Smartphone bezels have gotten slimmer in recent years as device makers move closer to offering a phone with nothing but a display on the front. But where do you put the front-facing camera on an all-screen smartphone?

Over the past few years we’ve seen solutions ranging from notches and holes in the display to pop-up cameras.

Soon we might see phones that do away with those workarounds… by placing a camera under the display itself. Chinese phone makers Oppo and Xiaomi are already showing off their under-glass camera technology in action.

Yesterday Oppo released a short video showing a smartphone snapping a photo using a camera that you can’t see. Just in case it wasn’t clear that there is a camera under the display, a finger dips into the frame toward the end of the video and hovers above the under-display camera — and you can see the image of a blurry finger on the screen at the same time.

A few hours later Xiaomi posted its own video showing off a smartphone with an under-glass camera. This time it seems to be a modified version of the Xiaomi Mi 9 — and the video shows the phone side-by-side with a standard model featuring a camera notch. The prototype version has a full screen display with no cut-out, but it can still snap a selfie.

While Oppo hasn’t shared many details about the technology it’s using, Xiaomi explains that its solution features a 20MP camera and a transparent display that “doubles as the camera lens,” and allows “more light into the lens” to enable “perfect selfies.” But when the display is off, the camera is invisible against the rest of the black surface of the screen.

Keep in mind that these are videos released by phone makers — we won’t know how well these cameras actually work in the real world until independent users get a chance to actually try them out. But if they live up to the promise, it’s not hard to under-glass cameras eventually displacing notch and hole-punch cutouts.

But I also wouldn’t be surprised if some other recent camera innovations are here to stay. I don’t know about pop-ups or sliders, but the flippable camera on the Asus Zenfone 6 certainly holds some appeal, with its ability to let you use the same high-quality cameras for normal shots and for selfies.


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10 replies on “Smartphones with cameras hidden in the display could be coming soon”

  1. It figures that the Chinese would perfect the use of hidden cameras. Anyone care to guess how long it will take to work into other products? Anyone want to buy a TV with technology added by the CIA?

  2. The angle of the zenfone 6’s camera can be manually adjusted with an on screen slider. This offers possibilities that no other camera form factor can, like taking close ups of odd angles of the insides of a computer case or engine bay.
    If it wasn’t for that control, it wouldn’t really hold much of a practical advantage over a camera setup like the one this article is about.

  3. Of all the options I’d prefer a phone with the pop up/out for both front and rear. It protects the lenses and lets you know when the phone can take pictures. If pushing it in would turn off the camera app that would be an added benefit.

    1. I want to move towards a more durable device… phone’s are already expensive enough, and they’re getting less and less repairable.

      I’d prefer Slim Bezels, instead of pop-up or flip cameras, slim like you see on the Meizu 16s, Nubia RedMagic 3, and Xiaomi BlackShark 2 devices. I think the choice to go under-screen camera was always the destination, its just that the industry took a detour with Apple, Xiaomi, OnePlus, and Samsung.

      1. I guess durability would depend on how many pictures you take, and I don’t take many.

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