MWC 2018: Working concept phone solves notch problem in unique way

This phone of the future has a pop up selfie camera and half-screen fingerprint scanner

Vivo isn't saying whether the scanner is provided by Synaptics, as was the case with the X20 Plus UD. A regular loudspeaker is placed on the bottom of the Vivo Apex, while a Type-C USB port lies there as well. No doubt we'll be seeing them in not only this phone but other manufacturers' offerings in the not-to-distant future.

At Mobile World Congress 2018 it was a lesser-known brand - in Europe, anyway - that produced one of the most exciting smartphones on the show floor: the Vivo Apex concept.

It means you and your partner/friend/colleague/pet chimpanzee can each proffer a finger to the phone, and only when you're both present will you be able to access the device as a whole, or certain areas of it. Its bezels measure 1.8 millimeters all around, except for the chin, which is 4.3mm. The bottom bezel is now set at 4.3 mm, but Vivo is confident it can get that one down to the same 1.8 mm in time - but even still, the Apex has a screen-to-body ratio over 90%. This is beyond impressive. The design is enabled by a flexible OLED platform, with microchips mounted directly to the flexible circuit board. As such, there isn't any "notch" or room for a selfie camera, so the company worked out a way to have the selfie camera pop out from the top of the phone. The Vivo APEX concept device uses an improved in-display fingerprint scanning technology that differs from what we saw at CES. This transforms the entire bottom half of the OLED screen and the user can touch any of the bottom halves of the screen to perform fingerprint recognition and unlock. This is the company building upon the in-display fingerprint reader technology it introduced with the Vivo X20 Plus UD in 2017.

The new phone, however, is not bezel-free. Vivo APEX, however, is still a concept phone and the company says it has no plans to release the actual product in this particular form.

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Also hidden in the screen is speaker technology that uses the screen's glass to resonate as a speaker when your ear is to the phone.

All of this is in service of the war on bezels that nearly the entire smartphone industry has declared over the past year or so. Vivo seeks to address with new Screen Sound Casting Technology available on APEX which allows the display to function like a speaker and an earpiece. Compared to other audio solutions for bezel-less smartphones, it conserves power, reduces sound leakage, and optimizes low to high pitch sound for a better and more balanced audio experience.

Commenting on this smartphone, Alex Feng, Senior Vice President of Vivo, said, "APEX™ is an iteration of our constant pursuit of setting new industry standards and to deliver the ultimate mobile experience". I'll take it. If you're doubly concerned about security though, that extra space also means you could set the phone to require two simultaneous fingerprints to unlock it. Coming to the front camera, the Vivo APEX smartphone sports an 8MP selfie camera. It takes 0.8 seconds to reveal itself, and it has a smooth motion.

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