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