2018 is shaping up to be the year of the smartphone notch, as phone makers follow the lead of Essential and Apple and increase screen space by eliminating the bezels on the left and right sides of a phone’s front-facing camera.

Chinese phone maker Vivo showed a different solution at Mobile World Congress last month: a pop-up camera that hides away when you don’t need it and springs up when you do.

But it turns out Vivo may not have been the first company with that idea. Essential filed an application for a patent for a pop-out smartphone camera in 2016.

The patent is described as an “apparatus to maximize the display area of a mobile device,” and Essential was awarded the patent last year.

At the time the company didn’t make any public announcements, but Essential founder Andy Rubin tweeted a link to the patent recently in response to a comment about Vivo’s phone.

Does this mean Essential is also planning to release a phone with a pop-out camera? Not necessarily.

Essential’s first phone is a slim-bezeled smartphone with a display that wraps around a camera notch. It’s possible the company considered other ways to build a nearly all-screen phone, including the pop-out camera, but dismissed them in favor of the notch design.

But it’s also possible the company does plan to release another phone in the future that features a camera that hides inside the phone when it’s not in use.

Maybe 2019 will be the year of the pop-out camera?

Or maybe Essential’s patent will keep other companies from releasing phones with this design… at least in the United States. But since the patent is filed with the US Patent Office and Vivo doesn’t tend to sell its phones in the US, it’s unlikely that Essential’s patent will have much impact on Vivo’s decision about if and when to release the Vivo Apex.

via /r/Android

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13 replies on “Vivo isn’t only phone maker thinking about pop-up cameras”

  1. The only major issue (for my use case) is whether this pop-out camera will function as both a front AND back camera. I like the idea of a pop-out as a front-facing camera (since I only use occasionally) and the privacy protection it solves on OSes riddled with confusing permissions and/or security issues.

    The back camera is an entirely different beast. I want optical zoom with nextGen image stabilization, low-light abilities, (infrared:-)?) – ie, a super camera. Right now, this would mean a fatter phone and possibly additional lenses. If it means a fatter phone, I’m all in. A dual-function (back/front camera) would drag us back to the stone age.

  2. It will most unlikely break, but if it breaks, is that such a bad thing? Less selfies in the world.

  3. I’m quite confident a company like Vivo (who has a great reputation for having reliable hardware), will figure out the mechanical issues before releasing a product with this design. This is a non-issue unless you’re a selfie-obsessed tweener who pops that camera out a hundred times per day–even then, companies that release products like this run simulations where they test these parts millions of times.

    Look at the surface book! All you haters said the same thing when they released the surface book….and this was almost never an issue. The surface book may have 99 problems but mechanical issues ain’t one of them, ya turds.

    1. I never understood why people like you assume groups of people are the same to try to put together your own false narrative.

      As a single counter example, I never thought the Surface Book would have any issues. However, I do think this pop-out camera can have issues. I remember when I used to have a Sony digital camera with a lens that goes in/out to adjust its focus/zoom. Someone dropped it on rug about a foot high while the lens was out. The retracting feature broke from that. Phones slip out of people’s hands often enough as well…

      1. I’ve been following this site for years and I remember quite clearly what people were saying about the surface book’s click mechanism.

  4. Doesn’t seem practical. I’m guessing there’ll be a lot of broken cameras if an OEM actually releases a product like this.

    Personally, I’d be fine without a front-facing camera at all. However, I realize that I’m just some dude on the Internet and front-facing cameras has become a widely used feature. I’m definitely not a representative sample of the larger smartphone market.

  5. I think there issue here is a little more complex. Moving parts are more prone to failure. Not to mention if you leave it out it would be vulnerable to hits. It’s possible essential or whoever decides to use it does so since if the camera stops working, you’ve essentially lost the ability to take selfies, and let’s face it, that would result in a large part of buyers being discontent. If you could dig it out yourself in a worst case scenario then maybe, maybe, it wouldn’t have too big of an impact.

    1. On the other hand, it protects the lens and prevents hackers from using your phone’s camera without your knowledge. Also, I’ve taken two selfies in my life, so a front facing camera is not a big deal for some users. Finally, I had a camera on a smartphone just quit working, so mechanical failure is not the only way a camera can become unusable.

      I will say though that if you take pictures frequently (e.g. five days a week), then the mechanical issues would become a concern.

      1. I wished for a bezel-less phone without a front facing camera but it seems pretty unlikely

      2. Yeah. I only take a few a year but neither of us are truly indicative of the masses if I’m not mistaken.

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