The fundamental design MO for prequel Trek seems to be anti-smooth. The lower tech ships have very segmented plating, they generally lack a secondary body and any protrusions like a nacelle is firmly anchored.
The Shenzhou seems like a believable design progression from the NX. Even the Discovery, which is closer in design to TOS era ships, is more segmented and has bulkier connecting parts. Even the saucer has to have a solid looking arm to attach it to the very large secondary hull.
TOS Enterprise looks advanced in comparison because of its clean, almost alien construction and spindly protrusions hoisting large nacelles and an oversized saucer.