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?
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.
For those seeking the perfect, notchless smartphone screen experience – prepare to be amazed. 📲
You are taking a very first look at our under-display selfie camera technology. RT! 🤯 pic.twitter.com/FrqB6RiJaY
— OPPO (@oppo) June 3, 2019
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.
— Alvin Tse (@atytse) June 3, 2019
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.