Smartphone innovation tends to come from all over the place. One manufacturer will figure our a better button placement, another will push camera boundaries, another might innovate in AI. Over time, these small improvements snowball and begin to appear in more and more smartphones, pushing overall utility and quality upwards.

It’s rare, then, for a company to step up to the plate with a device (available or otherwise) which they think represents a significant step into the future of smartphones utilising as-yet-unreleased technologies.

At MWC though, Vivo have done just that by showing off the Apex Fullview, their glimpse into the future.

Although not heading to market anytime soon, Vivo believes the Apex is what we can expect from our smartphones in the coming years. So what can we look forward to?

Well, we can kiss goodbye to the fingerprint reader. That is, the fingerprint reader as we know it. Vivo recently introduced the first smartphone with an under-screen fingerprint reader, and whilst that’s poised to help manufacturers shift towards all-screen designs, it’s a technology that’s limited by users having to place their finger in a very specific spot.

front and back

Vivo’s Apex moves things forward yet another step by introducing the half-screen fingerprint reader, which allows users to place their finger virtually anywhere on the bottom half of the screen and have the device authenticate them. You can even enable dual-finger login, for heightened security. We’re not at MWC, but early reports are that it works¬†brilliantly,¬†so don’t be too surprised if your next major smartphone purchase lets you log in with a touch anywhere on the bottom half of the screen.

With only 1.8mm bezels around the top and sides of the screen, the Apex has no room for either a traditional earpiece or a front-facing camera. For Xiaomi, these problems were solved by making the phone vibrate as a speaker and moving the front-facing camera to the bottom edge.

Full screen device

Vivo? Well, they moved the front-facing camera to the top of the phone to a tiny pop-up which appears when you activate the camera and lowers itself when not in use. For the speaker, Vivo has turned the glass into a speaker which vibrates during calls so you can actually hear the person on the other end. The jury’s still out on that one, but it’s certainly a solution to the problem.

As of yet, none of these technologies has made their way to production devices, but with the Apex, they’ve been proven to be viable. Vivo won’t be drawn into when these features will trickle into their consumer devices, but in the race for Chinese smartphone supremacy, getting left behind isn’t an option. Our guess? Sooner, rather than later.

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Ten fingers, five senses, one man, loads of Chinese smartphones.

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