Vivo showed off a concept device at the Mobile World Congress 2018 last month called the Vivo Apex. The device has a bezel-less display in the true sense of the world and since the display panel covers the entire front, its solution for the front-facing camera involved a motorized popup mechanism that takes 0.8 seconds to bring up the selfie camera. It turns out that this idea was already patented by nascent smartphone manufacturer Essential.
Some of you might be aware that Essential is Andy Rubin’s company who is the co-founder of Android. The company’s Essential Phone hasn’t performed very well but that was to be expected since Essential is the new kid on the block.
Once Vivo had shown off its concept at MWC 2018, someone tweeted at Andy Rubin asking if he had seen the popup selfie camera mechanism. Rubin tweeted back with a link to a patent that was granted to his company in 2017. The patent titled “Apparatus and method to maximize the display area of a mobile device” was first filed by Essential in May 2016.
The images in the patent make it clear that Essential’s idea is the exact same thing that Vivo demonstrated with the Apex at MWC 2018 last month. There’s even a followup patent that’s currently pending approval.
However, just because Essential patented this implementation first doesn’t mean it’s going to use it. Companies have a habit of patenting technologies that they may or may not use. Vivo isn’t any trouble because the Apex is only a concept and it has no plans to bring it to market any time soon. However, one can imagine that Essential might like to have a word with Vivo before it decides to bring this to market.