Had Mobile World Congress not been canceled because of coronavirus fears, we would have been playing with Vivo's Apex 2020 concept phone. Like the company's previous Apex concepts, the Apex 2020 comes with a number of impressive mobile innovations: a 6.45-inch "waterfall" display with two sides that curve 120-degrees toward the back, an in-display selfie camera (yep, no notch!), and 7.5x optical zoom (not the hybrid stuff like on the Galaxy S20 Ultra), and 48-megapixel "gimbal camera" that's inspired by a chameleon's eyeball.
What the hell is a 'gimbal camera'? – It means more stabilization for the main camera. According to Engadget, the wobbling camera was inspired by a chameleon's eyeball, which "steadily rotates" to help the reptile lock onto its prey; similarly, the Apex 2020's "gimbal camera" rotates and reportedly "extends the stabilization angle by 200 percent."
With every phone-maker cramming in larger image sensors with more megapixels into their flagship phones, there's definitely a need for better stabilization for both photo and video. I also pray the autofocus system is up to par because it isn't on the S20 Ultra.
About those specs — There's no mistake about it: the Apex 2020 is a spec phone. The 16-megapixel camera is underneath the display. Many Android phones are expected to adopt these new in-display selfie cameras as they shift away from pop-up cameras with motorized parts, notches, and hole punches. And the periscope lens is capable of 5-7.5x continuous optical zoom.
The concept phone has 5G and is powered by a Snapdragon 865 chip and comes with 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. The display is an AMOLED screen with 2,330 x 1,080 resolution and there are no ports (charging is done with fast wireless charging using 60W charger) or buttons (volume controls are pressure-sensitive ones embedded into the sides of the screen).
Vivo says there's a "voice-tracking" feature for focusing in on a subject's audio while shooting video, a "photo bomb" feature that it claims removes people from the background of videos in real-time — both sound too good to be true. There's also improved "SoundCasting" technology that delivers stereo sound without needing grille cutouts; I've tried previous versions of this sound-reflecting-off-the-screen technology and yeah, it still needs work.
Fiction to reality — The Apex 2020 may be a concept phone that will never be produced, but Vivo has a history of bringing many of its Apex features to real phones. It was the first to demo a functional in-display fingerprint reader in a concept phone a few years back and then ship it in a consumer device. It was also one of the first to bring a pop-up selfie camera, a "waterfall" display, and increased optical zoom to real phones.
Don't be surprised to see some (or all) of the Apex 2020's features make their way to future devices. The screen doesn't fold in half, but damn, Vivo's got some exciting new mobile innovations coming.