Under-display camera technology is not a new concept. Three smartphone companies OPPO, Xiaomi, and ZTE have been (loudly) working on the technology for some time. ZTE was the first company to launch a smartphone with an under-display camera, dubbed Axon 20 5G. This technology is arguably among the next-gen ways in how front cameras will fit in our devices while keeping the display uninterrupted.
We’ve come a long way in how selfie cameras reside in smartphones – thick bezels at the top in the early days. Followed by the bezel-trimming race that has brought us to the current era of hole punches and waterdrop notches, and even pop-up cameras.
According to a recently filed patent in the US at the United States Patent and Trademark Office(USPTO), Samsung is joining the race under-display camera technology race.
If successful, the company will, in time, bring a full-screen display to its Galaxy users without interruption.
The patent indicates that the device will have two separate display parts joined together. At the top will be the main display that users will be sliding their fingers on, and at the bottom, a new panel with high light transmission aimed at allowing sufficient light to reach the selfie camera to better images.
That second display won’t cover the entire front of the device like the main panel, according to the patent, and may have less resolution. It will either be immediately at the top or near, covering nearly the whole width or laid in one of the two top corners.
Here’s a figure conjured by LetsGoDigital on the same:
The sensor could be an IR sensor for better and faster detection of objects and people. The patent, filed by Samsung Display in May 2020 and published on 31st December, reveals the company has been working on the technology for quite some time. It references a 2016 patent[PDF] that the company already owns.
It remains to be seen when the company will launch its first device with an under-display camera. As for the upcoming Galaxy S21 series, leaks have unanimously showcased a selfie camera housed in a hole punch, so don’t expect it there.
Xiaomi and OPPO are also working on smartphones with under-display camera tech, and both companies showcased working prototypes last year. Xiaomi said its under-display camera smartphone will launch this year.
ZTE beat everyone to the market when they launched ZTE Axon 20 5G, the industry’s first smartphone with an under-display camera. The phone sells at around Ksh 35,000 in China.