Last week at Mobile World Congress, a concept video of the Vivo Apex caught a lot of attention. The concept phone had a lot of cool tricks, including a pop-up selfie camera. By building the camera into the chassis like this, it allows for a completely bezel-less design yet also eliminates the much loved or hated “Notch”. Now it seems we have a bit more clarity on this design from a patent perspective thanks to Essential’s Andy Rubin.
In a Tweet over the weekend, Mr. Rubin pointed to a patent that is in his name, along with others, that is held by Essential. That patent points out the pop-up selfie camera design and the patent for it was granted on August 15, 2017.
While it is important to note that Andy Rubin and Essential own the patent for this style of camera, two things have to be kept in mind. First, Vivo didn’t violate any patents. They produced a concept video and while a concept device may well exist somewhere, until they actually produce the device, there is no harm-no foul. Second, it doesn’t mean that the design will make it into the Essential Phone 2 or a future device. As you can imagine, this type of design has some challenges. There is the mechanical mechanisms of the motors to raise & lower the camera but also things like making the slot in which it fits into water and dust resistant.
What is interesting is that this design does seem to have interest. The push for bezel-less designs continues to grow and companies are getting close. But in order for there to be a selfie camera, you have to either move the camera out of the front glass, as this design does, or create a Apple-esque notch on the front of the device. As we saw at MWC, manufactures don’t seem to be afraid of the notch design but consumers are very binary on it for the most part. They either love it or hate it.
Could we see this design in 2018? It’s possible and it is possible that another manufacture will license the design from Essential so it may not be the company themselves that make it.