If you look at the current flagship smartphones in the market, full-screen displays, front and back glass design, and dual-camera setups are some of their common features. And after the iPhone X, more and more OEMs are offering notched displays, even if you don’t like them. Vivo came up with a concept phone APEX, that ditches the infamous notch and uses a motorized pop-up front camera instead.
Vivo was quick enough to turn this concept into reality, and the result of the same is the NEX smartphone that has been launched in India. Priced at Rs 44,990, the Vivo NEX can be purchased from Amazon India or from Vivo’s e-store. Being a flagship smartphone, you get the top-end hardware, right from a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC to 8GB of RAM and 128GB onboard storage.
To ditch the notch, the Vivo NEX comes with a pop-up front camera that comes out when you open the camera app and switch to the front camera. The moment you exit the camera app or switch to the rear camera, it retracts back into the chassis, and it is a cool feature that I can’t stop showing off to my family and friends. Vivo has also integrated an in-display fingerprint scanner at the bottom half of the screen, and it is pretty fast when it comes to unlocking the smartphone. But there is one feature that is not much of a talking point yet, and it is the best-kept secret of the Vivo NEX.
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Screen SoundCasting technology
Yes, I’m talking about Screen SoundCasting tech that the Vivo NEX features. To offer a true bezel-less experience, Vivo had to incorporate new technologies apart from the pop-up front camera. The front camera is hidden in the pop-up mechanism, making room for an edge-to-edge display. But if you notice the below photo of the top portion of the display carefully, you won’t find any proximity sensor, ambient light sensor or earpiece.
The ambient light and the proximity sensors are hidden below the display, and they use ultrasonic tech to adjust the brightness, and turn off the display when on phone calls with the device on your ear. But the one feature that really changes the way you talk on the phone is the Screen SoundCasting tech that uses bone conduction to transmit audio waves.
Vivo is not the first one to come up with this tech as Xiaomi had implemented a similar technology on the first Mi MIX. However, it had its own set of issues, especially with audio quality, but Vivo seems to have found a way to make it work. Essentially, the whole display transforms into a speaker, and whether you rest your ear on the top half of the display, middle, or bottom half, or hold the phone upside down, you will still be able to hear what the recipient is saying.
The technology is similar to what TV manufacturers are using in modern TVs. Scientifically speaking, the company is using a piezoelectric transducer placed between two metal plates. When sound waves strike one or both plates, they vibrate, which translates into waveform similar to sound waves. These sound waves are sent to the display, rather than to the speaker. In short, the technology converts the entire display into a speaker.
Talking about audio quality, I have been using the Vivo NEX for the past few days, and have had phone calls for over 2 hours or more. Most of the times, I did not face any difficulty in hearing what the recipient was saying. However, at times the audio sounded a bit muffled, and more refinements are needed.
Still, the Screen SoundCasting tech is ready for commercial use and going forward I would love to see tech brands such as Apple and Samsung innovate on it further. Potentially, companies could even do away with the bottom firing speaker and turn the display into a loudspeaker, and the saved space could be used to cram in additional components.