Every year the Chinese smartphone manufacturer Vivo releases a concept phone to show off what its research and development department is up to. They were the first to show us an in-display fingerprint scanner, a quick and safe pop-up selfie camera and extreme waterfall displays. The 2020 Vivo concept phone is showing off the world’s first smartphone with ‘gimbal camera.’
What they call the APEX concept range, the latest version is showing off advances in wireless charging, the display and that ‘gimbal camera’ in conjunction with the rest of the rear facing setup.
Let’s focus on the cameras, starting with a new periscope camera on the back. It comes in at 16MP, but the more important spec is the continuous optical zoom ranging from 5x to 7.5x. Periscope zoom cameras seem to becoming mainstream now. Pioneered by the Huawei P30 Pro, it has also been implemented by the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra. But having the capability of 7.5x optical zoom is certainly a first and could change this feature from mostly gimmicky to really useful.
Below the periscope zoom camera you will find the 48MP ‘gimbal camera,’ which is rather fascinating. We’re not completely sure how this hardware works, but the Vivo concept phone includes some kind of gimbal structure into and around the lens. According to the company, this “achieves optical stabilisation in the front-back and left-right inclined directions with enhanced performance.”
In practice, this will work more like OIS (optical image stabilisation) pushed to the max, rather than an actual gimbal. There simply isn’t enough space in such a thin package to include an actual gimbal for stabilisation purposes. Tests done on the Vivo concept phone claims it extends the stabilisation angle by 200 percent compared to traditional OIS.
From a software perspective, Vivo says that the cameras will also have the ability to remove people from the background of your shot in real time. This is intended to remove photobombers from your well though-out photos (whether they meant to be there or not). Vivo claims this feature will work “no matter how complicated the background environment is,” which we’ll believe through real-world tests.
As mentioned, there are some upgrades to the screen and wireless charging as well, but the camera concepts are what is getting us really excited. It would be great to see these features coming to production models in 2020, if it works as claimed.