Hands-on with the 99% bezelless phone that has a fingerprint scanner under the screen

Hands-on with the 99% bezelless phone that has a fingerprint scanner under the screen
Vivo, a flourishing Chinese phone maker, may have just shown us one of the most interesting and forward-looking smartphone concepts at Mobile World Congress.

The Vivo Apex, a concept phone that may or may not ever reach the market (in China), is very remarkable for exactly 4 things. Let's take a quick look:

1. 99% bezel-less design


The Vivo Apex is almost completely bezelless. We know we've been saying this for almost every phone that came with significantly reduced bezels in the last few years, but the Vivo Apex takes things further than we've ever seen. Its top and side bezels are thinner than those of the iPhone X, and the bottom one isn't much thicker as well. It's hard to tell whether it's 'the less bezel, the better' once you cross a certain point, but the fact is the Apex concept phone looks very nice and futuristic. The least we can say is that it's a very, very impressive design. But there's more to it that just thin frames...

2. Extendable selfie camera!



Hohoho! Let's face it, all smartphones follow almost the exact same model these days. The Vivo Apex, however, is showing us something genuinely new - an extendabe / retractable selfie camera! Because the top bezel is almost nonexistent, and the bottom one isn't much bigger, there is just no place to put a front-facing camera. That's why, as soon as you select the selfie mode from the camera app, a motorized camera extends from within the top of the phone, and stays there until you switch the mode or close the app, at which point it retracts back inside the phone. Rarely have we seen such design components that feel so old and new at the same time.

Whether you like this solution will depend on the type of person you are, but generally, if you're anything close to a tech-head, chances are you'll love Vivo's extendable selfie cam. It's a solution that probably has certain flaws (for one, it's motorized so it may break), but hey, it's so cool it doesn't matter.

3. In-screen fingerprint scanner



While Vivo did show us the first smartphone with a fingerprint scanner embedded under the display at CES, now it's ready to show us the next step in the technology's evolution. The Vivo Apex has a whole fingerprint scanning area beneath the display! They call it "half-display", but it's definitely smaller. Still, it's indeed a whole area, and this is the first time we see this technology live. At this point, we can't really say "yes, this is the much better solution, not Face ID", because the current state of the feature isn't very usable. It's slow and tricky to get to work. It's definitely not ready for release.

The in-screen fingerprint scanner is a rather cool technology, though, and it'll most certainly get to market later this year. At the very least, we know Samsung has been trying to get this tech to commercial state, and it's been rumored to do so with the Galaxy Note 9. Given how the company would love to have this intricate feature in workable state before Apple, we'd guess Samsung isn't going to quit working on this anytime soon.

Because of the larger fingerprint-reading area, Vivo has also create a new feature here, which allows the user to setup two fingerprints at the same time. So for example, you can set the phone to unlock only as you place both of your thumbs at the same time on the screen. What's more, the two fingerprints don't need to come from the same person, so for example, you can set a device like the Vivo Apex to be unlocked only as it's presented with your and your partner's fingerprints. We're not sure how practical this would be, but it sure sounds romantic.

4. An iOS ripoff



And the fourth amazing thing about the Vivo Apex is that its software seems to be a complete copy of iOS, down to the graphics assets on the homescreen and in menus. This kind of ripoff probably still works in China, but the phone obviously the can't make it to international shores in this form.

Unfortunately, a Vivo spokesperson couldn't provide details as to when the Apex, or a real product based on it, may launch commercially. Of course, this means that price info is a no go either, but Vivo usually doesn't price its phones cheaply, so even when and if this product makes it to market, do not expect it to be half the price of current flagships. The Vivo X20 Plus UD, a phone the company showcased earlier this year that also features an in-display fingerprint scanner (with a way smaller area than the Apex) has reportedly been made available in China, at a price of about $625.

The best thing about the Vivo Apex concept phone is that it's a physical evidence that progress is being made with the in-display fingerprint scanning technology, and even if Apple seems to be entirely consumed by Face ID right now, other big companies, like Samsung, may indeed be ready to integrate this extremely convenient technology some time later in the year.



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40 Comments

3. chenski

Posts: 755; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

Take note Samsung and apple, this is innovation

4. youssef44

Posts: 547; Member since: Apr 29, 2014

Simply amazing!!

6. fyah_king unregistered

It made the x look ugly with its huge black borders and notch.

10. dimas

Posts: 3324; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

Best notch implementation is by essential phone. I wonder if they will continue making a 2nd gen.

8. Landon

Posts: 1242; Member since: May 07, 2015

From a technological standpoint, why is it so difficult to remove the bottom bezel? I'm totally fine with some sort of bezel on the top and would prefer it over a center notch, but why can't the bottom bezel be removed? The design of this is nice but the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S renders look much better than this.

