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APEX 2019: Vivo’s buttonless concept smartphone that has no visible selfie camera

Vivo Apex 2019

Vivo has finally unveiled the APEX 2019, a concept smartphone that provides us a glimpse of what their future flagship might look like. As teased earlier, it gets a clean unibody design and unlike any conventional smartphone, it has no buttons.

Vivo is calling this approach the Super Unibody design and it features a curved surface waterdrop exterior with no openings or seams for a minimalist appearance. Replacing the usual buttons is a Touch Sense technology which recognises both capacitive touch and pressure sensing. According to Vivo, the pressure sensors are able to tell if a user is pressing the frame and it can determine its position and amount of pressure accurately.

The APEX 2019 also lacks the traditional speaker grill and instead, it uses a Body SoundCasting technology. This feature was featured on last year’s Vivo NEX, where it vibrates the entire screen for audio. Since there are no visible ports, the APEX 2019 uses a MagPort for charging and data transfer. Interestingly, there’s no mention of fast and wireless charging.

Vivo is one of the first manufacturers to mass produce smartphones with an in-display fingerprint sensor. With the APEX 2019, they are taking a huge leap forward with a much larger sensor that almost covers the entire display. Utilising a Fingerprint Light function, a portion of the display will illuminate immediately your finger hovers close to it. This will allow the specific area of the screen to light up in order to obtain a clear image of your finger.

With this implementation, users are able to access their favourite apps right from the lock screen since the phone can now unlock and launch the app instantly the moment you tap on the icon.

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The full specs of the device isn’t revealed yet but Vivo has shared that it will be powered by Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 855 processor with 12GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. This is also their first smartphone to support 5G connectivity. To minimise its footprint in order to house the 5G module, the APEX 2019 is assembled with a Duplex PCB design which claims to reduce space utilisation by 20%.

The Vivo APEX 2019 was just announced in China last week and they will be showcasing the device at MWC 2019 that’s happening next month. Having a buttonless smartphone isn’t entirely new since HTC had introduced a similar product with the HTC U12+. From our experience, the U12+ was quite frustrating to use as you’re required to apply more pressure for the buttons to work. However, it appears that Vivo might have solved this issue with its capacitive + pressure sensor combo.

Vivo is always known as a selfie-centric brand and what’s interesting is there’s no visible front cameras on the APEX 2019. There’s no sliding mechanism or even a secondary display at the back to overcome the selfie camera conundrum. As shown in the image above, there’s also no punch-hole on the display. The only cameras we can see are at the back which is said to be a 12MP + 13MP shooter.

So, how would people take selfies with the APEX 2019? Could it this be a daring approach to kill the selfie camera for the sake of design? Perhaps, there’s a front camera that’s hidden underneath the screen. What do you guys think of this new concept device? Let us know in the comments below.

Alexander Wong