Models pose with the Vivo X21 UD, the latest handset unveiled by Vivo, in Zhejiang province on March 19, 2018.
Opinion was mixed when Apple Inc ditched a fingerprint scanner to embrace face-recognition technology for the iPhone X. Consumers wonder what the 10th anniversary iPhone could have been if it had come with an under-display fingerprint scanner to preserve its hallmark while supporting a bezel-less screen.
Vivo, the third-largest smartphone vendor in China, has offered a possible answer with Vivo X21 UD, its latest handset unveiled this week. The product is part of the company's broader push to experiment with new technologies, amid mounting competition from Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and Xiaomi Corp.
The Vivo X21 UD boasts a full-screen display with a notch, a similar feature to the iPhone X. What helps it stand out from rival products is an under-display fingerprint scanner, located beneath an icon where a user can place a finger to unlock the device.
Priced at 3,598 yuan (8) in China, the X21 model highlights Vivo's efforts to promote innovation and an emphasis on research and development, said Zhao Dian, a product manager at Vivo.
Under-display fingerprint scanners are notorious for their high defect rates when matched to smartphone screens because of sophisticated manufacturing techniques. But Zhao said the company now has a production capacity which can make about a million smartphones with such a feature. Vivo started to explore under-display fingerprint scanners several years ago.
X21 runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor and its screen has a resolution of 2280×1080. It also comes with a slate of artificial intelligence features such as automatically grouping photos consumers have taken based on computer vision technology.
Shen Wei, CEO of Vivo, said the company sees AI as a fundamental tool to change how human beings interact with machines, and not just for mobile devices.
"We are using AI to upgrade almost every aspect of smartphones, such as operating system, photo-taking and battery-charging capabilities," Shen said.