In February, Chinese smartphone maker Vivo invited me into its Mobile World Congress booth in Barcelona to show me the Apex, a concept phone that was essentially all screen on the front. With its slide-out selfie camera and in-display fingerprint sensor, it was the sort of thing you don’t expect to see on the shelves for years.
And yet, here it is. On Tuesday, at an event in Shanghai, China, Vivo launched the NEX — essentially a polished, market-ready version of the Apex, with tons of rad new tech that make a notch-less, nearly bezel-less screen possible.
Vivo NEX has a 6.59-inch, Super AMOLED display, with a 91.24% screen-to-body ratio, the highest ever seen on a phone. Aside from nearly non-existent bezels on the sides and a truly small bezel on the bottom, the NEX’s front is just screen.
So where did the speaker, the front camera and the fingerprint scanner go?
To do away with all the things that typically need to be on a smartphone’s front side, Vivo implemented several daring technological solutions.
The fingerprint scanner is under the display, as seen on the Vivo X21. The 8-megapixel selfie camera slides out from the top of the phone — it sounds clunky, but I’ve tried it out on the Apex and it was quite usable, protruding and retracting in under a second.
Finally, Vivo uses something called Screen SoundCasting Technology to turn the screen into a speaker, which not only removes the need for a traditional speaker, but (Vivo claims) makes the sound better, with more powerful bass and smoother treble. Again, the Apex’s screen/speaker sounded great to my ears, with the added benefit that it worked the same no matter which part of the screen I put my ear to.
As for the rest of the specs, the Vivo NEX has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, an Adreno 630 graphics processor, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, a 4,000mAh battery and a (slightly disappointing) dual 12/5-megapixel camera on the back. On the software side, the NEX comes with Vivo’s AI camera smarts and Jovi voice assistant with a dedicated AI button.
Vivo says the NEX will be available in China; the timing of the launch, other markets and pricing were not revealed.