Samsung has finally launched the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ at MWC 2018 while HMD Global brought as many as five Nokia-branded phones to Barcelona this year. While these phones are exactly what consumers will be buying this year, there is another side of Mobile World Congress which shows what is to come in the coming years.
As it has become a tradition in the past few years, the concept phones are coming from Chinese smartphone makers and not from the brands which are considered household names in this industry. At MWC 2017, Oppo showed its dual-camera zoom system with periscope-style lens setup for 5x lossless zoom. This year, it is the turn of the sister brand Vivo and its Apex concept phone.
As the name implies, the Vivo Apex is a concept at this stage, but it has every element that makes it ideal for being dubbed as taking the full-screen design to next level. The Vivo Apex concept features the thinnest bezels surrounding the display of a smartphone yet. The three sides of the display are surrounded by 1.8mm thin bezels while the lower chin is about 4.3mm. The smartphone has an astonishing screen to body ratio of 98 percent, which is the closest yet we can get to the all display experience. Vivo says it uses flexible OLED platform and the “mounted directly to the flexible circuit board enables the APEX’s staggering screen-to-body ratio”.
The two key factors affecting the design of a completely bezel-less smartphone is the housing of front camera setup and fingerprint sensor for authentication. On APEX, Vivo is debuting what it calls as “Half-Screen In-Display Fingerprint Scanning Technology”. The idea here is that the half-screen of the device is turned into a fingerprint sensor instead of sensor being located at a predetermined location. This will enable flexibility since the fingerprint area is big enough to easily unlock the device when you touch it. Vivo was the first smartphone maker to debut in-screen fingerprint sensor technology at CES 2018 last month and with Apex, it is taking it to next level.
In its release, Vivo is not stating whether the sensor is being sourced from Synaptics but it may not be as fast as conventional fingerprint sensor found at the back of most devices. The most innovative design element, however, is not the fingerprint sensor but the way front camera pops up.
Since the Apex has almost no bezels and there is no space for front camera, Vivo is deploying an elevating front camera system. The front camera is there only when you need it. On the Apex, the user needs to go to camera menu and switch to front camera to see it in action. As soon as you switch from rear to front camera, the 8-megapixel camera rises from its place. Vivo says the selfie camera rises in 0.8 seconds when it is required and retracts after use. “Together with the hidden proximity sensor and ambient light sensor, this eliminates the space taken up by conventional front cameras, while offering the same selfie experience to users,” the company says in its release.
The Apex also rids of microphone and uses the frame and display to conduct audio. The tech sounds similar to what Xiaomi tried with the first generation Mi MIX but the quality of audio output needs to be heard before passing any verdict or judgement. The Apex can claim for being the most futuristic smartphone yet, but Vivo is not sharing any details on its release timeline or final specifications. The Apex could well be the smartphone of future and its a future than can come as early as next year.