What a year it has been for smartphones in 2018, we have seen smartphones with stunning photography capabilities, shockingly long battery life, and processors faster than the speed of light. But one thing was a constant – the existence of the notch. The notch on the top of the smartphone display houses sensors, the earpiece and the selfie, camera which seem impossible to get rid of. Brands have tried shaving the side bezels and minimizing the size of the notch to a small dot to achieve a full-screen display, but still the notch remains.
2018 was once coined “the year of notch” until one company, Vivo, broke the trend and realized the true bezel-less ideal. It pioneered the Elevating Front Camera, a small periscopic camera that pops up when taking selfies and retracts automatically when the user exits selfie mode.
IT ALL BEGAN WITH A DREAM
Vivo first debuted the world’s first notch-less full-screen concept phone at MWC 2018 with APEX™, capturing headlines and sweeping media acclamation for its courage to think differently.
The APEX™ FullView™ concept smartphone has set new benchmarks for smartphone design, its truly full-screen display without visual obstruction, and other ground-breaking technologies like Half-Screen In-Display Fingerprint Scanning Technology, and of course, the iconic Elevating Front Camera. 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.
It started 3 years ago, when Vivo thought of creating something different for consumers. It took years of research and development before Vivo presented APEX™ to the world. One could imagine how many different designs the company has tested and explored before launching this concept.
When APEX™ was announced, consumers and media welcomed the radical new idea, but wondered if it would just remain as a concept. Vivo believed that this could be a viable solution. The next question for Vivo then became – could the dream of APEX™ become a reality?
Just 4 months after the debut in MWC, Vivo delivered on its promise to make the bezel-less dream come true with NEX – the first mass-produced smartphone with an Elevating Front Camera. The phone boldly featured the Elevating Front Camera, refined and tested to withstand daily wear and tear, making it both a technological wonder and a convenience for users.
WORKING ON MISSION IMPOSSIBLE
The Elevating Front Camera was at first deemed an impossible mission as the new moving parts seemed too complex to be mass produced. For instance, it takes delicate machinery to fit the camera hardware inside the phone, and it was crucial to ensure that the camera was durable and user-friendly.
Successfully positioning the camera in the phone (while maintaining a slim and reliable design) was about as difficult as redesigning a new phone. Always up for the challenge to create the most innovative products, Vivo conducted rigorous tests to bring the Elevating Front Camera into consumers’ hands.
To create room for the Elevating Front Camera module and antenna, Vivo redesigned the cutting of the Printed Circuit Board (PCB), shaping it into a thin strip to cover the edges of the internal structure. Vivo also added additional patches for reinforcement to ensure that the PCB had enough strength. All the while, the complex layering of modules needed to overcome technological challenges, while contributing to the excellent aesthetics of the final phone design.
Vivo even put NEX’s Elevating Front Camera to the most extreme test with a weight experiment. 8 units of NEX with the front cameras elevated were used to hold a thick glass panel with a ballerina dancing on top. The tiny front cameras managed to withstand an average weight of 11kg per camera, demonstrating the durability and strength of the design.
APEXTM and NEX have rewritten the rules of the smartphone game by completely scraping the notch and replacing it with a brilliant solution. With such impressive technology now made a reality, will 2019 become “the year of the pop-up camera” instead?