Chinese smartphone manufacturer Vivo is one of the pioneers of pop-up cameras that it embraced and continues to perfect on its road toward truly bezel-less handsets but the company now appears to have reached the limits of existing technologies and is looking at ways to improve such solutions beyond the scope of what a single imaging sensor can achieve.
To that end, Vivo already envisioned a dual front-facing camera that pops out of a handsets body, not unlike how the selfie module of the Vivo NEX and the newer V15Pro operates. The electronics maker even patented one such solution alredy, which is where the sketches seen above originate from.
First spotted by Dutch tech blog MobielKopen, the newly uncovered patent was awarded by China's National Intellectual Property Administration, more commonly known the Chinese Patent Office. The agency allowed Vivo to register the concept as its protected invention last Friday, close to a year after the firm originally approached it with its designs; the premier documentation associated with Vivo's dual pop-up cameras dates back to May 23, 2018.
The contraption serving as the basis of the technology is hardly revolutionary but appears to be a strong indication of where the industry will be going next, at least the part that's heavily influenced by Vivo, i.e. companies primarily concerned with targeting audiences from the Far East.
Vivo remains a relatively unknown name in the West where the mobile industry hasn't necessarily been maturing for longer but has certainly traversed a radically different path. Looking at Vivo's key markets, concepts such as modern flip phones and aggressive airbrush-style beautification face filters are enjoying significant popularity and raw processing power is often overlooked for pure value. Such an environment is much more open toward experimentation and it's difficult to imagine a contraption like a pop-up camera generating so much traction outside of Asia, to the point that manufacturers decided to pursue it as a viable mainstream option and ultimately managed to develop it as such.
Engineers in the West frequently have a different view of things and want to avoid adding physical complexity to consumer electronics at all costs. Regarding the example of pop-up cameras, while such ideas were explored by some western companies in the past, most such experiments ended with a conclusion that more moving parts equal less structural integrity and introduce new easily breakable components to an already sensitive device category (sensitive in the sense few handset models claim to be capable of surviving even a modest amount of mechanical damage).
The likes of OPPO and Vivo have been unencumbered by such ways of thinking in the past which now led them to a situation wherein they're selling some of the most unique ranges of Android devices on the planet. The high-profile OPPO F11 Pro was officially announced just earlier this week as Vivo's sister company presented yet another value-oriented phablet with a pop-up camera. The overall shape of the handset is likely to be used for the OnePlus 7 as well, though that particular model should pack top-of-the-line internals.
As for pop-up cameras, they remain one of only two realistic alternatives to polarizing display notches, with the other option being literal screen holes like the ones Samsung drilled into the panels found its handsets from its newly launched Galaxy S10 line. Whether more handsets aimed at the West end up embracing pop-up cameras remains to be seen but Vivo seems to be rather keen on leading this aspect of mobile R&D moving forward and could eventually become the first tech giant to commercialize such a rising dual-lens setup.