This is how Samsungs under-display camera tech could work
(Image credit: Tom’s Guide)
As phone manufacturers try to minimize the bezels as much as possible, the front-facing camera still stands awkwardly in the way. Its too popular a feature to simply ditch, and the solutions so far be they notches, pin holes or even pop-up cameras “ all have their drawbacks that make them an imperfect solution.
The current Holy Grail is the under-screen selfie camera. If the camera can still be present, but invisible to the eye, then its out of sight and out of mind. To date, just one phone has shipped with under-screen camera tech, although Xiaomi also showed off the technology in prototype form back in 2019.
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It shouldnt be surprising that Samsung is also beavering away at under-display cameras, and a patent uncovered by Lets Go Digital gives us a clue about how it might work in practice. The patent, filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and simply called “Display Device”, imagines a phone with two separate panels one for the main body of the screen, and a second for the selfie camera to hide underneath.
Why the need to split into two? Well, the panel with the selfie camera underneath would have a higher light transmission and could also have a lower resolution, which would allow the lens (plus, potentially, a flash module and infrared blaster) to work through the screen.
The image below, via Lets Go Digital, shows a number of possible positions for the second screen. While highlighted here for visibility, obviously in a commercially available phone, the screens would appear seamlessly as one.
(Image credit: Let’s Go Digital)
We would imagine, however, that Samsung would be looking at the smaller footprint seen in the image on the right, at least initially. If the second screen is lower resolution, then the company will want it to take up as little space as possible, otherwise it risks giving the game away.
Of course, even an area of screen with a noticeably low resolution is preferable to Samsungs solution now, where the screen is replaced by a camera lens, making a perfect circular hole in whatever film youre watching.
The million-dollar question is when well see this technology arrive in a Samsung handset. It wont be in the Samsung Galaxy S21, due to launch on Thursday, if the current rumors are to be believed. Weve previously heard that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 could have an under-screen camera, so thats a possibility, as is the Galaxy Note 21, now it appears to be back on.
Then theres ‘none of the above. After all, Xiaomi demoed similar tech 19 months ago, and it still hasnt made its debut. Fingers crossed we see something in 2021, but it wouldnt be wholly surprising if Samsung decided it needed a little more time before it’s ready for show time.