Pop-out camera, in-screen speaker give the Vivo Apex a near bezel-less design

The smartphone bezel is slowly disappearing — but Vivo is claiming the smallest bezel yet in a concept smartphone called the Apex FullView introduced on February 25. The smartphone manages to squeeze a screen onto a mere 1.8mm top and side bezel by trading the front-facing camera for a retractable camera and building a speaker into the display — and even using half the screen for fingerprint scanning.

Vivo says the Apex’s bezel is the thinnest in the industry with 1.8mm on the top and sides and 4.3mm on the bottom of the smartphone. If that bottom bezel can be squeezed down to 1.8mm before the concept phone becomes a consumer product, Vivo says the screen would take up over 98 percent of the smartphone face.

Vivo packs three new design concepts into the Apex in order to shrink that bezel. First, that front-facing camera no longer takes up space at the front of the phone. Instead, the eight-megapixel camera pops out of the top of the smartphone and retracts when you’re not shooting selfies. The proximity sensor and ambient light sensor, the tools that tell the camera what auto settings to use, are also hidden, removing that traditionally larger top edge. Vivo says the camera pops out in 0.8 seconds.

The Apex also eliminates the traditional speaker — instead, what the company is calling Screen SoundCasting Technology sends out vibrations from the display itself. This isn’t the first method to permit makers to ditch the speaker for a larger screen, but Vivo says SoundCasting creates a more balanced audio while also requiring less battery compared to other audio options on smartphones with minimal bezels.

Vivo is also upping its in-display fingerprint sensor by using half the screen for fingerprint scanning. The change means the phone can be unlocked by placing a finger anywhere on the bottom half of the screen, Vivo says, while users could also add more security using a two-finger unlock option.

Besides the nearly bezel-free screen, the Vivo Apex uses a new design that requires less space dedicated to circuitry inside. The company says that design change could allow for more features, such as a larger battery.

The Vivo Apex FullView is currently just a concept — but a working one that Vivo has on display during Mobile World Congress. Watch for hands-on impressions of the concept phone as coverage of MWC continues.