Vivo's Apex has an insane 98% screen-to-body ratio and retractable front camera

Earlier this year, Vivo rolled out the first phone with an in-display fingerprint sensor in the X20 Plus UD. At Mobile World Congress, the company is showing off the Apex concept phone, which has a screen-to-body ratio in excess of 98%, a half-screen in-display fingerprint sensor, and a retractable front camera.

Vivo's Apex concept phone has crazy tech to enable tiny bezels

The X20 Plus featured a fingerprint sensor near the bottom of the display, but the Apex takes that idea even further by allowing the entire bottom half of the screen to read your fingerprint. The larger surface area makes it easier to authenticate, and while the quoted 0.7ms time isn't as quick as traditional fingerprint sensors, the ability to just place your finger on your phone's screen and unlock it is demonstrably cool.

The Apex has miniscule 1.8 mm bezels on three sides of the device — the smallest in the industry, according to the company — with the bottom bar at 4.3mm. Vivo says microchips mounted directly to the flexible circuit board allowed the company to trim down the bezels even further, with the device featuring an OLED panel.

The bezel-less design also sees the traditional front camera make way for the "8MP Elevating Front Camera." The camera module is hidden in the chassis, and pops up when you need to take a selfie. It takes just 0.8 seconds to "rise" up from the chassis, and retracts after use. And as there's no room for a standard earpiece, Vivo is rolling out Screen SoundCasting Technology, which makes the screen vibrate to produce sound.

This isn't the first time we've seen the tech — Sony's 2017 OLED 4K HDR TV (opens in new tab) has an "Acoustic Surface" that emits sound from the screen — but Vivo is the first to do so on a phone. Vivo has also retained the 3.5mm jack and included a DAC along with three amplifiers in the device.

As for an eventual launch, Vivo SVP Alex Feng said that the company is exploring possibilities:

Apex is an iteration of our constant pursuit of setting new industry standards and to deliver the ultimate mobile experience. From breakthroughs in audio, photography to In-Display Fingerprint Scanning Technology, Vivo has remained committed to realizing our vision for future smartphones.What we showcase in this concept phone is only a fraction of our innovation pipeline. We will continue to explore all possibilities to bring the best possible experiences to our consumers.

The Apex in its current form is unlikely to be a retail product, but the phone is a proving ground for upcoming biometric authentication technologies. It's possible we'll see the half-screen in-display fingerprint sensor make its way into a phone in the coming years; and as for the retractable camera, I'd sure love to see one in a consumer phone at some point.

What do you guys make of the Apex?

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

  • Don't sleep on this brand
  • Isn't this the brand that makes Chinese-focused software that never see an update? With hardware that rarely gets released outside of Asia?
  • 6 of Vivo X series phones are getting the Oreo update. So..
  • It is a concept. No point getting excited. I am concerned by the "bezel-free" trend. From an engineering point of view they give some strength that is lost. In use, they stop you accidentally touching the screen. That camera is just crying out to be snapped off, or to extend in a pocket, or to just break or jam.
  • It's not a concept, almost ready for mass production. Check this hands on video out
  • And, the first time you drop it while taking a selfie.....
  • Suck it iPhone X
  • Sharp Aquos Crystal used the screen for sound as well