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This crazy smartphone comes with a built-in camera drone

Published Jul 1st, 2021 6:18PM EDT
Smartphone Camera Drone
Image: Andy Dean/Adobe

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Camera drones have become increasingly more sophisticated in recent years. They offer better, cheaper flying experiences, and they pack better cameras. Smartphones have improved significantly over the years, too, with the camera being the standout feature of most modern devices. But what if the two separate gadgets could be combined into a single device? A smartphone vendor from China thinks there’s space for a camera drone inside a traditional smartphone.

Vivo phones might not be widely available in your region, but the name must ring a bell. The Chinese handset maker made a splash with all sorts of intriguing concepts in the past few years. The Nex series introduced all-screen phones, devices without buttons, and smartphones with two screens in the past few years.

Put differently, Vivo belongs to BBK Electronics, the giant conglomerate that also owns OnePlus, Opp, and Realme.

Vivo’s newest concept is a smartphone that houses its own mini-drone. Dutch blog LetsGoDigital produced the following animation that tells you everything you need to do about the crazy smartphone camera drone contraption.

The images originate from a Vivo patent that the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) just awarded to the Chinese company. The invention is relatively new, as Vivo filed the patent only last December.

The smartphone camera drone


Smartphone Camera Drone
Animation shows a smartphone with a built-in camera drone. Image source: Vivo via LetsGoDigital

The smartphone camera drone has a housing at the top of the handset that opens up to release a mini camera drone. The flying device features four propellers, a standalone camera, and two cameras positioned in different places.

Just looking at the images, you might see everything that’s wrong with this particular type of gadget. The mini-drone occupies internal space that would otherwise be used for cameras or increasing the battery capacity. Also, the phone doesn’t appear to have any rear cameras of its own, so you’d have to take out the drone every time you need to take a photo.

Not to mention that any moving parts that give you access to the innards of a smartphone would also let water and dust in.

Then the camera drone might be too small for its own good. A gust of wind could be enough to endanger it. And the drone’s battery life will be limited.

But the prospect of having your own smartphone camera drone ready to take amazing selfies will trump all of that. You could have that tiny drone following you and your friends around for brief video and photo sessions. And that’s something no other phone could offer.

There’s no telling when and if Vivo will launch such a contraption. But the fact that a smartphone company is protecting this invention with a patent is quite telling. Maybe Vivo wants to launch smartphone camera drones in the not too distant future.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.