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This phone's camera pops up like toast to take your selfie

The Apex can also read two fingerprints you scan on-screen.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Our eyes nearly jumped out of our heads when we first saw Vivo's prototype phone that unlocks when you place your finger right on the screen. Now that the fingerprint reader is real, Vivo, a Chinese company based out of Shenzhen, has upped the ante with three wild features on its concept Apex phone.

Now Playing: Watch this: Vivo's Apex concept phone rises to the challenge

1. Pop-up selfie camera

It all starts with a massive 6-inch screen that has whittled the bezels to an impossible 1.8mm on three sides and 4.3mm on the bottom. The frame around the face is so slim, there's not even room for the front-facing camera.

This is where the first cool concept part comes in. Flip over the front-facing camera and in 0.8 seconds an 8-megapixel lens rises up from the phone's top edge. Boom, that's your selfie camera. (There's still a regular dual-camera setup on the back, though.)

The practicality of a pop-up camera is iffy. The lens rises fairly slowly in the prototype, so you wouldn't be able to take pics on the fly. A mechanical camera also introduces one more part that can get stuck, wear out or break. I'd worry about that if this were a production device, but concept phones are all about creativity and the learning process.

2. In-screen fingerprint scanner for two prints


Even more secure than scanning one fingerprint? Scanning two.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The second unusual feature appears on the screen itself. Vivo has expanded the in-screen fingerprint reader. On the Apex, the target takes up almost half the bottom of the phone, instead of just a small circle. That opens all sorts of doors to simultaneously scan two fingerprints for added security, or place your finger down at any odd angle, instead of hitting it perfectly dead center.

It does scooch up higher on the screen than the first in-screen scanner, but lifting my thumb to use it one-handed wasn't much trouble.

In theory, you could even have two people lay down prints, say to authorize an app overriding parental controls, but that's just me speculating.

3. Vibrating audio

The third unusual ingredient has to do with audio. Vivo gave the Apex OLED panels that vibrate to create the sound for your videos, calls and gaming. 

Other phones have tried similar sound conduction techniques, including the Xiaomi Mi Mix, which used a fancy-sounding "cantilever ceramic piezoelectric actuator" to deliver sound. In other words, the body vibrated. 

Vivo calls its version SoundCasting, and the speakerphone demo we got on the prototype sounded loud and rich.

Vivo Apex concept phone specs

  • 6-inch edge-to-edge OLED display with 1.8mm bezel on top and sides and 4.3 mm on the bottom.
  • Screen resolution: 2,160x1,080 pixels
  • 8-megapixel front-facing camera
  • In-screen fingerprint reader supports dual fingerprint recognition
  • Dual rear camera
  • Hi-Fi audio chip creates more room for the battery by consolidating the DAC and three amplifiers into one

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