Galaxy Z Fold 3 under-display camera explained

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 under-display camera
Samsung has just announced the Galaxy Z Fold 3, a phone that's notable in many ways but one of the more intriguing features that we haven't seen thus far is the under-display camera that debuted on the device. Surely, technically it's not the very first phone flaunting such a functionality, but it's the first foldable phone with an under-display camera. How has Samsung achieved such a feat? Let's explore the under-display camera in more detail.

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Galazy Z Fold 3 under-display camera: What is it?

If you have been living under a rock, yes, the inner display of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 comes with a surprise - a small camera under the display. It's covered with a thin, coarse mesh of pixels that work as intended when the camera is not in use, essentially camouflaging underneath the screen. The pixel layer on top of the camera does a relatively good job at blending with the rest of the regular AMOLED display, but if you take the raw specs into consideration, the camera will hardly impress you. That's not true for the Galaxy Z Fold 3 camera, which seemingly does a pretty versatile job.

It's merely a 4MP camera, which is a paltry resolution in late 2021, even for a selfie camera. The last time a Galaxy flagship came with a similar camera was the Galaxy S6-series, which had a 5MP selfie camera. What's more, to facilitate for the decreased amount of light that hits the camera due to the extra pixel layer above it, Samsung has had to use a large F1.8 aperture with big 20micron camera pixels that can essentially get hit by more light. 

Here are the under-display camera specs of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 at a glance:

  • 4MP resolution
  • F1.8 aperture
  • 80-degree field of view
  • 2-micron pixels

Galaxy Z Fold 3 under-display camera: How hidden is it?

Kudos to Samsung - even in its first generation, the under-display camera is relatively well-hidden from plain sight. Surely, when you open the camera app and switch to selfie mode, it "pops up". Otherwise, when you're using the phone as normal, the pixels above the camera form a mesh that's either easy to spot or blends in, depending on the way you look at it.

What do I mean? Well, if you stare and "hunt" for the erroneous display area with your eyes, you will have an easy time spotting it. I mean, it kind of sticks out if you want to see it. However, similar to many optical illusions, if you let your eyes roam freely across the large 7.6-inch display, your brain does a really good job at eliminating the under-display camera and ignoring its existence. That's true for white backgrounds, but if you view colorful content, your mileage may vary.

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Admittedly, the area which hides away the camera looks worse in pictures and much better in real life. The angle also matters - looking at it from the side is objectively worse than gazing at it head on.  

I have no qualms with the under-display camera and after seeing it in real life, I'm convinced that improved versions of this will become the de facto standard in the very near future. Despite this one being a glorified proof of concept and working as intended, it still has to get better in order to be ready for the mainstream. The camera resolution and quality have to improve, as well as the display mesh needs to get denser so that it becomes truly invisible. Of course, that's the endgame for selfie cameras, so rest assured we'll get there, though not necessarily early next year.

Galaxy Z Fold 3 under-display camera: How it compares against a regular selfie camera?

So, how does the under-display trooper fair against the external selfie camera of the Z Fold 3, which is a regular selfie camera with up-to-date specs. The hidden snapper doesn't produce very detailed selfies, which look unnaturally dated and over-processed. That's the thing - you probably wouldn't want it for regular selfies, but for video calls only, where it would probably do just fine.

Well, here go a couple of samples taken with the under-dislpay camera of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 in our COVID-altered reality. The selfie on the left is taken with  the under-display camera whereas the one on the right is taken with the external selfie camera.

Here are a couple more samples that show the under-screen camera in action.

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