Andy Rubin's Essential Phone didn't quite live up to expectations in setting the Android world on fire, but that doesn't mean they've thrown in the towel. A quick trip to the US Patent Office unearths an interesting patent filed by Essential, detailing a pop-up camera that would get around the issue of the notch on the screen.
The report shows that Essential filed for a patent back in 2016, and it was granted last year. The patent has diagrams detailing a device with a cutout on the top of the phone. On demand, this cut-out pops up to reveal a camera facing forward. The patent describes it as an "apparatus and method for maximizing the display area of a mobile device." This is certainly a huge improvement over the notch method that Essential used for its first smartphone, which left an unsightly little notch at the top of the phone, similar to the method later employed by Apple with the iPhone X.
The plot thickens, however. The patent that was granted to Essential bears a striking and uncanny resemblance to a device which Vivo featured at the Mobile World Congress last month: the Vivo APEX. We've seen pop-up cameras before, but the design in the patent and the design used in the Vivo APEX is so eerily similar that it's hard to believe they were developed independently. Both have the same squarish pop-up module with a circular lens inside, and it's a dead ringer for the diagrams in the patent.
It's interesting that the Vivo APEX was actually tweeted to Andy Rubin, and Rubin tweeted back a link to the Essential patent filed back in May 2016. That begs the question: will Vivo be able to legally go forward with the Vivo APEX, or will Essential file an injunction on their use of the design? One thing's for sure, if the Vivo APEX becomes the next big thing you can be sure there will be repercussions to follow.