TCL patents smartphone with "invisible" cameras inside a small hump

TCL patents smartphone with "invisible" cameras inside a small hump
With all the talk of foldable smartphones these days, the trend of phone manufacturers attempting to make "invisible" cameras possible has been pushed to the background. Most recently, we had the ZTE Axon 5G reveal, which is to be the first 5G smartphone with an under-display camera. And while that phone is expected to be officially introduced in September, and most likely won't make it outside of China, we now have a new "hidden camera" smartphone to look forward to from TCL.

Discovered by LetsGoDigital, a recent CNIPA (China National Intellectual Property Administration) design patent reveals that TCL has been working on its own smartphone design with under-display cameras.

This new TCL patent shows off a smartphone with round corners, similar to the iPhone 11. There's no notch though, and we can see a sizable hump on the top of its backside, inside of which are likely the selfie and main cameras. As suggested in the description of the patent – "Mobile phone - camera under the display" – the selfie camera that's facing the user is going to be right under the display. That means no teardrop notches or punch holes will be housing it, but the part of the display the camera is under would somehow become transparent, to let the selfie camera see through, when needed.


The rest of the phone looks fairly standard – with mostly symmetrical bezels, except for a slightly larger chin. The power and volume buttons are on the right side of the phone and a standard USB Type-C port is on the bottom. There's no visible headphone jack, suggesting at the very least that this may be a flagship smartphone. But we're yet to find out if the patent will actually turn into a real smartphone, and when.

It's reasonable to expect that phones with under-display cameras may be among next year's top trends, so it's no surprise that we periodically see such patents from Chinese manufacturers, including Oppo and Xiaomi. Early this year, OnePlus had a cool-looking (but different) "invisible camera" prototype to show us with the OnePlus Concept One, which had a back camera that could disappear as the glass in front of it could turn both opaque and transparent when needed.

Let us know below – do you think this design with a hump is worth it for having a hidden camera? Or do you not mind punch hole cameras, as they keep getting smaller and smaller, as seen most recently on the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra?

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