Oh, the promise of under-screen front cameras! They will take the "all-screen" phone design to a whole new level, and there will be no need for anything to pop, slide, or turn over to take a selfie.
If you remember, Xiaomi was first to provide a prototype proof of concept for a selfie camera that is tucked n under the screen and removes the need for a notch or a punch-hole camera cutout. According to the company's Vice President at the time, however, those high-res phone screens of today's flagships are making the technology a challenge as they are blocking too much light, but the display industry is hard at work on overcoming the roadblocks.
So far, both Xiaomi and Huawei have patented under-display camera solutions, and so has Samsung, but we'll get to it further down.
Huawei and Xiaomi under-screen camera patents
First under-screen selfie camera tech enters mass production for a mysterious phone
As Visionox just announced the first mass production of an under-display front camera solution, called InV See, a popular tipster reveals that the first phone that will carry a hidden selfie camera will be announced soon.
China’s display manufacturers, Visionox, has just announced the world’s first mass-produced under-display camera solution. The world’s first under-display camera phone will be released. pic.twitter.com/QWkQioy2LZ
How did Visionox overcome the aforementioned obstacles before the light passage from such a hidden cam tucked under the display panel? Well, it used a new transparent OLED piece, driving circuits and innovative pixel layouts to maximize the light that will reach the sensor at that point.
It also had to even out the difference in brightness, color gamut, and viewing angles between the transparent OLED screen film that is on top of the sensor and the rest of the screen so the area doesn't sit there like a patch, or you might just as well have a punch hole there.
Curiously enough, a popular tech tipster on Weibo chimed in on the launch of phones with such hidden selfie cameras, saying that many Snapdragon 875 phones (read: ones that will come 2021) will have one. He does note, however, that those won't be from the "highest brand positioning flagship series," and despite the crude translation, we'd wager to guess they mean phones from the best Chinese makers that often use the latest chipset but 1080p screens instead of 1440p ones will be in the offing.
Where does that leave Samsung, though, its 1440p QHD+ displays on the flagship S and Note lines?
Samsung Galaxy S21 (S30) and under-display selfie cameras
Well, remember those rumors that the Galaxy S21 or whatever Samsung names the S20 successor, will sport under-screen front camera? Yes, it will most likely be of a similar variety to the Visionox solution here, but executed over higher resolution displays.
Is someone can pull this off, it's Samsung, the near-monopoly on OLED displays, including transparent ones and whatnot. In fact, Samsung has had a patent on a phone with under-display camera since last April, and that term is exactly what it says on the tin.
Samsung hidden selfie camera patent
More over, Korean media has already reported how Samsung intends to solve the light passing problem by ordering the so-called HIAA2 (for hole-in-active-area) screen panels. Don't let the "hole" part fool you, as the display tech that brought along the S10 and Note 10 punch hole designs is denoted as HIAA1, while HIAA2 is its logical development. Samsung has reportedly employed the precise laser cutting technique that it has exclusivity over for OLED panels and which makes the front camera holes in the S20 series screens so compact. In HIAA2, however, it has reportedly covered the "hole" with a transparent display layer that can be active and still let more light shine through.
This sounds a whole lot like what Visionox has already done, so we can't wait to see it demonstrated in practice, and can't help but wonder on which Samsung phone it will be tested first.
The under-display camera rumors circulated around the Galaxy Fold 2 first, then around the Galaxy S21, but at the same time Samsung tries to test such forward-looking features on its upper midrange A series, so we'll keep our ears to the ground on that one. After all, the Fold 2 launch is in August, and one thing seems certain - phones with selfie cameras hidden under the screen panel may land sooner than expected.
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