The camera in Vivo’s new APEX concept smartphone features a built-in “gimbal”

Mar 3, 2020

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

The camera in Vivo’s new APEX concept smartphone features a built-in “gimbal”

Mar 3, 2020

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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It’s amazing how small they can make tech these days. Vivo has unveiled its latest update on the APEX concept line. Famous for showing off some pretty insane concepts for future phones, many of their predictions have come true. Popup selfie cameras, under-screen fingerprint readers, and almost completely button-and-bezel-free designs.

In Vivo’s latest concept device, the front-camera has come back, sitting underneath the display, but the main rear-camera also sees a pretty significant new feature. Taking optical image stabilisation (OIS) to the next level, they’ve essentially built it into a gimbal.

YouTube video

While this likely won’t do away with the need for smartphone gimbals like those available from the likes of Zhiyun, Feiyutech, Moza, DJI and others, the 48-megapixel “gimbal camera” should offer significant performance increases over the current level of OIS technology found in even the most advanced smartphones today.

By embedding a micro gimbal-like structure, the main camera’s stabilization angle is 200% extended compared to the traditional OIS system. It achieves optical stabilization both in the front-back and left-right inclined directions, which largely keeps the integrity of the image. The design of this main camera also achieves stronger capacity for night photography.

A gimbal-like stabilised camera should indeed offer greater night photography promise, as you’ll be able to handhold the camera for longer without worrying too much about camera shake. Today, with exposures of potentially 2-3 seconds, even the best OIS systems found in smartphones can still struggle. This won’t be a magic bullet to solve that problem, but it should definitely help.

A second rear camera offers 5-7.5x continuous optical zoom, which Vivo claims is a world’s first and offers real-time focus.

On the front is another innovation that we’ve seen being developed by other companies lately, and that’s an in-display front camera. Essentially, a selfie camera hidden underneath the glass. No notch, no popup selfie camera, just hidden, out of the way. Oppo has been showing off some development samples, but they say the tech isn’t quite there yet. Has Vivo cracked it?

Another amusing yet useful inclusion is a “photobomb removal” feature, which uses computational photography to remove unwanted people from your images and replace them with the actual background. This would make a lot of people very happy, and as it would be a primarily software-based feature, something that other manufacturers would likely replicate quite quickly.

It’s as outlandish as we’d expect, and they haven’t really released much else in the way of specs or capabilities. As well as the cameras mentioned above, it has a 120° viewable 6.45″ screen, voice-tracking autofocus, and rapid wireless charging. But remember, this is just a concept phone. Whether Vivo can deliver on their promises or not remains to be seen, however, they are features that are almost certain to show up in devices from other manufacturers over the next year or two.

You can find out more about the Apex 5G on the Vivo website.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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