has that off-centre lacing that provides the striking area the Hypervenom has become known for, and the DF version has an updated collar with a diagonal cut that gives it a very unique look when you slip them on your feet (you also notice the NikeGrip branding on the insole, but we’ll talk about that later). If you’ve been hunting for a boot that gives you a very bold look, it’s not just the colours that will provide the boldness with the Hypervenom 3.

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It’s FlyKnit. So, it's comfortable, right?

Correct. The Hypervenom 2 struggled with finding the right blend of feel to offer premium responsiveness. Nike has stripped the Hypervenom 3 back and crafted the new boot with FlyKnit from heel to toe, ensuring that stiffness in the upper is about as likely as Gigi Buffon ever retiring. There’s FlyWire, FlyKnit, a new soleplate, and the first top-tier boot to offer an identical experience (outside of the collar) between the DF and non-DF versions.

Being able to wear a boot straight out of the box isn’t just a bonus any more, it’s a requirement. Players don’t want their new toys to sit on the sideline for a training session or two – players want boots that can go straight into a game. The Hypervenom 3 is a boot that’s ready to go from the second you put it on.

The FlyKnit has always been a very malleable material, and a boot that’s absolutely drenched in it. FlyKnit will soften with each wear, but the boot shifts to your foot shape on the first wear. The FlyKnit tongue has the stretch that gives you that premium comfort, and lets the boot fit a multitude of foot shapes. The heel has been stiffened and given some extra layers of durability to give your foot a locked-in feeling and make it a great ride, but a cushioned heel still lets the ride feel top-notch. The Poron inserts all across the upper won’t change the comfort at all, despite being able to feel each of the pods if you stick your hand inside the boot.

If this is your first ride with FlyWire, these cables attached to the laces help prevent rollover (responsiveness), help keep a material as stretchy as FlyKnit from getting loose on your foot (aid the fit), and help when you start lacing up to give you the fit that you’re hunting (once again, aid the fit). It’s like Nike are pushing to remind us of what laces can do for a boot. This all comes together on top of a brand new soleplate, with a high level of flexibility, a mix of hexagonal studs, “L” shaped studs, and two central blades. The studs on the outstep are for cutting inside and the rounded studs on the instep are for rotation. We found that this boot fits true to size, and we’d suggest going with what you typically wear on your boots.

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It’s all about when the rubber meets the road... what happens when the boot meets the ball?

The Hypervenom Phantom 3 is supposed to be a striker’s dream, but with features that can make the rest of your 11 swoon. The first NikeGrip insole, a new soleplate, a radically redesigned upper, and FlyKnit, FlyKnit, FlyKnit. The Hypervenom Phantom 3 is Nike’s first major shot at 2017... and it's typically hit the target. The first hurdle for the Hypervenom 3 is juggling a padded upper that doesn’t dampen the feel on the ball too much. It leaps this jump with ease. Despite having Poron inserts covering every nook and cranny of the forefoot and midfoot, you never find yourself feeling detached from the ball. Nike have been in the game of adding padding to boots for years, and they know what they’re doing.

Nike have made sure that the feel of striking the ball is extremely uniform across the boot’s full surface. It’s a perfect blend that FlyKnit has been building to for years. 

The biggest tagline for what Nike is pushing with these boots is for players wanting to strike the ball with pace and placement. There isn’t a boot on the market that offers the sensation the Hypervenom 3 gives when you decide to take advantage of the massive striking zone. This is something that the Hypervenom has offered since its inception, and the newest version isn’t about to lose one of the biggest assets that the boot has always boasted. Whether going for low placement or blasting from 30 yards, it feels responsive. Don’t expect the inserts to give a rebound quality that has you ripping through twine, but it does offer a nice zip to your shots and a ping that's welcomed.

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The soleplate on the latest Nike Hypervenom Phantom 3 is truly unique, but, while we tried to focus on it during our time in the boot, it did exactly what all boots should: we forgot that it was there. Sometimes, the greatest thing a boot can do is fade into the background during play. While the upper was consciously enjoyable, the soleplate never let us down and let us focus on playing. Despite using the boot on multiple surfaces, we never felt the studs drag, never slipped, and never felt any stud pressure. It looks like a scientific experiment, but, somehow, it works.

The last aspect to talk about during play is the NikeGrip insole inside the boot. We actually did feel some slight grip on our socks as soon as we slipped our feet into the boots, and it combines perfectly with the fit and squeeze of the FlyKnit to give a unique and elite feel. We aren’t ready to proclaim this feature as something we can’t ever have boots without, but we liked what we’ve seen from NikeGrip.

The Nike Hypervenom Phantom 3 is a boot that offers us everything that we wanted with the second version, but we’re willing to forgive them... because the wait was worth it. FlyKnit has never felt so good.

Want a pair? Get them here.