A phone with buttons, a phone with a big touch screen, a phone with no buttons, and now a full display phone with minimal bezels. It looks like the basic design for the next generation of smartphones is here. A truly full display phone with an under-display camera and it’s all thanks to Xiaomi. Front-facing cameras have been the bane of smartphone design for the past few years. As screens get bigger and bigger and bezels get smaller and smaller, there ends up being nowhere to put a front camera that doesn’t interfere with the display. Xiaomi has unveiled its third generation of under-cameras and has promised that the technology will soon be coming to the mass market next year.
As per the company, the latest version of the under-display technology works by allowing the front-facing camera to see through the gaps in the display sub-pixels, which are the red, green, and blue dots that come together to make each individual pixel. The challenge however is to make the camera as powerful and as perfect as the current front camera sensors. Despite the brand claiming that the camera is disguised perfectly when not in use, there still appears to be a small square shadow visible below the display. It is naturally impossible to make something which is present, completely invisible but the shadow is only visible upon close inspection.
Smartphone companies have been teasing under-display cameras for a little while now. Brands like Xiaomi and Oppo have both brought the tech to life last year in June. Oppo showed off a working prototype that month at MWC Shanghai. However, the tech wasn’t perfected at the time and the camera area on the screen appeared more pixelated than the rest of the screen. However, this might not be the case with Xiaomi this time if the promotional video is the exact thing end users are going to get.
Although it says that the screen area above the camera should match the “brightness, color gamut, and color accuracy” of the rest of the display, Xiaomi’s blog post doesn’t mention whether the panel itself is OLED or LCD, or what kind of resolution we can expect it to be. The disguise can never be perfect and there happen to be a lot of people who can’t seem to get over the tiny shadow, but fail to see that the technology is in its infancy and will take a few attempts to perfect.
In 2020 when a phone is just a phone, Xiaomi is designing the future. Though Xiaomi has since made a bunch of improvements in the tech, it may not end up being the first brand to commercially launch a phone with an under-display fingerprint sensor. Smartphone brand ZTE earlier announced this month that the company will be announcing the first smartphone with the tech on September 1. Premium smartphone manufacturers like Apple, Samsung, and OnePlus might wait until they absolutely perfect the technology before releasing a phone incorporated with an under-display camera since it would be a question of quality and goodwill. There is no doubt that this will be the new design for future smartphones and every smartphone company will incorporate this technology to some extent or another.