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Vivo will actually sell a smartphone with a pop-up front camera

  • The Vivo Nex with the camera popped up.
  • The Vivo Nex is so high tech it lives on the Moon.
  • The back of the phone with the camera out.
  • There's a USB-C port and a moderate bezel on the bottom.
  • Did we mention it has a headphone jack?

As smartphone makers work to maximize screen space on the front of the phone, there is a continual question of what to do with the front-facing camera. Companies like Samsung reserve a large portion of bezel along the top of the device for components like the camera, while more and more smartphone makers have followed Apple's lead and carved a notch out of the top of the screen.

Chinese smartphone maker Vivo is launching a device with another solution: a pop-up camera lens. The camera is hidden most of the time, but open the camera app and the front camera will mechanically rise out of the top edge of the device.

At Mobile World Congress, Vivo showed off a "concept" phone with this feature called the Vivo Apex. It had a nearly all-screen front, pop-up camera, and an in-screen fingerprint reader. It seemed like something that wasn't mass producible and was mostly made for attention at a crowded smartphone show. A few months later, though, and the company has reworked the concept into the Vivo Nex. Vivo claims the Nex will actually be for sale in China for ¥4,498 ($700).

$700 gets you the premium version with a Snapdragon 845, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and a 4,000mAh battery. The display—which, remember, doesn't have a notch—is a 6.59-inch OLED panel with a 2316×1080 resolution. There is even a headphone jack. There's also a cheaper (~$600) Snapdragon 710 variant.

While just a pop-up camera would probably be enough to earn our attention, the Vivo Nex also has an in-screen fingerprint reader. Vivo has been beating just about everyone to this inevitable smartphone feature, with the first prototype demoed about a year ago. On the Nex, a small area at the bottom of the screen can scan your finger with an optical sensor.

We don't talk about Vivo much, but it is owned by BBK, the same company that owns OnePlus and Oppo. In the past, Vivo has mostly been yet another anonymous iPhone clone maker that occasionally makes headlines with "the world's thinnest smartphone." Even when separated from its sibling companies, Vivo usually ranks somewhere in the world-wide top five vendors. If it keeps doing more interesting things like this, we'll have to pay more attention!

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