12. worldpeace

Posts: 3106; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Because they need to place proximity and ambient light sensors somewhere in front side? Of course they can move that tiny bezel to top, it's just like moving the connectors and place the front screen upside down, but I think it's looks cleaner to have bottom bezel, because your thumb amost always covering some part of bottom side, you can easily ignore that bottom bezel most of time, top bezels is much more noticable, because you'll see it whenever you check notification icons, time, signal strength etc, top bezel is more distracting

22. Poptart2828

Posts: 348; Member since: Jan 23, 2018

The proximity and ambient sensors are under the oled screen I believe from what I read over at gsmarena

33. Landon

Posts: 1242; Member since: May 07, 2015

I'm used to using capacitive buttons on the bottom like on my Note 5 so since the bezels are slimming down on newer phones, I'd want the on-screen buttons as low on the device as possible. Basically I want my next phone to look like this... https://www.gizmochina.com/2018/02/24/xiaomi-mi-mix-2s-specs-rumor-roundup-everything-we-know-about-the-upcoming-xiaomi-flagship/

43. Lokenx

Posts: 1; Member since: Sep 12, 2017

Its usin an lcd display which cant bend

9. dimas

Posts: 3324; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

As a person who only use the front camera once a year, I really dig this design from vivo.

13. worldpeace

Posts: 3106; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Me too, lol.

14. Sparkxster

Posts: 1198; Member since: Mar 31, 2017

Concept is neat but I don't like the motorized selfie camera. They should make it a push to pop it up and u push it back in when you are done.

18. TheOracle1

Posts: 2151; Member since: May 04, 2015

Motorized makes more sense to me. Forget to push it in and it's bye bye camera.

23. Poptart2828

Posts: 348; Member since: Jan 23, 2018

I agree. I used the oppo n3 with its motorized camera and it never failed once in the year plus that I used it as my daily driver

16. TheOracle1

Posts: 2151; Member since: May 04, 2015

Vivo is just a "flourishing" Chinese phone maker? Lol. One of the top selling brands in the world which is owned by BBK the second largest manufacturer in the world? I understand that people are familiar with the iPhone X, but it's a poor choice for comparison purposes given that the notch effectively reduces its screen to 5.5 inches. If this Vivo has the right LTE bands I'm definitely buying it.

20. Poptart2828

Posts: 348; Member since: Jan 23, 2018

Every vivo I've used in the USA since 2016 have all been compatible with 4g lte. The xplay 6 even has t mobile band 7 which works wonders indoors and inside buildings. AT&T and t mobile are open to any phone so they make their phones compatible to those networks.

28. TheOracle1

Posts: 2151; Member since: May 04, 2015

Good to know. I just checked GSMArena and the X20 is compatible so this should be too.

17. DronGupta

Posts: 42; Member since: Sep 09, 2015

Are you out of mind, this phone is nowhere 99% screen to body ratio. It may 93-94 or less but not more than that.

25. Poptart2828

Posts: 348; Member since: Jan 23, 2018

Even vivo mentions that. Once they shrink that 4mm bottom bezel to 1.8 matching every other corner, only then will it be 98%

19. darkkjedii

Posts: 30900; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

How's the software though?

21. Poptart2828

Posts: 348; Member since: Jan 23, 2018

The software is not a copy of iOS. It looks similar but vivo offers so much more. You can change the icons to hundreds of different themes and patterns in just a few seconds. It has lots of swipe gestures from the screen turned off. It has swipe gesturing when you make a phone call so just drawing the first letter of your spouses name will call their phone. It has virus scanner, memory cleaner, folder managers all integrated into Funtouch os. The software is fluid unlike my Samsung s8. It has motion gestures that turn your phone on just by pulling it out of your pocket. Etc etc. Shame on phone arena for calling it a rip off when the customization Funtouch offers is ten fold what iOS even does. It takes literally seconds to make any vivo phone unique to its user unlike iOS which looks like my next door neighbors and even his dog if it owned one.

29. TheOracle1

Posts: 2151; Member since: May 04, 2015

You're wasting your breath. They compare everything to ios including gestures that have been on different phones way before the iPhone. My Xiaomi also looks like ios and has no app drawer but that's always the first thing I change. Who cares what the original looks like when it's android? Those who hate oem skins are probably the Stock purists that infest sites like this.

24. gamehead unregistered

Great design on top of a on screen fingerprint scanner

30. monoke

Posts: 1151; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

Was hoping this was xperia 'mirai' design would be like. Instead they put out... Ugly chubby xz2. Lol.

32. monoke

Posts: 1151; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

This!... This right here is what all OEMs should be copying!.. Not the hideous Notch design. Lol!

34. kevin007in

Posts: 327; Member since: Oct 28, 2015

samsung please learn this art......

35. Poptart2828

Posts: 348; Member since: Jan 23, 2018

For those that are contemplating buying this phone, rest assured that build quality from any vivo phone is excellent. I've owned many vivo phones since 2014 and none of them have failed. These things go through so many safety checks that I've yet to see a hardware or software failure. Made to last tbph

37. pankajxdx

Posts: 3; Member since: Oct 05, 2017

So they removed the notch, also got the under display fingerprint sensor working but couldn't implement a GUI, what a shame. I see a phone of great value underselling itself trying to copy Apple.

38. umaru-chan

Posts: 349; Member since: Apr 27, 2017

This looks great.

40. metti

Posts: 5; Member since: May 31, 2013

concept galaxy s9 metti farhang search google

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