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What's in store for smartphones of the future? A quick Q&A with Vivo

By Liu Hongzuo - 27 May 2020

APEX 2020

The Vivo APEX 2020 concept phone. Source: Vivo.

What would a cutting-edge smartphone have, in terms of hardware and features? What is the next step up for smartphone cameras? What truly defines a smartphone worthy of the future?

We got a glimpse of what to expect from Vivo's reveal of their APEX 2020 concept phone announcement that showcases mobile components and features that eventually find their way in real-world Vivo devices. But is the race to define a future phone just about who manages to cram a new feature?


To find out more, we spoke with Harry Hong, General Manager of Products at Vivo, to learn more about how the Chinese mobile tech company perceives technological advancement in the smartphone space, and what helps them define a phone worthy of many tomorrows to come.

Harry Hong, General Manager of Products at Vivo.

Note: Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Tell us more about some of the APEX 2020 features. Does the Gimbal-Stabilising Main Camera really use a gimbal?

The main camera module of the APEX 2020 houses a miniature gimbal structure. Similar to the rotation of a chameleon's eyeball, the feature's structure uses both mechanical stabilisation and algorithmic focus tracking to allow a user to follow the video subject sharply. It significantly reduces the blurring caused by shaky hands. Vivo’s lab test results have also showed the stabilization angle of the miniature Gimbal-Stabilizing Structure is 200% higher than an ordinary Optical Image Stabilization (OIS).


Which design elements of the APEX 2020 do you believe would be most realistic in incorporating it into a real-world device?

Unlike concept cars that exist only in sci-fi films, the APEX series historically featured a number of pioneering technologies that were later popularised in the market. As Vivo continues our commitment into materialising these new technologies, we also conduct extensive research on consumer habits and market needs to analyse the demand for these features.


Why do some innovative smartphone features fail when they hit the market? What should these smartphone companies focus on, instead?

At Vivo, we focus on creating features based on consumer needs and demands, and to also solve their pain points. We constantly evaluate consumer demands and market needs before we decide which innovations should be materialised into future models. Vivo believes that addressing and predicting consumers’ needs, demands and pain points should always be key priorities for all smartphone makers.


How will the demand for front camera technologies continue to evolve? What does Vivo foresee as the next significant front camera milestone?

From creating the first Elevating Front Camera to the latest In-Display Camera of the APEX 2020, we know that the "invisible" front camera is an innovation that has been on the industry's radar and will continue to do so in the coming years.

Periscope Zoom in the APEX 2020. Source: Vivo.


What do you think consumers would also look out for alongside 5G capabilities in their next phone, especially given how most countries are not 5G-ready yet?

We see a growing demand for connected devices and devices that complement their smartphones, such as AR glasses, smartwatches, smart headphones, and more. In addition to improving our smartphones, we are also working towards creating accessories that will enhance our users' lives in ways we previously could not. Users prefer things that help to improve different aspects of their lives, and Vivo wants to be part of that holistic experience.

When it comes to 5G, we can expect a gradual expansion of usage scenarios, especially when it comes to meeting consumer needs. To give an example, Singaporeans love travelling overseas, but they worry about housekeeping matters. With the right setup via a smartphone with 5G capabilities, they can get peace of mind when they are on holidays. Therefore, Vivo will continue exploring more scenarios of private 5G terminals to accelerate 5G application, starting from standardisation and technology development.


What do you think are practical, sustainable ways to narrow the expectations of having long-lasting devices that are aesthetically pleasing?

It is no surprise that consumer expectations are always on the rise, fuelled by the creation of new technologies and the wide variety of choices. These expectations led us to understand that smartphones are seen as both stylish accessories and reliable tools at the same time. One of the ways Vivo continues to innovate to meet these expectations realistically is by placing our users at the forefront of any innovations. APEX 2020's periscope zoom is a prime example of how we acknowledge these needs for a slim phone body and cutting-edge features, creating a phone camera that allows the lens module to move back and forth along its rail to change focal length.


HWZ: We can't wait to see what features from Vivo's APEX 2020 concept phone make it to the market later this year! Check out what else the concept phone boast over here.

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