This is how the pop-up selfie camera works on the Vivo NEX

Vivo may not be that well-known here in the U.S., but on June 12, the company unveiled what's easily one of the most interesting phones we've seen in 2018. The Vivo NEX is the closest we've gotten so far to a truly "bezel-less" smartphone, and to achieve this, Vivo did something awfully unique with the front-facing camera.

Instead of slapping it on the front above the screen or putting it in a notch, Vivo hides it inside the NEX's body. When you want to use it, the lens physically pops out from the top. When you're done taking selfies, the camera retracts once more and is completely hidden.

It's great party trick, but what's this process actually look like from inside the phone? IHS Tech Intelligence on Twitter recently shared a GIF of what goes on, and as you can see below, it's pretty damn cool.

https://twitter.com/Teardown/status/1007275772262809600

All those moving parts might look like something waiting to break at a moment's notice, but as Vivo explained when the NEX was announced, the system that it's using is rated to move the front-facing camera up to 50,000 times and lift up to 500-grams of weight.

The NEX is the first phone to implement something along these lines, and it's a feature I hope we see in more products down the road. It may not be the perfect solution to creating a bezel-free phone, but at least in my opinion, it's the best one we've had yet.

Vivo NEX hands-on preview: One step closer to a bezel-less future

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

17 Comments
  • Very cool, but I really don't mind a small bezel with front facing speakers and a bit of water resistance.
    Is a full screen phone really that important?
  • Yes...yes it is......because we only buy 2 phone brands (Apple and Samsung), it is everything....when u (meaning people) start buying phones with front facing speakers in rediculous amounts, then that will be everything
  • I don't know what you mean?
    Most iPhones and all Samsungs have bezels.
  • If you're going to write an article about the pop up camera, don't you think it might be worth mentioning that this is ripping off a feature patented by Essential?
  • Calm down, it's not essential.
  • Pretty sure you and 5 other people care about anything Essential.
  • Well, these days in age, who isn't ripping off someone else's work? Someone is ripping in one form or another, but the end result is, who did it better? Edit:
    That Twitter link is protected so I can't see it and no I don't use Twitter.
  • Why have a notched smartphone when your camera can just pop up when you need it? There is actually more than one answer to that question: 1) In addition to using the front camera(s) for taking selfies and making video calls, the front cameras (and other components) in the notch of the iPhone X (and soon in all 2018 iPhones and iPads) does a lot more! They use FaceID to unlock your phone instantly just by looking at it, they provide 3D depth sensing for apps that require it, they allow you to log into websites using your face, they allow the user to buy things using their face and Apple Pay, etc. In other words, you NEED to have the front cameras (especially on the iPhones) available ALL of the time. Hiding those cameras would be senseless and counter-productive. 2) Having a small thin tab pop up electro-mechanically every time you need to use your camera, introduces a small, unsupported appendage that is very likely to break if mishandled (in spite of Vivo's claims), and also the likelihood of the electro-mechanical mechanism failing at some point. This is NOT a problem with front-facing cameras that are built into the body of the smartphone. 3) The camera of the Vivo phone is encased in separate body, and that body is inside a separate cylinder that the body slides out of, and that cylinder has an external motor that pops up and retracts the camera body from the cylinder. All of this takes up space in the body of the phone. That is space lost that could have been used for either a larger battery to supply longer usage, or to enclose additional components (such as the second camera, sensors, and projectors found in the iPhone X) that would enhance the user experience. NOTE: Some people have commented that the Vivo NEX is a completely bezel-less phone, but that is not true. As you can see from the photos of the phone, the Vivo NEX has a "chin" (bottom bezel). If Vivo had put that bezel at the TOP of the phone, there would not have been a need for the pop-up camera. The camera could have been put into the top bezel.
  • Face ID is just so much less practical than a FPS.
    I have it on the Oneplus 5T and although not secure it's bloody fast.
    But as my phone is unlocked by the FPS as I take the phone out of my pocket it's not much use.
    Other two points seem reasonable.
  • "But as my phone is unlocked by the FPS as I take the phone out of my pocket it's not much use." By "FPS" I assume that you mean Finger Print Scanning. I agree with you, it's not any faster to have your fingerprint scanned while your phone is in your pocket... And then there is the factor of IF you are talented enough tactually get a good scan of your fingerprint while the phone is in your pocket. If you can't consistently get your fingerprint scanned before you pull your phone out of your pocket, then it is NOT as fast as using FaceID, which unlocks your phone immediately as cameras register your face. It is also more convenient for the user to be able to start using their phone right away, without needing to have their registered thumb or finger in a certain position on the phone, first. The other consideration is that, although NO biometric security method is one hundred percent safe, Face ID is much more secure and more difficult to fool than fingerprint scanning. This is one of the reasons why Apple dropped TouchID on the iPhone X (and will be doing the same on all new iPhone and iPad models this year).
  • Fingerprint scanner is 99.99% reliable.
    Have 4 fingers registered at all angles.
    Really handy when using NFC.
    Faster than face id even if I'm not wearing my sunglasses.
    Works at all angles in or out of my pocket.
    I have face id. A faster version than the iPhone. FPS are secure enough.
    A 10 digit PIN would be more secure than both but I'm not doing that ether.
    No one can convince me it's better in any way than a FPS.
  • I'll stick with my FPS for now. Talk to me when they fix the issues with family members being able to fool face id. There are several reported cases where this has happened. For the amount I use the front camera, I'd take a chance on the pop up camera. Whatever it takes to get more screen into less space.
  • "Talk to me when they fix the issues with family members being able to fool face id." I will repeat my previous comment: NO biometric security method is one hundred percent safe, Face ID is much more secure and more difficult to fool than fingerprint scanning. Yes, we have seen SOME examples of FaceID accepting a non-registered user because they are twins or even just related in some situations. But those examples, and the ease of getting false results, are MUCH less than the possibilities of false results with ANY fingerprint scanner. "Whatever it takes to get more screen into less space." Again, I will repeat what I wrote previously: The Vivo NEX is NOT a completely bezel-less phone. As you can see from actual photos of the phone (not the exaggerated renders), the Vivo NEX has a "chin" (bottom bezel). If Vivo had put that bezel at the TOP of the phone, there would not have been a need for the pop-up camera. The camera could have been put into the top bezel.
  • This is cool!
  • As soon as you drop this with the camera engaged... You're screwed.
  • Yep
  • This phone had on field ads during the Germany vs Mexico game last night in the World Cup, this is as real prime advertisement as you can get, so how many phones they will have to sell to break even? How did this expensive ads affected its price?