The Lenovo Z5s could be one of our earliest real looks at the next big trend in smartphone design – displays with camera 'punch holes'
It's been a year now since the "notch" craze started and we are ready to move a step forward to getting a phone with an all-screen face that has a solid-state front-facing camera. We've been recently seeing Chinese phones that employ a slide-screen design to hide the selfie camera — and they're interesting in their own right — but there's little doubt that a solid-state solution would be better in almost every way.
That's why companies like Samsung and Huawei are working on a design that gets rid of the notch by building the front-facing camera into the display. This is what the media is now referring to as the "punch hole." First, we got the notch, now we get the hole. But hey, this new solution is arguably better for screen-to-body ratio (though it may introduce some UI design hurdles, depending on the placement of the camera).
We know that the Samsung Galaxy S10 is likely going to have an in-display front-facing camera next year, but Lenovo may beat the South Korean tech giant to the punch. A recent Weibo leak, discovered by SlashLeaks reveals a new Lenovo phone, allegedly called the Z5s, which has a front-facing camera cutout at the top center of its screen.
From what we've seen from the leaked hands-on video and photos of the Lenovo Z5s, the camera hole actually seems a lot less obtrusive than a notch. The opening itself is relatively small and fits neatly within the status bar, without making it too big. The only question left is, should the camera be centered or offset to the left/right corner? Samsung and Huawei are rumored to be working on displays with the camera hole in the top left corner, which could potentially be a better placement, as it is less likely to get in the way of UI elements.
Although punched displays may offer more real estate than notched ones, many people are concerned that the opening will still get in the way of on-screen content. This will likely be addressed by introducing a software feature that restricts content — say, a video or a game — from displaying under the camera. Since the screen is going to be OLED, the black bar will be like getting a bit of the top bezel back when you need it. A perfect solution? Not really, but it is the next step toward the all-screen phone.
The Lenovo Z5s has already passed certification by the TENAA in China, so its release on the Asian market may be just around the bend. In-screen selfie cameras are certainly an exciting prospect and could be the bridge between the notch and the all-screen phone. It's funny how in a matter of two years, we went from phones with very thin side bezels but bigger ones at the top and bottom, to increasingly shrinking notches and just a tiny bit of chin, to pretty much completely bezel-less displays with tiny camera holes in them. Give it another year or two, and we'll have truly all-screen phones.
Leaked photos of the Lenovo Z5s