It has an in-display smartphone fingerprint scanner that covers almost half the screen, and a selfie camera that pops out the top when required.
This is Chinese manufacturer Vivo’s glimpse of future phones, and we checked out the Apex Concept at MWC 2018.
First is the handset’s claim of the “world’s first half-screen in-display fingerprint scanning technology,” allowing you to place your digit anyway on the bottom half of the screen to have your print successfully read.
It’s an advancement of the technology we witnessed on the Vivo X20 Plus UD – the first phone to feature an in-display scanner – although you had to place your finger on one particular spot towards the bottom of the screen.
With the Vivo Apex, using the fingerprint scanner built into the display is easier, which will be an especially useful feature in large phone as you won’t have to awkwardly shuffle the device in-hand to reach the scanner.
It doesn’t quite take up half of the display though, instead the scanner covers a reasonable portion of the bottom half of the screen. It’s still a much larger landing area than we’ve previously enjoyed though – and it’s something we’d love to see on a phone that’s actually going on sale.
Yes, that’s right, you won’t be able to buy this phone. The clue is in the name… ‘Concept’. Rather, Vivo is showing us the sort of technology that’s nearing a consumer roll out, but isn’t quite ready for the big time yet.
While the fingerprint scanning area is impressive, during our demo of this development device it didn’t always behave itself. It struggled to register our print, and you have to apply a reasonable amount of force on the screen for it to scan you properly.
The technology will continue to improve, but it’s fair to say that it’s not ready for a commercial launch just yet.
Two at a time
There’s another party trick up the sleeve of this in-display fingerprint scanner though, with Vivo saying the technology “enables new usage scenarios, such as the new dual-fingerprint scanning feature… for even greater strengthened security.”
What it means is you can opt to use two fingerprints instead of one to unlock the phone, make a payment of unlock certain apps, folders or features. What’s even more interesting is the fingerprints don’t both have to be yours.
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.
This would be useful in a shared device scenario where a large number of people may be using the same device, but you wish to keep some sensitive or private information secure on it.
The tricks on the Vivo Apex Concept phone don’t stop there either. You may have already noticed the incredible bezeless design on the front of the phone.
On the top and down both sizes there’s a gap of just 1.8mm, while the bottom bezel isn’t that much thicker at 4.3mm. However, there’s not notch encroaching onto the display like on the iPhone X or Essential Phone – so where are the sensors, cameras and earpiece?
The proximity sensor and earpiece are embedded under the display, and the latter uses vibrations to generate the sound through the screen and frame. It also directs the volume forward, into your ear, so those around you still won’t be able to listen in to your calls.
Meanwhile the light sensor is located on the top of the handset, but it’s the front facing camera – or the visual lack of one – which is the really fun part.
It’s not located under the screen, rather it’s hidden from view until it’s needed.
As you can see in the GIF above, the 8MP front facing camera rises out of the top of the phone when you switch from rear to front camera in app. It takes 0.8 seconds to reveal itself, and it has a smooth motion.
There’s currently no spec sheet for the Vivo Apex, but the firm also claims it will offer hi-fi quality audio through the two down-firing speakers on the base of the handset – and we also know that it has a dual-camera on the back.
As we’ve already mentioned, the Vivo Apex is a concept smartphone which means you won’t be able to buy it – but you can expect the fingerprint scanning technology, hidden sensors and pop up camera to appear in future phones in the coming years.
MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2018 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar’s world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.