Is this what Huawei's next-gen flagships will look like?
A display on the rear and a periscope-like camera
Like Huawei’s current-gen flagships, the smartphone described in the patent includes a triple-camera setup on the rear. But rather than being contained within a square-shaped camera module or aligned vertically, Huawei has opted for a horizontal camera layout.
Because this is simply a design patent, the functionality of each rear camera isn’t specified. But from the shape of the right sensor, it’s easy to determine that it supports Huawei’s new 10x lossless zoom technology. The central and left sensors, on the other hand, will presumably act as the main camera and wide-angle alternatives.
To the left of the cameras sit a laser autofocus system and an LED flash.
The reason for this horizontally-aligned camera layout is what sits directly beneath it. Instead of the typical empty space, the Huawei smartphone described boasts a unique secondary display on the rear.
When the device is placed face-down on a table, the small panel will presumably act as an always-on display, showing relevant information (such as the time and weather) to users at all times. The panel should also display media controls and a variety of quick settings.
Another valuable feature could be its usefulness when it comes to taking selfies. Through the secondary display, users should be able to access the rear cameras in order to take photos. This will grant access to a wide range of features that aren’t typically supported by front-facing sensors.
And edge-to-edge display and 3D facial recognition
Like Huawei’s upcoming P30 series, the smartphone described in this patent also boasts an edge-to-edge display. The panel in question features almost perfectly uniform bezels and a miniature notch above the display which is barely noticeable.
In most cases, display notches are home to the selfie camera(s) – this is the case on the Huawei Mate 20 series and the upcoming P30 lineup. But as a result of the second display’s access to the rear cameras, this sensor is no longer necessary.
From the look of things, Huawei has replaced the front-facing selfie snapper with a dedicated Time-of-Flight sensor. This means the device in question likely supports 3D facial recognition. However, if users prefer the more traditional fingerprint unlock method, an in-display sensor is presumably fitted beneath the display.
The smartphone in question also retains the 3.5mm headphone jack, a bottom-firing speaker, and a USB Type-C port. Along the metal frame, a volume rocker has been placed in addition to a power key and what could be a dedicated shutter button.
Will this smartphone ever be released?
As with all design patents, there’s no guarantee Huawei will ever release such a device. But if it does, there’s a chance Huawei will plan a limited production run initially in order to test the market’s interest.
If Huawei is pleased with the results, the Chinese brand could move ahead with plans and eventually apply the design to the next-gen Mate 30 series or save it for flagships that are further down the product roadmap.
In the case of it being launched as a premium device, the smartphone pictured would likely be released as the regular variant. The Pro model is instead expected to gain a curved OLED display, as expected from the upcoming Huawei P30 Pro, and could ditch the headphone jack.
The Pro smartphone may also gain a Time-of-Flight camera on the rear which would help improve the quality of bokeh images.